Fire-Toolz’s brave and beautiful overstimulation

Saturday, February 15, Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9 p.m., free.

Saturday, February 15, Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9 p.m., free. Info

Photo by Lyndon French.

The music of Fire-Toolz should force just about any listener to question their preconceptions and reference points: Producer/vocalist Angel Marcloid combines glimmering, immersive synths with bursts of rasping black-metal-like vocals, unabashedly stratospheric guitar solos, track titles that require a fluid grasp of dingbats and Unicode, and a visual aesthetic drawn directly from the early glory days of home desktop computing. It would be a mistake, though, to dismiss this music as just another exercise in trendy hyper-referential overload. Let yourself slip onto Marcloid’s wavelength on releases like last year’s Field Whispers (Into The Crystal Palace) and 2018’s Skinless X-1, and pretty soon a remarkably clear vision emerges from beneath the chaotic surface. 


The screamed vocal outbursts of “✓ BEiNG,” from Field Whispers, crash over luxuriant, liquid spirals of guitar and grandiose percussion, at times recalling the fusion-y death metal of the great Florida band Cynic. That comparison aside, Marcloid’s hybrids are wholly her own, pulling together disparate strands with inspired confidence and production that feels as polished as it does instinctive. The fact that the video for “✓ BEiNG” rockets me back to being jealous of my friend’s really cool screen saver in the early ’90s doesn’t make the impact any less powerful or sincere. There’s a real generosity to Marcloid’s musical and visual universe, and the more you surrender to it the easier it is to let go of whatever you thought you knew about kitsch or about which sorts of sounds should go together.

Between the prog-like climaxes, Fire-Toolz invests just as much careful attention into works of prolonged, reflective calm. Marcloid delivers quite a few of those on Skinless X-1, including “In The Computer Room @ Dusk ☕” and “Upper Peninsula ②⓪①⑧.” These tracks go beyond the great firewalls of internet culture and New Age music to find something gentle and brave. At this free Rathskeller show, we can look forward to sounds and projections that rattle our brains a bit but also help us open up to Marcloid’s expansive emotional range.

Get your new monthly donation matched 24x!

tone madison logo in blue and yellow

At a time when Madison is going through a lot of change, we want Tone Madison to be something you can count on. You can rely on us to spotlight the artists, musicians, and ideas that make up the fabric of our city. You can rely on us to challenge the status quo with inventive, adversarial journalism, including our coverage of abortion rights, housing, and labor. 


But here's the thing: reader support is crucial our survival. We'll keep writing the articles you love (or love to hate) for as long as we can—but we need your help to keep our small, independent publication going.


If you make a new monthly donation today, NewsMatch will match it 24x! Will you help us continue to tell Madison's stories?

Maybe later

Help us give our local arts scene the attention it deserves.

Become a sustainer today and get your new monthly donation matched 24x.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top