Fire! with Oren Ambarchi In the Mouth – A Hand Review

Released 2012.  

BBC Review

The Australian guitarist slips naturally into the Swedes’ explosions of excess.

Martin Longley 2012

Mats Gustafsson is the most familiar, nay, notorious member of the Swedish trio Fire!, partnered by bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werliin. Their third album welcomes a special guest whose reputation lies within the minimalist texture-amassing realms of the guitar.

Given that Fire! are accustomed to an extreme improvising density and a raging sonic catharsis, the Australian Oren Ambarchi is called upon to reveal his more aggressive aspect. This causes no hitches at all, as he completely immerses himself in the surrounding explosions of excess.

The first three pieces are extended for maximum developmental unloading, averaging out at 20 minutes each. These tracks involve a driving, riffing, band-orientated approach. An oppressive riff is set up immediately for And the Stories Will Flood Your Satisfaction, driven by a determined, splashy ride cymbal from Werliin, the drumming half of Wildbirds & Peacedrums. Meanwhile, Berthling loads his basslines with steel fuzz, but the screaming overlays above might be coming from guitar, keyboards or electronic devices.

Gustafsson’s chief weapon is his tenor saxophone, but he also uses organ and Fender Rhodes electric piano. There’s a breathlessly tense excitement as Ambarchi emits a howling solo, followed by what sounds like a peaking Gustafsson, twiddling his tiny box of knob-tools. It’s a glorious pile-up of freak out-ery.

Gustafsson’s horn is dominant on He Wants to Sleep in a Dream, the tune resting briefly at 12 minutes, gathering its force before charging off for a further 10 minutes, with organ trills piling on the weight. A tenor saxophone declamation introduces A Man Who Might Have Been Screaming, establishing a slower pace. Machine-gun drum stutters herald an orgiastic overlapping of howling and sustained climaxing.

The concluding piece, I Am Sucking for a Bruise, is closer to Ambarchi’s usual output, loaded with deep tones, gathering their strength at length, with hum, thrum and slow oscillations mostly sounding like they’re emerging from the guitarist’s strings. Even so, Gustafsson has been increasingly developing his own texture-warping electronics work, so this more abstract closer probably involves his input too, as all sounds merge within a bank of effects units.

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