CRIKEY, it’s actually been 13 whole years now since the singular, wholly erudite, wonderfully articulate vision of Mathias Kom arrived in the wider world with that split 7″ with Jenny Omnichord – just one song to puzzle over and swoon for a little, “Grave Situation Part One” – a first cracking open of the door into a career which, over the past decade-plus, has taken to examining everything from political crises to rappers, both amateur and professional; and the work of synth-popper fellow Canadians Men Without Hats, who broke out worldwide with that “Safety Dance”.
That original line-up – memorably classified in the early days as “often determined by what instruments Mathias’s friends played” – may still shift from session to session tour to tour, but the prodigious, askance lyrical vision at the heart of The Burning Hell remains a constant – as does, these days, ever-present Ariel Sharratt.
They’re also known for their brilliantly intense live schedule – they’ve trodden the boards everywhere from Belarus to the Faroes to way up beyond the Arctic Circle in Norway, and even hold the unofficial world record for ten gigs, ten countries, 24 hours, beginning in Aachen, in Germany, at 7pm on the Saturday and finishing in a castle in Slovenia the next evening – with 17 minutes to spare and a banquet in the offing.
Course, the ‘rona has torn that cultural road movie a new asshole over the past couple of years, with dates delayed and delayed yet again. but hooray! as the live scene begins to really pick up confidence again, there’s a clutch of UK dates very soon. You’ll have to scroll down to the end for them – there’s important, 7″-shaped business to transact first.
Cos there’s a new single out this Wednesday – which preludes, of course, a new album, taking an excursion into the world of Garbage Island. That’s pencilled in for release next summer; but in this first curtain-raiser, we’re introduced to that country’s avian royalty in the shape of “The Bird Queen Of Garbage Island”, which we’re damn honoured to be premiering here at Backseat Mafia today.
That bird queen’s particular corner of the world comes with a cracking stop-motion animation courtesy New Brunswick’s award-winning Graeme Patterson, and which presents as gently dishevelled indie-postpunk-funk, Tom Tom Club busking in Greenwich Village, with lotsa, lotsa space to fill out lyrically as the bird queen tells their tale: “It’s hard to find decent drumsticks / But we’ve got bird bones and bits of buckets,” intones Mathias-as-feathered ruler; “Make me a temple of nets and fish skeletons,” conjuring imagery part-Waterworld, part Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now.
Mathias explains the single thus: “‘Bird Queen of Garbage Island’ is a danceable mashup of mutant tyrants, climate catastrophe, Waterworld references, and an ASMR-inspired breakdown, and we had a blast making puppets for the accompanying twisted Jim Hensonesque video with Canadian artist Graeme Patterson. We’re even more excited to play this tune – and plenty of other new ones – on our upcoming UK tour!”
The forthcoming record sounds like a lot of freewheelin’ weirdly conceived fun, which is what you want, really.
“Musically, it’s a bit all over the place, but so are we. More about this some day soon,” quoth the band.
This little gem will be available as a 7″ backed by a cover of They Might Be Giants’ oddball smash, “Birdhouse In Your Soul”, which seems entirely appropriate a thing; it also comes with a comic book, written for the project by French graphic novelist Emmanuel Moynot.
Tuesday, November 2nd, Glasgow, Glad Café;
Wednesday, November 3rd, Newcastle, Cumberland Arms;
Thursday, November 4th, Ormskirk, The Chapel Gallery Cafe;
Friday, November 5th, Liverpool, Outpost;
Saturday, November 6th, Hebden Bridge, Trades Club;
Sunday, November 7th, Eaglescliffe, The Waiting Room, Eaglefest;
Monday, November 8th, Nottingham, The Chameleon;
Tuesday and Wednesday, November 9th and 10th, Sheffield, Dorothy Pax;
Thursday, November 11th, Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach;
Friday, November 12th, Brighton, Hope & Ruin;
Saturday, November 13th, Ramsgate, Ramsgate Music Hall, and
Sunday, November 14th, London, Islington, The Lexington.
Support on all British dates comes from Paper Beat Scissors. More information and the all-important tickets are available here.
The Burning Hell’s “Bird Queen of Garbage Island”/ “Birdhouse In Your Soul” will be released as a digital single across all streaming platforms and as an actual, honest-to-god 7″ single this Wednesday, November 3rd; you can only get that 7″ direct from BB*ISLAND, here. Top stuff all round.