Have you ever been to Brooklyn, or better yet driven through Brooklyn on the Belt Parkway at night? Stare from the safety of your SUV window and you'll see square mile after square mile of decrepit brick buildings and millions of yellow sodium street lamps and crimson traffic lights that glow like embers in the coals of Hades. Press your nose against the cold window of your Ford Explorer, watch your breath condense on the glass and know that you are witnessing hell incarnate, and the home of Flaming Fire
Whether they're hell spawn or fallen angles, I'm not sure, but I am sure of this: Flaming Fire is perhaps the most bizarre band I've come across since I've been reviewing music for Legends Magazine. Their costumes are enough to label them as bizarre: they dress in Fire red from head to toe - a preacher, a priest with a bird mask and two Earth-goddesses in flowing robes and plastic ivy headbands. Imagine a David Lynch TV pilot that was too strange for prime time TV, or even HBO at 3am. Then imagine these creatures performing the 80's funk nugget Word Up! in the style of Blue Suede James's Hooked On a Feeling, with all melody and groove stripped away - it's just about the dorkiest thing I've ever heard. It's also crazy, ballsy, and in a very limited way, brilliant.
How these odd ducks rose from the ashes of hell is beyond my comprehension, but they must be here for a purpose. Whether that purpose is to a) tickle the fancy of nerd-rock obsessed WFMU listeners, b) to provide atmosphere for a Dame Darcy gallery show, c) to get me to crack open my Twin Peaks box-set, or d) to keep me from playing Super Smash Bros on my Game Cube I'm not sure, but my best assumption would be all of the above. My favorite is choice b: linty red velvet, 5 dollar bottles of Zinfandel, and cheese and raw vegetable platters wilting under halogen lights and Lisa Suckdog prancing around in wearing nothing but a horse's tail - now that's a party.
For a second I forgot this was a music review... Flaming Fire's sound is intensely unique, at the same time totally fucked up -- postmodern, yet stylistically focused and consistent - an aural "red velvet" cake with more ingredients than a Mardi Gras gumbo. Combine rudimentary Casio grooves and beats, Fuzz-a-delic guitar riffs, and 40 to 50 minutes of vocals which can only be compared to an off-Broadway performance of Dante's Inferno, the Musical ("now and forever ") - plus elements of Gregorian chant, the Andrews Sister's Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B, Mark Mothersbaugh, Sweeny Todd and just about any Satanic ceremony featuring Don Henley, Sammy Davis Jr. and Linda Lovelace in the early 70's.
Aside from the aforementioned cover of Word Up!, Get Old and Die with Flaming Fire works best listened to as a whole, like a film or a book - to isolate a single vignette or chapter would lessen the full-force impact of the total Flaming Fire experience.
If anything I've described above sounds interesting, by all means explore their web site (check out the gallery) and test drive their music for yourself. Hopefully you'll find yourself cruising through Brooklyn someday with the fires of hell at your sides and the tones of Flaming Fire filling your ears.
Post: Flaming Fire and Banjo Pete, PMB 112, 302 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11211