Album Review – “Spark: A Burning Man Story” Soundtrack

Since the first bonfire at Burning Man in 1986, the festival has grown and attracted world-wide attention. Burning Man is a week long annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada, known for its utopian concept of society where the primary focus is radical self expression, community and art. “Spark: A Burning Man Story”, is a documentary depicting an inside look of the festival through the eyes of the “burners,” or creators, of Burning Man. The ideals that surround and define Burning Man resonate throughout the entire soundtrack of the documentary.

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The compilation of music set to the documentary is unbelievably powerful and completely captures the togetherness that Burning Man promotes. From the opening track, “Feel The Love” by Rudimental (featuring John Newman) a down tempo into fast drum and bass song fully equipped with horns, you can immediately pick up on the vibe and feeling of the album, documentary and festival as a whole. “Coastal Break” by Tycho truly portrays the range of music that is utilized to depict the emotion and love behind the creation of Burning Man. Far more ambient than “Feel the Love”, “Coastal Break” still perfectly encompasses the upbeat and progressive nature of Burning Man. People who have attended Burning Man in the past have spoken of the wide array of people from all walks of life that show up to Burning Man and reach a platform of unity and oneness with the entire community. That is what makes this album so unique. It truly covers so many different aspects of the Burning Man experience that even with each song being so different from the last, it still makes complete sense. Some songs are more literal within their lyrics like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “Man on Fire” and Missy Higgins, “We Ride.” Higgins croons somberly about the coming to life of being in a desert surrounded by so much energy from the people surrounding you. Comprised primarily of electronic instrumentals, these tracks are filled in nicely with ballads related to the entity of Burning Man as a whole, whether they meant to be or not. Michael Franti’s “Let it Go” is such a high energy, feel good song that perfectly depicts the spirit of the festival, even to those who have never attended.

The second disk of Spark has a much more somber theme compared to the upbeat dance tunes of the first. Leading with “Flutes,” the Sasha remix of the Hot Chip original is a down-tempo instrumental until about halfway through when the song where the tempo is picked up via vocal samples – it’s the kind of song you would hear in a European discotheque and not think twice before busting out some moves on the dance floor. A dance remix of Michael Franti’s, “Let it Go” by Stanton Warriors is as enjoyable as the first disk version featuring Ethan Tucker –  both songs are enjoyable and each portraying completely separate tones.  Along with Michael Franti’s split disc remix, the second disc also holds the remix for Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros – “Man On Fire”, the Adam Freeland Remix. Spark Music Supervisor Amine Ramer came up with an interesting notion to offer both versions of each song on separate albums to portray two very different emotions for the soundtrack. Each song brings a different aspect and energy of Burning Man to an extremely well put together album. Each song is different, and yet in the context of Burning Man, very much the same. This album is a perfect compilation to be set to the making of one of the best festivals in the world.

Listen to “Spark: A Burning Man Story” here and buy it from iTunes here.

Key Tracks: Disk 1 – Feel the Love, Let it Go, We Ride, Man on Fire, Going to the Desert; Disk 2 – Flutes, Let it Go, One Type of Dark, Scorpion Frog