Fires Which Burnt Brightly
Donovan’s Brain has always considered their Montana base an advantage. With few distractions, the Brain has maintained an uninterrupted recording schedule for the past 20 years. The results have not gone unnoticed. Jack Rabid editor of The Big Takeoverrecently noted:
"Ronald Sanchez has valiantly led this neo-psych Bozeman, MT collective for 23 years with Colter Langan and legendary Radio Birdman guitarist/aviator/doctor Deniz Tek. All three write, as does Windbreakers veteran Bobby Sutliff, while another proto-punk, original Flaming Groovies leader Roy Loney, cameos... read more
Fires Which Burnt Brightly finds the reconfigured Donovan’s Brain emerging after a 4-year gap, with Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) and Bobby Sutliff (The Windbreakers) now seated at the songwriting round table. Founding members, Ron Sanchez and Colter Langan have gently steered the band back to their psych-pop roots. Despite, or maybe because of their efforts, Fires Which Burnt Brightly is a kaleidoscope sounds and textures which are a reminder of a time when there were no rules or formulas for music.
Donovan’s Brain’s sixth album opens with Bobby’s trademark 12-string propelling the cautionary tale, The Same Mistakes. It’s up to the listener to decide which of the songs are true stories and which are dreamscapes. You Gotta Go Now finds Bobby center stage with a classic bit of jangle that carries the mark of Messrs. Tek and Sanchez. Colter’s Green 17 is a mysterious, swirling number, interrupted by the incendiary Deniz Tek guitar solo. The psychedelic travelogue, Last Acid Rider takes side one out in classic Donovan’s Brain style. The twin guitar solos display the depth of musical invention stockpiled in the band.
The song cycle on side two gives the album its title. The seven songs carry the theme of loss of important people and institutions in our lifetime. Few will mourn the end of colonialism, but the demise of the neighborhood record shop can only be considered a cultural tragedy. Ron wrote Wooden Horse, a tribute to his father’s passion for the preservation and restoration of carousels and the artists who created them. Vanished was intended for Radio Birdman’s reunion album. The Donovan’s Brain arrangement turns the intensity up and takes a tip from Jefferson Airplane at the same time. The final track, Thinking About Neutrons is built around a poem Deniz wrote while staring at a Rick Griffin poster hung on the studio wall. He asked Ron to write appropriate music. The results can only be considered a major departure and and resolves the album on the sub-atomic level.
Roy Loney, Jason Lytle, and Mike Musburger continue the Donovan’s Brain tradition of selected special guests.
Since the release of A Defeat Of Echoes in 2005 the members of Donovan's Brain have been involved in several projects. Deniz and Ron produced the Roy Loney album Shake It Or Leave it for Career. Bobby Sutliff also contributed. Deniz spent 2005 - 2007 doing two world tours and recording a new album with Radio Birdman. He also did a reunion tour with the Visitors and appeared with the Last Of The Band Men and Penny Ikinger. Bobby Sutliff released a solo album, On A Ladder before joining Donovan's Brain as a fully accredited member.
In 2006 and 2007 Ron and Colter recorded the soundtrack for the independent film, Where The DJs Roam. Deniz and Joe Skyward also contributed to that effort. Several songs written for the new Brain album were used for the score. Colter returned with Green 17 and Come For The Sun to fill his quota.
Donovan's Brain already had I Saw Your Light and Carefully Considered Answers; both of which date back to the Great Leap Forward sessions. They were on the demo reel which included Following Orders and Your Number. I Saw Your Light was recorded for Great Leap, but didn't make the final running order. It has been dusted off and given a complete make over for inclusion on Fires Which Burnt Brightly. The final touch was a major set of overdubs contributed by Jason Lytle just before he began his tour in support of Yours Truly The Commuter.
Bob Brown was brought to the band by Deniz Tek. Bob had toured with the Deniz Tek Group on the 1992 Vertical tour, and worked regularly with Deniz in Billings. After recruiting Bob and his studio to record the basics for Vanished and 4 Trials, is was decided to have Bob fill in for Jeff Arntsen who had moved back to Seattle after the release of Defeat Of Echoes.
Another last minute participant was Tony Miller from the Kentucky band Ideal Free Distribution. Tony and Ron struck up a friendship which resulted in Tony offering to add some background vocals on Come For The Sun and Broken Glass Corner. Future collaborations have been discussed. Lila Cebulla also added background vocals on several songs. This is Lila's first appearance with Donovan's Brain, but we expect to see more of her in the future.
Mike Musburger is an old friend of Donovan's Brain, dating back to his time in the Posies and Fastbacks. When it was discovered he would be in Montana, it was assumed he would come round GLEA and lend a hand, which he did on half the album.