Tara Vanflower – My Little Fire-filled Heart

Tara Vanflower
My Little Fire-filled Heart

As an avid fan of the female voice in rock music (some of my favorites include Bjork, Kate Bush, Goldfrapp, Nina Hagen, Happy Rhodes, Siouxsie Sioux, etc.), I was quite excited to give Tara Vanflower’s My Little Fire-Filled Heart a spin. The label let me know that Ms. Vanflower is “blessed with a multi-octave voice capable of many diverse forms and an eclectic writing style…” Sounded good to me! Then I read “…Tara has created a blissful wash of echoing chimes, throbbing basses, and howling choruses.” My interest was quite piqued.

As I listened to the first track, “Ligertily,” my anticipation turned enthusiastic as I heard a slow a cappella song with a multi-octave, multi-tracked, dreamy voice drenched in reverb with just the right amount of echo. I was looking forward to the next track when the music would kick in. My enthusiasm quickly turned to skepticism when “Ya Ya” started with sampled vocals that were slowed down and looped to create a haunting bass pattern with eerie whispering chants on top, a suitable soundtrack for an exorcism. My skepticism was corroborated when track three, “Rabbit,” turned out to be a kind of nursery rhyme with talk-sing vocals over an echo blast with percussion that fades into a spoken-word poem. Skepticism turned to disappointment as the rest of the tracks played out, none of them living up to the expectations set forth by Silber Records.

While the pieces do contain some echoing chimes, throbbing basses, and howling (not choruses), they are never used in a conventional rock context. Comprised mostly of multi-tracked voices, saturated in effects (reverb, echo, loops, etc.), and often used as percussion or bass, the compositions are not in any type of song structure but are more theme-oriented, vocal-based experiments. Each one conveys an unearthly mood using a unique blend of supernatural vocal chants, bells, wind chimes, clinking chains, thunderstorms, and even an ice cream truck melody with an occasional electric guitar strum or dirgy synth backdrop.

Given the name of the album and with song titles like “A Rusted Nail Through the Wrist,” “A Conversation with Death,” and “The Girl From the Green Dimension,” the disc appears to be an emotional personal statement. Tara Vanflower is credited with all music, vocals, and words, except for a cover of Death in June’s “The Honour of Silence.” Vanflower shows a little humor as the closing track, “Tigerlily” has her singing, “you are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” which is played backwards on the opener “Ligertily.”

My Little Fire-Filled Heart is darker, more ambient, and less musical than any of the RIYL artist’s efforts and would be a good disc to play to set the mood for a seance or to play on Halloween, not if you want hours of blissful sonic seduction.