She Sleeps, She Sleeps
Rune Grammofon RCD 2178

By Ken Waxman

Specializing in blending basement timbres, so all of their gradations are audible, the Swedish trio of drummer Andreas Werliin, double bassist Johan Berthling and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson welcomes a couple of guests here to add additional textures. But the auxiliary tones simply intensify the trio’s characteristically powerful stance.

Cellist Leo Svensson’s intermittent string plucks and swipes are permeable enough so like a youngster mimicking an adult’s movements, he merely strengthens Werliin’s thick power stops. On the other hand Gustafsson’s foundation-shaking bass saxophone gusts not only provide a bonding continuum throughout, but also showcase multiphonics encompassing glossolalia, split tones and concentrated overblowing. Most notably, that ad hoc foursome’s more-than-18½-minute “She Penetrates The Distant Silence Slowly” never plods, but is invested with rhythmic swing, even as it plays out at a tortoise-like gait.

Gustafsson is equally powerful playing baritone saxophone on the title track, plus visitor Oren Ambarchi’s fuzzy guitar drones and Werliin ‘s high-density polyethylene bottle-like reverberations played on steel guitar overlay a variety of contrasting tones onto the nearly opaque narrative. But drum beats, migrating from martial to shuffle, and wrenching double bass slaps provide a solid enough foundation for the saxophonist’s output. Slurping, honking burping and blowing as if he was a bull moose yearning for his mate, Gustafsson manages to express his individuality in every solo.

Don’t look for subtlety or elegance in Fire – or Gustafsson’s – playing. But be prepared to be bowled over by the sheer audacity of expression that highlights every low-pitched nuance here.

Concert note: Mats Gustafsson plays as part of The Thing on Saturday, June 18 at Hamilton’s Artword Artbar.

-For The Whole Note June 2016