Control Burn

Justin Lacy is a Wilmington based artist with his hands moving in many of directions. He recently released a new album Control Burn that depicts a breadth of musical flavors that is refreshing, haunting, and mystical, all at the same time. Using countless instruments, layered vocals, and collected noises, Lacy composes sound landscapes that draw you into another dimension. The performances seem to embody a whimsical and animated quality, enchanting audience members and captivating each of their senses through sound, color, light, and stage props. The music alone is alluring enough, inviting you to follow along for the ride, but I can imagine the live performances to be even more mesmerizing and descriptive of Lacy’s artistic and personal journey.

I was intrigued by the new album upon first glance of performance photos and imagery. But after listening to the collection of ten tracks and reflecting on Lacy’s chosen title of Control Burn, I discovered a new complexity that made me fall in love with the music even more.

All my life, my father has worked as a consulting forester, using land management techniques to help people who have large pieces of land with natural forests. He conducts services such as timber cruises and appraisals, reforestation, thinnings, boundary line management, as well as prescribed burning. I remember as a child when the burn season would come around (sometime during the winter when it’s not too wet and not too dry) and my dad would get home late at night covered with black soot from head to toe. He looked both totally exhausted yet completely revitalized, and I was completely enamored. I remember feeling this sense of awe as I visualized him in the forest circling around a large fire that was burning away the underbrush, giving new life to the larger trees. I felt this deep respect for him, and I admired his ability to both care for and control nature.

Controlled burns are prescribed forestry techniques that are also known as hazard reduction burnings. Most people who are unfamiliar with this approach to land management think that all forest fires fall within the same category, and that any type of large scale fire is bad. But the purpose of controlled burns is not to desecrate a forest, nor does it have a destructive aim. A controlled burning is one way to responsibly live off of the land, to engage with the wild quality of nature, and to harness it’s life-giving potential so that we can sustain human life.

Justin Lacy’s new album Control Burn is beautifully titled, as it speaks to the true sensations of managing a raging fire – of celebrating the boundless power of nature while maintaining a strong connection to the limitations of reality.

by Maria Borghoff