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|My Little Fire-Filled
CD Album 2005 | Silber 039
12 tracks, 65 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256 kbps, ~116 megs))
ligertily, yaya, rabbit, the honour of silence, naked king, silverback, the girl from the green dimension, i lost the moon, a rusted nail through the wrist, a conversation with Death, wren, tigerlily
Tara Vanflower is best known
for her work with darkwave band Lycia (of which more in a moment), but
is also a solo artist in her own right. Her second solo album My Little
Fire Filled Heart, is out now on Silber. Don't be misled by its pink flowery
cover, this music is as far away from twee as you can get. The brief introductory
track Ligertily consists of atmospheric echoey vocals played backwards,
but this ethereal mood is soon replaced by a dark, sinister brand of experimentation
which subsequently pervades the rest of the album. Yaya has a mix of spoken
and sung vocals, the sung part largely sticking to one note, over the top
of some menacing experimental noise. Rabbit features an almost syrupy vocal
style and playful la-la-las, masking the dark lyrical content. The instrumental
backing to this song is simply minimal percussion with an industrial feel.
Naked King features punchy percussion and shouty vocals alongside random
guitar noodling. In Silverback, a strange, sensual poem is read over a
backdrop of metallic clanging and ghostly murmuring. The Girl From The
Green Dimension is a melodic song of great beauty, in which Tara sings
duet with herself. Again the instrumentation is not music in any conventional
sense of the word, but a combination of single-note droning and the metallic
sound of wind chimes. A Rusted Nail Through The Wrist features some electronic
percussion that is strongly experimental whilst still retaining a sense
of rhythm. Heavy rain, rumbling thunder and the tinkling sound of a music
box provide the backdrop to Wren, a song that is in fact melodic but unconventionally
so, thus giving the illusion of atonality. Finally there is Tigerlily,
which as the name suggests is Ligertily played forwards. A highly artistic,
creative album, though one that would probably be hard to stomach by anyone
unaccustomed to music this unconventional.
~ Kim Harten, blissaquamarine
Gothic preponderance in
echoplex upon hallucinating a mystically morose escapade. Imagine
being buried alive, serpent in one hand & a rainbow in the other, with
corrugated air swishing through your near-dead corpse approaching the delights
of an impending claustrophobic grand mal seizure. Instead of gasping
for breath, lie there, mouth agape, mind dumbstruck by this aural nightmare
frenzy slowly building true insanity over your embittered senses. This
is a dark sojourn. Slightly creepy, ethereal experimentation at its
nefariously reflective zenith, crawling the insurmountable lenghts it takes
to escape a nadir this deep, ripe witth perpetual helplessness & pain.
Tara Vanflower, at least in this permutation, gives credence to the necessary
existence of straightjackets. Going into muted zones such as these
is not for the fainting heart brigade. Although the sonorities remain
light on the VU hashmasrks, her output is heavy in a heady way. Granted,
if it was all you chose to listen to indefinitely, you would need reservations
at your local Rubber Room Inn. This is certifiably no treacle diversion.
As a respite from the norm of mundanely regular existence, it fairs fruitfully,
albeit a tad on the spooky end of vine -- hell-bent on a brimstone prismatic.
~ Cesar Montesano, Expose
Tara Van Flower’s album
is an exercise in self-indulgence. While it is partially a spoken word
record, I couldn’t make out more than a few words on each song. The most
prominent feature is Van Flower’s atonal, often high-pitched vocals, which
are chanted rather than sung. Clanging chimes, echoing and distorted vocals,
and muffled yelping and panting can be found on most tracks. A dissonant
guitar chord opens "I Lost the Moon," accompanied by what sounds like heavy
breathing, and the sharp and jarring chords continue to sound throughout
the track. Coupled with strange, repeated lyrics ("I can’t watch you die
again"), it makes for a disconcerting number. Clocking in at nearly eleven
minutes, "Wren" might win the honor of strangest track. It opens with the
sound of pouring water (presumably mimicking rain) and the melody of "Love
Me Tender" played on a music box. Then Van Flower’s vocal is added, at
a totally different tempo than the music box and singing unexpected lyrics.
Eventually the music box and vocal fade out, and we’re left with the steady
downpour of water for practically five minutes. "The Girl from the Green
Dimension" opens with the sound of wind chimes and contains some of the
most understandable lyrics on the album. The melody and her voice create
a peaceful ambience, making it one of the few easily listenable tracks.
Perhaps Van Flower has something important to say, but it certainly isn’t
expressed on this recording, on which the elements never congeal into a
coherent piece of work, and we can’t discern the message from the monotony.
~ Karen Duda, Altar Magazine
Tara Vanflowers' music sounds
like an a capella soundtrack for a haunted house, or choral music from
some kind of church with a big bee for a god, or just the recorded ravings
someone locked in a bathroom trying to decide whether to drown themselves
or not. It's frightening in the best of ways, with some really chilling
sorts of echoey sound-effects coming in and out of audible range, like
waves of electronic static, broken up by the sounds of knives being sharpened,
or cigarette lighters being flicked, or footsteps on a metallic floor;
all the while, Vanflower's dreamy, slightly-demented-sounding looped voice
sings on and on as though to herself about fish singing, planting people
and flowers, and the joy and glory of being a stalker.
~ Holly Day, Cosmik Debris
Tara Vanflower, most known
for her contribution to the darkwave band Lycia, released her first debut
album This Womb Like Liquid Honey several years ago. My
Little Fire-Filled Heart is thus the follow up. I haven’t
heard her first album, but if it’s anything like this one, I think I’ll
pass on buying it.
MLFFH is, in essence, an ambient work. Incomprehensible to the average listener, it is a continuum of sparsely placed sounds and loops, often (but not always) with Tara’s -admittedly fantastic- voice in the forefront. Much of the album flirts with a somewhat darkly melancholic aesthetic, with much of the vocals drenched in eerie reverb effects and augmented by layers of chimes, improvised percussion, and the occasional guitar work. Of course, the percussion and guitar must as a rule (apparently) not resemble anything like a traditional composition, but rather contribute to the ambience as simply another sound created for its own sake.
These qualities don't necessarily make it bad. Such elements can make for a quite interesting work, if used correctly; Tara Vanflower does not use these elements correctly. Many places on the album are cool and interesting, but there's something about hearing a sound repeating over and over for five minutes straight that makes it lose its capacity to hold my interest. Furthermore, both the instrumentation and vocals tend to stand out, and don't let you put them in the background while doing something else; thus, it sort of loses its capacity to serve one of the purposes many people put ambient music to use for.
To put it simply, this album is neither wallpaper nor conventional music. It technically fits into the ambient genre, but what value can possibly be derived from it? What possible use can it have? It isn’t very soothing (at least to me), and it doesn’t augment any mood (at least mood I’ve ever been in, and I was a pretty weird teenager).
The most meritorious tracks here are “Naked King”, “Yaya”, and “Silverback”: “Naked King”, for the cool vocals and effects, popping in and out like percussion; “Yaya”, a ghostly mesh of eerie voices, is interesting for that quality; "Silverback”, because it is mainly talking, with minimal sound effects, and therefore something I can understand. Other than that, this is sixty five minutes of wishing something, anything, would happen.
To be fair, many good artists put long periods of repetitive sounds or noise in their albums; Skinny Puppy’s Bites, for example, uses a lot of such experimentation. On nearly all such works, however, there is something between these bouts of ambience to give substance and appeal to the album as a whole, and I am content to listen through these tracks. MLFFH never really goes anywhere, and does little. As mentioned, Tara has a good voice and sparks of talent can be found here, but the things she applies this talent to are a little too “out there” for me.
Maybe there’s something I'm not getting here – I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer – but efforts to get into this have met with failure. May fans of this genre succeed where I have failed.
~ Jason Van Kemseke, SickAmongthePure
Wow...this is some pretty
wild stuff. Best known for her work with the band Lycia, Tara Vanflower
first ventured out on her own with the album This Womb Like Liquid
Honey. This is the follow up. Tara might best be described as an
experimental vocalist. Her vocals recall avante garde artists like Yoko
Ono, Jarboe, and Emily Hay. Vanflower recorded everything on My Little
Fire-Filled Heart herself. This is a haunting and peculiar album
that is geared toward a very small but enlightened audience. If you're
seeking something that sounds familiar, take our word for it. This ain't
it. The compositions on this album are dreamy and hypnotic. They were not
recorded for the purpose of making money nor were they made to entertain
the general population. Vanflower experiments with her voice and with sounds.
The resulting recordings reflect her disregard for fame and fortune. Thus,
while Fire-Filled Heart may be a commercial disaster...artistically
it is a resounding success. Strangely distant and unfamiliar territory.
This is the 2nd album of
TV who got some recognition as a member of Lycia. After the this womb
like liquid honey album, she now returns with a new & entirely
written, performed, & produced opus. The style constantly moves
in between ambient & experimental while the spooky way of singing of
this woman is one of the main characteristics of her work. I like
the way her vocals are sometimes lost in the experimental fields &
she therefore reminds me now & then of the legendary Throbbing Gristle
ensemble. The song "Silverback" is on of these typical cold, early
80s influenced piece. This is a work which finds its basis in the
better experiments of the 80s, but it's definitely not accessible for a
wide audience! This is one of my favorite releases on Silber Records!
~ Stephane Froidcoeur, Side-Line
For her second album, Lycia
alumnus Vanflower takes us for a leisurely walk to the corner of Mescaline
and Lewis Carroll. From there, we wander around in her soundscapes, which
offer no promise to guide us back home. The opening "Ligertily" is cleverly
resolved in the closing "Tigerlily". Her vocals become more beautiful and
cohesive on the cover of Death In June's "The Honour of Silence."
"Naked King" stands alone for its spoken-word aggression. A lot of the
singing reminds me of Jarboe - siren songs laced with dementia. "Wren"
fades into a recording of rain which lasts several minutes. Though it's
never quite as scatter-blissed as Loveliescrushing, My Little Fire-Filled
Heart is a gently unsettling CD.
~ Scott Sweet, The Sentimentalist
Once again, Tara takes us
on a tumble down the rabbit hole, this time a fair bit farther. The more
song-based structures present on This Womb Like Liquid Honey
are replaced by ghostly drones, oddly-tuned guitars, music boxes, rain
and layers of Tara's treated vocals. The lyrics come across as those from
the mind of a child, innocent, often disturbing and compassionate. Highlights
include her cover of Death In June's "The Honour of Silence", "Naked King"
and the lengthy "Wren".
All is very skillfully crafted, and might take more patience than most of our ADD culture generally allows for. But this is easily one of of the most creative and rewarding releases from the underground this year.
~ Don Hill, Automata
Tara Vanflower's second
solo effort continues in the same striking, loving vein as her first —
it's the sound of someone confounding expectations based on her group work
to make her own personal, entrancing statement. Certainly there's no mistaking
the soft singing and echo that open up the album with "Ligertily" as being
anyone or anything but that of the voice that helps make Lycia so lovely,
but the fragmentary nature of the song, combined with the soft, backward-masked
guitar shards, is miles away from that band's serene, percussion-driven
glowering. From there, My Little Fire-Filled Heart suggests
a series of contrasts, Vanflower's voice (often singing spiked, sharp words
suggesting controlled currents of violence or obsession) contrasting against
murky though never overly chaotic collages of sound — "Silverback" and
its clattering bells and buried spoken word samples, for instance, or the
Tom Waits-like "cabaret in a coal mine" beats of "A Rusted Nail Through
the Wrist" — or empty, minimal arrangements. Often examples of the latter,
such as "Rabbit" or "The Girl from the Green Dimension," work best as songs,
since Vanflower's singing provides the core melody on its own, the equivalent
of whistling past a graveyard come to unquiet life. Other standouts include
the rhythmic grunts and calls underpinning the chants of "Naked King,"
the rainfall and soft chiming of the 11-minute "When," and the reworking
of the traditional song "A Conversation With Death," with Vanflower combining
several different ways of singing the words into an overlapping whole.
One of the best efforts is an inspired cover of Death in June's "The Honour
of Silence," which transitions from the buried shards of sounds in "Rabbit"
to include a dark synth drone over which Vanflower sings. It's a striking
balance of sounds, with Vanflower harmonizing with herself for even stronger
~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide
Tara VanFlower was one-half
of darkwave masterminds Lycia, who released numerous records throughout
the 1990s. On her second solo album, though, she both expands and eschews
Lycia's dark, depressing atmospherics, opting instead for something much...weirder.
The use of the word "weird" isn't merely an exaggeration by a music writer
who doesn't "get" it--there's just no better word to describe My
Little Fire-Filled Heart. It's not quite folk, nor is it goth or
electronica or darkwave--it's truly something that defies all categorization.
My Little Fire-Filled Heart isn't traditional music in any sense of the word. VanFlower sings with a little-girl voice that's more mature than Kate Bush yet younger than Joanna Newsom. That is, of course, when she's actually singing. Much of the time, the 'vocals' consist of nothing more than VanFlower harmonizing and singing words that are either distorted to the point of being unrecognizable or are simply too faint to comprehend. Almost all of the songs have some sort of sample or tape-loop as its accompaniment; sometimes, those samples are the only form of melody. For instance, on "Yaya," her faint, whispy singing is over a melody of sampled throat singers and of her speaking some unintelligable words. Then there's "Naked King," which transforms VanFlower into a dominatrix, with her saying things "take it off little man" and "reward yourself" over a beat that suggests the cracks of a whip. The album's highlight is "Wren," an epic eleven-minute song that's nothing more than her singing a sad, melancholy song about love over a recording of rain falling tempered with a jewelry-box melody of "Love Me Tender."
It's utterly beautiful, of course.
My Little Fire-Filled Heart is a record that's too strange to classify, nor do I think it deserves classification. If 2005 didn't already have a musical enigma, then it does now. This is a mysterious record that's gorgeous and beautiful and puzzling and confusing and much more, I simply cannot say, because ultimately words do fail...
~ Joseph Kyle, Mundane Sounds
The musical legacy of Lycia
is legend, as they possess the last completely original sound when music
fans thought that all originality was used up generations ago. In a time
where bands must reach back to piece together interesting music, Tara VanFlower,
one-half of the unnerving ambient duo known as Lycia, need only reach as
far back as Lycia’s last album. Her My Little Fire-Filled Heart
is her follow-up to the excellent Womb Like Liquid Honey.
Tara VanFlower’s latest solo effort is a much more experimental album than her excellent Womb Like Liquid Honey. Case in point: her 2 nd track on the album, “yaya” has a very catholic feel with Tara using a monotone incantation-like vocal atop a monk chant track. Subsequent tracks take various trips down different roads, all very personal and all very tentative in nature and all using various ambient techniques to carry the songs. “The Honour of Silence” uses more familiar Tara soundscapes although quite short before launching into more ultra experimentation. “Silverback” is quite good as an ambient creation, taking cues from Lycia but going off in a different direction; like a jog off the known path, the area is familiar yet moving to a strikingly dissimilar location. The album closes with another, quite short (all of 35 seconds), catholic sounding piece called “tigerlily” thus finishing the 2 nd chapter in Tara Vanflower’s musical solo career.
There are many diverse paths found on My Little Fire-Filled Heart, everyone a different work. As stated before, it is an experimental journey and one that requires a deep-seated respect for Tara’s previous work and her work with Lycia as well as willingness to sit through the diversities in order to enjoy the canvasses that Tara has crafted in this collection of tunes Regardless, there is no mistaking that otherworldly voice that is the angel of Lycia.
~ Matt Rowe, Music Tap
Tara VanFlower, (who some
of you may recognize as the former frontwoman of the now-defunct darkwave
band Lycia) has put together one hell of an ambient/experimental record.
Most ambient/experimental records fall down in one of two places, depending
on which aspect, the ambient or the experimental, is being emphasized.
Ambient records tend to be too... ambient, they fade into the background
but they fail to set a mood. Experimental records on the other hand...
To paraphrase J.G. Ballard, the only thing that most experimental records
accomplish is to prove the experiment has failed.
With My Little Fire-Filled Heart Tara VanFlower has pulled together a group of songs that avoid both pitfalls. They set a mood without being innocuous and they play with traditional notions of songwriting and instrumentation without devolving into an unlistenable mess.
The tone of the disc is bleak and surreal. Tara sings (and at times recites) broken love songs over a bed of drones, chimes, stuttering guitar and her own voice looped, twisted and mutated. It’s compelling stuff. The highlights of the record include “Rabbit” in which her voice has a surprisingly bluesy lilt, the eerie “I Lost the Moon”, and her take on the traditional “A Conversation With Death”.
~ Neddal Ayad, Foxy Digitalis
Sorti près de six
ans après son premier album This Womb Like Liquid Honey,
ce second volume des aventures solo de Tara Vanflower a pourtant bien failli
faire figure d’Arlésienne. L’attente terminée et son groupe
d’hier, Lycia, définitivement dissout, c’est une Tara mûre
et sûre de ses inspirations qui nous présente aujourd’hui
un travail sur les sons et les ambiances aussi sombre que singulier. Proche
des expérimentations tous azimuts de This Womb…, My
Little Fire-Filled Heart apparaît néanmoins bien plus
homogène et cohérent dans sa forme, preuve d’une maturité
et d’une expérience certaines. Sans évoquer les collages
et les déconstructions chers à certaines illustres formations
industrielles des 80’s, les chansons de cet album tiennent cependant plus
souvent d’un hasard (volontaire) dû à une heureuse improvisation
que d’une écriture musicale proprement dite. Ainsi, ce sont des
vagues de sons tour à tour feutrés, scintillants ou lointains,
des nappes de synthés minimalistes et inquiétantes et des
vocalises luminescentes qui tissent la trame ambiante de ce disque étonnant.
Qu’elle soit chantée, parlée, scandée ou murmurée
à l’infini dans un quasi-bourdonnement, c’est d’ailleurs cette voix
presque enfantine qui dirige la destinée de chacun des douze morceaux
de My Little Fire-Filled Heart. Le travail global sur les
atmosphères n’est quant à lui pas sans évoquer un
Nurse With Wound ou un Current 93 (première période) dans
ses parties les plus sombres, voir un Trance to the Sun dans les échos
angoissants du superbe I Lost the Moon. À l’image de la reprise
de Death In June "The Honour of Silence", Tara Vanflower accouche là
d’un album dépouillé et hypnotique, le genre d’œuvre à
ne pas mettre entre toutes les oreilles mais qui révèle,
écoute après écoute, ses trésors les plus sombres
et les mieux cachés. Déroutant et inquiétant, mais
passionnant de bout en bout.
~ Stéphane Leguay, Premonition
Tara Vanflower is known
as a producer of experimental ambient music and as keyboardist and vocalist
in the American darkwave group Lycia. This is a weird album. The songs
are very tranquil, ambientesque and organic sounding. The songs are open
in form and tempo and because of that they have the character of songs
we know of Current 93 or Nurse With Wound. There are loops being used to
create the musical layers underneath, and chimes sound with echoed effects,
throbbing basses and thin choir singing in the background. "the Honour
of Silence" is a Death in June cover. This is a cd which is a recommendation
for people who get touched by sounds rather than compositions. "I Lost
the Moon" is a nice example of this. "Naked King" is a very suitable piece
of erotic music for sm inspired sex sessions. Tara sings quiet and very
seductive but can be passionately aggressive as well. This whole record
breathes eroticism and is an inspiring listening experience.
A few months ago Silber
records released the first solo album from Mike VanPortfleet whom is the
driving force behind darkwave act Lycia, and now they give us the second
solo album from Lycia’s other long time member Tara Vanflower. Not surprisingly
Mike’s first foray into making music alone was something considerably different
that what he was doing with Lycia and Tara has taken on a similar path
making extremely different challenging music for us.
With her second solo album My Little Fire-Filled Heart Tara gives us a strange album of ambiance and experimentation that bares a lot of resemblance to early Current 93, Nurse with Wound, and similar experimental artists that take their music far beyond the level of normality. The songs generally have a desolate not so melodic ambient backdrop to them while in the forefront were treated to Tara’s ever changing voice, while there are lots of other strange loops, percussion, chimes, heavy bass, spooky choruses, and occasional acoustic guitar work alongside her voice. Although each song has similar elements no two songs really sound exactly alike. My personal favorite song on the album is "yaya," which sounds very similar to what Current 93 was doing back in 1986 with their "Dawn" release. It’s got the spooky voices in the background, creepy ambiance, and Tara’s layered mysterious voice. "The Honour of Silence" is another very notably song since it’s a Death in June cover, but I unfortunately haven’t heard the original so I can’t say if she changed the song. I also like "Naked King" a lot because it’s one of the more lively tracks on the album featuring some heavy percussion, some jumbled guitar riffs in the background, and Tara shouting more so then actually singing. "I Lost the Moon" is a very desolate ethereal like song with slow acoustic guitar riffs, and once again odd backing vocals and Tara sounding very painful as she sings.
Overall My Little Fire-Filled Heart is a rather testing and diverse sounding album that will probably sound exceptional to those that are familiar with such music, but for the Lycia fans they might be a little lost when listening to this release. Still that’s what I like about the album because seriously how often is it that you get to hear something you’ve never heard before? Not too often, so if you’re a fan of Tara’s do yourself a favor and check out this interesting release.
~ Blackwinged, Lunar Hypnosis
On her second solo release,
little fire-filled heart, Tara Vanflower (ex Lycia) paints washes
of sonic unsettlement. Her voice seductively lures the listener into dark
places where the music offers loops of sugarcoated poison. There’s an effective
cover of Death In June’s "The honour of silence", and many of the original
lyrics explore the ins and outs of love and loss in appropriately dark
~ Alan Davidson, Ptolemaic Terrascope
Tara since 1988 is most
known for her collaboration with ambient soundscape creator Mike VanPortfleet,
under the duo group name of Lycia, a group which is listed usually under
the darkwave genre. Her own look is Goth-like, as a "child of Gothic".
Her expressions have a slightly different scope, and are also comparable
to (-the Nurse With Wound related-) Chrystal Belle Scrodd but a bit more
directly-constructive and spherical and with a tendency to expose some
feminine aspects and also to be minimal.
On the first tracks especially, but also elsewhere, there are some great, almost magical background voice effects and vocal harmonies, growl-and dog-humming (multitoned) as if recalling spirits from beyond a gate to one level beneath and beyond this existence, still reflected with some peace-inside, while Tara sings with a desolate but not a sad voice. There are many voice driven experiments. Tara is sometimes half reciting, half singing with desolate echoes, or reverb touches, or with ambient swelling sounds and clicks, like on "Rabbit". On "Naked King" we hear multi-subtonal vocal harmonies (crying out) pulses, with almost sexual and concentrated forward energy. This track is perhaps a bit too minimal, but still rewarding. On "Silverback" especially I'm reminded of vocal experiments on some Nurse With Wound/ Diana Rogerson albums, like perhaps from "Live at Bar Maldoror". There are two covers or interpretations that fit the album well : The Honour of Silence" from Death In June, and "A Conversation With Death" a traditional with overlapped repeated singing.
~ Gerald Van Waes, psychevanhetfolk
My Little Fire-Filled
Heart, the second solo outing from Lycia alum Tara Vanflower, finds
a mature, focused Vanflower taking a more hands-on approach to performance,
production, and mixing. Weaving an interesting reverb/delay-drenched ambient
web from threads of ethereal vocals, percussive instruments (including
xylophone and chimes), occasional eclectic programmed drum/sample passages,
some synth, and somewhat rudimentary guitar, Vanflower's often minimalist
yet heavily textured musical soundscapes are both organic and unique. Sometimes
recalling but never exactly sounding like a wide range of artists (including
Miranda Sex Garden, Lydia Lunch, and The Creatures' earlier work), the
material here ranges from more concrete loop-based pieces held together
by repeating percussion/sample phrases to droning sound pieces lost on
a sea of shimmering echo. Anchoring the compositions or, perhaps more accurately,
at the heart of them, is Vanflower's excellent poetry and lyrical work,
often contrasting dark themes with an almost childlike sense of imagery
Two short pieces, aptly titled "Ligertily" and "Tigerlily" and both constructed from a processed a cappella rendition of "You Are My Sunshine", bookend the disc. In addition to the Vanflower-penned tracks, My Little Fire-Filled Heart includes excellent covers of Death In June's "The Honour of Silence" and the traditional "A Conversation with Death". The former features layered vocals atop a foreboding synth string foundation, while the latter consists of spacious, layered, panning vocals over a subtle, reverb-drenched metallic noise background that carries on for minutes after the vocals fade.
"Yaya" is a haunting, atmospheric mood piece, an unsettling vocal chant with eerie pitch-shifted vocal accents and underlying, low-pitched processed string loops and scrapes. "Rabbit" starts out almost nursery rhyme-esque, with a somewhat uplifting, childlike vocal melody painted across a slightly more sinister canvas of subtle delayed percussion and noise loops that slowly overtakes the song, later accompanied by far darker spoken passages.
"Naked King" is easily one of the album's standouts, its pounding percussion, random guitar meandering, and heavily delayed vocal loops creating a sonic landscape that is surreal yet more anchored than much of the disc's other material. In all reality, its basic shell is not altogether different from the looping experiments probably toyed around with by any guitarist/vocalist that gets their hands on a decent delay pedal. Still, there's certainly something raw, primal, and captivating about Vanflower's delivery here.
The spoken word approach of "Silverback" floats atop a droning moan and jangling chime and bell-like metallic sounds, with "the girl from the green dimension" moving in a more uplifting fashion with bright chimes, a droning synth underbelly, and lovely vocal harmonies. "I Lost the Moon", on the other hand, is something far more bizarre and alien, its slightly dissonant guitar chords, processed breathing, and cascading vocal melodies creating a warped, dreamlike atmosphere.
"A Rusted Nail through the Wrist" continues the disorienting oddity of the former, albeit this time based in odd percussion loops, some of them reversed, and watery vocals, perhaps even recalling some of the more abstract work of Siouxsie and the Banshees from the mid-to-late 80s. The 11-and-a-half minute "Wren" is a soft, beautiful lullaby, music box and angelic vocals atop running water. It's sort of a closing track, with "Tigerlily" offering closure as more of an afterthought.
Overall, Tara Vanflower's second outing is an exceptionally unique and interesting sonic collage, both haunting and beautiful, dark and innocent. It's part twisted Grimm fairytale, part lullaby…or, perhaps, Vanflower's own Alice through the Looking Glass. However you look at it, My Little Fire-Filled Heart is a spectacular, poetic ambient/experimental offering that will likely appeal to ambient/ethereal fans, darkwave/goth fans, and experimental fans alike.
~ Joshua Heinrich, Grave Concerns
Tara VanFlower is billed
as an ambient/experimental artist in her press releases, but I would take
the ambient out of the equation. This album plays more like an experimental
performance track with the focus on vocals and poetry. That being said,
Tara seems to have poured out the darker side of her psyche into this disc.
At times, the disc is really hard to listen to because of the darkness
and repetition that occurs. At other times, Tara can grab the listener
with a line or two and peak interest in her content. I am also very hesitant
to say that she uses any traditional instruments, minus a few keyboard
sounds and some guitar noise. There are other sounds involved such as chimes
and what sounds like pipes knocking, etc.
“Ligertily” begins the album with listful vocals that show off VanFlower’s beautiful voice. It is a brief introduction that leads into a more disconcerting piece called “Yaya.” The words of this peace are rather wonderful, but the low, moaning track played amidst the spoken words is rather gloomy and ominous. VanFlower seems to speak of a love so deep it envelops the two who participate while a background voice states “this cannot be” over and over again. “Rabbit” has a vocal style a bit like Siouxsie Sioux, but there is only reverberating sounds and what sounds like loud drips echoing in a concrete hall. The words seem to be about someone who is dead that has passed on because of a girl he has kissed. Perhaps this is a metaphorical death, but the poem is certainly rife with death like imagery. “The Honor of Silence” has humming keys and vanFlower’s sweet voice speaking words I can’t always make out. This track is one of the least dissonant and has the most ambient feel of most of the tracks.
“Naked King” has a staccato feel that is abrupt and a bit chaotic. It’s a bit long and I only wish this track were a bit shorter. Perhaps the point is to disturb or irritate the listener, but, frankly, I am a little put off by this track. It’s a bit too much. “Silverback” follows on the heals of “Naked King” and has chimes and sighs mixed with moans in the background. This is a spoken piece in the sense of a poetry reading. This track repeats the spoken words and is also a bit on the long side for the sort of piece it is, but it certainly is not as grating as “Naked King.” This track shows her style of poet, so, I thought it best to type the words out for you.
We hold hands like monkeys
small hands in clasping rings
fettered together threaded
white milk and scales
like the belly of a fish
slide into me silver crescent
watch as my insides spill
silver sickle of the stars
I hid behind you once
on the dark side of your blade
childlike and simple
you sing to me like heaven-mouths
the surface of the silver sky
breathe into me breathe into me
I will fall at your feet
your silver feet
dipped into something savory
and my lips will worship there
the surface of your silver skin
the simple act of kindness
before bowed heads and empty eyes
before devil grins and empty eyes
I walked on your silver surface once
uncut and immune
“The Girl from the Green Dimension” begins with chimes again and a hum. It strikes me that VanFlower must have experience so much despair in connection to death. This track also deals with the passing of a friend or lover of some sort. Her voice is listless and travels amidst the chimes. The track has a sweet feeling, but there is also a sort of dirge underneath her voice. “I Lost the Moon” has a sort of breathing and some chaotic guitar work in it. One of the things I don’t like about the artwork on this disc is that some lyrics are included while other songs are omitted. “I Lost the Moon” is absent from the lyric sheet. Therefore, I can only get a feel for the song by the sounds. The breathing lends a sort of sexual feeling while the guitar makes that feeling seem rather dissonant and, perhaps, unhappy in the memory.
“A Rusted Nail Through the Wrist” starts with rather interesting percussion and odd noises. The lyrical content almost has a redemptive quality to them. Having “missed the mark,” VanFlower seems to look toward the one who is nailed to a tree. Perhaps, this is the Christ, but I can’t be sure. “A Conversation with Death” is an old spiritual that VanFlower sings over the blowing of wind. Her voice is so beautiful and weeping on this track. I wish she would have sung more like this throughout the album. This track is just beautiful. “Wren” begins with the sound of falling rain and a baby’s toy playing in the background. This song centers on a young girl whose mother is singing to her to comfort her in the dark. This track is sweet, but at the same time almost eerie. “Tigerlily” plays the album out. It is a short 37 seconds and it contains the song “Sunshine.”
All in all, my first reaction to this disc was highly negative. After another spin or two, I started to warm up to it and began to understand better what VanFlower is doing here. Although that is so, I would say that there are a few tracks that need trimming. Sometimes, the length on these really makes the track feel like it’s beating a dead horse by its end. That said, VanFlower can evoke emotions in the listener and she makes provocative comments on the subject of death.
~ Jason Lamereaux, Somewhere Cold
Fans of Tara VanFlower will
no doubt be thrilled by the release of her second solo disc My Little
Fire-Filled Heart. With this disc Tara has created a diverse collection
of songs all of which wonderfully showcase not only her writing and vocal
skills but also her eclectic and unique approach to music.
The disc is an impressive collection of pieces utilizing a variety of vocal styles and techniques showcasing the range of Tara's skill, alternating between spoken word narratives to effected looping vocal collages to more traditional styles of singing. The disc often features doubled and tripled vocal lines that give the suggestion of a chorus of Taras, sometimes singing together as one voice, other times as individuals each with their own unique and distinct personality. Minimal ambient elements and drones play throughout the disc, quiet and irregular, providing an excellent accompaniment to Tara's voice, adding to the atmosphere but never distracting from the magic she's created.
Lyrically My Little Fire-Filled Heart shines with surreal turns of phrase and captivating imagery. Throughout the disc Tara strings words together that evoke a childlike wonder filled with discoveries, magic moments and dark corners. It's a collection of beautiful fragments of emotion, sometimes blindingly happy, other times unsettling and anxious, but always perfectly captured in crystaline clarity.
To be sure, My Little Fire-Filled Heart is a beguiling release, the work of a fearless artist who is able to capture some of the magic that exists around her and make it into something others can share. With this release Tara has solidified her status as an unmistakeable and singular talent in modern music and proves that she deserves attention and recognition for the wonders that she is creating on disc.
~ Ping Things
For much of the album, I
am struggling to understand, it is not speaking to me in a language I can
comprehend. The vocals are too effects-laden and the lyrics so distant,
the form of each song seems so flat. Then a beautiful thing happens in
"The girl from the green dimension". The vocals are revealed, finally in
pure and clear form. The arc of the song makes sense, it draws you in and
you listen as the voices sing and speak to each other, and even as the
delay effect comes in near the end, it really works, it is no longer there
to change the voice for the sake of changing the voice, it really works
to enhance the purpose of it's existence.
~ Static Signals
Not at all what I might
have expected from this aetherial siren, who I knew of previously only
from her inspired work with Mike VanPortfleet and Lycia. This effort is
decidedly not something that shamelessly milks Ms. VanFlower’s exceptional
gift for wistful, dreamlike singing, though there are some very fine, harmonious
entwinings of silky vocal strands. This work is, in fact, very hard hitting
in unexpected ways. Strange, mysterious, chantlike droning enlaced with
spoken word and fragments of semisong and other vocal utterances for an
utterly disturbing effect. Psycho fairytale/reality story telling that
is markedly outre... relentless solar-plexus punches of a highly experimental
song form that is violent, angry, humiliating, empathetic, profound, and
hilarious all at once; one of the most erotic bits I have heard in years,
not for an instant pornographic, but filling the hearer with an acute awareness
of the presence of “the other” as a whole mind and person, or is it a fish?
I could go on, but you get the idea. This is original and provocative material
of an often radical sort. It blew my mind a bunch of times, and it has
~ Laura McCutchan, Morbid Outlook
Last year Mike VanPortfleet
released his Beyond the Horizon Line solo album (see AI #29),
and now Tara VanFlower takes a solo outing (her second) with My Little
Fire-Filled Heart. This took me a bit by surprise, being very different
from the music Lycia produces. Tara explores experimental music territory,
creating music that is freeform and sometimes abstract. Yet the results
are curiously accessible, and a bit unique, mostly due to the vocals and
Tara's ability to construct floating moods and atmospheres within a general
avant-garde framework. In some ways Tara reminds me of Laurie Anderson,
a female artist who many years ago found a measure of mainstream success
by also combining experimental elements with something anyone with a little
open mindedness could warm up to. Among the highlights is "Yaya", which
combines multiple voice layers with drones to create an avant-garde chanting
church congregation. "Rabbit" blends childlike song, spoken word, light
percussion and tape collage sound manipulations. "Silverback" is one of
my favorites, blending the sort of drones, voices and spoken word heard
on "Yaya" with experimental sound constructions. Lots happening here, but
as usual Tara keeps the focus on the mood of the piece. "I Lost The Moon"
is a standout track, featuring some of the most abstract yet absorbing
music of the set. "A Conversation With Death" is yet another highlight
that does an excellent job of blending avant-garde soundscapes with song.
Always captivating, Vanflower left me with much to absorb and digest, revealing
new bits and pieces with each subsequent listen of this pleasantly challenging
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations
Relying almost exclusively
on her multi-octave voice and an ocean of reverb, Tara VanFlower wades
out into the deep, dark void in search of light. She's Fire-Filled
Heart's sole composer and musician, although the finished product
is so spare, loose and interpretive that neither title seems quite right.
Her melodies twist and turn like spirits at play, the lyrics often meeting
at one word, only to drift apart again. Though sometimes challenging and
even tedious, the organic, ambient material always walks its own path.
"Sleep sweet baby / there's an angel on your shoulder / breathing life around you," VanFlower sings on "When", as flowing harmonies bathe in twelve minutes of pouring rain and music-box chimes. Similar themes of ethereal innocence and Judeo-Christian spirituality permeate disc; "Come To Me", for example, feels more like a prayer than a song, invoking a "God so near". More accurately, it feels like both prayer and song all at once.
To have any effect at all, VanFlower's free-form approach will demand a few dozen tealight candles and a good chunk of your time -- but in return, it offers a quiet, if sometimes vaguely unsettling resting place for your world-weary soul.
~ Mike Doyle, Splendid
As an avid fan of the female
voice in rock music (some of my favorites include Bjork, Kate Bush, Goldfrapp,
Nina Hagen, Happy Rhodes, Siouxsie Sioux, etc.), I was quite excited to
give Tara VanFlower's My Little Fire-Filled Heart a spin.
The label let me know that Ms. VanFlower is "blessed with a multi-octave
voice capable of many diverse forms and an eclectic writing style..." Sounded
good to me! Then I read "...Tara has created a blissful wash of echoing
chimes, throbbing basses, and howling choruses." My interest was quite
As I listened to the first track, "Ligertily," my anticipation turned enthusiastic as I heard a slow a cappella song with a multi-octave, multi-tracked, dreamy voice drenched in reverb with just the right amount of echo. I was looking forward to the next track when the music would kick in. My enthusiasm quickly turned to skepticism when "Ya Ya" started with sampled vocals that were slowed down and looped to create a haunting bass pattern with eerie whispering chants on top, a suitable soundtrack for an exorcism. My skepticism was corroborated when track three, "Rabbit," turned out to be a kind of nursery rhyme with talk-sing vocals over an echo blast with percussion that fades into a spoken-word poem. Skepticism turned to disappointment as the rest of the tracks played out, none of them living up to the expectations set forth by Silber Records.
While the pieces do contain some echoing chimes, throbbing basses, and howling (not choruses), they are never used in a conventional rock context. Comprised mostly of multi-tracked voices, saturated in effects (reverb, echo, loops, etc.), and often used as percussion or bass, the compositions are not in any type of song structure but are more theme-oriented, vocal-based experiments. Each one conveys an unearthly mood using a unique blend of supernatural vocal chants, bells, wind chimes, clinking chains, thunderstorms, and even an ice cream truck melody with an occasional electric guitar strum or dirgy synth backdrop.
Given the name of the album and with song titles like "A Rusted Nail Through the Wrist," "A Conversation with Death," and "The Girl From the Green Dimension," the disc appears to be an emotional personal statement. Tara VanFlower is credited with all music, vocals, and words, except for a cover of Death in June's "The Honour of Silence." VanFlower shows a little humor as the closing track, "Tigerlily" has her singing, "you are my sunshine, my only sunshine," which is played backwards on the opener "Ligertily."
My Little Fire-Filled Heart is darker, more ambient, and less musical than any of the RIYL artist's efforts and would be a good disc to play to set the mood for a seance or to play on Halloween, not if you want hours of blissful sonic seduction.
~ Matt the Raven, Delusions of Adequacy
Lycia vocalist Tara Van
Flower's follow up to her debut solo album This Womb Like Liquid
Honey (on Projekt), My Little Fire Filled Heart was
composed, performed, and produced entirely by Tara using her talented voice,
traditional and improvised percussive instruments, and some guitar work.
Ambient and organic, the vocals on My Little Fire Filled Heart
range from the playfully seductive to the passionately aggressive, utilizing
synth loops to fill out the background with a blissful wash of echoing
chimes, throbbing basses, and howling choruses. Features a rendition of
Death In June's "The Honour Of Silence" approved by Douglas P to be included
on upcoming DIJ tribute.
~ Chain D.L.K.
Joli nom, jolie pochette,
mais pour la musique c’est plutôt la pleine plongée en territoire
gothique, mais on comprend vite avant même que le disque ne soit
dans le lecteur. Tare pose à l’intérieur de la pochette,
habillée en noir, chevelure d’un noir geai, peau d’une blancheur
maladive, les paupières maquillées en rose. Tout le disque
n’est que vocalises gothiques et sombres de la dame, accompagnées
de nappes glaciales. De quoi rapidement saper le moral.
Un suono ostile a tratti
Tara Vanflower, nota per essere l’altra metà dei Lycia, si ripresenta con il suo solo-project a distanza di sei anni dal furioso debut album ‘This Womb Like Liquid Honey’.
‘My Little Fire-Filled Heart’ è un disco sperimentale in cui sono le capacità vocali di Tara ad attirare l’attenzione dell’ascoltatore con la sua versatilità, con il suo genio, con la sua voglia di stupire e sedurre. Il disco composto, suonato e prodotto dalla cantante americana, presenta atmosfere sempre al limite tra sogno e delirio. La musica ambient che costituisce il substrato del disco regala un illusorio stato di benessere che viene spezzato da ipnotici e ritualistici vocalizzi. In alcuni momenti sembra di essere innanzi ad una sirena in preda agli effetti corrosivi ed allucinogeni delle droghe sintetiche.
Non tutti i brani però sono all’altezza. Infatti, affianco a brani riusciti ed originali come la cover ‘The Honor Of Silence’ (Death In June), la sognante ‘The Girl From The Green Dimension’ e la spiazzante ‘I Lost The Moon’ ne troviamo altri deludenti come la ripetitiva e dittatoriale ‘Naked King’.
‘My Little Fire-Filled Heart’ è un disco inclassificabile, un album anticommericale ed ostico destinato ad una ristretta cerchia di persone in grado di capirne la qualità.
~ Lux, Kronic