Fire! Orchestra - Exit! (5 stars)

Fire! Orchestra - Exit!

Mats Gustafsson collaborative project with Sofia Jernberg and Mariam Wallentinis is a thrilling gambit

(Rune Gramofon)

We know Mats Gustafsson is an insatiable collaborator, but this is ridiculous. New album Exit! sees the intrepid saxophonist expanding his jazz-rock trio Fire! into a 30-strong big band. As with previous Fire! releases, the music is driven by Johan Berthling and Andreas Werlin’s hypnotic krautrock grooves, but instead of just Gustafsson wailing on top, we have a whole horn section, plus pin-point piano bombs from Sten Sandell, fizzing electronics and barbed-wire guitars.

Crucially, Gustafsson understands the importance of space, organising the orchestra into various smaller cells to create a range of textures and dynamics, making the final free-for-all all the more climactic. Fans of Gustafsson’s work with Neneh Cherry will appreciate the central roles for Sofia Jernberg and Mariam Wallentin (the latter of Wildbirds & Peacedrums), who charge Arnold De Boer’s elliptical lyrics with brooding Scandinavian blues melodies and leave nerves twitching with improvised babble and howl. A thrilling gambit.

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