It’s been a busy couple of years since the self-release of Shana Falana’s debut EP, 2011’s In The Light. The veteran dream pop artist has toured all over the US and Europe. She’s released two Bandcamp-only collections of lo-fi works, Channel and Velvet Pop, as well as a cassette-only document of her early-career music, Shana Falana Sings Herself To Sleep. But for all her globetrotting, archiving, and micro-releasing, this is the moment we’ve been waiting for: Set Your Lightning Fire Free.
A lightning fire is exactly what it sounds like, the earth at odds with itself, burning itself to the ground and starting from scratch. On this record, her debut LP, Shana Falana makes a point of breaking her own rules. “I’ve always kept the different sides of my music separate. The ambient ballads, the fuzzed out stuff; they all needed to exist as their own statements,” says Falana, “I would have two or three bands at one time: a sludge rock band; a Bulgarian women’s choir; a pretty, dreamy organ and guitar duo. This is the first record where I’ve combined all of that, sometimes in the course of one song.”
Rather than spending months in the studio, laboring over arrangements and ideas, Falana recorded SYLFF in just over a week. The songs were already compact and fully realized from years of touring. Recorded at ISOKON studios in upstate New York with producer Dan Goodwin (Devo, Kaki King), SYLFF’s working mantra was a) get the idea down b) move on c) don’t look back. Shana chose to record the vocals herself alone in various locations, from her bathroom to a child’s bedroom. And for the first time, she wrote and performed her own lead guitar parts.
The other noticeable difference is the addition of steady drummer and creative companion, Mike Amari. The two met at a garden party. Shana was covering a Bauhaus song and the two instantly connected. Soon after they were setting up to play together for the first time in an abandoned theater in Kingston, New York. Mike’s minimalistic and tribal approach to drumming was a perfect fit with Shana’s droning dream pop, and within six months they were heading out on their first national tour.
Shana and Mike’s collaboration has culminated in Set Your Lightning Fire Free, and the result is a record of stark confidence. Undaunted guitar riffs and thundering drums prevail, while two decades of songwriting and performing lend authority and emotion to one or two word refrains like “Gone,” “Go,” and “There’s a Way.” “Anything,” with its Bollywood strings and industrial groove, climaxes with repeated shouts of “No, you didn’t take anything from me!” in a way that would make James Murphy sweat. Lead single “Heavenstay” takes the lilting “higher, higher, higher” refrain of In The Light’s “Light The Fire” and absolutely soars with the most explosive chorus of the LP. Day-Glo guitars are smeared across this record, and a veritable army of vocals stacked and vibrating with her eastern European influences.
Shana Falana’s debut full length album is set for an April 7th release on Team Love Records.