angel on fire - the death of vines
Album Review

Title:  the death of vines
Artist:  angel on fire

Genre:  Shoegaze/Alternative/Ambient
Label:  WEATNU RECORDS/Transmission Nova
Release Date:  4 February 2022

Written, performed, recorded, and produced by jason m norwood at Hope Mansion Studio, London, Ontario, Canada, 2020

jason m norwood: Guitars, bass guitar, upright electric bass, piano, percussion, dulcimer, shortwave radio, and vocals

Photography and art direction/design by jason m norwood

the death of vines is the latest release from angel on fire, a project from London, Ontario, Canada based multi-instrumentalist jason m norwood.  Having heard some of jason’s other work, I thought I knew what I was in for.

I was wrong,  And I was right.

The album’s opener, the highway, is a smoky jazz piece that creates the illusion that you’re in a dark nightclub with him.  It starts with upright bass, piano, and oozes a cool ambience like a modern take on Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis.  Jazzy drums and organ then fill out the instrumentation.  When the echo effected vocals came in, my first thought was “Wow!  jason’s dropping an experimental jazz release on us.  Totally unexpected!”  If you know Ornette Coleman’s 1971 album Science Fiction you know what I mean.  Ear candy galore.

Nope.  The rest of the album’s not a jazz release.  But it is a ride.  A really good one.

While the highway starts your journey in one direction, the second track, hard to find, delightfully diverts and eases you into what’s coming later.  Soft jazz bass, brushed drums, and ambient sounds filled my Ollo S4X Reference headphones and reminded me of Mark Isham, Daniel Lanois, or Brian Eno.  Rich, spacious, luscious, and gorgeous.  The next track, internal, is also a dreamy excursion.  The compelling bass part, perfect beat, and ambient pads are a perfect backdrop for jason’s vocals.  Strategically placed guitar and piano sprinkles are subtly introduced as the song builds.  Lovely stuff, indeed!

The growl and heartbeat rumble of fields abruptly changes about two-thirds through the track and morphs into a dazzling wall of feedback (think Metal Machine Music or Sigur Ros).  As the feedback and song end, you’re presented with a course changing mind trip when the next track, in your living room, begins.  Organic sounding stereo panned tambourines and center stage classical guitar are an immersive bed over which vocals and other elements are cinematically faded in and out.

The rest of the album is equally as breathtaking.

The final (and title) track, the death of vines, is a spectacular send off.  Ambient soundscapes, light percussion, bass synth, and chimey dulcimers put you in a solitary winter landscape with the convincing agility of Sergei Prokofiev.  Swelling mallet cymbals blow like wind across a frozen lake.  And suddenly halfway through the song, you’ve unexpectedly broken through the ice and fallen into the water, submerged and floating in a chilled aquatic environment through the song’s final long fade out.

At just under 1 hour 20 minutes, the death of vines by angel on fire is an album that you should dedicate listening time to and experience as the artist intended.  In full.  The one thing that I was absolutely right about with my expectations about this release is jason’s dedication to the craft of making music and sound design.  His passion and skills for songwriting, recording, and architecting sonic atmospheres are on evident display.

Highly recommended
.  Give it a listen!


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