Reviews

Burning House


Burning House

“Her Vowel No” is the next single to be unleashed from the ‘Anthropocene’ album by Burning House. The Southampton outfit released their gripping debut LP in July via MIOHMI records (the label co-founded by Yumi And The Weather’s Ruby Taylor), their immersive and stirring, noise-laced shoegaze/alt-rock sound gaining support from the likes of John Kennedy (Radio X), Steve Lamacq (BBC 6Music), BBC Solent, Echoes & Dust, Louder Than War, The Big Takeover, and beyond.

 Enveloped in cosmic noise and buzz-saw guitar riffs, “Her Vowel No” sees the band leaning into a headwind of chaos, on a track that melds influences including Trail Of Dead and ‘90s shoegazers Swirlies. Arresting, propulsive and with an unshakable hook snaking right through it, this song punched its way up through the epic, noise-driven haze of the album to demand its place as a showcase track.

 Burning House have earned a reputation for generating chaos and euphoria; a performance for the end of time. Their compelling songs are inspired by the hallmarks of shoegaze while venturing far beyond. Their album builds on a few years of buzz at online press and tastemaker radio, as well as in the live sphere where they have opened for the likes of Wire, Moon Duo, Shonen Knife and more.

 Founded by songwriter, guitarist and frontman Aaron Mills, the band coalesced into its current formation with the addition of bassistPatrick White and more recently drummer Dominic Taylor. Mills and White’s shared penchant, for the combination of pop melody with high art concept, is turbo-charged by Taylor’s background in punk and grunge music, making for an intimate yet visceral experience; raw and comforting in equal measure, and all the more absorbing for its emotional ambiguity. Mills’ vocals are often cradled low in the mix, their textural nuance and lyrical fervour somehow amplified when glimpsed through the chaos of noisy fuzz, juggernaut riffs and punchy drums.

 On their live dates, Burning House are now augmented on guitar and keys by Ruby Taylor, an acclaimed musician under her Yumi And The Weather guise and co-founder of MIOHMI records.

 Burning House UK tour dates (+ more tbc)

 18th September – The Prince Albert, Brighton
19th September – Strong Room Bar, London
3rd October – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham
5th October – After Dark Club, Reading
11th October – The Smoke House, Ipswich
1st December – Bar 42, Worthing

Burning House have earned a reputation for generating chaos and euphoria; a performance for the end of time. Their compelling songs are inspired by the hallmarks of shoegaze while venturing far beyond. Anticipation for this album has been building over the past year via flurry of singles which have gained widespread praise and support from the likes of Louder Than War, Clash, Drowned In Sound and John Kennedy (Radio X), to add to early airplay from Steve Lamacq (BBC 6Music), while in the live arena they have opened for the likes of Wire, Moon Duo, Shonen Knife and more.

Founded by songwriter, guitarist and frontman Aaron Mills, the band coalesced into its current formation with the addition of bassist Patrick White and more recently drummer Dominic Taylor. Mills and White’s shared penchant, for the combination of pop melody with high art concept, is turbo-charged by Taylor’s background in punk and grunge music, making for an intimate yet visceral experience; raw and comforting in equal measure, and all the more absorbing for its emotional ambiguity.

Mills arrived at the band name serendipitously. “A ‘Burning House’ trope runs through some of my favourite films: Tarkovsky’s ‘Mirror and Sacrifice’ and Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York”, he elaborates. “Also, around the time I noticed this I picked up REM’s B-sides/rarities collection ‘Dead Letter Office’, and several tracks had ‘Burning’ in their titles.”

He latched on to ‘Anthropocene’ as an album title some years back, before the word had become so prominent in the cultural and political zeitgeist. He says: “I’m using some artistic license with the word, as it’s not a ‘political’ album – not overtly or consciously. It’s more about the individual’s tussle with vast uncertainty. What can one do when the problems we face are so insurmountable, but turn inward?”

In the oceanic expanse of the opening song, as on several other tracks, Mills’ vocals bear out that introverted instinct, cradled low in the mix, their textural nuance and lyrical fervour somehow amplified when glimpsed through the chaos of noisy fuzz, juggernaut riffs and punchy drums. “It’s a song about the fall of an empire. I wrote it as a big, self-conscious, opening rock song”, says Mills, of “Mimosa”, which sees Smashing Pumpkins influences collide with the unconscious guitar ambience of My Bloody Valentine, the crowning solo carving a path with liquid intensity. “Lyrically, it takes on themes of isolation, but also risk – the idea that risk is the only cure for isolation and despair. I was inspired by reading Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, and I learned about how one can hypnotise through consistency and repetition, and then all of a sudden break the “spell”.”

Spell broken, “Mirror Song” duly smashes it to smithereens with a propulsive, unhinged guitar riff and mechanistic drums, alongside a breezy vocal. Laying down yet more memorable hooks, the hyper-melodic yet fuzz-laden “Souvenirs” combines influences from Red House Painters and Kyuss; the catchy “If You Won’t” brings sequenced flutes and elastic guitar motifs, for a fuzzy-lullaby quality.

But this was never going to be a straight-up pop album, and the band set about chipping away at that happy-go-lucky feeling. “Anthropocene” – inspired by ‘The Sixth Extinction’, a book about climate change – brings an eerie, eve-of-the-apocalypse sensation. Led by a punishing riff, “Forever” takes lyrical themes from Christian mysticism before descending into white noise, from which the faded gleam of “Languor” emerges, its jarringly atonal chord structure shrouded in reverb like Jeff Buckley reflected in a haunted mirror.

The ghostly tone lingers in the lo-fi charm of “Elvis Monika”, which was written and recorded on the spot inspired by the album’s artwork – a painting by Sarah Shaw“Big Tinted” pulls the listener in close, ready for the candid vocal performance of “Fragments”, a transcendent song informed lyrically by a messy breakup, and stylistically by Concteau Twins and Mercury Rev. As the lull of “13 Moons” looks set to complete the album’s ascension to a meditative plain, the cosmic noise and buzz-saw guitar riffs return on “Her Vowel No”, melding influences including ‘90s shoegazers Swirlies and Trail Of Dead.

Inspired by J.G Ballard and the revolutionary poetry of Diane Di Prima, “Robinson” is an 11-minute epic which evolved from an even more outlandish 30-minute piece; its evocative, nostalgia-laden outro of atmospheric NASA samples and feedback gives onto the album’s closing track, “Awning” – a reflection of the bombastic opening number.“The end is built into the beginning. I wanted to make a perfect, anthemic closer. Evoking Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence concept – we will relive, or at the very least reconstruct all these experiences again and again., says Mills. “Due to the album length, I often see it more as a film. So I always imagine rolling credits accompanying this song. The keychange at the end portrays the overcoming of a mountain. There is no further destination remaining; only home”.

On their upcoming live dates, Burning House are augmented on guitar and keys by Ruby Taylor, who is also an acclaimed musician under her Yumi And The Weatherguise a and co-founder of MIOHMI records.

Burning House – Her Vowel No

Burning House – Mimosa

Burning House – Mirror Song

Burning House – Peach

Burning House links:

Band location – Southampton/Brighton England

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