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Fire! Orchestra: Exit!

Beguiling Scando-jazz freakery.

This really shouldn’t work at all. A 28-piece band comprising four drummers, numerous guitarists and a hulking brass section housing at least five sax players.

Yet the triumph of this unwieldy ‘supergroup’ is that it never collapses under the weight of its own ambition. Centred around Mats Gustafsson (The Thing), Johan Berthling (Tape) and Andreas Werliin, drummer of Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Exit! finds the Swedish trio joined by an orgy of native talent from the avant-rock and free jazz realm.

The two extended tracks here are in the exploratory vein of Sun Ra or Charlie Haden. There’s plenty of squawky brass and improv, but the insidious bassline of Part One grounds things in a rich melody, while the mantric vocals of Mariam Wallentin and Sofie Jernberg make it all sound like Grace Slick fronting an absurdly trippy jazz band.

Part Two is less easily penetrable but just as rewarding. The orchestra travel even further out, creating a visceral mix of drone rock and sound collage, all coming to a head with a climactic squall of noise and a wailing banshee scream.

Pipe-and-slippers prog it isn’t. Instead this is a highly charged, often thrilling journey to the outer reaches.