Posted on Oct 29th 2011 10:32 pm
On their second album, Unreleased?, published earlier this year on Rune Grammofon, Swedish supergroup Fire! invited Jim O’Rourke to join them and take on most of the guitar duties previously partly occupied by bass player Johan Berthing. For their London dates, their called upon the helping hands of Australian exprerimental guitarist Oren Ambarchi to assume similar functions.
With two albums under their belt, the trio formed of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bass player Johan Berthling (Tape) and drummer Andreas Werliin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums) are already building a sound all of their own, incorporating elements of experimental jazz, rock and kosmische into their sound. If the O’Rourke association proved extrely fruitful, it is in great part due to the latter becoming, for a moment at least, the fourth fully fledged member of the band. Ambarchi’s solo work might not perhaps immediately seem like such a logical match for the power trio’s dynamic, but he felt very much as he belonged as the opening piece unfolded, building into a forever more hypnotic rhythmic section established by Werliin and Berthling. Although it took a somewhat different path, this piece appeared to build on Are You both Still Unreleased?, which opened the bamd’s second album. Gustafsson only took on his sax for a short moment here, favouring instead Rhodes and electronics. It took some time for the quartet to reach their cruising altitude, but this gave them the time to introduce each section and get down to business.
Things got heavier rapidly with the second piece, driven by a two-tone bass line worthy of the darkest new wave. This time, as Ambarchi swapped guitar for drums, adding to the tension, Gustafsson was slicing through the rhythmic section with slithering shards of sax. This was however going to be quite a short blast compared to the first piece, and it was also the end of the first half of the band’s full set.
Retuning after the intervall, the formation kicked off in slightly more chilled mood, and it was Werliin’s turn to lead the way. Once again, Gustafsson was found on Rhodes and electronics, his contribution getting more intense as things cracked up a few notches again. An interesting dialogue between drums and keyboards developed, while bass and guitar stood slightly withdrawn. The tension shifted to Gustafsson alone at one point, but then, in what was, perhaps, designed as a moment of lull, Ambarchi was, at last, charging ahead with chunky sections of distorted guitar. Gustafsson, sax firmly in hand, seemed to enjoy it so much that he appeared to delay his contribution as much as he could, but he eventually had to let go, just at the point the other three had been building up to. It was a short outburst, which quickly died of own as the bass through a last few pulses, but it saw Fire! and Ambarchi reaching the most exhilarating point in their whole performance and conclude their energetic set on a powerful high.
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