Vlor originally started way back in 1992 consisting of best friends Brian John Mitchell (Remora) & Russell Halasz with acoustic guitars doing Cure & Bauhaus covers. A lack of money for delay & reverb & looping units led to experimentation with natural reverbs in odd rooms & repetitive guitar drones, arpeggios, & riffs. In 1997 Vlor recorded the Lavished EP in a racquetball court & in 1998 Vlor recorded the Luxate EP on a four track. Unfortunately 1998 also seemingly marked the end of Vlor with Halasz moving to Florida.
In 2005 while working on archiving out of print releases for Silber, Mitchell realized what he loved & missed about Vlor was the excitement & freedom of music made with friends.
Mitchell recorded ninety minutes of initial guitar riffs & arpeggios & sent them to six friends for completion of the songs. Drone-pop-star Jon DeRosa (Aarktica) adds harmonium & serialist guitar parts. Mike VanPortfleet (Lycia) adds his trademarked highly harmonized & reverbed guitarwork. Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), who normally focuses on acoustic guitar, adds electric guitar & keyboards. Neo-psychedeliaist Jessica Bailiff adds vocals & violin & acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitarist Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus) adds a variety of Indian instruments & hand percussion. Shoegazer Paolo Messere (6P.M.) adds virtually an entire band with percussion, electric guitars, & keyboards. The best results of these collaborations are a fire is meant for burning.
Some of the tracks like “wires” show the overwhelming power & orchestration the project is capable of despite the song’s humble start with a guitar that survived a fire strung with steel wire instead of guitar strings. Other tracks like “pale lights” & “trust in weapons” remain content as minimalist guitar experiments.
Vlor in the end is about two things, friendship & music.
Vlor? The name sounds like this should be some sort of obscure black metal band. Or maybe an alien race from a sci-fi TV show. But Vlor is actually a band, or project really, devoted to making lovely layered shoegazing guitar sonics in a minimal, post-rock style, a bit like Windsor For The Derby, or maybe old AQ faves Codeine (like an intro to one of their songs though, before it really kicks in with drums n' all). One guy, Brian J. Mitchell, seems to be the instigator here, playing on all the tracks, joined by various other friendly collaborating guitarists over the course of the album, including members of Remora, Aarktica, Lycia, Rivulets, and Jessica Bailiff (who also contributes some breathy vocals to the very short "Suncatcher", an anomaly on this otherwise instrumental album). Many of the tracks are trembling, mellow and quite pleasant, with some (like "Wires") getting a bit more menacing, with th' distortion factor upped... A good blend of the repetitive, experimental and the almost indie-pop, in the realm of guitar explorations. Quite Nice!
~ Aquarius Records
Like the This Mortal COil compilations of years gone by, vlor is a gathering of friends contributing to the same project. In this case, the artists featured float around the Silber Media sphere of influence. This release features contributions from Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), & a highly impressive contribution on "Days Like Smoke" by Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia. The tracks swell between the detached to the blatantly psychedelic. This droning, aggressive, detuned collection of melodic noise is a true treat for the ears & mind.
~ Poseidon, Gothic Beauty
Brian John Mitchell is one bummed-out guy. Even his instrumentals have that "I have been crushed totally & completely" vibe. 8/10.
~ Neddal Ayad, Foxy Digitalis
In this incarnation Vlor is a drone supergroup of sorts: Brian John Mitchell (Remora) created skeletons of songs and got friends like Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), Mike Van Portfleet (Lycia), Nathan Admundson (Rivulets), Jessica Bailiff, Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus) and Paolo Messere (6 P.M.) to help complete them. The concept is friends making music together, and the music itself is exploratory and ofen quite exciting. It opens with the sound of a lone guitar, as the project did; the first track "Trust in Weapons" is a contemplative guitar piece built around a melody and some spacey guitar sounds. It sounds peaceful yet engaged with the unknown. The next track "Wires" is instantly heavier and creepier, crunching forward with a big, layered sound that resembles both a giant metal machine and some kind of film-soundtrack orchestra. There's shimmering noises and grinding noises at once. A Fire Is Meant for Burning is seldom as dramatic as that particular track, yet it's often filled with sounds that reek of mystery in a similar way. The music overall is quite beautiful, yet seldom just beautiful for its own sake – often dark and forboding and filled with some raw energy. It's generally instrumental, but then there's a brief lovely, ghostly ballad sung by Bailiff. You get the sense that talented friends, working together, can take their music any direction they can collectively conjure up.
~ Dave Heaton, Erasing Clouds
Vlor is Silber's This Mortal Coil-like supergroup, featuring members of the roster in collaboration with label head Brian John Mitchell. Joining him in the jam-sessions are Rivulets' Nathan Amundson, Jessica Bailiff, Aaartika's Jon DeRosa, Remora's Jesse Edwards, and Lycia's Mike VanPortfleet. The music found on a fire is meant to burn is mostly instrumental, all guitars, and fits nicely between the folk/rock/drone stylings of the collaborators. At times the music is rough, such as on "Houses Not Homes" and "New Machine," other times, it's extremely hypnotic, such as on "Wires" and the rare vocals of Bailiff on "Suncatcher" makes for a nice treat amongst the focus on instrumental acumen. This is mood music for the thinking man; it's never too dull, never too flat, even though it is mainly an instrumental collection. Best moment: the gorgeous ambience of "Days Like Smoke," where Mitchell and Mike VanPortfleet turn in a Lycia-like soundscape that's extremely lush and utterly beautiful.
~ Joseph Kyle, Mundane Sounds
Brian John Mitchell developed Vlor's A Fire is Meant for Burning's 12 guitar pieces by having formidable guests like Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), Mike VanPortfleet (Lycia), Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), Jessica Bailiff, and Jesse Edwards complete the 90 minutes of riffs and arpeggios he initially recorded alone. Some songs feature a couple of musicians while others a large number, allowing for effective contrast between full-bodied and skeletal arrangements. In “Wires,” Mitchell's guitar becomes an audible nucleus for the scalding swirl that swells around it. At various times, traces of DeRosa's bright harmonium, Bailiff's voice and violin, and Edwards' Indian instruments augment the songs' guitar foundations (the dreamily soft purr of Bailiff's singing is especially lovely on the fleeting “Suncatcher”). More often than not, however, settings like “Light at the Speed of Sound” are peaceful and ruminative in character; guitars drift through “Days Like Smoke,” for example, like tumbleweeds through a ghost town.
~ Ron Schepper, Textura
Vlor was originally the duo of Brian John Mitchell (Remora) and Russell Halasz, who formed the band to do acoustic guitar covers of Cure and Bauhaus songs, though they went on to record experimental guitar works. Halasz has since moved to Florida, through in 2005 Mitchell recorded 90 minutes of guitar riffs and arpeggios which he sent to various friends to complete as songs, and resulted in the 10 collaboration tracks on A Fire is Meant for Burning. Contributors include Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), Jessica Bailiff, Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus), Paolo Messere (6P.M.), and Mike VanPortfleet (Lycia).
The CD opens with "Trust in Weapons", a duo guitar piece with Jon DeRosa that has a nice melody but plods along a bit too much. Things get more exciting with the next track, "Wires", which nearly everyone contributes to. I love the mixture of dark intensity, trippy psychedelic vibe and spacey electronics on this tune. "Potential New Sound" is somewhat similar but far less intense. It's dark and foreboding, but at the same time light and dreamy, and includes multiple layers of instrumentation with an interesting variety of textures and effects. "Houses Not Homes" and "New Machine" are duo pieces with Paolo Messere that are like lo-fi rock 'n drone tunes. The former is a simplistic rock instrumental but nicely embellished by atmospherics and effects, while the later is far busier and involved, in part due to the interesting use of percussion. "Suncatcher" is a short song that I enjoyed with vocals by Jessica Bailiff. Just a really nice guitar and piano tune. I've not heard of Jessica before but a web search revealed that she's got a few albums out on the Kranky label. I'll have to seek out some of her music. "Days Like Smoke" is a another dreamy atmospheric piece with slow moving guitars that drive the piece over a cool howling meditative backdrop.
There are a number of tracks along the lines of "Trust in Weapons", that according to the promo sheet Mitchell would probably describe as minimalist guitar experiments, but they didn't really hold my attention. However, the strong tracks are very good and I suspect that most fans familiar with the contributing artists would find much to enjoy here.
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations
Vlor began almost 15 years ago, when Brian John Mitchell and Russell Halasz began experimenting with natural reverbs, as they couldn’t afford electronic equipment to create the same effects. (Perhaps the money would have flowed a bit more easily if they hadn’t spent their time messing around with reverbs and experimental guitar, but who am I to make such speculations?) By 1998, Vlor had a few releases under their belt, but ultimately folded when Halasz relocated. Fast forward to last year, when Vlor was resurrected in a fit of nostalgia, its corpse dusted off and straightened out. Mitchell invited six of his friends to dress it up real nice, adding whatever they saw fit to make Vlor into a presentable zombie. Now, dressed handsomely and with what’s left of its hair slicked back, A Fire Is Meant For Burning staggers into the light.
For the Vlor redux, Mitchell enlisted the help of some fairly respectable names in the experimental guitar world, such as Jon DeRosa of Aarktica, Nathan Amundson of Rivulets, and members of Red Morning Chorus. After recording some initial riffs and arpeggios, Mitchell just mailed (or e-mailed) them around, each participant successively adding their contributions until Mitchell felt the track was complete. Interestingly, Halasz was not among those invited, or perhaps declined his invitation. Most of the collaborators added more ambient, droney guitar to the mix, but interspersed throughout are the occasional violin, keyboards, hand percussion and even some Indian instruments. No one song on the album contains all seven possible players, but most contain a healthy three or four, and others are an intimate two member trade-off.
So what were the results of such an experiment? It’s hard to say. Inconclusive? Not statistically significant? A Fire Is Meant For Burning is definitely in the upper tier of ambient guitar work, but it’s still a result that could have been accomplished by one person, as it often doesn’t raise its voice enough to make it apparent that six people are lending their guitar-strumming hands. Some tracks certainly work better than others, the most notable songs being “Wires” and “Horses in Deserts,” both of which build into subdued crescendos that have a lot more going on in them than the first listen betrays. Many of the other tracks don’t stand as solidly on their own, however, and because the album is so consistently low-key, it’s advisable to take it all at once, as it truly embodies the proverbial notion that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
A Fire Is Meant For Burning is a solid ambient album, perfectly suited for a lazy morning or a night slipping away to approaching slumber. While it hardly seems like a seven person collaboration, perhaps that’s actually its strong point: these seven friends were aligned enough with a central vision of the project to keep everything to a dull roar. No one takes advantage of their freedom, and the music maintains a somnambulistic shuffle throughout. Still, such exercises in restraint are always a balancing act, and A Fire Is Meant For Burning can teeter dangerously at the brink of boredom. It’ll be interesting to see what Mitchell does with this project in the future. In the meantime, A Fire Is Meant For Burning is the perfect mental bubble bath to relax in while dreaming up your own all-star casts for a Vlor-type endeavor.
~ Dan Sorrells, Delusions of Adequacy
This band did exist in another time, as a duo, but after the two drifted apart, one lonely soul, Brian John Mitchell, decided to dust off the cobwebs and call in some friends to expand his skeletal musical frameworks. Essentially, Mitchell recorded guitar riffs and arpeggios and then sent them off to various people to help finish them up. While the end result sometimes showcases this piecemeal approach, there is a subtlety and fragility to these compositions that charm. The most obvious theme is that of repeating guitar chords, which are embellished, muted or just left on their own. Working with such slow burn artistes like Rivulets’ Nathan Amundson, Jessica Bailiff and Aarktica’s Jon DeRosa, the songs draw out their beauty, yet sometimes it seems repetitious. “Horses in Deserts” is a perfect example, where there is an ever present haze, yet it slowly lifts to showcase the galloping guitar alone. Then, the instrumentation eases on in, adding a little abrasive violin, eventually taking the beat back to the sonic fog it came from. Fire is not the most cathartic of listens, but it does possess an intimate quality for those who love to work for their rewards.
~ Chris Whibbs, Exclaim!
Thank goodness I just happen to wake up at 5am to listen this minimal, guitar-centered collaboration from some of Silber records' all-stars. As we all know, the early morning is the best time to listen to this kind of thing. On A Fire, main guy Brian John Mitchell has Jon DeRosa of Aarktica, Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia and others add reverbed acoustic guitar and more reverbed acoustic guitar, doing away with the need to rock. The better, more engaging tracks come when there's an airy vocal, bass or keyboard, which, as minimal as it is, adds depth and spookiness that the guitar can't achieve. Yeah, more of that, please. The guitar is way too lonely.
~ Kenyon Hopkin, Advance Copy
Progressive experimental audio collaborations between Brian John Mitchell (Remora) and his friends Paolo Messere, Jon DeRosa, Jesse Edwards, Jessica Baliff, Nathan Amundson, and Mike VanPortfleet. For this album, Mitchell recorded 90 minutes of guitar pieces and sent them off to his friends to complete the recordings. The best were chosen for inclusion in this album. A Fire Is Meant For Burning is, not surprisingly, a peculiar and spontaneous affair. The album is a purely artistic endeavor in which the musicians communicate with one another. This communication translates into the substance of the music. Confusing, soothing, abstract...A Fire Is Meant For Burning is an interesting trip into the minds of those involved in the real undercurrents of modern audio art.
Take the finest of some of Silber’s premium artists to date (Brian John Mitchell of Remora, Jon DeRosa of Aarktika and Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia fame) and slap them all in a room together and you’re sure to be on a winner. Vlor, the name given to this sacrosanct amalgamation (with the added bonuses of Nathan Amundson of Rivulets, Jessica Bailiffs, Jesse Edwards of Red Morning Chorus and Paolo Messere of 6P.M ) is exactly what you’d expect from four friends with a penchant for experimentation.
The birth of Vlor began in 1992 and sadly ended in 1998 with founding member Russel Halasz leaving the group, however like a phoenix from the ashes the new, 21st Century Vlor arrives with a new album entitled A Fire is Meant for Burning a collection of the best results from these new partnerships. There is a foray of emotion from Vlor’s latest, with tranquil yet mournful tracks like the opener “Trust in Weapons”, “Days Like Smoke” or “Weakening Blows” placing you into one mindset while other tracks such as “Wires” have a much more brooding orchestral feel.
“Potential New Sound” too has an ominous quality about it though more potent than in “Wires” is the spellbinding power of the repetitive guitar and synth composition, that enthrals you effortlessly within the atmosphere of the song.
“Houses Not Homes” meanwhile shows off some of Van Portfleet’s idiosyncratic guitar riffs via an opening that has the dark wave flare akin to all of Lycia’s releases, creating a sound, and track, that on the whole grounds the experimental release within the Post rock genre.
“Suncatcher” should be mentioned simply for Bailiff’s downplayed vocal talent and while the lack of vocals throughout the rest of the album emphasises the music, a little more of Bailiff’s input could have given an extra bit of spice to the album.
While the concept of four equally talented and lateral artists getting together conjures up ideas of some sort of avant-garde super group the reality is more humble. The end result sounding similar to countless post rock groups out there already. Though as Vlor’s modus operandi is to unite four friends and have fun playing instruments then the reality is that the listener is in a sense an intruder into the sound they create. That the sound in question is enjoyable, if generic, is neither here nor there to the important party, the musicians themselves.
~ Michael Riley, Left Hip
Vlor was originally the guitar duo of Silber Records chief Brian John Mitchell (Remora) and his best friend, Russell Halasz experimenting with drones, loops, and reverbs between 1992 and 1998, culminating in the “Lavished” (1997) and “Luxate” (1998) EPs. The project ended when Halasz moved to Florida in ’98. Mitchell decided to revive the project last year while preparing archival releases for his label, so he sat down and composed and recorded nearly an hour and a half of guitar riffs and arpeggios and farmed them off to half a dozen friends and label mates to complete. So the release is essentially prepared by a virtual band comprised of Aarktica’s Jon DeRosa, Lycia’s Mike VanPortfleet, Rivulets’ Nathan Amundson, Red Morning Chorus’ Jesse Edwards, 6P.M.’s Paolo Messere and vocalist Jessica Bailiff. The delicate opener “Trust In Weapons” sets the table for a feast of minimalist guitar pluckings, drones, and sound manipulations, whereas “Wires” is a true supergroups extravaganza, with input from everyone (but VanPortFleet). The title refers to the guitar upon which Mitchell plays his base drones which he saved from a fire and restrung with steel wire. The sonic results are akin to the “Wire Music” collaborations between Alastair Galbraith and Matthew De Gennaro.
As a huge fans of DeRosa’s work, I’m partial to his collaborative efforts here, which are among the most sedate on tracks like “Weakening Blows” and “Light At The Speed Of Sound,“ where he fills in the spaces between Mitchell’s original notes with complimentary strokes of glistening beauty. “Horses In Deserts,” as expected, gallops along and, whether subconsciously or not, actually did remind me of America’s “Horse With No Name,” as in, “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name.” “Potential New Sound” is a fluffy bed of electronic feathers…a marshmallow overcoat of Amundson’s keyboards, Bailiff’s acoustic guitar, Edwards’ Indian instruments and Messere’s percussives.
The album works because, despite the rudimentary two-note riffage of a lot of Mitchell’s source material, his decision to have multiple collaborators adding layers onto his framework gives the album a full-band sound, making for an eclectic, yet exciting listen that might have otherwise languished in boxes like millions of other guitarists’ personal noodlings and peripheral creations.
Bailiff’s breathy vocals on “Suncatcher” add an element of warmth, although I’m still impressed with the soft reflective, stroll-through-the-woods atmosphere of tracks like “Pale Lights” and “Days Like Smoke.” Overall, a beautiful album for late night or early morning navel gazing.
~ Jeff Penczak, Foxy Digitalis
Of much more interest is Vlor. It started out in 1992 by Brian John Mitchell (of Remora) and Russel Halasz, playing acoustic guitars and releasing two EPs. They separated in 1998 when Halasz moved to Florida. In 2005 Mitchell was compiling a 'best of rare material' and thought he missed doing music as Vlor. So he recorded ninety minutes of guitar riffs and sent it to six different friends, asking them to complete them as songs. These six are Jon DeRosa (of Aarktica), Mike vanPortfleet of Lycia, Nathan Amundsun (Rivulets), Jessica Bailiff, Jesse Edwards (of Red Morning Chorus) and Paolo Messere (6 P.M.). Each of these players added a trademark of their own, such as violin, vocals, keyboards, more guitars and harmonium. You could think that this would lead to a very diverse bunch of tracks, that holds somewhere in between a remix and a rework, but there is a strong coherency among the twelve pieces. Firmly rooted in the more experimental corner of postrock, melancholy is lurking about in every track. Sometimes it stays close to the original minimal playing of Mitchell, but things work best when they are expanded into the format of a real song, with extended instrumentation. Though post rock is by itself a dead end, music wise, the Vlor is more than well crafted, a labour of love and friendship.
~ Frans deWard, Vital Weekly
More hazy daydream music on the same label comes from Vlor, basically a tool for label boss Brian John Mitchell to make music with some of the friends he admires the most. The process behind A Fire Is Meant for Burning started with Mitchell recording 90 minutes of guitar riffs and arpeggios that he sent to six friends (Jon DeRosa of Aarktica, Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia, Nathan Amundson of Rivulets, Jessica Bailiff, Jesse Edwards of Red Morning Chorus and Paul Messere of 6P.M.) for completion. Despite being primarily based around the guitar we get a varied listen that includes as much pastoral string massage as primitive walls of sound hitting you right in the face. My favorite track is possibly “Suncatcher,” an all too brief, downcast slice of dream pop that reaches the heavens much thanks to Bailiff’s vocal contribution. Nothing of all this is that original but there’s still something about this disk that makes it difficult to escape.
~ Mats Gustafson, The Broken Face
Vlor's beginnings stretch back to 1992, the band's two original EPs being recorded in the mid-late 90s before its demise. Resurrecting the project sans original member Russell Halasz and with the help of an array of notable artists, including Lycia's Mike Vanportfleet, Aarktica's Jon DeRosa, and Rivulets' Nathan Amundson, Silber head Brian John Mitchell has compiled Vlor's first full length, A Fire is Meant for Burning. Assembled from the best results of these collaborations, built around 90 minutes of his own original guitar-based source material, the mostly instrumental and remarkably cohesive album contains just over 40 minutes of melodic and sonically diverse constructed compositions.
All twelve tracks here are anchored by Mitchell's simplistic-yet-emotive repeating guitar riffs and arpeggios, most of the album's sonic variety coming largely from its various collaborators. The nicely produced "potential new sound", its simple guitar arpeggio buried beneath beautifully textured layers of Indian instrumentation and atmospheric processed loops, is one of the disc's loveliest and most effective, but even the stripped down, melodic, interweaving two-guitar interplay of "light at the speed of sound" proves quite dynamic. The sinister guitar riff, dark melodic counterpoint, and unsettling distorted noise of "wires" provide another particularly striking moment.
As expected, "days like smoke", the only title featuring Mike Vanportfleet, is arguably the disc's highlight, a simply beautiful foray into melancholia, airy breaths searing the background of the lush, synth-heavy delivery that sets it apart from the rest of the material here. Also notable for their differences are "suncatcher", featuring the concrete ethereal vocals of Jessica Bailiff, and "new machine", still experimental but featuring a more traditional rock arrangement complete with percussion courtesy of Paolo Messere.
From slightly folksy guitar simplicity to lush ethereal moments, Vlor's return is a diverse and rather successful jump into experimental collaborative territory. Its occasionally sloppiness, likely due to it's varying original sources, actually often adds an extra touch of humanity rather than detracting from the material, creating an album that's imperfect, but almost necessarily so. Always underpinned and grounded by Mitchell's repetition but given life through the intervention and imaginations of its collaborators, A Fire is Meant for Burning is an emotive and relevant offering that proves greater than the sum of its parts.
~ Joshua Heinrich, Grave Concerns
A simple acoustic guitar part repeated over and over, accompanied by some beeping electric guitar strings brings forth A Fire Is Meant for Burning. As the music continues, the electric guitar goes into a melody of its own amongst the acoustic riff, which stays the same. Thus is the glory of Vlor, the content is basically instrumental music with two guitar parts, bass, and electronic and/or sampled elements.
Each song starts off with an acoustic riff that stays the same throughout the whole song. Another guitar part will eventually add to the sound, and the bass and the electronic sounds join in. Although the songs use the same riff over and over, the sound seems to spread out the farther into the song you go, causing a wider, more intense sound.
The main problem with A Fire Is Meant for Burning is that all the exclusively instrumental music seems to fade into the background. It's very much like "spare time with a guitar" with very simple clean guitar melodies that repeat ad nauseam. The good side is that it's not distracting, and could offer a pleasant experience. You might sort of think of it somehow as a less interesting version of Agalloch.
~ Brandon Strader, Maelstrom
Silber Media is a small explorative label that is designed to bring exposure to artists that view music differently than many do. Music will always be subjective to the listener. What one finds excellent, another may dislike intensely, and so it goes. Silber caters largely to ambience of various styles and is also home to ambient champs, Lycia.
Vlor is a makeup of various members of other bands, notably label attachments, Aarktica, Remora, Rivulets, Jessica Bailiff, and Lycia with A Fire Is Meant For Burning a collaborative guitar work amongst them. Vlor is a non-sequenced collection of experimental pieces that flesh together to entice those that appreciate off-track guitar background or a sit in a soft chair with headphones. There is charm in such music, which is clearly not for the Top 40 crowd but will likely attract certain fans of ambient, those that can go beyond the usual spacey or nature hike stuff.
The songs on this album vary in style, likely according to the influence of the various artists that brought the music piece to the table. It begins with a soft conversation between two acoustic guitars (“Trust In Weapons”); a more biting buzz saw approach (“Wires”); and winds its way to the Mike VanPorfleet (Lycia) involved, “Days Like Smoke,” clearly with recognizable VanPortfleet touches. Brian John Mitchell is the singular component that weaves through all twelve tracks of instrumentals.
A Fire Is Meant For Burning is meant to drift by.
~ Matt Rowe, Music Tap
Brian John Mitchell (the friendly chap who is behind the excellent Silber record label) decided to resurrect his old project Vlor which he started in 1992. Vlor had released a few EPs in the late 1990s, but has been dormant for a few years.
Instead of working as a duo as Brian previously had with Russell Halasz, he decided to record about ninety minutes of random riffs and arpeggios and send them off to his friends. The friends just happen to be a who’s who of the droney end of the underground. The folks he collaborated with are Jon Derosa (Aarktica), Mike Van PortFleet (Lycia), Nathan Amudson (Riverlets), Jessica Baliff, Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus) & Paulo Messere (6 PM). With so many cooks in the kitchen, this might have turned into a sonic mess. Surprisingly, it sounds wonderfully organic. The collaborators really don’t draw attention to themselves. They only add to the expansive whole.
The first track “Trust in Weapons” really reminds me of Mick Turner’s (of the Dirty 3) solo album Moth. Like Mick, Brian uses simple, at times endearingly fumbling guitar line loops that he plays off of to build more complex sounds. “Wire” has a claustrophobic rockist sound. “Weakening” feels wistful with weeping guitar lines cascading over one another.
Out of all the collaborators, the star that shines the brightest is Jessica Bailiff. Her gorgeous vocals are stunning on the too short “Suncatcher.” Over the entirety of this mostly melancholy disc there are shifts and surprises that make repeated listening most enjoyable.
~ Dan Cohoon, Amplitude Equals One Over Frequency Squared
While Mitchell was working on archiving out of print releases for Silber he realised that what he loved and missed about Vlor was the excitement and freedom of music made with friends. He recorded ninety minutes of initial guitar riffs and arpeggios and send them to several friends for completion of the songs.
“a fire is meant for burning” is the result of this cooperation, a melancholic and rustic Post- Rock album. While listening names like Bardo Pond, A Minor forest, Doldrums and Labradford came through my mind. Some songs have quite minimal arrangements while others, like “wires” are rich orchestrated. “Houses not homes” is even almost a rock song in Sonic Youth style and is one of the most powerful songs on this album. In “Suncatcher” Jessica Bailiff is singing and makes it to a nice fragile song. Also Mike VanPortfleet (Lycia) makes his contribution and adds his trademarked harmonium guitar parts in ”Days like smoke”. Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus) is responsible for the percussion on this record, He adds a variety of Indian instruments and hand percussion.
All these ingredients makes this an album worthwhile listening to, the tracks are diverse of mood and input, some are quiet some are rough and some are beautifully arranged and others are naked. Maybe it is not a fantastic album and also a little dated, but for people who are into Post-Rock this is still an interesting album and for people who are not but like guitar music, they absolutely should check this out.
~ Remco, Gothtronic
Vlor is what I like to call an odd project. I can't really define them by genre, but if I had to I would describe them atmospheric rock noise. This isn't something you are going to bang your head to. "A Fire is Meant For Burning" is something you might put on to chill yourself out or right before you go to bed. For the most part VLOR is without percussion save for a few noise oriented clangs. There is a generous use of keyboards, although they never carry the melody. The keyboards are used more for an ambiance effect adding to the atmosphere of the recording. There is only one track ("Suncatcher") with vocals and guitars via a clean channel dominate this CD being VLOR's instrument of choice.
What is astounding, to me, about VLOR is that each song has a colour to it. They are truly atmospheric in the best way. I mean, this truly epitomizes why most of us listen to music--to escape. In a way, this "A Fire is Meant For Burning" could be a soundtrack to something, it all depends on the listener. My biggest complaint would have to be how easily you can zone this stuff out though. Especially towards the end of the CD I can easily ignore the music if I want to. Perhaps this could be considered a strength but I really think music should be enthralling at all time, not when it wants to be.
All in all "A Fire is Meant For Burning" is a humble down-to-earth CD. I really do like it, although like most things that come through here it isn't revolutionary or earth shattering for that matter. Please check these guys out if you are even slightly interested in rock or noise. Overall, a fairly solid release.
~ Liseth, Lunar Hypnosis
Oh so much is expected of the electric guitar. It seems always to be trying to be something else & sound like something else. Not to belittle the new ground staked out by so many musicians, but now & again it's refreshing to hear a guitar simply being a guitar. That seems to be a good chunk of the premise for Vlor's (Brian John Mitchell) new CD. The pieces are solidly anchored by an arpeggiated style at times reminescent of Michael Rother's work. Vlor stretches farther by inviting collaboration from a number of other artists & by playing with the resulting signals. The outcome is twelve distinct yet closely related pieces that infer a carefully considered range of variations within a fairly finite set of elements. At times these prove familiar. "Trust in Weapons" is a very effective, interesting & simple idea because it remains simple: slowly arpeggiated chords occasionally interrupted by an irregular single note stammer. "Potential New Sound" is just that, one of those things that happen in the studio now & again, a particularly fortunate turn of voices or combination of elementsthat actually sounds new /7, in this case, calm /7 lush. Throughout, Mitchell's sense of restraint & economy of scale remains admirable. In an era of infinite tracks & infinite processing we are continually reminded more does not automatically equal better. Because the music of A Fire Is Meant for Burning chooses to repect its own limits, it succeeds where many others fail.
~ K Leimer, Expose
Guitarist Brian John Mitchell of Remora, Small Life Form, and other sundry units of musical attribution has assembled a nice set of peri-ambient instrumentals (save for one track featuring the diaphanous vocals of Jessica Bailiff) in the form of A Fire is Meant for Burning. The 12 tracks improvised herein by Mitchell and his six collaborators resonate most clearly as incidental soundtrack scores, with no particular unifying motif other than subdued, pastoral melodies of the horizon-gazing variety. This sameness is either the music’s biggest strength or its biggest weakness depending on one’s affinity for shoegaze strumming singularity. From this listener’s perspective, the songs wield a more convincing and interesting presence when allowed to stand on their own as discrete listening experiences. Insert any number of these tunes into a film to provide background or transitional mood to a scene and its immediately obvious where this music would have its greatest emotional effect. As it stands, A Fire is Meant for Burning wafts just enough air across the embers to keep them aglow, but it hasn’t got the fuel to produce a flame.
~ Mike Trouchon, Your Flesh
Vlor is Brian John Mitchell (Remora) and Russel Haslasz who started in 1992 doing acoustic guitar versions of Cure and Bauhaus. Without having equipment to add delay, reverb or loops they continued to explore the simplicity of some minor key guitar riffs, arpeggios, and other repetitions, and recorded in homerecorded conditions 90 minutes of material and send them to six friends : drone-pop musician Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), who added a bit of harmonium and guitar, Mike Van Portfleet (Lycia) who added guitar harmonies and some reverb guitar, Nathan Amudson (Rivulets) who added electric guitar and keyboards, dronemoodpsych-folk singer Jessica Bailif (solo and from psychfolk group Red Morning Chorus), added hush vocals, violin and acoustic guitar, and Jesse Edwards (also from Red Morning Chorus) who added Indian instruments and hand percussion, and Paolo Messere (from 6PM) who added percussion, electric guitars, keyboards.
The result are moody tracks based upon the simple guitar loops or repetitions, made a bit richer through the added layers of the contributors. The album works a bit like more melodic ambient guitar music. It is rather improvised and is over before one notices.
~ Gerald Van Waes, Psyche van het folk
Silber Records sort ce mois-ci deux productions quasi-similaires puisqu'il s'agit de deux albums entièrement dédiés à la guitare. Le premier est "A Fire Is Meant For Burning" (la belle couv' flamboyante) de Vlor, formation à l'origine bicéphale créée en 1992 par Brian John Mitchell (Remora) et Russell Halasz et stoppé en 1998. Pour son retour, Brian s'est entouré de membres de diverses formations telles que Lycia (Mike VanPortfleet), Aarktica (Jon DeRosa), Rivulets (Nathan Amundson)... pour l'accompagner à l'harmonium, au clavier, au violon ou à la guitare. Un max de guitares oui puisque l'essentiel consiste en des riffs rythmiques et des petites mélodies en arpège. Rien de très excitant mais le résultat n'est pas mauvais ; idéal en fond sonore pour lire un bon bouquin un jour pluvieux.
~ From Dusk til Dawn
Silber, dont le catalogue ne cesse de surprendre, s'impose désormais comme l'antichambre des membres de Lycia, Aarktica et autres formations plus méconnues désormais tournées vers des expérimentations exigeantes. Le dernier à avoir rejoint l'étendard "Drone Love Honesty Sound" du label américain n'est ni plus ni moins que le tourmenté Alan Sparhawk dont on avait pu apprécier les errances slow core chez Low. C'est donc seul ici qu'il propose ce "Solo Guitar" où l'instrument roi s'étire, résonne, crispe ou élève. Enregistré live, mais usant de boucles et réverb, l'album reste dans un registre relativement brut et rêche, loin des ambiances plus métalliques et au final presque électroniques d'un Eluvium qui avait pourtant utilisé le même procédé sur son "Talk Amongst the Trees" en 2005. Le morceau fleuve How a Freighter Comes Into the Harbor voit néanmoins son final flirter avec l'indus expérimental, tandis que les autres compositions, courtes, alternent agressivité et mélancolie douce-amère. À l'inverse, dans la forme, Vlor fait office de "super-groupe" : Brian John Mitchell (Remora) ayant en effet soumis à plusieurs de ses amis plus d'une heure et demie de riffs et d'arpèges. Autour du fondateur de Vlor, projet créé en 1992 et auteur de deux EP, on retrouve en effet Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), Jessica Bailiff, Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus), Paolo Messere (6P.M.), et Mike Van Portfleet (Lycia) sur le vaporeux et marqué Days Like Smoke. Pour le fond, l'heure est également à l'épure et au minimalisme dans les arrangements, même si ces quarante minutes sont teintées de discrets claviers, de quelques instruments indiens, de violons et de vocalises voilées de Jessica Bailiff (voir Suncatcher). Deux projets, deux albums, un seul constat : la guitare n'a pas encore livré tous ses secrets.
~ Catherine Fagnot, Premonition
Vlor is een intrigerend collectief dat geleid wordt door Silber-labelbaas Brian John Mitchell, eveneens actief in Remora. Voor A Fire Is Meant For Burning nam hij negentig minuten gitaarriffs op die hij naar zijn favouriete muzikanten verstuurde. Het lijstje bevatte de adressen van Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), Mike VanPortfleet (Lycia), Nathan Admunson (Rivulets), Paolo Messere (6 PM), Jessica Bailiff en Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus).
Alle aangeschrevenen zetten het nummer naar hun hand. Er werden stemmen, extra gitaarlijnen en andere details toegevoegd, nummers werden onderling uitgewisseld en stilaan werd de basis gelegd voor een collectie dromerige (voornamelijk instrumentale) liedjes die, ondanks het verschill in aanpak, toch een eenheid vormen.
Tijdens ‘Wires’ en ‘Horses In Deserts’ worden breekbare gitaarlijnen af en toe bijgestaan door een lichte noise en op andere momenten weerklinken er hemelse stemmen. In dat opzicht is vooral ‘Suncatcher’ –waar Jessica Bailiffs dromerige stem zich met de zachte xylofoonachtige klanken van vermengt- een absoluut hoogtepunt. Zelfs het hardere ‘New Machine’ –met tegendraadse percussie- past perfect in het geheel.
A Fire Is Meant For Burning is bijgevolg een heerlijk plaatje waarbij je kan wegdromen op het geluid van de kabbelende gitaarpartijen.
~ Hans van der Linden, Kindamuzik
Un semplice collage di buone idee
La patina di disprezzo che riveste la maggior parte di side-project non riesce a fare presa sui Vlor per merito di quella loro inconfondibile anima anticommerciale. Difatti, dietro a questo nuovo progetto (nel quale pulsa anche sangue italiano) c’è un sentimento nobile quale l’amicizia ed il desiderio di realizzare “qualcosa insieme”. Nessun trionfalismo promozionale quindi, ma soltanto un virtuale fiocco azzurro per annunciare la sua nascita.
Lo scheletro di ogni canzone, costituito da riff ed arpeggi, è frutto dell’improvvisazione e genio di Brian John Mitchell (Remora), mentre la carne ed il tessuto che lo rivestono sono opera di sei artisti (più o meno) di spicco della scena indipendente: Paolo Messere (6 P.M.), Jon DeRosa (Aarktica), Jesse Edwards (Red Morning Chorus), Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), Mike VanPortfleet (Lycia) e Jessica Edwards. Ognuno di loro, ma in nessun pezzo tutti insieme, ha arricchito ciascun brano con la sua arte ed il suo credo derivante da sperimentazioni con percussioni, chitarre acustiche ed elettriche, keyboards, strumenti indiani, violino ed harmonium.
Il disco non vive momenti di stanca riuscendo a dipingere uno scenario unico in cui si alternano melodie inquietanti disegnate da note oscure ad altre più armoniose e sognanti. ‘A Fire Is Meant For Burning’ sorprende per univocità, come se non fosse figlio di sette padri diversi. Ovviamente ci sono un paio di episodi sottotono, ma realizzare brani della caratura di ‘Trust In Weapons’, ‘Wires’ ‘Horses In Deserts’, ‘Days Like Smoke’ e l’unico brano cantato ‘Suncatcher’ non è compito agevole. Ascoltare i Vlor è regalarsi un momento di intimità, un’invasione di emozioni come se venti prima caldi e poi gelidi soffiassero nelle orecchie dell’ascoltatore convincendolo ad isolarsi dal mondo.
~ Alessandro Lucentini. Kronic.it
Per Brian John Mitchell, label boss della Silber, Vlor ha un significato speciale. Quando nel lontano 1992, insieme all’amico Russell Halasz, sperimentava il potere del drone suonando in buie cantine con strani riverberi le cover dei Cure e dei Bauhaus, si faceva chimare Vlor. Tra il 1997 e il 1998 uscirono anche un paio di EP ma poi Halasz cambiò casa e Brian continuo’ per un po’ da solo prima di re-inventarsi nel progetto Remora. A distanza di tanti anni esce un nuovo disco di Vlor registrato a piu’ mani. Mitchell ha suonato un’ora e mezza di chitarre elettriche e poi ha spedito il tutto a sei dei suoi migliori amici. Jon De Rosa (Aarktica), Mike Van Portfleet (Lycia), Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), Jessica Beiliff, Jesse Edwards e Paolo Messere hanno rispedito il materiale al mittente non prima però di aver messo il proprio sigillo in forma di suoni e umori sulla musica di Vlor. Le dodici canzoni contenute in “A Fire Is Meant For Burning” sono quindi il risultato di diverse stratificazioni di suoni: di chitarre elettriche soprattutto, ma anche di percussioni, di un violino e di strumenti indiani che sottolineano il potere evocativo dei drones. I musicisti sono coinvolti un po’ in tutte le tracce con l’eccezione di Mike Van Portfleet che muove la sabbia sulle corde della sua chitarra solo in una canzone (days like smoke). Nonostante il convolgimento di tutti i musicisti, l’impronta maggiore sembra darla Jessica Bailiff che riesce a rallentare con la sua sensibilità l’impeto noise di Mitchell – come nella bellissima potential new sound - aggiungendo anche la voce nella sognante suncatcher.
~ Roberto Mandolini, Losing Today