Taking to heart the bare seeds of Bates’ previous solo set ( Unsung ), this album is both an extension and continuation of that music. Again, it is very much Bates’ solitary work, focussing on voice & acoustic guitar, placing a special emphasis upon The Song.
Nevertheless, the album offers a far greater degree of additional accompaniment, featuring some intensifying contributions from Elizabeth S. on vocals, dulcimer, banjo – and also a lone contribution from Eyeless in Gaza’s Peter Becker, who adds a distinctly harp-like sounding ukulele. Chiefly however, it is the orchestral colourings of Bates’ co-producer Alan Trench that add a unique flavour to this album – with deft use of atmos ‘radio/ sonic attack keyboards’ and ‘night atmos’ tapes of Alan’s chosen land of exile, Greece.
According to Bates, the subject matter of Arriving Fire is simply “ the distance between inner and outer worlds – the spaces that surge and live between setting out and the journey itself… (where) … the traveller never truly arrives … because, to arrive is to complete and put an end to what you are striving for – and that is not the aim, ever”. Bates’ often private language and imagery is explored deftly here within this collection of “November Songs” … songs about transition and exploration of the spirit … “ grasping towards looking at different feelings, notions of sanctuary and sanctity that might help address some way in which we might build some kind of form of spiritual space of our own, in which to survive”.
As Bates states “… I can never doubt that the energy is still there, always there … it’s just that I feel that we are all living thru such a compacted time of escalated change right now that there’s going to be a mass retreat eventually – there has to be, and I need to be ready, we all do. And, with that will come the need for healing”. Once again, Bates’ watchword here would appear to be his old by-line of Love is a Gift – albeit a ‘gift’, it would seem, that is very much concerned with significantly more than meets the eye.