Fire! – The Hands

Fire!It’s night. You’re in a biker bar and it’s barely lit. To the left of you are lines of fridge-sized men sitting side-by-side hunched over a bar that occasionally take drags off their hand-rolled cigarettes. Wafts of smoke rise into the air like incense burnt for some forgotten demonic god. You shoulder your way through the densely packed room, catching an occasional glare and grimace. Two men arm-wrestle on top of a wooden table near the back. One of them bleeds onto the floor but pays the injury no mind. Their arms are as thick as most people’s legs. Three men walk up onto a stage: a drummer, a bassist, and a saxophonist? It’s a fucking jazz trio. What the hell are these guys doing here? Get the fuck out! But, as they begin, the men stand and watch. They’ve come to see the band.

Have you ever wanted to prove to someone jazz can be anything? This is one of these albums. I know. I know. Those of you who don’t listen to jazz want to completely ignore what I’m saying. But don’t. This is not your typical jazz band. In fact, it might be wrong to call it jazz. This is not that snappy happy-go-lucky jazz. You don’t snap it on your fingers, you stomp it through wet mud. This shit is closer to Sabbath than Miles. This is the type of jazz that plays inside an old dirty truck driving down a dark highway. This is the music cued up when the bad guy enters the scene. It’s the jazz played over a two-player game of Russian Roulette. This is not pussy jazz (I’d like to remind any sensitive reader that when I say pussy it’s short for pusillanimous, meaning timid). Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling, and Andreas Werliin are the band. And they don’t give a shit. They will play what they want to play.

Throughout the recording there are snippets of whispered voices, as if trying to warn you of what lies ahead. It helps create the mood of this album. The album ends on a slightly more optimistic note. It turns into that type of dark roomed jazz where you could hear a rough baritone say something like, “I never used to be like this. In fact, I was like you once.”

This is a dark jazz record. Don’t play this if you’re trying to cheer yourself up. But it is the perfect music to play if you were a detective in a Raymond Chandler movie, trying to solve a lonely murder of some woman in a biker bar. 



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