Fire! is a Swedish trio comprising Mats Gustafsson (The Thing), Johan Berthling (Tape) and drummer Andreas Werliin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums). Fire! is where they go to stretch their instrumental skills and to play outside their comfort zones, or collaborate with prestigious guests (see their previous Rune Grammofon releases You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago , Unreleased? with Jim O'Rourke (2011), and In the Mouth a Hand with Oren Ambarchi (2012). Fire! Orchestra takes the project to the next level: a sonic behemoth comprising 31 members that should be unmanageable, but turns out to possess the elegance and lucidity of the righteous free-jazz big bands of the past. Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra. Carla Bley's Escalator Over the Hill. Centipede. Sun Ra's Space Is the Place. Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath. Freddie Hubbard & Ilhan Mimaroglu's Sing Me a Song of Songmy. All these classic landmarks come to mind as you listen to their monumental Exit!. This album was recorded in January 2012 at the headquarters of Fylkingen, the legendary Stockholm avant-garde music center. But before you go thinking this is an impenetrable free-jazz meltdown, listen again. Exit! follows in these mighty footprints, but it's also an odyssey that takes its own route, with post-rock/Krautrock diversions along the way. There is a way in to Exit!, and the way out is clearly sign-posted. Fire! is all about burning up tradition and blazing new paths and fresh approaches in improvised music -- approaches informed equally by garage punk, electroacoustics and the noise of heavy industry. Throughout both long halves of Exit!, Mariam Wallentin and Sofie Jernberg chant ritualistic lyrics written by Arnold de Boer of Dutch avant-rock institution, The Ex. The text, he explains, is about concrete and non-concrete space, "and about the possibility of improvising in actual space, and the ties, ropes and teachers in many online spaces and programs.
It's up to the various sorts of fire to define the real, irreal, surreal and unreal." Exit! might be a monotonous monolith of repetitive beats, or a tornado-eye of wild solos, but it has a point to make. Members include: Mats Gustafsson (alto/bass saxophones), Johan Berthling (electric bass), Andreas Werliin (drums), Sten Sandell (piano/electronics), Raymond Strid (drums), Mariam Wallentin (voice), Sofia Jernberg (voice), Fredrik Ljungkvist (baritone sax/clarinet), Andreas Söderström (guitar), David Stackenäs (guitar), Joachim Nordwall (electronics), Joe Williamson (bass) -- with Emil Svanängen, Niklas Barnö, Magnus Broo, Emil Strandberg, Mats Äleklint, Per Ake Holmlander, Anna Högberg, Elin Larsson, Christer Bothe'n, Jonas Kulhammar, Sören Runolf, Tomas Hallonsten, Joel Grip, Dan Berglund, Tomas Mera Gartz and Johan Holmegard.