Fountain Fire is Bill MacKay’s second solo album on Drag
City. The Chicago-based guitarist’s continued sonic journeys in
conversation with himself follow a travel-worn map written in
his own hand. Bill has followed the trail from familiar confines
to unknown places, catalyzing a style equally enamored with
the traditional and the avant-garde to make his most expansive
and forceful music to date.
You can hear it in the opening track; as the lava and lakes of
'Pre-California' simmer to boiling, Bill assembles a bridge of
guitars, layering beams of rumbling acoustic, distorted electric,
and arcing slide parts. By leaping boldly from fixed points, he
makes synergetic discoveries in mid-air. This is the MacKay
writing style in its most evolved state thus far, following ser-
pentine paths within the patterns, lunging in and out of tonality
with instinctive flair and a stoic sense of inevitability, forging a
sonic mosaic that breathes and grows organically as it fills the
space of a song.
Yet there is far more here than straitlaced sonic captures of
picker’s prowess and captivating harmonic motivation. Bill’s
pieces are informed by meditation and memory, impression-
istic as cinematic miniatures, inspired as much by filmic and
literary passions as by sure-playing hands, and always rooted
with deep soul and steady intention.