636

Fire!: You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Mats Gustafsson and the word "accessible" are rarely found in the same sentence. For over two decades, this Swedish reed player has been mining the extreme end of free improvisation and cued composition with like-minded players including Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, and The Thing, his ongoing collective with bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago may not exactly be rife for radio play, but its preponderance of potent grooves does temper the more expressionistic tendencies of the Fire! trio, making it a rare, approachable entry point into Gustafsson's generally denser, more jagged landscapes.

Perhaps it's the saxophonist's doubling on Fender Rhodes, as well as Johan Berthling supplementing his double-bass with Hammond organ, electric guitar and electric bass, that makes these four improvisations, ranging from four to eighteen minutes, a little less abstruse. The influence of Soft Machine can be heard in Berthling's Hugh Hopper-like fuzz bass and Gustafsson's heavily overdriven electric piano on "Can I Hold You For a Minute?" But just as that seminal, early-1970s British group ultimately pushed its pop roots over the edge, Fire! comes from the other side, tempering its more angular sonics and cathartic performances and finding middle ground between the two. They find it far left of center to be sure, but still closer to it than is typically heard from Gustafsson.

Still, Soft Machine is but one clear reference point in a set that also includes the relentless riffing of the title track, where two minor-third intervals are alternated by Gustafsson on baritone. Berthling follows the saxophonist, with only drummer Andreas Werlin creating a sense of variation on a four-minute closer that strangely references the raw, germinal blues of Robert Johnson or Lazy Lester. Berthling's repetitive bass riff and Werlin's elastic shuffle drive the opening "If I Took Your Hand...," and Gustafsson takes his time to enter with a raging baritone. Contextualized by Berthling, the saxophonist's visceral wails feel somehow grounded and, consequently, easier to grab onto.

But if there's a highlight amongst these improvs, it's the 18-minute "But Sometimes I Am," which also features guest vocalist Mariam Wallentin. Again, a repeated bass figure introduces the piece, but it's darker, sparer than anything else in the set. Werlin's approach is all coloristic cymbal splashes, and it's nearly four minutes before Gustafsson joins in—outré, but more restrained than usual. Most unexpected, then, is eight minutes in, when Werlin shifts to a light pulse that's in no small part referential to Miles Davis' In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969), just as Berthlin's organ is a clear reference to the late Joe Zawinul's wobbly organ on that classic release. But even that's only a setup for an even more unexpected shift to a harder, backbeat-driven rhythm and some deep interplay between Gustaffson's Rhodes and Berthlin's fuzz bass.

You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago is a fitting addition to Rune Grammofon's distinctively experimental discography. But for a saxophonist like Gustafsson, whose oeuvre is generally more aggressive, Fire! proves he's not averse to a little more accessible exploration, every now and then.

Track Listing: If I Took Your Hand...; But Sometimes I Am; Can I Hold You For a Minute?; You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago.

Personnel: Mats Gustafsson: tenor and baritone saxophones, electronics, Fender Rhodes; Johan Berthling: double-bass, electric guitar, electric bass, Hammond organ; Andreas Werlin: drums, percussion; Mariam Wallentin: vocals (2).

Title: You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Interviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
What I'm Listening to Now
My Favourite Things
Album Reviews
Year in Review
Album Reviews
General Articles
Album Reviews
Interviews
Read more articles
Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen

Svårmod Och Vemod...

RareNoiseRecords
2018

buy
The Hands

The Hands

Rune Grammofon
2018

buy
MG50 Peace & Fire

MG50 Peace & Fire

Trost Records
2016

buy
Piano Mating

Piano Mating

X-ray Records
2016

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jul5Fri
Mats Gustafsson
Nasjonal Jazzscene
Oslo, Norway

Related Articles

Read Phoenix Rising Album Reviews
Phoenix Rising
By Jack Bowers
June 24, 2019
Read Last Works Album Reviews
Last Works
By Doug Hall
June 24, 2019
Read The Change Album Reviews
The Change
By Roger Farbey
June 24, 2019
Read City Night Album Reviews
City Night
By Doug Collette
June 24, 2019
Read Waves Album Reviews
Waves
By John Eyles
June 23, 2019
Read Elevate Album Reviews
Elevate
By Doug Collette
June 23, 2019
Read Connor Sings — Kenton Swings Album Reviews
Connor Sings — Kenton Swings
By Jack Bowers
June 23, 2019