used to rare up and swallow people. It's really odd. People
never leave there; they just die. It was almost surreal. "
the acoustic-guitar-driven fable "Temple, Texas" with
its lyrics "Temple, your mother's your sister. You kill
your young -- you're young -- yr young -- firstborn sons. Redhead
boys selling nosebleeds and sleepless nights. And your daughters
hang themselves with sheets and die of AIDS."
Fischer went to high
school in Temple, Texas, population 40,000, 60 miles or so south
of Waco on I-35 between Dallas and Austin. "Temple used to
rare up and swallow people," he said, adding that he means
it literally. "It's really odd. People never leave there; they
just die. It was almost surreal. That song takes a stab at that
bleak town. I lived there from eighth grade through high school.
Every character sketched in that song is someone I knew."
is Fischer's love poem to the audiophillic few who stumble across
the vinyl version of Open Ground, with the lyrics: "An
evening's record listening's like divine communiqué / What
I glean from those times, I can't find another way."
"There's a special
kind of person who buys a record on 180-gram vinyl," he said.
"We put a lot of time and care in recording this thing immaculately
on 2-inch 24-track analog tape. The people that care, those that
have the sense to appreciate it, are getting a really gorgeous sounding
But the rest of Open
Ground follows a less obvious lyrical path, dominated by simple,
forlorn songs with confusing observations that paint lonely portraits
of whatever world Fischer wants to show us. The words, divorced
of their music, read more like free-form poetry than lyrics, challenging
you to figure out what they really mean and ultimately leaving you
feeling slightly off-balance.
Musically, the songs
walk a thinly drawn tightrope, leaning between Fischer's soft-toned
acoustic guitar, slightly off-key prepubescent vocals and Turner's
throaty cello (adding broad, deep shadows on four of the 11 tracks).
Most of the arrangements are simple acoustic jaunts, but on a few
numbers, like the up-tempo kickers "The Slow Drag" and
"Christopher Isherwood," the music is softly but forcefully
driven by Kinsella's simple drumming.
For the tour that brings
him to The Junction Feb. 27, Fischer will be backed by a band that
includes bassist Josh Bandy and pedal steel guitarist Bob Hoffnar,
who just finished touring with Mojave 3 and The Bastard Sons of
Johnny Cash. Kinsella will round out the band on drums. But that
same evening, Kinsella and Fischer will switch supporting roles
as Kinsella plays a set as Owen -- his one-man project that recently
released its debut on Polyvinyl Records featuring Kinsella on vocals,
guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and loops. It's not as confusing
as it sounds.
how we tour," Fischer said. "We play one set as Kyle Fischer
and another set as Owen. When it's my turn up there, it's a lot
different than the role I play in Rainer Maria. I play the band
leader and bark commands. It's kind of fun."
Published in The Omaha Weekly Feb. 20, 2002. Copyright © 2002 Tim
McMahan. All rights reserved.