When I read about this interesting collaboration on Stef’s blog, it seemed like something different to check out. And different it is, with an interesting combination of free-form jazz and progressive rock that makes for a heady mixture. Fire! Is a collective consisting of Mats Gustafsson on saxophones, Fender Rhodes electric piano and electronics, Johan Berthling on electric bass and Andreas Werliin on drums. Joining them is the iconoclastic musician and producer Jim O’Rourke, who has worked with everyone from Sonic Youth to Wilco and beyond. He plays electric guitar and electronic synthesizers, which add textures and contrast to what might otherwise become a free-jazz blowout. They show their impish humor in the titles they give to their improvisations like the opening “Are You Both Still Unreleased?” and “Please, I am Released” which use the electronics and guitar to create a weaving texture that Gustafsson can punch through and spiral around. He doesn’t try to dominate proceedings with leather-lunged blowing, but picks his spots for maximum effectiveness. “By Whom And Why Am I Previously Unreleased?” shows the group at their most abstract, playing slowly and quietly like the calm before the storm that is the epic finale “Happy Ending Borrowing Yours.” This massive improvisation builds slowly from guitar and electronic drone through frenetic free improvisation through to a drawn out conclusion. This album was enjoyable and shows what happens when you tear down barriers between genres and allow people to interact in a free and democratic manner, allowing their creativity to flow unfettered and without boundaries. Unreleased? - amazon.com
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Secret Keeper - Emerge (Intakt, 2015) ****
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