Fire! is of course the fabulous power trio of Andreas Werlin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums), Johan Berthling (Tape) and Phil’s least favourite saxophonist Mats Gustafsson (of over a million different avant-jazz projects and combinations). The Hands is their sixth record of dark, simmering, propulsive, muscular music, and if you liked their previous noise-jaz-rock-kraut explorations, you’ll love this too. On Rune Grammofon.
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What is this rumpus? I would have to say that rumpus is Fire, with an exclamation mark, whose newest record takes a mini left turn in embracing rock music as you knew it. Or, perhaps I should say, as you once knew it; as my dad likes to know it, in definitions that focus it around Hendrix and Clapton and that darn CREAM band. Andreas Werliin and Johan Berthling open this record with some grungy, distorted back and forth, a conversation between riffs and drums that amounts to Jack Black snarling “We’ve got some rockin’ to do!”.
Call it rock moonlighting, though, because they’re still a skronk unit: Mats Gustafsson appears with his gorgeous and gruesome sax tone, pushing the song through freaky workouts and melodic refrains that spark deviations in the otherwise totally arm-folded bass riff Berthling keeps bringing. Actually, much in thanks to Berthling, Fire! have never sounded quite this close to bringing the doom. His stagnant riffs mix with Werliin’s slow percussive punctuations to create the feeling of the genre’s older, more rocked version, like Sabbath sans the singer. On “When Her Lips Collapsed”, that’s met with Gustaffson roaring some of the grittiest reed excursions I’ve heard for a while, his bass sax once again spewing all manners of sense and nonsense.
I do hope it doesn’t cause tensions: Werliin and Berthling might be one of the most patient and disciplined rhythm sections ever to put up with this kind of Rune Grammofon free play malarky. Next to the staggering, all-over playing of Gustafsson, the core Fire! crew is doing some of its best and most intense work here. All together now: argh!
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- The Hands by Fire!
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