Jan.09, 2010


Mats Gustafsson – saxophones, Fender Rhodes and live electronics
Johan Berthling – bass, guitar, organ
Andreas Werliin – drums and percussion.

New ensemble with members from The Thing, Tape, Wildbirds and Peacedrums,
creating a mix of slow down – speeded up, distorted versions of contemporary experimental music.
With inspiration from mining, large lorry engines, electro acoustic music from Sweden and a large variety of creative garage rock and free jazz, FIRE! is building up a new language and models for how improvised music can be done.

“…det är som Ramones, fast utan sång!!!” Per Svensson, 2010

“… eller snarare som the Doors, fast tvärtom!” Per Svensson, 2010

Click the image to download a high rez image


First release on rune grammofon, LP and CD, in 2009:

RLP 3091 – Fire!: You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago


Johan Döden Dahlroth


Hypnotic and psychedelic different sounding ”jazz” (Rune press)

Out of the seemingly inexhaustible treasure chest that is the Scandinavian experimental scene comes this latest Swedish supergroup, formed of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, member of many a formation, of which the best known is perhaps The Thing, bassist Johan Berthling, co-founder of Häpna and member of Tape, Animes and Sten Sandell Trio, and Andreas Werliin, the drumming half of Wildbirds & Peacedrums amongst other things. Having landed on Rune Grammofon with their first missive, this three-headed entity, who operate under a banner which, thanks to a prominent element of punctuation, unmistakably suggests an element of urgency, have such widespread backgrounds that the sum of their collaborative effort was bound to surpass much of their individual outputs.
You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago is a pretty dense and vibrant affair, which rakes influences way beyond the confines of jazz, pulling in elements of seventies psychedelic rock and experimental Kosmische/Krautrock, amongst other things, into these four radically different tracks, two of which clock around the fifteen mark, bookended by two much shorter pieces. Propelled by a pretty fluid and volatile rhythmic section, which is as much at ease with introspective moments as it is with incendiary passages, these songs drift from the primal sax effusions of If I Took Your Hand to the hypnotic groove of the last segment of But Sometimes I Am or from the rambling and feverish cadence of the first half of that same piece to the more sophisticated layering of Can You Hold For A Minute? and the surprisingly light tribal flow of the title track.
The two centre pieces share a particular format which has the trio work a meandrous path through restrained musical forms before building up to a rhythm which eventually transforms the scope of these pieces altogether. The way they achieve this is very specific to each track though. Of the two, But Sometimes I Am is the one that goes through the most profound changes, rising from an opening sequence cast around a pretty minimal bass-drum pattern and the distant hum of processed distortion in the back, which get progressively ripped apart by blazing gusts of sax. Taking advantage of a lull in the proceedings, Mariam Wallentin, the other half of Wildbirds & Peacedrums, hangs a few vocal arabesques over a monolithic Hammond drone, but soon the pace increases radically, throwing the piece into a much more hypnotic groove where the rhythmic section, like a runaway train, crashes through distorted guitars and keyboards until it eventually burns out a few minutes down the line.
Can I Hold You For A Minute? on the other hand is a more linear construction which the trio continuously refine, bringing in elements in much more subtle fashion. There is, here too, a clear progression, but this is done through sophisticated sonic layering, which, over the first eight minutes, gives the track growing density. Over the last few minutes, it appears to be ceased by rampant decay as the sounds decompose one by one until there’s nothing left but a cluster of distortions.
On these two pieces, Gustafsson’s sax is often ubiquitous by its absence, but the direction chosen by band doesn’t necessarily justifies its presence, leaving the man free to contribute a much wider palette. As an entity, Fire! work extremely well. Fearlessly pushing into uncharted territories, combining elements which are usually kept well apart into a greatly contrasted and eclectic sonic canvas, the trio have created with this first album a particularly intense and daring soundtrack which can only captivate more with time.


“Fire!” is Mats Gustafsson on saxophones and Fender Rhodes, Johan Berthling on bass, electric guitar and Hammond organ, and Andreas Werliin on drums. The first piece is built around a repetitive bass vamp, a solid anchor point for the drums to go haywire and Gustafsson to have a no-holds-barred sax solo, screaming and wailing as if his life depended on it, yet ending all smooth and gently. The second piece, “But Sometimes I am”, starts with a slow acoustic bass figure around which Werliin adds percussive depth on his cymbals. After some four minutes the sax joins with some gut-wrenching multiphonic sound, full of distress and sadness, a sound which is so unmistakably identifiable as Gustafsson, so human and authentic that it’s really frightening, and – suprise – his sound merges into some high-toned singing by Mariam Wallentin, on a true psychedelic backdrop reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”, but then the electronics set in as the speed increases, moving to an inevitable paroxysm we know from the early Floyd. Absolutely mesmerizing. “Can I Hold You For A Minute”, starts with a rock-ish mid-tempo beat, with bass and drums laying a repetitive pattern for the electric guitar and keyboards to build a hypnotic wall of sound, through which Gustafsson’s piercing sax comes tearing through, as if his soul was condemned, for ever.

The last track starts light-footed, with some handclapping accompanying a repetitive sax over an odd 2/4 rhythm, of which the tempo increases, a little too joyful and too much of a contrast with the carefully built up atmosphere of the previous tracks.

This is not fusion. It is not even progressive jazz rock à la Soft Machine. It’s the endless psychedelic and epic – as yet unpolished – sound mastership of the early Pink Floyd in a more modern form with the magnificent voice of Gustafsson to add emotional power.

Fire! är en presumtiv supergrupp, om än i klart mindre skala än, säg, Cream. Vad som avgör är förväntningarna man kan ha på just den här konstellationen. Saxofonisten Mats Gustavsson känner många till; han är redan ett världsnamn inom improvisationsmusiken. Basisten Johan Berthling har hörts med bland andra Tape och Sten Sandells trio. Och så trummisen Andreas Werliin, som häromåret slog igenom med kritikerrosade Lovebirds & Peacedrums. Det blir inte nödvändigtvis bra. Många band har sett bättre ut på papperet än de låtit i verkligheten. Men Fire! håller. De spelar med kropp och själ. En övertygelse som oavkortat strömmar genom musiken. Det rock och jazz och impro i ett. Kraftfulla, långsträckta stycken som avtvingar mig en reaktion och får mig att vilja gå mot strömmen. Werliin gör mycket. Hans tunga spel över pukorna är en viktig del i Lovebirds & Peacedrums och har samma bärande effekt här. Något helt annat än Cream.
Johannes Cornell