This Pale Fire Burns Us Slow With Alchemy

This Pale Fire

This Pale Fire is the work of Corban Koschak, with the debut album – Alchemy, released this November. His early love for poetry culminated to writing song after song in his bedroom. It wasn’t until a fellow musician, and close confidant heard some of these songs and encouraged him to pursue it further that he broke out of those four walls. Koschak is well-known as one of the most unique voices to rise from the Auckland, NZ scene. All twelve tracks explore a lot of inner-personal territory, so they’re not as easy to wrap your head around as they are to simply enjoy, but they’re as sonically thrilling as folk can be.

The album gets off to a positive start with the interesting “Northern Lights” leading the way. It’s a breezy tune with a storytelling pace that earns its up-front place on the album. The keyboard and other textures only hint of what’s to come on some of these tracks, as they take a back seat until jump out at the right times, but they make their presence known throughout the first track in a subtle but sure way. But the main point is, the immediate interest doesn’t end, even when the track does. “Virago” proves that a hard act to follow doesn’t mean a hard one to surpass with the right amount of effort to successfully arrange them.

If the first two tracks establish the serious side of This Pale Fire, then “Float Out” does the business in changing that tune to his more playful side, with everything picking up considerably, resulting in the shape of a killer album forming. Koschak shows he can croon with both the guitar and piano men out there. And the female backing on this one also brings in a welcoming element to the proceedings. You know it’s not going to be the same thing every song, once this is over. Even “The Stag” is totally different from the first three tracks, with its searing guitar and it’s all over the place with superior vocals.

This Pale Fire Will Burn Deep In Your Soul


To describe the next track “The Sky” would be to take the words too seriously without knowing the writer personally, but who doesn’t marvel at the sky now and again. But “Wolf” follows a more complex approach on what is a seriously good moment where your attention is fully demanded. You get the feeling you’re camped out in the fall, and this track has more of that going for it than most of the others. On “Delicate Words” everything comes full-circle with one of the best overall tracks on the whole record. Enjoy the way he describes the beauty of his subject on this gem.

If it’s not atmospheric enough thus far, “Mountains” seals the deal in one fell swoop, as it begins to peak in the right order. Like “a tidal wave to wash away our sins” it does just that to your ears, and even sends a chill up the spine. The guitar keeps you going in one direction while his voice sweeps you in another direction and the rest keeps you grounded on this brilliant track with an ending that must be heard. It can also be told that “End Of Silence” holds its own with everything here as well, and so do “Birdcage” and “Curse” before “Otro” ends the set of what could be one of the best modern folk albums of the year.





  -Elvin Graham