Posted on Jun 26th 2012 09:21 pm
FIRE! with OREN AMBARCHI
In The Mouth – A Hand
Rune Grammofon 2012
04 Tracks. 68mins37secs
A few weeks after the release of their collaborative effort with Jim O’Rourke, Swedish power trio Fire! (Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werlin) teamed up with Australian experimental guitarist Oren Ambarchi for a short run of UK dates. Recorded in London following two nights at the Vortex, In The Mouth – A Hand capitalises on the quartet’s live performances by attempting to capture the raw energy infusing their blend of free jazz, rock and kosmische.
Like O’Rourke before him, Ambarchi assumes full membership alongside the trio’s core players and drizzles guitar textures throughout this entire record, whether it is with short incisive stabs planted in between Gustafsson and the rhythmic section of Berthling and Werlin (A Man Who Might Have Been Screaming), saturated drones, as on the hypnotic And The Stories Will Flood Your Satisfaction (With Terror) or corrosive shrieks, sounding strangely akin to a circular saw on He Wants To Sleep In A Dream (The Keeps In His Head). Ambarchi’s contribution adds a strong element of grit to the trio’s incendiary effusion, often placing himself in contrasting position to Gustafsson.
The album’s opening piece, A Man Who Might Have Been Screaming, initially finds Gustafsson in somewhat subdued mood as Berthling and Werlin work up a delicate rhythmic motif, but it doesn’t take long for Gustafsson to launch into more visceral phrases. With Berthling and Werlin increasingly building pressure, Ambarchi takes up position opposite Gustafsson, and as the sax pulls out, delivers a barrage of distorted noise, its erratic progression accentuating the abstract feel of the piece. The sax makes a stern return in the dying moment of the piece, as if Gustafsson was keen to regain the ground conceded to the guitarist earlier.
Things heat up considerably on And The Stories Will Flood… as the sax is supplemented with Rhodes and organ. Ambarchi is found towards the back for some time, wrapping steady and constant guitar textures around the rhythmic section. Just before the half way mark of this epic twenty-three and a half minute behemoth, the hypnotic grooves suddenly pulls out, leaving Ambarchi to fill the space. The bass continues to pulsate in the background, but even that slowly steps back. When the sax comes in once more, the landscape is much more chaotic and distorted, the tension almost unbearable. Eventually, the quartet reign in the flow of energy, reducing it to almost nothing for the last couple of minutes.
He Wants To Sleeps… is firmly set on kosmische territories, Berthling and Werlin once again driving a hypnotic groove over which Gustafsson, having swapped sax for Rhodes and electronics, pushes a series of semi-dissonant chords to the fore. Later on, Ambarchi deploys a particular abrasive set of heavily distorted guitar noises, which become progressively more grainy and take on a different aspect as the piece progresses, until it becomes difficult to distinguish between sonic sources.
The album concludes, on CD at least, with the much more ethereal and moody I Am Sucking For A Bruise (the LP features a piece entitled Possibly She Was One, Or Had Been One Before instead). By far the shortest piece here, it shows the quartet exploring a different space altogether. Here, everything is kept well under wrap; lively effusions are all but gone, replaced by sombre electronics and a circling buzz, fuelled as much by Berthling’s droning bass as by Ambarchi’s equally static guitar.
Fire! Impressed a lot when they were joined by Oren Ambarchi last year, and this album is a stark reminder of why. Although Ambarchi is only a visiting party here, his contribution is extremely pertinent. They may have had only performed three times together before recording this album, but there is a feeling of symbiosis between the band and the guitarist which, like with their collaboration with Jim O’Rourke before, gives them an extra dimension well worth investigating.