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- Unreleased? by Fire! With Jim O´Rourke
8/10 Mike Staff review, 30 June 2011
Bit of a supergroup, this. Obviously we've got Jim O'Rourke, who I won't patronise you by introducing because, well, you're on this site already, aren't you. You weren't born yesterday. If you don't know who he is, there's this excellent website called Wikipedia... Anyway, besides him, we've got Andreas Werliin of Wildbirds & Peacedrums behind the kit, Hapna founder Johan Berthling (Tape, Animes, Sten Sandell Trio) on bass, and sax pest Mats Gustafsson (best known for The Thing, but he's collaborated with the likes of Sonic Youth, Merzbow, Derek Bailey, etc.) rounding off the line-up. How's that for pedigree? Anyway, on to the music...on this CD we've got four long and often groovy improvised jams, packaged in Rune Grammofon's trademark Kim Hiorthoy art (how that guy has kept his designs so consistently great and varied all these years while maintaining his own particular aesthetic truly boggles my mind). It's a tasty mix of space rock and free jazz that I have quickly warmed to. The bass and drums pound out a motorik, almost primitive groove for much of the time in the opening half, while the saxophone squeals and snakes around, taking everything with it in its peaks and troughs. It is pretty screechy and jarring in places, but this is sax-led free jazz, so what do you expect? In places Gustafsson does take things down a notch and allows O'Rourke to step into the foreground on guitar, and I really feel that helps keeps this record from losing its when he does...the sax is undoubtedly impressive but it's a bit shrill to be overpowering everything all the time (not to mention that the other musicians are too talented not to be given a chance to shine). The third track, the goofily-titled 'by whom and why am i previously unreleased?', brings things down to near-silence, giving Werliin a chance to really demonstrate his skills with the kit in a hushed and restrained solo backed with O'Rourke on harmonica, before we're back into full band territory on closer 'happy ending borrowing yours'. This too is rhythmically freer than the tight grooves of the opening two tracks, with O'Rourke back on guitar and the whole band creating a squalling vortex of noise. This is the closest the album gets to being hard work, really, and as far as O'Rourke's more leftfield releases go this is certainly among the more accessible!
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