Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
The common reaction to a wildfire seems to be: this is ridiculous. How does something like a wildfire happen and get so out of control? Why can't it be stopped? Why can't it be subdued? How does it just keep chewing up oxygen and timber, enflaming itself more and more and just pillaging across the land, taking all these homes and refuges for animals? It dominates and dominates, rolling across all its available fuel and squadrons of firefighters, equipped with planes and helicopters, filled with lakes and lakes of water, are helpless in the fight against them. They're just going to keep on raging until they're too tired to do it any longer. The wildfires decide when they'll blow out, not the other way around. They probably decide when they're going to start as well. It likely has nothing to do with the careless dickhead with his match and his cigarette or the campfire that wasn't stamped out properly. Abigail and Lily Chapin seem to be a little like wildfires themselves. The sisters from Los Angeles make music from the place where these sorts of fires begin, when that tiny flicker of fire hits the ground and finds that it's landed in a spot that it likes, when it slowly springs forth, when it begins to get a voice. They always start small and then they stretch their legs and arms and start to spread out some, spidering through its tinder source. While sticking with a hippie folk, charms on the bracelet feel, the songs on "Two," from which this session drew from, and on the group's latest, "Lake Bottom," the Chapin Sisters create moments that can't be denied as being crackling and steamy. There's a bit of a smoky heat coming off of them as they trudge down their dusty trails, with their packs on their backs. The characters in them are just trying to stay safe from the elements - getting out of the cold, the rain and the wind - or create their own elements. "I Can Feel," is a song that hints at an old man or woman who can sense it in their bones when bad tidings or storms are on their way, when it might be time to take cover in the basement. It's feeling the hair on your neck stand up when the lightning streaks through the air and turning a bit to putty when the thunder booms, even when you can expect its arrival. Their voices move parallel with and perpendicular to each other, just like a black sky lanced by bolts of the white and vengeful stuff. The Capin Sisters take us into these self-sensitive corners, where everything is illuminated and we know that we're going to get the full burn. Everything's going to burn and the blaze with rise and fall, finally trickling down to a point of orange that resembles exactly how it looked on the other end of the dark ash.