19 May 2022

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The Flaming Bridges - EP Review: Water/Sand

09 May 2021 // A review by dmcgurk

It only took two weeks for Matt Schobs to write and record Water/Sand, a collection of sombre folk songs that walk a line between past defeats and unknown futures. It’s Schobs’ second release under the name The Flaming Bridges and was written at the point where his life as steam punk in Oamaru collapsed and, in his own words, “lay in ruins.”

There are plenty of influences to find here. The very first chord of Water recalls Cripple Crow by the king of freak folk, Devendra Banhart. A warm drone coupled with heavily delayed and stripped back spoken-word lamentations conjure something that could fit into a Brian Jonestown Massacre album. On To Be Here Again Schobs channels Delaney Davidson (albeit with a North London accent), and the lazy 12 bar blues of Whiskey & Wine sounds like the kind of wooden porch summer night strumming Pink Floyd employed on Seamus. All these influences add to an interesting, unobtrusive EP that is very enjoyable to listen to.

Water/Sand’s overarching concept can be felt throughout. The first two tracks, titled Water and Sand respectively, show Schobs reflecting on the past. The instrumental Sand feels meditative with its two-chord drone. A Matt Elliot inspired background layer of aggressive guitar fights against a calm foreground strum. Whether or not it was Schobs’ intention, it makes me think of the years of chaotic erosion behind every peaceful beach of sand. This idea fits neatly with Water’s twisting layers. In To be Here Again the theme is explored lyrically rather than musically. Schobs sings alone from his bed as the rain falls, lamenting his past and realising “I forgot what I needed/forgot who I was for a while.” Any glimmer of optimism taken from that line disappears in Whiskey & Wine - “I don’t care too much for tomorrow/now my body’s getting old.”

The Flaming Bridges is at its best musically when the guitars are layered and unapologetic. Water/Sand stays true to its concept of loss and loneliness and it feels mostly consistent. The stocky blues in the middle could have perhaps been saved for another recording, but the fact that everything was written and recorded so quickly makes it an honest account of the present. Matt Schobs has shared a personal diary that is universally listenable.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About The Flaming Bridges

Former member of BareBones and Cabaret / Matt Yearbook. Current member of Screw Jack and founding member of The Flaming Bridges.

Split between two instrumentals and three vocal pieces Water/Sand opens with the beautifully expansive sounding Water, which blends a mixture of narration and dream-like vocals, the evocative nature of the instrumentation shimmering like the tracks namesake title.

Stripped of its vocals Water and alongside instrumental Sand, Schobs displays his talent for multi instrumentation and a potential future sound-tracking films, both tracks cast a luminescent filmic spell.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Flaming Bridges


Year: 2021
Type: EP

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