RPM Orchestra's "Fire on All Sixes"

By Mark Sheperd Tillman

Warning: this album contains an all-encompassing wall of deliciously decayed dissonance.

RPM Orchestra has welded together an excellent work of deeply intriguing, oppositional sounds for any happenstance listener that might trip in the way. Fire on All Sixes is steeped in theme, surrounding the idealized independence of motored transportation during its infancy. As such, prepare for the dissonance of a Moonshiner's '40 Ford Coupe blasting an exhaust note and the sweet grumble of a V8; at least in concept.

Truthfully, for me, this is going to be a tough one to share any kind of intelligent observation on. There is more depth to this experience of an album than I could possibly explore. Fortunately, I have a solution: I'd like to introduce two additions to my regular structure. For a few reasons; like depth, clarity, insight, readability, relatability, other words beginning with "R", fun things.

Firstly, I would like to welcome a guest, who has requested anonymity, to provide insight into some of the more technical aspects. His comments will be quoted and signed as The Sig.

"Don't listen to this in the car." -The Sig

Secondly, as of now, I strongly recommend reading the remainder of this article in the voice of an old-timey radio personality.

Hold onto your bonnets.

A wonderful tune begins our little jaunt ladies and gentlemen! You've never heard or seen this likes of a banjo talent such as this, I say! From the one-two-three-four you're in for a treat! Prepare yourselves, to be carried away to a moment in another world, another time. Enjoy the ride!

Next stop? A dark and lonely road. I may have spoken a bit early when I said "jaunt". But don't fret! There are delights-a-plenty to be had yet! Or is it merely a, "Bait and Switch"?

"This song masterfully weaves the abstract, constricting it into moments of clarity, then evolving in style and complexity. Suddenly, expanding into chaos with sporadic rhythms and dissonance, morphing throughout the piece. It takes a lot of patience and self control to build tension over long periods of time, fourteen minutes is impressive but does it challenge the listener to much?" -The Sig

I'm going to have to agree with you on that, The Sig! "Bait and Switch" was a challenge. But I must say, the end was unabashedly worth the wait! What a surprise. That said, there is a journey to take here folks, don't strive too hard to reach the destination! Enjoy the fragile fluctuations along the way. If "Bury Mine" is the bait for the switch I'll take "Bait and Switch" any time!

We travel on! Apparently, happening upon a circus of sorts. Transportive is the word of the day here and wherever we've been sent we are undoubtedly there. The "Song of Sheba" has begun! Enjoy the dark, sultry dance. Reach to grasp the meaning of what few words you will hear. This stop is to be brief.

We go deeper, but to do so you'll need a special tool. It's called context. You see there was this fellow, who lived in the eighteen-hundred something-or-others. He went by the name Claude Debussy and happened to make some particularly odd noises with regular old instruments. In fact, the wacky fellow gained some notoriety for it! Quite a bit, actually. But we aren't there and this isn't then! This is "Decomposing Claude Debussy". A zombie, or monster, if you wish.

"A piece playing with dissonance, texture, tension and release, done in a style inspired by Debussy's use of sensory content and atonality. They adeptly use non traditional scales and chromaticism, paired with disonance to shape the whole" -The Sig

Prepare yourself! There is an eighteen-minute world contained in what some might call a song. That world is both treacherous and rich. Enter at your own peril. You may leave it screaming or wealthy with experience.

Our trek has reached its close. As with all good endings, we exit with "Rebirth". By now, home feels like the slow churn of an old machine arriving at a resting rhythm, slowly winding down with an occasional clatter before the final few plodding beats gradually fade into silence.

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