FIRE – unreleased

Aug.13, 2011


On tour w FIRE this week: portugal , croatia, norway and sweden is getting what they need of slow and loud…

if u cant catch the gigs, listen to the new record or read some reviews from the past weeks of the new FIRE! & Jim O `Rourke LP / CD – release:



Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! have significantly raised their game since the release of their 2009 debut, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago. While that collection was a perfectly satisfactory demarcation of the trio’s sprawling, groove-laden template, it never quite caught, ahem, fire. Unreleased?, on the other hand, is a pyro-spewing, laser-radiating monster of a record.

Recorded with the help of guest collaborator Jim O’Rourke in the ex-Sonic Youth man’s new home of Tokyo, it comes tearing out of the traps like the Kraken racing out of his undersea lair prior to a ravaging of ancient Joppa. Offering a far more cohesive collection than its predecessor – the group apparently clearer as to the desired constitution of their extended combustibles – each individual entry forms a finessed study in nervy tension.

Sure, it might be tempting to put this all down to the presence of O’Rourke, but his contributions, such as the Spaghetti Western harmonica on the troublesomely titled By Whom and Why am I Previously Unreleased?, while exquisitely judged, seem limited to that of tonal colouring. No doubt about it, the lion’s share of the plaudits should go to the original trio. Their grinding meaty swagger, rising from smouldering embers, create a tumultuous psychedelic brew, like a slow-burning rogue hybrid of The Necks, Bohren & der Club of Gore and a slew of 70s kraut-rocking acid casualties.

Johan Berthling (bass) and Andreas Werliin (percussion) now comprise an audaciously adept rhythm section, anchoring these expansive, incendiary workouts, while generating enough kinetic zip and flow to propel them through a series of loping, meditative lurches. They manage to strike the perfect balance between grace and malevolence. However, it’s left to Gustafsson himself to ignite the petrol-drenched touch paper, fingers of flame erupting from the scalding bell of his tenor sax, incinerating the stack with a torrent of never-ending napalm.



All About Jazz:

By John Kelman

Managing Editor – Since 2003

Fire!: unreleased?Moving from the studio to a live performance at Tokyo’s SuperDeluxe club in the fall of 2010, Fire! both pares down and expands the sonic purview of its 2009 Rune Grammofon debut, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago. Pared down in that saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, while still tripling on Fender Rhodes and live electronics, sticks solely to the deep-bodied baritone saxophone this time around. Bassist Johan Berthling focuses monolithically on electric bass, eschewing the electric guitar and double-bass of the trio’s debut. But while Gustaffson, Berthling and drummer, Andreas Welin work with a slightly more restricted palette, the addition of guest guitarist/synthesist/harmonicist Jim O’Rourke lends unreleased?‘s four freely improvised pieces a far broader landscape, and a different kind of density.

The trace elements of Fire!’s debut—In a Silent Way-era Miles Davis and hints of Soft Machine in Berthling’s hypnotic, fuzz-toned bass—are gone, as the group’s voice emerges more vividly; linked, perhaps, a little more closely to another of Gustafsson’s projects, The Thing, though that trio, with bassist ingebrigt Håker Flaten} and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, is both inherently more organic and more extreme. Still, Gustafsson—who is only rivaled by Peter Brötzmann (with whom he plays in the German reed man’s Chicago Octet/Tentet) in his ability to fill large buildings with a single, unamplified horn—doesn’t shy away from intense expressionism, especially towards the end of the nine-minute …”please, i am released,” where O’Rourke’s space-aged synth and overdriven guitar octaves create a psychedelic arch over Berthling and Welin’s relentlessly throbbing pulse, as the saxophonist screams with unrelenting abandon.

There aren’t exactly respites like You Liked Me‘s ethereal “But Sometimes I am,” or overt blues references like the Robert Johnson-meets-Captain Beefheart of its brief title track, but there are dynamic ebbs and flows to give this forty-minute set its shape. “by whom and why am i previously unreleased?”—at just over three minutes, the disc’s only track under nine—combines O’Rourke’s effected guitar, acting more as a percussive dovetail to Welin’s toms, and Gustafsson’s extended baritone techniques, tonguing to create his own erratic pulses. As the 17-minute closer, “happy ending borrowing yours,” begins with otherworldly sounds—gradually building in volume, over a tumultuous bottom end of bass and drums, to a howling climax of noise and throbbing electronics—the group ultimately shifts gears towards a visceral 6/4 pulse anchored by Welin’s firm backbeat and Berthling’s persistent ostinato. Viciously hypnotic, it provides a foundation for O’Rourke’s unconventional guitar sonics and upper register multiphonics from Gustafsson, into which the saxophonist gradually introduces live electronics to further broaden his coverage, as Welin strengthens the pulse underneath.

Gustafsson’s never been for the faint-at-heart, but with Fire! he’s come his closest yet to an accessible version of reckless abandon. With the hard rock-edged complexion of Fire! and the addition of O’Rourke to the mix, unreleased? has the potential to appeal to fans of Thurston Moore, early Golden Palominos and a more rhythm-heavy Supersilent, while becoming even more inextricably linked to the more groove-driven aspects of The Thing. For those with extreme dispositions, unreleased? is the perfect catalyst.