The cover of Breath of Fire, the most recent solo album from Olympia post-punker/ethnomusicologist Arrington de Dionyso, is awful. It's poorly pixilated, and features a whitewashed de Dionyso in stocking feet. His eyes are closed, and he's clutching his bass clarinet like Kenny G gone indie distro. Thankfully, the songs glow. On Breath of Fire, de Dionyso skips the post-rock apocalyptica of his other band, Old Time Relijun, in favor of no-fi recordings and Tuvan throat singing. De Dionyso takes on the new territory expertly and respectfully, then reclaims the result with Western rock, folk, and experimentalism.
Breath of Fire was recorded in two days at a home studio in Puglia, Italy. Save for some inadvertent bird chirps, de Dionyso made all the noises himself, using only voice, clarinet, kettle, and khomux (jaw harp). Most of the 21 tracks hover at the one-minute mark, and jump from gut sounds to sinusoidal ones—growls and breaths and something like frogs hiccoughing. This is prayer, not pop, so it's best to take the tracks like peppermints: one at a time. There are bits to be savored, like the groaned exorcism of "Xibalba," and the unexpected bass-blast segue from "Tundra: Moving Glacier" to "The Lion Lays Down with the Lamb." Then there's the jankily spontaneous loop of "Rabbit Nutrient," which masters another toughie: sounding spontaneous and excited when you've actually been practicing for a long, long time.
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