Fire! Orchestra – Enter! (2014)

Fire! Orchestra - Enter! (2014)
Artist: Fire! Orchestra
Album: Enter!
Genre: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Origin: Sweden
Released: 2014
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

Tracklist:
Enter! Part One
Enter! Part Two

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In the last issue of “The Wire“ Fire! Orchestra’s new album “Enter” was harshly criticized, there were expressions and phrases like “flawed”, “conceptually flabby”, “texturally overcooked” or “cod-operatic prog rock pomp”. The reviewer even claimed that he couldn’t remember actively disliking an album as much in a very long time.

“The Wire” is rightfully regarded as a well-respected magazine, the question is how can they be so completely wrong – since “Enter” is a great album. Maybe the reason for this scorcher is the fact that Gustafsson had a marvelous year 2013. Almost everyone liked Fire! Orchestra’s debut “Exit”, it was in many of our top ten lists, “The Wire” even gave Gustafsson a cover story, alternative rock media paid attention, this year the orchestra played the Roskilde festival. That might be why some critics have become suspicious that Gustafsson is flirting too much with mainstream.

This is one side of the coin and the beginning of the album could prove the skeptics right because “Enter” ties in with “Exit”, however it is a bit more accessible, funkier, more soulful, with a tempting Fender Rhodes riff and the demand “to let it all go” – the hippie approach is taken to the extremes, it’s drunken psychedelic soul as if they were a prog rock version of Rare Earth or The Temptations.
On the other hand this lasts just five minutes before the real nature of this album is revealed. Much more than its predecessor it gives off the spirit of one of Gustafsson’s great idols: Sun Ra. Like the Arkestra has used swing structures, free jazz patterns and Ra’s special ideology to create their unique sound, Gustafsson and Fire! Orchestra use rock, pop, free jazz and modern big band elements to do likewise – only in a more postmodernist way.

“Enter Part Two” opens with a distorted version of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” riff presenting Silverbullit´s Simon Ohlsson as a male voice as a contrast to singers Mariam Wallenberg and Sofie Jernberg – one of the differences to “Exit”. The composition is classic Fire! stuff, Kraut rock shit which is kept together by Johan Berthling’s fuzz bass, Andreas Werliin’s drums and even Gustafsson’s sax submits to the groove before the orchestra fuel the hot brew. However, completely out of the blue, the track undergoes a shape shift as if a band was kicked off the stage and immediately replaced by something absolutely different. There is total noise, chaos, turmoil – just to morph into a part which is dominated by an almost traditional brass section part. To confuse the listener even more “Enter Part Three” begins like a test arrangement for new music, like a mad chamber orchestra which tries to defend itself against the massive orchestra arrangements by which it is attacked from the background. Sun Ra would have enjoyed this, the unpredictability, the abruptness, the stoic bass lines, the barrage of the reeds. Finally, this kaleidoscope of atmospheres, rhythms, quotations, textures and dynamics is completed by a back reference: “Enter Part Four” uses the same riff as “Enter Part One” – the band rides into the sunset with us.

“Enter” is an excellent follow up for “Exit”, even if it is not as surprising. It will be interesting if Fire! will continue this project.
By Martin Schray

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