On Tuesday, November 15, Echo Pearl Varsity played an album release show at The Liquor Store with help from Ellis Pink and the recently reborn Cherimoya. Though Fires might be the jazz-rock four-piece’s first full-length album (their debut EP, Tragic Bronson, was released in the spring of 2015), they’ve been crafting music individually for far longer.
On Fires, saxophonist Levi Downey names the single “Twilight Karma” as among his favorites, a song originally written by guitarist and vocalist Sam Luna in 2007. The name is a reference to the first full episode within the 1983 movie Twilight Zone. Directed by John Landis, “Time Out” follows the peril of a bitter, bigoted man whose spiteful outburst in a bar leads to time travel, subjecting him to the Nazi occupation of France, the American South under Jim Crow law, Vietnam during conflict and back around. This is intimated in the shape of “Twilight Karma,” with its waltz-like opening launching into driving arpeggios. After a brief vocal interlude, the song becomes more chaotic, clearly influenced by the trials the subject has faced, and instead of concluding in the meditative fashion in which it began, it hurdles to a final strike of the drums.
While there are striking connections between the song’s original inspiration and its final form, Downey is clear that the meaning is more open ended. Calling it “a haunting nursery rhyme,” he states that the song could just as easily apply to a past relationship, any sort of eye-opening trials one might face, or a shift in perspective. In the true spirit of introspective jazz, Downey argues that this one is best left up to self-interpretation.