Posted on Dec 2nd 2009 12:35 am
You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago
Rune Grammofon 2009
04 Tracks. 41mins51secs
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.
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