Fire! have always been about finding the essence by getting to the core of the music. Their 8th album sees the trio – for the first time on record – stripped down to the bare-bones essentials; with no flutes, no electronics, no guests and no extras, recorded live in the studio to analogue tape – the Steve Albini way – with the master himself at the controls in Electrical Audio in Chicago. Thus, this album stands as a true testament to the group´s expressive power and glowing intimacy.

Released 23.02.24 / CD & LP sold out, buy digital via Bandcamp

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Limited edition 3LP set with individual sleeves placed in a sturdy slipcase or 2CD in a 6 panel digipac.

Now in its 14th year, the unique and constantly evolving Fire! Orchestra is back with their most ambitious work so far as well as their largest line-up, counting a mostly Scandinavian cast of no less than 43 members. While the popular and widely praised Arrival is a highlight in both our and the band´s catalogue, this monumental triple album ups the ante.

Echoes is a two hour work of epic proportions; full of beauty, energy, haunting passages and stunning musicianship, embracing progressive rock, contemporary avantgarde, cosmic free jazz, ethnic experimentalism and more. Making all of this flow in such a natural way from beginning to end is a brilliant achievement. The album closes with a guest appearance from the mighty Joe McPhee on tenor sax and vocals on a vigorous and amusing tribute to one of the “late, great finger wigglers” (answers on a postcard…).

Recorded at the legendary Atlantis studio in Stockholm and beautifully mixed by Jim O’Rourke, Echoes comes across as a very open, breathing, organic, detailed and dynamic album. We would also like to point out that the vinyl edition sounds great, cut by Lupo in Berlin and manufactured by Optimal Media.

Released 14.04.23

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Not the most optimistic title for pressing times, but the music sees Fire! tracking new paths and reaching new levels of excellence, still honoring their 12 year old vow of presenting a fresh approach to improvised music. Their debut album, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago, was released in 2009 to wide international acclaim. “The basic strategy of pairing the expressive energy of free jazz with a sturdy sense of groove has yielded something potent and self-contained” (New York Times). Between this and Defeat there´s been five albums, including collaborations with Jim O´Rourke (Unreleased?, 2011) and Oren Ambarchi (In The Mouth A Hand, 2012).

No two Fire! records sound the same, but with Defeat they have taken their biggest leap so far, with Gustafsson giving the flute a prominent place in the sound image, a surprising and most successful move, his both expressive and ornamental approach given ample room to breathe, especially on the two long tracks bookending the album. In places more subdued than on previous efforts, but with the distinctive bass figures and hypnotic mood fully intact. There are some lively stretches with guests Goran Kajfes and Mats Aleklint, bringing to mind their big band offshoot Fire! Orchestra, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Released 19.02.21

Fire!, Gustafsson´s trio with bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werliin, has quieted down somewhat on their new album too. Granted, 2018’s The Hands ended with “I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence”, but still, hearing Gustafsson on flute, of all things, on this disc’s opening track “A Random Belt. Rats You Out” is a surprise (to be sure, he hoots and yawps through the flute, his need for noise irrepressible). Behind him, the rhythm section lays down an almost krautrock groove. Defeat features two guests — Goran Kajfes on quarter-tone trumpet, and Mats Aleklint on trombone and sousaphone — and adding their voices to the ensemble, both as choral elements and as soloists, gives the music a pleasing fullness, particularly on the second half of the two-part “Each Millimeter Of The Toad”. The trance-like patterns Berthling and Werliin play have elements of North African music at times, particularly on “Defeat (Only Further Apart)”, which also features a killer trombone solo and long wavering horn lines like winds blowing across the burning sands. The album’s final track “Alien (To My Feet)” is perhaps its most meditative, Gustafsson’s flute humming and whistling over a bass throb as deep as an undersea trench.
The Wire (UK)

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This new, extended reading by Mats Gustafsson and Fire! Orchestra of the great Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki´s seminal “Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra” (1971) was commissioned by the Sacrum Profanum festival in Kraków in 2018. The idea was to place this classic piece in a contemporary setting, with a new approach and a new body of sound. However, the original score was used as a platform for the new reading, connecting history with the present.
The first performance of “Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra” took place in 1971 at Donaueschingen and featured the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra, 14 international jazz heavyweights assembled by Don Cherry for the occasion and conducted by Penderecki.
The composer had heard the Globe Unity Orchestra a couple of years earlier and was fascinated by the possibilites of working with musicians from a different background and with other perspectives than he was used to from the classical world. The challenge for all involved was to find the right balance between composition and improvisation. The idea was initially met with some scepticism from the musicians, but this soon gave way to acceptance and even great eagerness.
Fire! Orchestra´s instrumentation is almost identical to that of 1971, the main difference being a tuba replacing one of the trombones. Also worth noticing is that the new reading clocks in at 40 minutes, considerably longer than the 1971 version.

Released 28.02.20


Late Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki conducted the original “Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra,” which was performed in 1971 by top European improvisers. He was eager “to call on [the] unlimited technical possibilities” jazz musicians offered over nonimprovising orchestral performers, according to the liner notes of Fire! Orchestra’s latest album. And he achieved a rare balance between free-improv and composition, using visual scores instead of standard notation. Baritone saxophonist Mats Gustafsson’s revisitation of the piece with his trans-European ensemble doubles the original’s length, but adheres to Penderecki’s plan for episodic engagement among select instruments, creating variable densities and occasionally emerging bass lines. The single-track Actions unfolds gradually with subtle timbral contrasts—a spare ringing guitar, festering organ pads—and solos that imbue colors rather than explosive energies. There’s even a harmonized tutti section with an emphatic end point. Gustafsson, who also conducts, turns in a climactic passage—beginning at 28:31—that’s just as gutsy as Peter Brötzmann’s spotlit part was the first time around. The European players here all seem to have open ears, collaborating with a suspenseful linear sense, yet different “actions”— a flute air, tom-toms on low boil—emerge as key points after each listen. There’s some wild polyphony as the orchestra approaches its conclusion, but kudos are most deserved for Fire!’s sensitive deployment of creative freedoms within generous, although still defined, boundaries. 4/5.
Downbeat (US)

Forceful reimagining of the composer’s brush with jazz. Fire! Orchestra, Swedish sax titan Mats Gustafsson’s combo, often confound with their metal-informed free jazz, but this is further-out than usual. Actions is a 2018 live version of Poland’s Krzysztof Penderecki’s only stab at jazz. The composer saw the Globe Unity Orchestra in 1969 and, fascinated, engaged Don Cherry to form but not play in an ensemble which would improvise on a composed score under his baton, the first time Penderecki conducted. Peter Brötzmann, Terje Rypdal and Kenny Wheeler were among those hired; Actions For Free-Jazz Orchestra resulted. Performed at Germany’s Donaueschingen Festival in ’71, it was 16-and-half-minutes of ebb-and-flow, crash-and-burn dynamics. Gustafsson’s rendering runs to 40 minutes and is wilder, contrasting texture with free-flowing power. Reine Fiske (Dungen) and Andreas Werliin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums) appear in the 13-piece band conducted by a sax-wielding Gustafsson.
Mojo (UK)

The Fire! Orchestra is not so much Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson’s big band as his big house, the place where he can bring his myriad interests together and invite them to interact. They have already taken on free jazz, krautrock and abstracted songcraft, so why not one of the earliest documents of post-third stream classical-jazz interaction? Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki originally composed Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra after hearing the Globe Unity Orchestra and handed it off to trumpeter Don Cherry to realize its first performance in 1971. Cherry’s imprint upon Gustafsson is deep; where do you think his long-running trio, The Thing, got its name? But this is no mere recreation. Some of Fire! Orchestra’s members weren’t even alive when the first version was performed, so the task is to find a way of playing the piece that makes sense now. So, they stretch things out, letting passages evolve organically. Special credit is due to the three-piece, whose contributions melt and glow.
Dusted (US)

The most topical program, sadly related to the March 29 death at 86 of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, is Actions (Rune Grammofon RCD 2212 Conceived of before his death and eagerly encouraged by the composer, it’s the first performance of Penderecki’s mixture of improvisation and composition since its premiere in 1971. With the same number and almost exact instrumentation of the initial band, the 14-piece Scandinavian Fire! Orchestra, conducted by baritone saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, devises a personal interpretation. Negotiating the peaks and valleys of the creation, the group works its way from an introduction heavily weighted towards growling brass from tubist Per-Åke Holmlander and trombonist Maria Bertel to a protracted silence broached by muted tones from one of three trumpeters and propelled into a steadying groove from bassists Elsa Bergman and Torbjörn Zetterberg. From then on, until a semi-climax at the midpoint, fruitful dialogues emerge involving distorted runs from guitarist Reine Fiske and Gustafsson’s low-pitched baritone slurs. A middle section driven by kettle-drum thumps and gong resonations from Andreas Werliin plus Christer Bothén’s bass clarinet continuum is further propelled by Alexander Zethson’s ecclesiastical organ pumps that judder just below the polyphonic surface. Overblowing snorts from Gustafsson coupled with surging glossolalia from the other reeds lead to a final section of pumping guitar distortion and a capillary explosion. With the massed instruments’ layered top, middle and bottom textures equally audible as a crescendo, brief guitar frails and organ washes signal the finale.
The Whole Note (CA)

Krzysztof Penderecki, who died in March of 2020 at 86, was best known as a classical composer and conductor, but in 1971, he collaborated with trumpeter Don Cherry on Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra, a 16-minute piece performed at the Donaueschingen Music Festival with an ensemble of Kenny Wheeler, Manfred Schoof and Tomasz Stanko (trumpets), Albert Mangelsdorff and Paul Rutherford (trombones), Gerd Dudek, Willem Breuker and Peter Brotzmann (saxophones), Gunter Hampel (flute and bass clarinet), Fred Van Hove (piano and organ), Terje Rypdal (guitar), Peter Warren and Buschi Niebergall (basses) and Han Bennink (drums), with Penderecki conducting. Not unlike John Coltrane’s Ascension or Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, it juxtaposed swinging ensemble passages against raucous solo and duo sections. In 2018, Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and his Fire! Orchestra were commissioned to revisit Actions for the Sacrum Profanum festival in Krakow, near Penderecki’s Debica birthplace. Their version of the piece runs a full 40 minutes and includes Goran Kajfes, Niklas Barrio and Susana Santos Silva (trumpets), Maria o Bertel (trombone), Per Ake Holmlander (tuba), Anna Hogberg (alto), Per “Texas” Johansson (tenor, clarinet and flute), Gustafsson (baritone saxophone and conduction), Christer Bothen (bass clarinet), Reine Fiske (guitar), Alex Zethson (Hammond organ), Elsa Bergman (upright bass), Torbjorn Zetterberg (electric bass) and Andreas Werliin (drums). Rather than extend the solo portions, though, they’ve slowed the whole thing down to a dubby, psychedelic crawl, with guitar, bass and organ giving it a dark, forbidding atmosphere. The horns hoot, sputter and moan at each other like apes at midnight, but there are a few real solos as well: one of the trumpeters early on, then Gustafsson later. This is a fascinating, unexpected performance very different from previous Fire! Orchestra discs, more in line with groups like Globe Unity Orchestra or bassist Alan Silva’s large-scale projects. Although it’s likely a one-off, it does point to a potentially fascinating new direction going forward, should Gustafsson choose to take that path.
New York City Jazz Record (US)

Det händer nästan alltid spännande saker när improvisationsmusiker närmar sig skrivet material. Vi har hört det med Stockhausen när han under 60-talet hade franska improvisationsmusiker som klarinettisten Michel Portal i orkestern, eller i det italienska kollektivet Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza med bland andra Ennio Morricone, med Dror Feiler när han samarbetat med Klangforum Wien eller när den polske kompositören Krzysztof Penderecki skrev Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra som uppfördes på festivalen Donaueschingen 1971 och sedan hamnade på skiva. Då var 14-mannaorkestern sammansatt av Don Cherry – som dock inte spelade själv på detta stycke – och innehöll europeiska musiker som Peter Brötzmann, Kenny Wheeler, Tomasz Stanko med flera. Nu är det Mats Gustafsson som har satt ihop ett delvis nytt Fire! Orchestra – för första gången utan Mariam Wallentin och Sofia Jernberg – med nästan enbart svenska musiker som Goran Kajfeš, Christer Bothén, Anna Högberg, Per Texas Johansson med flera. 16 minuter har blivit 40 i den nytolkning som Mats Gustafsson gör och som framfördes i Krakow 2018. Originalpartituret ligger kvar i botten men har utvecklats och moderniserats, tillförts nya ljudbilder. Det är en mycket givande tolkning Gustafsson gör, och utförandet av Fire! Orchestra är strålande. Musiken lever och andas, rör sig framåt, överhuvudtaget är det väldigt dynamiskt och med en mångfald av detaljer som överraskar under många lyssningar. Strukturer från originalet finns kvar, den dronande inledningen, det explosiva crescendot och passagen där gitarristen Reine Fiske förtjänstfullt tar upp den psykedeliska tråden från Terje Rypdals originalgitarr. Bara för att nämna några. Samtidigt finns stundtals ett tillfört groove som gör det väldigt Fire! Orchestra-mässigt. Ornette Coleman kritiserade för länge sedan den noterade västerländska konstmusiken för att den alltid lät så snarlik. Som kom den aldrig ur sin form och sina klangfärger. Colemans tanke dyker upp när jag lyssnar på Actions. Penderecki lyckades kanske inte helt med att omvandla konstmusiken (om det nu var det han ville) till något annat, så inte heller Gustafsson i sin nya tolkning. Här finns delvis ett igenkännande. Ändå sker kreativa och faktiska förflyttningar eftersom musiken framförs av improvisationsmusiker. Inte minst med tanke på att partituret är grafiskt och öppet. Det är ett mycket lyckat försök att stånga sig loss från idiomet. Här finns medvetna brytningar, som Alex Zethsons hammondorgel som är mer drömsk än stramt koncentrerad och upp dyker även psykedeliska, brölande kaospartier, rytmiska känningar från rockvärlden och passager av fragmentarisk klassisk impro. Inte bara utförandet är alltså annorlunda jämfört med ”vanlig” noterad konstmusik, även andra idiom tillförs. Och de individuella prestationerna är många och lyckade. De finns där, lyser upp, men ingår också i den kollektiva helhet som utgör musiken. Sammantaget är Actions ett mycket spännande och mytomspunnet stycke musik. På detta album tolkas det och framförs på nytt. Av ett svenskt 14-mannaband i polska Krakow. Det är tveklöst en händelse av rang. Så även att det nu även finns för lyssning för oss som inte var där.
OrkesterJournalen (SE)

Pendereckis musik har använts i filmer som Exorcisten, Twin Peaks och Shutter Island. I hans breda skapande finns också det mellan komposition och improvisation balanserande stycket Actions for free jazz orchestra, som spelades in i Donaueschingen 1971 med Peter Brötzmann, Willem Breuker och Terje Rypdal bland musikerna. Nära nog femtio år senare har Mats Gustafsson greppat stycket igen, på ett nytt sätt, vilket framgår av denna täta och extremt dynamiska inspelning gjord i Krakow 2018 med (som vanligt) stjärnspäckade Fire! Orchestra. Dock utan sångerskor denna gång, men med gitarristen Reine Fiske som ny bland de 14 musikerna. Framförandet utgår från originalinspelningen, med i princip samma sättning, men musiken sträcker sig över 40 minuter (till skillnad från originalets knappa 17) och är avsevärt rikare på kontraster. Något massivt manglande är det inte frågan om, snarare återges den grafiskt noterade musiken i kluster, där musikerna vandrar in och ut för att måla fritt i skiftande nyanser. Som stabiliserande faktor finns också de melodislingor som dyker upp efter 15 respektive 20 minuter, och inte minst den puls som följer på den explosiva saxutlösningen en halvtimme in i musiken. Kraftfullt är bara förnamnet, passionerat bara mellannamnet.
Lira (SE)

Første gang jeg så Fire! Orchestra spille, må ha vært på Sound Of Mu for rundt ti år siden. Jeg ble hektet. Siden den gang har trioen omskapt seg til stort orkester og satt brennmerker i den europeiske jazzen. I fjor leverte de et av årets album. Nå er de tilbake med en nytolkning av Krzysztof Pendereckis Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra, og det låter helt umiskjennelig. Den polske komponisten skrev verket etter å ha hørt Globe Unity Orchestra, og i 1971 ble det fremført med Peter Brötzmann og Terje Rypdal i besetningen. Mats Gustafsson har bygget ut Pendereckis ideer, og Fire! Orchestras versjon er betydelig lenger enn originalen. Kremen av svenske jazzmusikere er med, og det nedfeller seg i uttrykket. Gitarist Reine Fiske spiller ut sine 60-tallsdrømmer, og bruken av hammond peker i samme retning. Barytonsaksofonen låter som et åpent sår, og komponert og improvisert glir sømløst over i hverandre. Bandet overgår ikke seg selv, men det skal jo noe til. 5/6.
Aftenposten (NO)

Denne gangen gyver det svenske jazzlokomotivet, med Gustafsson i førersetet, løs på «Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra», signert den polske avantgardekomponisten Krzysztof Penderecki, som nok er mer kjent for andre ting, som musikken til filmklassikeren Ondskapens Hotel. «Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra» ble fremført første gang i 1971, av New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra, et superlag satt sammen av Don Cherry, med storheter som Peter Brötzmann, Kenny Wheeler og Terje Rypdal i rekkene. For øvrig inspirert av frijazzhæren Global Unity Orchestra, som det påpekes i albumnotatene. Det er et lite stykke frijazzhistorie dette. Gustafsson leverer sin egen tolkning, opprinnelig på bestilling fra festivalen Sacrum Profanum i Krakow, tilbake i 2018. De holder det gående betraktelig lenger enn Penderecki i sin tid gjorde det med New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra, vi snakker her om ett spor på rundt 40 minutter. Det er tolket inn i en ny tid, med ånden fra originalen svevende over det hele. Det er tidvis hypnotisk, tidvis storslått, i en fin balanse mellom det komponerte og det improviserte, og et tøft møte mellom den rå kraften fra blåserne og sekstitallsvibbene fra Fiske. Det var på tide at noen børstet støv av denne perlen fra Penderecki. Gustafsson og Fire! Orchestra gjør det på mesterlig vis.
Dagsavisen (NO)

Vi må ta det frå byrjinga: Mot slutten av sekstitalet fekk den polske komponisten Krzysztof Penderecki oppleve frijazzensemblet Globe Unit Orchestra, som i si tid blei forma med utgangspunkt i ei bestilling til Alexander von Schlippenbach frå jazzfestivalen i Berlin i 1966. Han blei nyfiken og inspirert, og i 1971 kunne han sjølv, saman med Don Cherry, presentere verket Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra framført av det skreddarsydde New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra. Der kan ein mellom anna finne utøvarar som Peter Brötzmann, Han Bennink, Terje Rypdal, Kenny Wheeler og Tomasz Stanko. Så har altså festivalen Sacrum Profanum i Krakow tinga ei ny utgåve av dette verket frå Mats Gustafsson og den herlege gjengen i Fire! Orchestra, der ein kan trekke fram medlemmar som Per ”Texas” Johansson, Anna Högberg, Goran Kajfes og Elsa Bergmann. Penderecki er neppe mest kjend for dette verket (men mange hugsar sikkert at han har skrive eit sterkt stykke i Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima som blei gjort aktuelt igjen i sesong tre av Twin Peaks i 2017), og dette er truleg første gang det har blitt spelt inn på nytt. Den mest openberre skilnaden frå første innspeling er at denne varer mykje lenger. I omtalen frå plateselskapet står det at orkesteret har gjort ei «extended reading» av stykket. At eit stykke skrive for eit frijazzensemble rommar mykje og kan utvidast slik er ikkje så rart, men eg skulle gjerne likt å vite meir om kva som ligg i ei «ny tilnærming», som det også skal vere her. At mykje har endra seg sidan 1971 er uansett sikkert. Det eine er, kanskje ikkje så uventa, at dette læt langt betre reint lydteknisk. Men eg får også ei kjensle av ei slags musikalsk modning, som ein i såfall må tilskrive heile frijazzrørsla kollektivt. Det kan også vere den ”utvida” lesinga, som gjer at dei musikalske ideane får utvide seg meir organisk med den tida som skal til. Konklusjonen er i alle høve at det var ein god idé å gjere dette på nytt, og kanskje har til og med Gustafsson lukkast betre enn komponisten gjorde sjølv i 1971. Dét er ikkje så verst.
Jazznytt (NO)

Det er Pendereckis «Actions» som er vårt hovedanliggende for denne teksten, og det er denne komposisjonen som multinasjonale Fire! Orchestra med Mats Gustafsson i spissen gjorde en nytolkning av under festivalen Sacrum Profanum i Krakow i 2018. Også denne konserten ble tatt opp, utgitt av Rune Grammofon ved slutten av februar, omtrent en måned før Pendereckis død. Fire! Orchestra bruker partituret som et springbrett, og strekker verket utover vel 40 minutter, der opptaket fra 1971 nøyde seg med 16 og et halvt minutt. At det er samme verk er dog merkbart allerede fra de første tonene: dype, rumlende, utstrakte toner av bass og tuba, men der 1971-versjonen skyter ut i frilynt driv ledet av en joggende bass, holder Fire! Orchestra spenningen noe lengre, og stykket er i begynnelsen mer preget av tentative utspill fra blåsere og andre. Et seigt og luskende tema, der kontra- og el-bass veksler mellom å ta alternerende steg og å trampe i samme spor, akkompagnert av illevarslende klangbilder fra blant annet gitar, er bakteppet for diverse soloutspill som bryter ut i kollektiv kakofoni, og plutselige utbrudd, eruptive, ilende og flakkende drypp, spor og linjer. Fire! Orchestras tolkning av «Actions» får frem både det atmosfæriske, ominøse, vekkende, eggende, spontane og handlingspregede i Pendereckis musikk på ypperlig vis.
Klassekampen (NO)

Den polske samtidskomponisten Krzysztof Penderecki er poppis for tiden. Under en Warszawa-tur i fjor hørte jeg en person ganske høyt oppe i klassiskmiljøet si at han er den «alle snakker om om dagen», og et besøk i byens bruktplatesjapper kunne også bekrefte inntrykket av ham som svært hipp. Han dirigerte for øvrig de polske radiosymfonikerne på et opptak som ble en av fjorårets mest interessante plater, nemlig popvokalist Beth Gibbons tolkning Goreckis berømte tredje symfoni. Men crossover er ikke noe nytt for Penderecki. Allerede i 1971 ville den polske modernisten utforske forholdet mellom improvisasjon og komponisttradisjonen han selv kom fra. Med hjelp fra den amerikanske saksofonisten Don Cherry oppsto verket Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra. Den første innspillingen ble gjort av en besetning på 14 mann under navnet New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra. Den inkluderte blant andre storheter som Terje Rypdal, Thomasz Stanko og Kenny Wheeler. Og dette er fett! For nå kommer, sannsynligvis for første gang siden 1971, en nytolkning av verket ut på plate. Det er like mange i bandet denne gangen, og den svenske kraftstasjonen på sax, Mats Gustafsson, gjør i kombinasjon med sitt eget Fire! Orchestra noe som kalles en «nylesning» av det opprinnelige verket. Sjekk for øvrig Kim Hiorthøys artige stilisering av Gustafssons score for musikken i coverdesignet. Den blandingen av gammelt koblingsskjema for el-apparater og eksplosjons-aktige tegneseriebobler omslagsillustrasjonen gir assosiasjoner til, kan faktisk illustrerende lyden som venter, selv for en som ikke er kjent med å lese notasjon av musikk. Det vrenger i kondensatorer, freser i ledningsfester og spretter elektriske ildkuler over kretskortet. Bandbesetningen utgjøres av saksofoner, klarinett, tuba, trompeter, elektrisk bass, kontrabass, hammondorgel og trommer, i tillegg til at gitarist Reine Fiske for første gang er på plate i Fire! Orchestra-sammenheng. Framføringen var del av festivalen Sacrum Profanum i Krakdw i 2018. Det moderne har siden 1971 med andre ord fått noen år på nakken, men er ikke gått ut på dato av den grunn, akkurat i denne sammenhengen. Den inspirerte og deilige frilyden på årets plate kunne like gjerne vært spilt i 1971 som i 2018, det låter bare litt tjukkere nå. Spillelengden er også betraktelig utvidet i forhold til originalen, og det er jo bare en fordel.
Vårt Land (NO)

Den polske samtidskomponisten Krzysztof Penderecki døde 29. mars i år, vel vitende om at Fire! Orchestra, under ledelse av Mats Gustafsson, og for anledningen armert med klassisk orkester og gitarist Reine Fiske, hadde oppført en fortolkning av dennes “Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra” under Sacrum Profanum-festivalen, Krakow, 2018. Angivelig skal Penderecki – allment anerkjent for sin ominøse tredjesymfoni og ikke mindre angstfremmende “Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima” – ha høstet idéen til verket etter å ha bivånet en konsert med The Globe Unity Orchestra i 1960-årene. “Actions…” ble plateinnspilt i 1971, av The New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra, som besto av fjorten musikere, inklusive Terje Rypdal. Det er med andre ord ikke småplukk Fire! Orchestra begir seg ut på. Stykket ligger dog rimelig formdefinert i balansering av komposisjon og improvisasjon, og Penderecki ville neppe hatt •noe å innvende på eksegesens prolongasjon, som klokker inn på førti minutter. Musikalsk bukter “Actions…” fra karakteristiske, foruroligende Penderecki-grep, med bruk av få toner, overdratt gutturale lyder og vrengt blåseinstrumentering, til værbitt loungejazz og infernalsk avantgarde. Passasjer av stilistiske amalgamer løses særlig godt, men er neppe egnet som julegave til alle svigermødre. At Reine Fiske, for øvrig Rypdal-disippel på sin hals, viser seg oppgaven verdig burde derimot ikke overraske en sjel.
Norway Rock Magazine (NO)

In 1971, Penderecki collaborated with trumpeter Don Cherry on Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra, a 16-minute piece performed at the Donaueschingen Music Festival. The ensemble included Kenny Wheeler, Manfred Schoof and Tomasz Stanko on trumpets; Albert Mangelsdorff and Paul Rutherford on trombones; Gerd Dudek, Willem Breuker and Peter Brötzmann on saxophones; Gunter Hampel on flute and bass clarinet; Fred Van Hove on piano and organ; Terje Rypdal on guitar; Peter Warren and Buschi Niebergall on basses; and Han Bennink on drums, with Penderecki conducting. It was a fairly classic slab of out jazz in the dominant style of that era, not unlike John Coltrane‘s Ascension or Ornette Coleman‘s Free Jazz, with swinging ensemble passages interspersed with frequently raucous but sometimes quite beautiful solo and duo sections. Saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and his Fire! Orchestra were commissioned to revisit Actions for the 2018 Sacrum Profanum festival in Kraków. They more or less replicated the instrumentation, but the piece itself has been radically expanded. It’s now 40 minutes long, and has been released on LP and CD by Rune Grammofon. This version of Fire! Orchestra, a large group with fluctuating membership, includes Goran Kajfes, Niklas Barnö, and Susana Santos Silva on trumpets; Maria Bertel on trombone; Per Åke Holmlander on tuba; Anna Högberg on alto sax; Per Johansson on tenor sax, clarinet and flute; Gustafsson on baritone sax and conduction; Christer Bothén on bass clarinet; Reine Fiske on guitar; Alex Zethson on Hammond organ; Elsa Bergman on upright bass; Torbjörn Zetterberg on electric bass; and Andreas Werliin on drums. You might think that they’d have stretched the piece from 16 minutes to 40 by making the solos longer and wilder, but you would be wrong. What Fire! Orchestra has done is slow the piece down, to an almost trance-like, dubby groove. They don’t swing; they march, as slow as zombies, leaning into the horror-movie atmospherics that made Penderecki’s music so attractive to William Friedkin and Stanley Kubrick. The use of electric instruments (guitar, bass, organ) adds a psychedelic rock feel at times, but there are also stretches where the horns moan long tones at each other that are quite beautiful in an almost whale-song-like way. But then, at roughly the 29-minute mark, Gustafsson steps into the spotlight, and cuts loose with the baritone in a way that sounds like his lungs are made of sandpaper, before Johansson joins him for a sputtering duet. This is a fascinating, absorbing performance. Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves, but it absolutely ranks with Alan Silva‘s Seasons, the Jazz Composers Orchestra‘s Communications, Don Cherry‘s Eternal Rhythm, and the early work of the Globe Unity Orchestra as essential documents of large scale avant-jazz. This re-recording honors the original while adding more than enough to make it a work that stands on its own.
Burning Ambulance (US)

„Actions” ist eine Komposition fur Free-jazz-Orchestra des polnischen Komponisten Krzysztof Penderecki, die 1971 in Donaueschingen unter der Leitung von Don Cherry und mit der Beteiligung von Peter Brötzmann, Willem Breuker, Terje Rypdal, Tomasz Stanko und vielen anderen aufgenommen wurde. Das Werk hat erheblichen Einfluss auf die Musik von Butch Morris und anderen Protagonisten, die später die Ideen des Third Stream weiterführten. Wie aktuell die Komposition des Polen immer noch ist, stellt jetzt der Schwede Mats Gustafsson mit seinem Fire! Orchestra unter Beweis, das zwar nicht so prominent besetzt ist wie die Formation , on ’71, aber dafür umso passionierter. Die CD besteht aus einem einzigen langen Track, doch die Drones, aus denen sich immer wieder einzelne improvisierende Stimmen oder Stimmenbündel schälen, um letztlich wieder im Gesamtsound Erfüllung zu finden, sind abenteuerlich. Das ist wahrlich ein kreativer Umgang mit der Tradition im Sinne des Originals, das nichts weniger wollte, als jemals bewahrt zu werden.
Jazzthing (DE)

KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI war, als er 1971 mit The New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra ‘Actions’ zur Aufführung brachte, auf seinem Penderadetzky-Marsch zu Altar & Tradition von seinen avancierten Meisterstreichen – ‘Anaklasis’, ‘Fluorescences’, ‘Polymorphia’, ‘Threnos’ – mit denen er zehn Jahre zuvor Furore gemacht hatte, noch nicht so weit ent­fernt, um vom gradlinigen Kollegen Lachenmann abgetan zu werden als Leitkuh der ‘tona­len Paarhufer’. Was er 1970/71 schrieb – ‘De natura sonoris No. 2’, ‘Kosmogonia’, ‘Utrenja’, ‘Canticum Canticorum Salomonis’, die ‘Partita’ für Cembalo, elektrische Gitarre, Bass-Gitarre, Harfe, Kontrabass und Orchester – war zwar in Weihwasser getaucht, aber noch mit dem Beigeschmack von “Der Exorzist” und “Shining”. Für die radikale Resonanz auf Hiroshima und Holocaust die höhere Weihe als Hollywood-Horror – Action! Dem Orchestra, eine andere Globe Unity mit Bennink, Breuker, Brötzmann, Mangelsdorf, Rutherford &c.&c. &c., mit Rypdal so kratzig wie nirgend sonst, entwarf er mit grafischem Leitfaden: ein Vor­spiel zur Klangentfaltung; einen 4/4-Part mit Überblas-Techniken; einen (weniger beweg­ten) menomosso-Abschnitt, mit 2- und 3-stimmigen Teilgruppen, einem Choral, einem Ba­ritonsaxsolo; eine quintessentielle Reprise mit Schlusschoral [-> Philips, 1971, Wergo, 1977, Intuition, 2001]. 2018 ließen sich Mats Gustafsson und FIRE! ORCHESTRA dazu an­stiften, für das Sacrum Profanum Festival in Kraków noch einmal Actions (RCD2212 / RLP 3212) in Angriff zu nehmen und dabei das nur 16 ½ min. Original durch Conduction und größere Freiheiten auf 40 Min. zu erweitern. In quasi identischer Instrumentierung, nur eine Posaune ist verwandelt in Per Åke Holmlanders Tuba neben Goran Kajfeš, Niklas Barnö & Susana Santos Silva – Trompeten, Maria Bertel – Posaune, Anna Högberg – Alto­sax, Gustafsson selbst – Baritonsax, Per ‘Texas’ Johansson – Tenorsax, Klarinette, Flöte, Christer Bothén – Bassklarinette, Alex Zethson – Hammondorgel, Elsa Bergman – Kontra­bass, Torbjörn Zetterberg – E-Bass und Andreas Werliin – Drums. Eingeschworene Fire!-Biester, mit weiteren Allianzen im Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra, bei Torbjörn Zetter­berg Hot Five, Angles, Tropiques, Je Suis!, The Big YES! oder Holmlanders Carliot – It’s Never Too Late Orchestra. Dazu das Fire!-Debut von Reine Fiske mit seinem Rock-Spirit von Landberk und Dungen bis Motorpsycho und Elephant9, der bei “Sky Music: A Tribute to…” auch schon den Terje Rypdal gemacht hat. Kontrabassstriche und Tuba grummeln, leise und mit Schmauchspuren setzen die Bläser ein, fauchend, stöhnend, knarrend, krähend, flötend. Doch sie verstummen, weil sich da eine schwellende Orgeldröhnwelle wölbt. Aus langgezogenen Hornstößen entfaltet sich prächtiges Trompetenspiel, dazu setzen Drums und Pizzicato erst sich, dann alles in Bewegung, mit aufgekratztem Bläser­krawall, der sich zu anhaltendem Tutti ballt, Schnitt! Die Gitarre und beide Bässe krabbeln gemeinsam, von Bassklarinette sanft, von Bläserkürzeln und den Drums impulsiv akzen­tuiert, bis hin zu heftigen Stößen. Die Klarinette schmust auf weichem 1 ∕ 2 ∕ 3 des Basses, die Flöte tiriliert im langsamen Groove des ganzen Kollektivs, Schnitt! Gong rauscht und crasht, und trappelig akzeleriert die Trommel. Zu Werliins klapprigem Eifer glissandieren zwei Trompeten und umkreisen sich schließlich a capella. Die Reeds summen, alle Bläser pollocken, zu Orgel, funkeliger Percussion und Gitarrenlegato setzt erneuter, metallisch angeschlagener Groove ein, Staccatokürzel zerrütten ihn. Überblende. Lang gezogenes Glissando wird von einer Trompete stufig getönt. Blende. Gustafsson balgt sich am Bari­ton mit der Bläsermeute wie um einen Knochen, und dann kommen sie endlich, in schwe­rem Schritt, die 4/4, von Bläsern umschwirrt, die Uhr zeigt gut 30 Min. Die Tuba blubbert und stößt betrommelten Staccatotumult in ein herrliches Bläserdelirium, aus dem abrupt Zethson allein ausschert hin zu einem Hammondhalteton. Ein rhythmisches Motiv bringt wieder Bewegung für erst spotzig fauchendes, dann träumerisches, weiterhin beorgeltes Gebläse, das aber in brummiger Bass-Tuba-Stagnation an den Anfang zurückkehrt. Und vergeht. Das sind definitiv andere Proportionen und Lösungen als nur die von Penderecki vorgezeichneten. Part 2 & 3 erscheinen vertauscht oder vereint. Kein Choral. Weniger individuelle Improvisation. Keine Rypdalraptorik. Und überhaupt vermeidet Gustafsson die Verlockung, die großen Alten imitieren oder überbieten zu wollen. Er betont das Miteinan­der, außer der Action und dem Vorwärts auch das Verweilen. Ach Lachenmann, es gibt noch anderes Feuer als das von Schwefelhölzern, und haben wir nicht letztlich alle einerlei Odem, um es zu hüten oder so oder so anzufachen?
Bad Alchemy (DE)

For 20 years Rune Grammofon has made a habit of releasing music that is beyond easy classification, in later years typified by Swedish trio Fire!, consisting of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin. All three are highly accomplished musicians, but Fire! music is not “difficult” in the sense that jazz and especially free jazz is often perceived. Very much a tight knit unit with three equal players, Fire! has been likened to powerful guitar led trios such as Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but with Berthling´s heavy, doom laden basslines being such a typical identifier, we can´t help but thinking of Black Sabbath´s debut album when it comes to hypnotic impact.
The Hands
is the trio´s sixth album and once again displays a totally uncompromising and intriguing mix of (mostly) heavy, dark and intensely burning music whether one decide on calling it jazz or rock. The album closes on a quiet and reflective note with the appropriately titled “I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence”.
And we say it´s easily their best so far.

“…makes Earth sound like Return to Forever.”
– Jazzwise

“…Mats Gustafsson, whose sax has never sounded more bloodied and bruised than it does here, now has a three-piece unit easily The Thing’s equal in sheer heft and force.”
– The Quietus

“Seven sensitively brutal missives from the dark side”
– Prog

“Ducking clichés in taking a different approach, Fire! could be seen to be freeing up free jazz.”
– Record Collector

“The Hands is Fire!´s sixth release and it continues to fan the flames of the Scandinavian trio’s explosive soundworld”
– BBC Music

“…the raw energy is always there, humming in the background like a machine warning you not to touch it.”
– Stereogum

“Clapping the hands.”
– FreiStil

Buy CD/2LP from Rune Grammofon

As brilliant as their previous album ‘Enter’ is, with ‘Ritual’ they have outdone themselves and produced a beast of beauty and power, extremely well executed, beautifully recorded and produced from only two days in the studio. Free improvisations, spontaneous horns, keyboard frenzy, abstract electronics, guitar mayhem and not to forget; those glorious twin voices of Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg. It’s about mysteries and rituals; in music and in life.

Fire! originated as the trio of Swedish improv masters Mats Gusfasson (sax), Johan Berthling (bass) and Andreas Werliin (drums). None of them are what you could call jazz purists; they all play in many different groups and contexts, including The Thing (Gustafsson), experimental folk-electronica outfit Tape (Berthling), and skewed blues-pop unit Wildbirds & Peacedrums (Werliin). Sofia Jernberg and Mariam Wallentin have been on board since the beginning, the same goes for horn players Niklas Barnö, Jonas Kullhammar, Mats Äleklint, Per Åke Holmlander and Anna Högberg. Basically a Swedish ensemble, the orchestra now also counts Norwegian, Danish and French players. Members of Fire! Orchestra share a wide background, combining jazz, improvised music, contemporary music, rock, garage, psych, and what have you. As they proclaim on their site: “Please make up your own genre and mind – listen freely – don’t buy our labeling attempts… labeling sucks”. A sentiment that basically sums up Rune Grammofon as well, so we couldn’t agree more.

Released 29.04.16


Alto Saxophone – Mette Rasmussen
Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Anna Högberg
Baritone Saxophone – Mats Gustafsson
Bass – Johan Berthling
Bass Saxophone, Braithophone – Jonas Kullhammar
Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone – Per ‘Texas’ Johansson
Drums – Andreas Werliin, Mads Forsby
Electronics – Andreas Berthling
French Horn – Hild Sofie Tafjord
Guitar – Finn Loxbo, Julien Desprez
Keyboards – Edvin Nahlin
Keyboards, Violin – Martin Hederos
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Lotte Anker
Trombone – Mats Äleklint
Trumpet – Niklas Barnö, Susana Santos Silva
Tuba – Per Åke Holmlander
Vocals – Mariam Wallentin, Sofia Jernberg


For several years, Fire! trio – Mats Gustafsson (sax), Johan Berthling (bass) and Andreas Werliin (drums) – have expanded to a larger grouping when occasion and finances have allowed. They say they’ve slimmed down a few members, but we count 21 players in ex-ABBA songsmith Benny Andersson’s Stockholm studio. Known for his ear-splitting sonics and bellicose playing, Gustafsson subsumes his aleatoric instincts here in order to help deliver a driving and surprisingly rock-orientated composition. Broken into five parts, Ritual vibrates with an almost mechanistic, industrial momentum. Although the principal horn-led themes are relatively simple, they have a galvanising force. That’s partly due to their energetic repetition, but also through the assertiveness of their performance, with vocalists Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg adding passion to the text, taken from esteemed Swedish poet Erik Lindegren, sung in English. Think Magma when they’re firing on all cylinders. After the turbulence of previous sections, the finale reduces to a bluesy march whose solemn steps evoke Ian Carr’s pieces with Nucleus. It’s a smouldering but tightly disciplined and highly satisfying resolution.
Prog (UK)

This is our latter-day equivalent to the Basie band, road-hungry, an evolving personnel of sometimes incompatible personalities, a body of music essentially simple in conception but with a socking punch. The ritual aspects to this are a bit new and it isn’t quite clear, even from the lyric material, what kind of ritual we’re talking about, but the execution is familiar enough, a high-energy mix of coach-built ensembles and fierce solos. Mats Gustafsson’s pranksters never sound like they’re just indulging a tear-up; it’s always more thoughtful than that, and the middle sections of the piece (which is co-written with Johan Berthling, Andreas Werlin and vocalist Mariam Wallentin) are as thoughtful (Ellingtonian?) as you’ll get out of this hardy perennial outfit.
The Wire (UK)

Swedish reedist Mats Gustafsson built this unruly ensemble around his trio Fire!, a fleet, energetic group with bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werliin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums). On previous recordings the Fire! Orchestra has swelled to 28 members, thickening the trio’s tough grooves and harsh textures with an armada of horns, chanted vocals, writhing electric guitars, and pure noise. The lineup on Ritual is pared down to 18, but the results are no less powerful. The album’s five-­movement suite puts the singing of Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg front and center, where they toggle between hectoring melodies and wordless caterwauling. Gustafsson’s control of the ensemble has never been surer, whether the music is exploding in a torrent of violence and tightly coiled riffing or pulling back to a smoldering vamp—and this dynamic richness turns the record into a roller-­coaster ride. It’s exhilarating to hear so many of Scandinavia’s finest improvisers unite unerringly behind a single purpose.
Chicago Reader (US)

Fire! Orchestra may be rocking a new, slim-line configuration of just 21 members (reduced from over 30), but their third album in as many years is every bit as epic as we’ve come to expect from the Swedish behemoth, with massed horns and ambitious arrangements again recalling both Keith Tippett’s Centipede and George Russell’s Electronic Sonata For Souls Loved By Nature. This time around, it’s all about the hooks, with heavy insistent riffs ranging from lurching No Wave through to prog-tinged Afro-beat and a ragged rock chug with detuned electric guitar of the kind habitually slung around by Thurston Moore. Subtly detailed embellishments catch the ear throughout: harsh, crackling noise-electronics; strangled sax skronk; and sudden horn blasts and swells responding to mercurial conduction from leader Mats Gustafsson. But it’s the twin vocals that really carry the date. Mariam Wallentin’s raw-edged blues persona and Sofia Jernberg’s astonishing ululations mingle to create a sense of rising, barely supressed hysteria, building a yearning, secular ceremony that makes this session very aptly named indeed.
Jazzwise (UK)

Pulling no punches, the follow-up to Fire! Orchestra’s previous albums Exit (2013) and Enter (2014) begins with a heavy ensemble riff nearly channelling the opening to Captain Beef-heart’s anthem Dropout Boogie. But this soon evaporates into the captivating duetting voices of Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg and it’s interesting, though not surprising, to note that the elliptic lyrics are sung in English. The dramatic, brass-laden arrangements are satisfy-ingly juxtaposed with appro-priately dynamic vocals. This 21-piece orchestra grew out of a trio comprising Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin and although it’s ostensibly a Swedish ensemble, band members also hail from Norway, Denmark and France. On Ritual, Part 1 the vocals are reminiscent at times of Carla Bley’s Escalator Over The Hill in terms of their emotionally charged delivery. By the advent of Ritual, Part 2 similarities can be detected with some of Keith Tippett’s various orchestras too, invariably fronted by Maggie Nicols and Julie Tippetts and also inasmuch as the singers are utilised as musical instruments rather than as deliverers of songs. The opening to Ritual, Part 3 is dominated by two channels each vying for attention with static and white-noise electronics succeeded by brief forays into melody. Plaintive vocal screeches are subsequently mitigated by a comparatively tranquil section of mellifluous horns and an ensemble chorus. Following an electro-percussive introduction, a fairly straightahead but infectious riff led by the vocals with a rocky 6/8 beat dominates Ritual, Part 4. It concludes with a strange wailing violin/guitar coda. Ritual, Part 5 is a slower, more sombre affair, the repetition of the title acting as a closing statement. 4/5.
Jazz Journal (UK)

Mats Gustafsson and cohorts remain as indomitable as ever with the latest iteration of Fire! Orchestra coming mere months behind the back-to-basics approach of the core trio’s recent She Sleeps, She Sleeps album. Ritual finds the orchestra reduced down to a meagre 21 players and, as a whole, plays better than the somewhat incohesive Enter album from 2014. On that release, passages of free skronk rubbed up against Age-Of-Aquarius vocal wailing and volleys of harsh noise to somewhat inconclusive effect. Ritual generally utilises all these same ingredients but to more intelligible ends, the orchestra sounding more fluid and gelled together. Although at times you become aware that you’re listening to sheer massed forces raging blindly, the excellence of the assembled players points to further reductions of Fire! Orchestra’s numbers in order to shine rather than have their brief spotlight moments before being sharply bundled off stage.
Rock-a-Rolla (UK)

Fire! Orchestra er eit massivt prosjekt – både kvalitativt og kvantitativt. Det som ein gang starta som ein trio med Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling og Andreas Werliin er i dag eit orkester med 21 medlemmar inkludert mellom alle som heilt klart hadde fortent sitt eige avsnitt finn vi til dømes saksofonistar Per “Texas” Johansson, og Mette Rasmussen, hornist Hild Sofie Tafjord og ikkje minst vokalistane Mariam Wallentin og Sofia Jernberg. Dei to sistnemnte kan, som vanleg, skape like mykje kraft som resten av orkesteret til saman, både i form av klang og volum, men også på grunn av ein ekstrem nerve. Så har dei også ofte æret for mykje av framdrifta i gjennomføringa av låtane. Sjølv om heile prosjektet kan verke å spinne rundt storleik, volum og intensitet, er det verdt å nemne at slutt resultatet er relativt edrueleg. Misforstå meg rett: Her er både slagkraft, tempo og høg energi heile vegen, men uttrykket er likevel kontrollert, tight og distinkt, og komposisjonane er ganske fengjande. Orkesteret er både eit soul-, pop-, rock- og frijazzorkester, og er sjølvsagt ikkje nøye på kvar akkurat dei linjene kryssast. Å få eit så stort maskineri av frisinna musikarar til å gå så smurt er imponerande. Storleik er rikdom og skapar moglegheiter; men det medfører sikkert også mange vegval. Eg skulle ynskje Fire! Orchestra styrte litt oftare mot grøfta. Når det er sagt har gruppa lukkast med dei vala dei har tatt, og Ritual er ei plate som er verdt mange gjennomlyttingar, rik på detaljar og sterke kollektive og individuelle prestasjonar.
Jazznytt (NO)

Nachdem mich Mats Gustafsson bei “Stones” (2012, zusammen mit Colin Stetson) schon aufmerksam gemacht hat auf Gunnar Ekelöf (1907-1968) als poetischen Führer in die Unterwelt und Bekenner zur Kunst des Unmöglichen, wird hier die Neugier geschürt auf dessen radikalen Weggefährten Erik Lindegren (1910-1968). Denn Mariam Wallentin & Sofia Jernberg sind Zeilen in den Mund gelegt aus seinen 1942 herausgegebenen Sonetten “Der Mann ohne Weg”, “in denen das Bestehende monströs und kopfüber in die Hölle einer brodelnden Metaphernlava gestürzt wird” (so Peter Hamm 1963 anlässlich der Übersetzungen von Nelly Sachs). Das Orchester ist dabei auf 21 Köpfe verkleinert und überrascht mit neuen Gesichtern wie der über Torbjörn Zetterberg schwedifizierten portugiesischen Trompeterin Susana Santos Silva und Julien Desprez (Coax Orchestra, Earthly Bird) an der zweiten Gitarre neben Finn Loxbo. Den Glutkern aus Gustafsson (baritone & slide sax + conduction), Johan Berthling (bass & electronics) & Andreas Werliin (drums) und Mats Äleklint (trombone), Niklas Barnö (trumpet) und Anna Högberg (alto & baritone sax) als Stammbesetzung verstärken zudem Lotte Anker (tenor & soprano sax) und Hild Sofie Tafjord (french horn) und die NorJazz-Schlachtrösser Per Åke Holmlander (tuba) und Jonas Kullhammer (bass & slide sax). Auch die Drums sind mit Mads Forsby wieder verdoppelt, ebenso die Keys mit Edvin Nahlin und Martin Hederos (von Tonbruket), der auch Geige spielt. Aber wozu noch Namen, wenn sich alle hingeben als “brandende Woge, Rosenfeuer und Schnee”, um es mit dem Pathos von Lindegren zu sagen. Das Orchester bricht sich Bahn in rhythmisch stürmenden Wellen, bis die Sängerinnen mit Lindegrens Litanei apokalyptischer Visionen anheben: I saw… I saw… I saw the negative… in the darkening light. Der Groove rockig, eine Trompete flatterzüngelt ekstatisch, und das Kollektiv steigert sich mehr und mehr in einen crescendierenden Rausch, der Gesang jetzt nur ein Sprechen, dann nur noch ein Schreien, zuletzt ein Flüstern (‘Part 1’). ‘Part 2’ beginnt als wilde Saxtirade, bis die Band zu gospelndem Wechselgesang mit einem dickbackigen Soulfunk-Afrogroove folgt und eine Wand aus Feuer und Wind webt, die Stimmen dazu ein delirantes Geheul und Schubidu. Schnarrend und bratzelnd sägen sich Berthling und Desprez in den ‘Part 3’, die Bläser platzen dazu, werden vom Noise aufgemischt, eine Sängerin zugenredet und krächzt. Erst ein einzelnes, dann alle dunklen Hörner gemeinsam besänftigen den Tumult zu einer elegischen Serenade mit zartem Gesang und von letzten Funken überglitzertemSonnenuntergangsfeeling. Grummelnd und rauschend eröffnen die Drums ‘Part 4’, gefolgt von schillernder Gitarre und Feedback- drone, bis das Orchester in Wallung gerät mitsamt vokalisierten Girlanden, dann deklamatorischen Zeilen und schließlich einem feierlich-jubilierenden Wechselspiel der Stimmen zu voll aufgedrehten Orchesterventilen. Nach einem Diminuendo kreisen String- und Slideglissandos wie Fliegen in der Stille. ‘Part 5’ hebt mit laschem Beat und blauer Orgel an, ein Saxophon kiekst und tiriliert über sanftem Gesumm. Seelenvoller Gesang fragt, was die Stunde geschlagen hat. Zu schnarrenden Elektroimpulsen und knarrendem Gebläse schwellen Gesang und Musik an, ohne ihren gedämpften, langsamen Duktus aufzugeben. Das letzte Wort ist natürlich “Ritual, Ritual, Ritual…” Um Ihresgleichen zu finden, muss man bei dieser feurigen Ritual-Musik tief graben, um mit etwa “Septober Energy” von Centipedes oder “Let’s sing for him” von der John Stevens Big Band (ersteres von Keith, beides mit Julie Tippetts) annähernd fündig zu werden.
Bad Alchemy (DE)

Der offensichtliche Erfolg der 2011 in den Morgenstunden am Ende einer Frankreich-Tour geborenen und 2012 im Stockholmer Fylkingen erstmal erprobten Idee eines riesigen, aus 28 handverlesenen Musikern der skandinavischen Jazz-, Improvisations- und Avantgarde-Rock-Szene bestehenden Fire! Orchestra, welches sich der maximierten Umsetzung der Musik des frenetischen Dreiergespanns von Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling und Andreas Werliin verschreibt, offenbart sich im vorliegenden Artefakt mit dem klingenden Namen Ritual, das nach dem gefeierten Enter das vierte Album dieses zurzeit 19-köpfigen leviathanisierten Trios darstellt. Nur zwei Studiotage waren vonnöten, um diesen ausladenden und äußerst wohlwollenden Klangfarbenkoloss adäquat auf Band zu bringen – extrem reife Leistung, die sich fantastisch hören lässt, besonders wenn man bedenkt, wie anstrengend und unkonstruktiv sich derart überbordende, individuelle musikalische Kompetenz manchmal geriert. Ist hier nicht der Fall. Man darf also schon im Vorfeld entspannt ausatmen und das Ergebnis genießen, welches mit großer Versiertheit sehr erfolgreich ein genreübergreifendes, von eingängigen Riffs und kollektivistischer Disziplin geprägtes Feuer-Ritual manifestiert. Was nach mehreren Hörvorgängen besonders hängenbleibt, sind die groovigen Basslinien von Johan Berthling, der sich mit seinem zurückhaltend virtuosen Spiel als unzerstörbares Fundament erweist, auf dem seine Mitstreiter guten Gewissens ihre kaleido- und kakophonischen Wolkenkratzer errichten können. Der einzige Vorwurf, den man dieser aufschäumenden Kapelle zu dieser Veröffentlichung machen könnte, nämlich die Tatsache, dass sie sich fast schon einen Tick zu glatt, sprich mit ein bisschen zu wenig Risiko nach Hause spielt und man aufgrund dessen eventuell das Rufzeichen nach Fire gar nicht mehr so ernst nehmen muss, mag vielleicht berechtigt sein, verblasst aber in Anbetracht der insgesamt herrlich ausbalancierten und emotional befriedigenden, nahezu cineastischen Sounderfahrung, die sich dem zugewandten Hörer auf Ritual eröffnet. Das Fire! Orchestra sagt: “Please make up your own genre and mind, listen freely and don’t buy our labeling attempts – labeling sucks!“ Wahre Worte und ein guter Grund, Texten über Musik nicht zu sehr zu vertrauen, sondern sich, wie auch in diesem Fall, unbedingt am besten selbst zu überzeugen.
FreiStil (AT)

Wow! Was für ein Einstieg in eine CD! Mit Urgewalt schallt das Gebläse des Brei Orchestra aus den Boxen, unterstützt von Percussion und ein paar schrillen Tönen, die kaum einem Instrument zugeordnet werden können. Eine Basslinie treibt im ersten Stück — schlicht »Ritual Part 1« genannt — den konträren Gesang von Sofia Jernberg und Mariam Wallentin voran, immer wieder unterbrochen von dissonanten Bläsersätzen. Und genau dieser Ansatz zieht sich durch das gesamte Werk, das sich nicht einordnen lässt. Es pendelt zwischen Ekstase und Elegie, zwischen schrill und schlicht-schön, zwischen Kakofonie und Euphemie, zwischen rotziger Improvisation und einfühlsamer Melodie. Manch-mal möchte man einfach auf die Stopp-Taste drücken, um kurz darauf wieder von den strengen Klangstrukturen der Rhythmussektion eingefangen zu werden, die anderen Instrumenten Platz geben für ihre Improvisationen. Fire! begann als das Trio der schwedischen Improvisationsgurus Mats Gustafsson (Saxofon), Johan Berthling (Bass) und Andreas Werliin (Schlagzeug). Mittlerweile sind weitere Musiker aus Norwegen, Dänemark und Frankreich dazugestoßen. Gemeinsam haben sie eine Klangwelt geschaffen, die es sich zu erobern lohnt — auch wenn man sich dabei bisweilen verläuft oder ins Straucheln kommt. 5/5.
Nordis (DE)

Fast so mannigfaltig, wie der Orchesterkörper besetzt ist, sind die musikalischen Tönungen, die mit diesem Album in Erscheinung treten: dynamische Big-Band-Wucht, avantgardistische Verwerfungen, Noise, Prog Rock, Jazz. Zwei Sängerinnen schlingern sich souverän durch die Soundflut, die Texte sind Auszüge aus einem Gedichtband von Erik Lindegren aus dem Jahr 1942. Die fünfteilige Suite hat ihre dramatisch-opulenten, aber auch ihre sen-siblen und melodisch imaginativen Seiten. Solisten betreten die Bühne, Soundscapes dehnen den Raum, orchestraler Groove rundet die Kanten. Im Orchester, das im Kern auf das Trio von Gustafsson, Bertling und Werliin zurückgeht, sind einige der besten Musiker Skandinaviens versammelt. Sie bringen ihre Hintergründe in das Kollektiv ein, die alle von den klassischen bis queren Genres geprägt sind, wie das bei jüngeren Musikern inzwischen selbstverständlich ist. Es ist ein Kollektiv, das den latenten Free-Jazz-Geist geradezu diszipliniert mit der Klangästhetik von heute verbindet. Ein anarchischer Haufen, den man in dieser Grösse erwarten könnte, würde anders klingen. “Ritual” ist strukturiert und hat einen erzählerischen Flow. Vielleicht durchlebt, wer sich konzentriert auf die Texte und Stimmungen einlässt, eine ritualistische Läuterung. Alle andern werden sich zumindest von der guten Transparenz des Klangerlebnisses befeuern lassen.
Jazz´n´More (DE)

Eigentlich ist Fire! das energetische Jazz-Trio von Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling und Andreas Werliin. Für das Seitenprojekt Fire! Orchestra vergrößern sie sich zum ca. 20-köpfigen Kollektiv, das in die Fußstapfen progressiver 70er-Jahre Jazz-Orchester à la Keith Tippet, Carla Bley oder Charlie Haden tritt. Ihr zweites Album „Ritual“ wechselt zwischen sehr rhythmischen Passagen mit charismatischem Gesang der beiden weiblichen Vokalistinnen und freieren Stücken.
Choices (DE)

Med sitt andre album Ritual (Rune Grammofon/Musikkoperatørene) tar den svenske jazzhæren Fire! Orchestra leiinga blant store band denne våren. Med eit kompani kvinner som verkeleg set sitt bumerke i eit band som starta med trioen Fire!, og som vart Fire! Orchestra med 21 musikarar. Vokalistar er Miriam Wallentin og Sofia Jernberg, instrumentalistar på kvinnesida er Susanna Santos Silva, Hild Sofie Tafjord, Anna Högberg, Mette Rasmussen og Lotte Anker. Mats Gustafsson starta trioen Fire! med Johan Berthling (bass) og Andreas Werllin (trommer), og bandet tonar ut i eit elegant tema med «Ritual, part 5».
Dagsavisen (NO)

Buy CD from Rune Grammofon

Fire! is a Swedish trio comprising Mats Gustafsson (The Thing), Johan Berthling (Tape) and Andreas Werliin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums) that came together with the idea of a fresh approach to improvised music, with a number of influences from free jazz, psychedelic rock and noise. Fire! is also their vehicle for rekindling their instrumental skills and playing outside their comfort zones, or collaborating with prestigious guests such as Jim O’Rourke (Unreleased?, 2011) and Oren Ambarchi (In The Mouth A Hand, 2012). A parallel but no less powerful project is their gargantuan Fire! Orchestra, previously a 30 piece behemoth (now scaled down to a mere 18 piece) of a band that convened for the first time in January 2012 for a memorable concert.

She Sleeps, She Sleeps is the trio’s fifth album and displays an intriguing cocktail of dark and brooding, hypnotic slowcore jazz.

Released 15.01.16


Den svenske trioen Fire! er sterkt til stede i det nye store nordiske uttrykket som er fortøyd i jazzen, men frigjort fra sjangerens forslitte mønstre. Saksofonisten Mats Gustafsson står i bandets midte med sitt åpne sår av en tone, eller han trekker seg tilbake med lubben bærekraft. Fire! er et band i balanse. Bassist Johan Berthling og trommeslager og lap steel gitarist Andreas Werliin er like sentrale og sterkt fremme i lydbildene som Gustafsson. Det er dette som åpner for trioens mangefasetterte uttrykk. De understreker med repetisjon og lar helt enkle grep besørge særegenhet. Berthlings enslige bass i «She bid a meaningless farewell» fungerer perfekt i så måte. Jeg tror på det jeg hører. Gitarist Oren Ambarchi er med på et spor, mens cellist Leo Svensson Sander bidrar på to. Det tilfører farge. Det siste sporet på albumet, «She penetrates the distant silence. Slowly», fanger bandet i deres eget, i et tilbakelent, styggvakkert motiv som males langsomt frem.5/6.
Aftenposten (NO)

Den legendariske trioen heiter «Fire!», albumet heiter «She Sleeps, She Sleeps» (Rune Grammofon/Musikkoperatørene), og det er det femte i rekkja sidan den eksplosive trioen med Mats Gustafsson (saksofon), Johan Berthling (bass) og Andreas Werlin (trommer/Steel) gjekk opp i ein høgare einskap. No med eit album med musikk dei treffande kallar ein cocktail av mørk, hypnotisk slowcore jazz. Avleggjaren om ein kan kalle det så, var suksessen Fire! Orchestra!, ti gonger så stort, sidan korta med til atten musikarar. Dei kjem med sitt tredje album neste år, men no er det dei tre fyrbøtarane sin tur.
Dagsavisen (NO)

For trioen Fire! (stiftet i 2009) med Johan Berthling på bass og Andreas Werliin på trommer og lap steel gitar, har etiketten vært frijazz og noise-rock. Med She Sleeps, She Sleeps søker trioen mot en ny sinnsro. Fire kollektive stykker med poetiske titler om en “she” – for eksempel den avsluttende “She Penetrates the Distant Silence. Slowly” synes å regulere de musikalske intensjonene mot mer reflekterende uttrykk i langsomme tempi, med uoppslitelige modi i bass og tronmer. Og Gustafssons spill med riffaktige eller langtonede mønstre tangerer en sjelden hudløshet, men også styrke, enten han spiller tenorsax med en aylersk vibrato eller smidig barytonsax, som i tittelnummeret. I sluttnummeret trakterer han dessuten bass-saksofonen fra meislende dypdykk til en samlende “flyt” på et langsomt vandrende komp. To gjester medvirker til å mildne lydbildet: Gitaristen Oren Ambarchi på tittelsporet og cellisten Leo S. Sander på de siste to numrene. Fire!-trioen setter ikke fyr denne gangen, men inviterer til meditasjon på knitrende, rødglødende kull.
Jazznytt (NO)

Fire! — förutom Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling på bas och Andreas Werliin, trummor — bygger ofta upp musiken med riff och groove. Ibland kan det vara tungt och hårt som Stooges, hypnotisk rock är en ännu tydligare inspiration än frijazz av den eldigare skolan. På nya skivan finns det en kortare, rytmisk låt som påminner om musiken Werliin skapar med Wildbirds & Peacedrums, och tre längre spår som suger sig in i kroppen. Luften och tystnaden är medspelare, musiken andas in och ut, utvecklas i långsamma, suggestiva förlopp. Det är som ett yogapass. Yogablues. En brinnande mandala. Musiken har lika mycket tyngd som lätthet. Kanske är det bandets erfarenheter från när de i fjol medverkade i pjäsen Det flygande barnet på Orionteatern som resulterar i den här sorgsna, allomfattande känslan. Gästmusikerna Oren Ambarchi (elgitarr) och, i synnerhet, Leo Svensson (cello) lägger till kompletterande färger på tre av låtarna.4/5.
Gøteborgsposten (SE)

The Swedish trio Fire! could be viewed as a less jazz-orientated alternative to The Thing, another threesome that features power saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. If Fire!´s improvisation is arriving from other traditions, then these are more rock, drone or minimalist in nature. This album marks a cutting back to the trio’s original form, following a few years of ridiculously intense expansion into the Fire! Orchestra. Percussionist Andreas Werliin opens with tolling powerchords on his lap steel guitar, a dark presaging of the extended mood-building to come. After a minute, Gustafsson opens his mighty lungs, drawing out gobbets of raw tenor matter. Werliin’s drums help maintain a rolling stasis, as Gustafsson damps down tightly. Such outbreaks of his characteristic sonic aggression are rationed with great discipline, emerging only occasionally from a terrain that’s mostly concerned with slow development and accumulating textures. The guesting Leo Svensson Sander provides a mournful cello solo on the final piece, increasing its depth. By this time, it sounds as though Gustafsson is playing bass saxophone, taking bathyspheric jazz to its ultimate seabed destination.
Downbeat (US)

After forming the core of the sprawling 30-piece Fire! Orchestra for the last few years, it seems only fair that Gustafsson, Berthling and Werliin should want to scale things down a bit. Sure enough, their fifth album as the basic Fire! trio is a much more sparse and minimal affair than previous outings, with their signature plodding riffs slowed to a crepuscular crawl. There’s a more concentrated hush than before, as bassist Berthling switches from electric bass to acoustic upright and Werliin boils the drums down to the bare bones of kick drum, hi-hat and snare, leaving plenty of space for Gustafsson to smear this barren environment with long, plaintive lines and seething cries with a wide, Ayler-esque vibrato. As on previous albums, there are some inspired guest appearances too: Australian improviser Oren Ambarchi adds juddering electric guitar textures, like whirring rotor-blades, to the title track, while cellist Leo Svensson lays subtle drone harmonics under the album’s doom-laden closing number. All in all, it’s a gloomy tribute to the power of the downer, and way less dangerous than Quaaludes.
Jazzwise (UK)

Following the orchestral prog-jazz of 2014’s Enter, Fire! has reverted to the core trio of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin, with guest spots from Australian underground hero Oren Ambarchi and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Leo Svensson Sander. Fire! has always been more of a psych-rock group than a jazz outfit, with Gustafsson’s saxophones a conduit for the sludgiest sonics this side of stoner rock legends Sleep. Perhaps fittingly, She Sleeps, She Sleeps opens with the tolling of Werliin’s lap steel guitar, a bright, ringing chord that summons a brooding bass riff from Berthling, over which Gustafsson lays long, low tones. Run through a Leslie rotating speaker, Ambarchi’s guitar shimmers and buzzes on the title track, its uneasy presence drawing hideous shrieks from Gustafsson, before he settles into a more meditative mode. Fire! are at their best in this minimalist mode, working with texture and space to create a hypnotic set.
The List (UK)

Engagingly moody, pent and urgent return from Sweden’s psych and free-jazz visionaries, Mats Gustafsson (The Thing), Johan Berthling (Tape), and Andreas Werlin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums) a.k.a. Fire!, accompanied by Oren Ambarchi. Rooted in the radical power of ’60s free-jazz and harnessing a timeless, psychedelic spirit through skilled, adroit improvisation, She Sleeps, She Sleeps frame the trio at their widest and tightest angles at full wingspan with the soaring sax and tumultuous rhythms section of She Owned His Voice or intently minimal, darewesay funky and achingly well concentrated in the album’s briefest moment, She Bid a Meaningless Farewell, or turning inwards to go far out in the long, drawn expression of She Penetrates The Distant Silence, Slowly. With no disservice to the band’s obvious talents, this is free jazz music with a very broad appeal, and should be recommended to any new, intrigued listeners wanting to keep abreast of that sound, and equally to hardened heads looking for something a bit more spacious and lush.
Boomkat (UK)

After expanding into the 30-piece Fire! Orchestra, the trio have got right back to basics, and this album is more lyrical than usual, and still fierce on occasion. Gustafsson’s best known for playing in The Thing, another trio who mix up free jazz with psychedelic and garage rock. A phenomenally powerful player, his more restrained approach here is welcome. She Owned His Voice has big hanging guitar chords, the rhythm section achieving forward momentum while playing around the beat, and Gustafsson blows long melodic lines (punctuated by throaty gargling). The title track shuffles along with splashes of tuned percussion and Oren Ambarchi’s abstract textural guitar. Gustafsson constantly alters the timbre of his sound and emits human like cries and baleful barks before dropping back down. She Penetrates The Distant Silence, Slowly starts with snare rolls and tuned percussion, and morphs into a lengthy, minimal slow blues with Leo Svensson on cello, and Gustafsson bidding “her” farewell via some emotive sax.
Prog (UK)

Ostensibly a more rock-based outfit, here the trio strips down to jazz basics for a moody, almost bluesy set featuring a sweetly shimmering guest appearance by Oren Ambarchi’s guitar. Both these beautiful albums hint at possible future directions for Gustafsson yet by the time you’ve finished reading this review he’ll doubtless have featured on several new and contradictory recordings, such is the man’s gift and unstoppable productivity.
Rock-a-Rolla (UK)

Their fifth album, She Sleeps, She Sleeps (Rune Grammofon), despite its title, is as far removed from being soporific as you could imagine. It’s avant-jazz extemporization at its most fierce and uncompromising.
Record Collector (UK)

Just like previous albums by Fire! and the Fire! Orchestra, the music on She Sleeps, She Sleeps is groundbreaking, influential and innovative. It’s music that should influence a new generation of Swedish musicians. Hopefully, they’ll decide to follow in the footsteps of Fire! and create music an album of captivating, progressive album of genre-melting music. Key to the success of She Sleeps, She Sleeps is Fire!’s ability to seamlessly combine elements of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz, noise and psychedelic rock. Fire! are like a musical shaman, combining an eclectic and disparate selection of musical genres and influences. Playing a leading role in their potent musical potion, are mesomorphic rock rhythms and a braying free jazz saxophone. Opposites it seem, do attract, and indeed, are like a musical yin and yang on She Sleeps, She Sleeps, complimenting the other perfectly. It’s no surprise that She Sleeps, She Sleeps is Fire!’s finest hour. The music on She Sleeps, She Sleeps veers between moody and broody, to dark and dramatic, through to hypnotic and mesmeric. Other times, the music is akin to a soul-baring confessional, where pain, hurt and heartache pours out of Mats Gustafson’s saxophone. Then his playing is akin to a musical equivalent of Primal Scream Therapy. Once he’s seemingly exercised of demons, it’s all change, and often, the music becomes beautiful and melodic. Always, though, Fire!’s potent and powerful musical cocktail continues to captivate, and proves to be just as progressive and innovative on their latest album She Sleeps, She Sleeps.
Dereksmusicblog (UK)

„She Sleeps, She Sleeps“ beginnt mit einem Tusch: Was dann wie ein komplizierter Hindernislauf dreier Artisten klingt, wird schon im Titelstück ins Minimalistische gewendet. Doch wo jemand schläft, haben die Gestalten der Nacht leichtes Spiel, die Schlafende in ihre (Alb-)Traumwelten zu entführen. Fire! wurde als Trio gegründet und in den letzten Jahren um eine orchestrale Besetzung aus der schwedischen Jazz- und Noise- Szene erweitert. Für das neue Album wurde die Band wieder auf den Kern reduziert. Neben Mats Gustafsson (Saxofon) spielen Andreas Werliin (Wildbirds & Peace- drums) am Schlagzeug und Johan Berthling am Bass. Als Gäste wirken Oren Ambarchi (Gitarre) und Leo Svensson Sander (Cello) mit. Die Kompositionen basieren auf Improvisationen, die sich an tranceartigen Rhythmen orientieren. Die Grundstimmung ist dem Blues entlehnt, über den sich Jazz wolkig verdichtet. Im Vergleich zu The Thing, der expressiven Band Gustafssons, ist Fire! zwielichtiger und schattenhafter. Von der Geisterbeschwörung samt Gänsehauteffekt kann man sich am 23. Februar im Blue Tomato in Wien überzeugen.
Wiener Zeitung (AT)

Fire! ist ein Schwedisches Trio, bestehend aus Mats Gustafsson (s), Johan Berthling (db) und Andreas Werliin (dr, perc), welches im gleichen Stall (Rune Grammophon) wie Krokofant zuhause ist. Fire! spielen auf ihrer fünften CD ihren bewährten Cock-tail aus Free Jazz, Psychedelic Rock und Noise: “Dark and brooding, hypnotic slowcore Jazz.” Es hat wirklich was Hypnotisches. Z.B. der 14-minütige Titel “She Sleeps …” mit dem Gastgitarristen Oren Ambarchi. Auf diesem Stück wird klar, was mit “Slowcore” gemeint ist. Der zweite Gast auf der CD ist der Cellist Leo Svensson Sander, der auf zwei Titeln mitspielt. Fire! war ursprünglich ein 30-Mann-Orchester, welches zwei Jahre existierte und in Skandinavien ziemlich Staub aufwirbelte. Mats Gustafsson wollte zurückschrauben. Weniger Instrumente, einfach back to the roots. Roh, aber mit “kultivierter Kraft”. Das mag diese schon fast organische und pulsierende Kraft erklären, die sich durch die ganze CD zieht. Eine packende, an-spruchsvolle und doch erstaunlich zugängliche Musik. 4/5.
Jazz´n´More (DE)

Mats Gustafsson har ofta för vana att blåsa så kraftfullt i sina saxofoner att en orkan verkar klen i jämförelse, men på det femte albumet med trion Fire! är det för det mesta helt annorlunda. Visserligen brötar han loss ibland, men i botten ligger Johan Berthlings kontrabas och Andreas Werliins trummor och nöter fram ostinaton på ett närmast stillsamt sätt, och allt som oftast ansluter sig även Gustafsson till det mer lågmälda, repetitiva. Musiken är mörk, långsam och sällsamt vacker. I det avslutande spåret ligger en basgång bestående av enbart långa toner rakt genom alla 18 minuterna, och när bassaxofonen efter några inledande utbrott så småningom gör den sällskap växer ostinatot sakta, sakta under flera minuter i styrka innan det klingar ut. Dramatiskt och oerhört fint, och väldigt långt ifrån de explosiva ljudkaskader som fri impro ibland tenderar att utmynna i.
Lira (SE)

Med She Sleeps, She Sleeps fortsätter trion Fire! – Mats Gustafsson, John Berthling och Andreas Werliin – att stångas i sitt triangelformade rum med väggar av frijazz, psykedelisk rock och noise. De bygger på längden och arbetar i parallella spår där det ena är organiskt och långsamt och det andra individuellt och detaljrikt. Den övergripande känslan skiljer sig dock inte så mycket från deras tidigare fyra skivor. Men man behöver inte leta djupt under ytan för att hitta variationerna. I den bemärkelsen är She Sleeps She Sleeps en miniatyr av trions hela produktion, lyssna exempelvis på hur stämningen i inledande She Owned His Voice trots allt är ganska lik den i efterföljande titelspåret. Samtidigt tar låtarna helt olika väger. De betydelsefulla mörka lap steel-ackorden i She Owned His Voice ramar in, men där emellan pågår en frijazz av vildaste sort. Full av händelser men ändå så märkligt hypnotisk. 1 She Sleeps She Skos släpar tempot med Johan Berthlings upprepade basfigur men skapar ändå en liknande stämningsbild som på föregående låt, inte minst genom den ånyo gästande Oren Ambarchis långa modifierade gitarrljud. Båda är vad man kan kalla de frusna ögonblickens musik. Inledningen på långa She Penetrates the Distant Silence är märkvärdig. Med få toner och i ytterligt långsamt tempo låter Berthling träet i kontrabasen vibrera fram sorgsna klanger. Mats Gustafsson tar vidare stämningen i sitt känsloladdade solo. Det formligen viner i barytonsaxofonen när han målar ljudliga linjer med sin vibrerande pensel. När Leo Svensson sedan kommer in med långa drag på cellon faller så Gustafsson in i det långsamma riffet i bakgrunden. Stadigt ligger det där utan att någonsin svaja. Det är en fascinerande musik de skapar Fire!, Så väldigt organisk men också så självklart individuell med idel fantastiska musiker.
Orkesterjournalen (SE)

Nach umfangreichen Expeditionen mit dem Fire! Orchestra, auch eine logistische Herausforderung ersten Ranges, entwickelte das Kernteam wieder einmal gesteigerte Lust auf ein Studio, um eine neue Trioplatte einzuspielen. Nicht, ohne auf zwei Gäste verzichten zu wollen, die die Klangbasis, die Soundbase, um Gitarre und Cello erweitern: Ambarchi und Svensson. Weniger Instrumente, zurück zu den Wurzeln von allem; rau, direkt, schön – so formuliert Mats Gustafsson die Absicht dahinter. Vier Stücke lang werden diese Direktiven maßvoll, ja im Übermaß verwirklicht. Entstanden ist eine intensive, hymnische, hypnotische Musik. Die Lupe, die Zeitlupe und die Superzeitlupe, drei unerlässliche Werkzeuge im aktuellen Schaffen von Fire! Nicht umsonst wird dafür vom Label der Begriff slowcore bemüht. Den Gipfel, dort oben, wo die Luft schon recht dünn ist und Sauerstoff Seltenheitswert hat, erklimmt man im Schlussstück She Penetrates The Distant Silence. Slowly. Wahrscheinlich eine Liebes-, mit Sicherheit eine Absichtserklärung. Eine, die Gustafsson im freiStil-Gespräch so begründet hat: „Es ist eine endlose Suche nach neuen Situationen, neuen Türen, die noch zu öffnen sind, neuer Musik und Kunst, die noch zu machen ist. Es hört nie auf. Und das Gute daran ist – es muss langsam geschehen. Alle guten Dinge geschehen l-a-n-g-s-a-m.“ Nicht zu unterschätzender Nachsatz, auch um jedweder Esoterik den Boden zu entziehen: „Und du musst brennen! Du musst dich dem, was du tust, zur Gänze widmen.“ Auf She Sleeps, She Sleeps widmen sich Gustafsson, Berthling und Werliin dem, was sie tun, zur Gänze, erschüttern Grundfesten, reißen Altes nieder, bauen Neues. Langsam, beharrlich, groß!
FreiStil (AT)

Sold out. Limited edition of 700.

Det Flygande Barnet (The Child has Flown) is a theatre piece that had its premiere performance on 7th February 2015 at Orionteatern in Stockholm, Sweden. Fire! will be performing live as an important part of the piece. This 7″ is being released as a souvenir in a limited edition of 700, mainly to be sold at the theatre. Guests on this 7″ is Mariam Wallentin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Fire! Orchestra) and David Sandström from legendary hardcore punk group Refused.

Released 06.02.15