More house afire than firehouse, this Swedish quintet plays with passion and precision. Caught live at the Glenn Miller Cafe in January of 2004, the musicians ably ignite a room and each other through seven performances.
Guitarist John Lindblom's thick blunt and bent chords give "Cyklone Song" a Beefheart scent. When the band kicks into hyperdrive, you understand how they keep the cold away in northern latitudes. With trumpeter Magnus Broo's lip-leveling solo leading a galloping chorus, the band locks into a runaway train riff that must have pinned people to the wall during the performance.
"Slow Glow" resembles early '68 Miles with its spaciousness and Lindblom's ringing guitar. Broo's trumpet is hotter than Miles' cool, of course; Fredrik Ljungkvist's mellow tenor provides rich harmonies. "Nothing Too Eccentric" threshes an Ornetteish theme, with Lindblom keening on rough steel strings. Kjell Nordeson keeps the beat shuffled into a reprise of the theme, then Broo blows through with Ljungkvist and Lindblom offering support in the form of free arrangement. Ljungkvist flies on tenor at Lindblom's insistence.
Back to the wide open ballad for "Sing Song," the horn's solemn theme tickled by Lindblom's prickly guitar. Based on a pendulum swing between chords, "Bright Lights, Clear Fights" offers Ljungkvist a chance to roam over Lindblom's dramatic chording. His wiry lead dominates "Inner Place, Outer Space," ultimately an adventurous abstract trio. Sounding less like Ray Charles and more like Sonny Sharrock, "What I Say" has the ensemble freely playing in and out of the melodic fabric woven by Lindblom.
Firehouse brings fire and ice, experimental enthusiasm, and melodic imagination to a live performance that must have left the audience as wrung out as the band.
Personnel: John Lindblom, guitar; Fredrik Ljungkvist, tenor sax, clarinet; Magnus Broo, trumpet; Johan Berthling, bass; Kjell Nordeson, drums.