CD REVIEW: Burning Ships - Empty Hold
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist/Band: Burning Ships
Ambient Rock, Alternative Rock, Ambient Pop
Weakness: Engineering Aspects (Recording, Mixing, Mastering)
A Massachusetts ex-pat, Fritz Limner had been in and around the Boston music and art scene since he was 15 years old. Limner has experienced a wondrous expanse of musical permutation and creative expression in the ever-changing world of Alternative and Indie music. Burning Ships is the brain child of San Francisco Bay area artist Fritz Limner. Personnel: Fritz Limner (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, drum programming, percussion programming, background vocals). Audio Mixers: Tim Gennert; Fritz Limner.
The CD kicks things off with Track 1 “Atomsfearica” a theatrical prelude of sorts that’s serves up methodical musical ambience that leads you head first into track 2 “Insecurity Guard” with its driven guitar textures, panted against dynamic musical flow and impressive culmination of guitar, voice and keyboards. This intro piece leads you head first into Track 3 “Comes and Goes” which serves up methodical ambience that gently leads you by the hand into track 4 shifts gears a bit with “Hit the Wall” a rocking follow-up piece with heartfelt vocal delivery, via aggressive distorted guitar attack and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD quickly unfolds I can hear influences ranging from Radiohead, Red Rider, The Fixx, Death Cab for Cutie and even Incubus. The music has everything you would expect from a dynamic Alternative/Progressive Rock CD, but also touches straight up Ambient /Rock that’s quite dynamic and melodic. The style of the music is highly original and refuses to be pinned down the first listen. The vocals are impressive, compelling and push the emotional envelope and imagination. The guitar ambience is very melodic and dynamic and the musical flow and ebb is highly creative. The overall vocal style works extremely well with the confine of this progressive rock catalogue and the intensity and emotions is off the charts. What I like most about the music is its sheer unpredictability note for note and song for song. By track 5 the CD hits solid stride dishing out many impressive songs in a row. Like a heavy weight boxer the songs keep coming at you one after the other - with no sign of letting up. From dynamic “Love and the Painters Djinn, to psychedelic “M’Lady in the East” to hypnotic “Be the Zero” to rocking "Weird of Love” to mesmerizing “Passage Euphonica” to melodic “Great Escape” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 15 “Of No Account” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
This is not the best mix I’ve ever heard. It sounds a bit amateurish to me on my high end speakers and lacks continuity track to track, Some songs sound OK, some a bit substandard. Looking now at the liner notes it was Mixed, and Mastered by one individual (Fritz Limner). This is a huge red flag and typically a big “no no” in the recording Industry. Each production phase must be handled by a separate music professional altogether in order to maximize the checks and balances between the engineers and the frequencies they chose. The impact this will have on the overall production value cannot be overstated. Some of this applies to recording. Case in point the distorted guitar sounds awkward almost as if it was recorded MIDI direct. Much of the guitar tracking on this CD is in dire need of an overhaul.
This latest release Burning Ships from Empty Hold (Fritz Limner) is a strong and consistent musical statement from start to finish. Its strength – the strong song for song consistency, progressive dynamics and strong melodic structure that keeps coming at you. The music is progressive, unpredictable, and highly original.