The debut album of Swedish FRIM records, initiated by the concert organizer FRIM (the Association For Free Improvised music) features an ad-hoc free-jazz-punk-grind-improv trio with sax player Elin Forkelid, known for her recent album «Plays for Trane» (Sail Cabin, 2020) from Anna Högberg Attack and Oya Sextett, electric bassist Gustaf Hielm, a frequent collaborator with Mats/Morgan Band and progressive metal bands Meshuggah and Pain of Salvation, and drummer Erik Carlsson, known from Mats Gustafsson’s Swedish Azz, Skogen and Festen. The trio was recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm in March 2020, days before public concerts were to be put on a hold, and before an excited audience.
And not only the audience was excited, but also Mats Gustafsson, who contributed enthusiastic liner notes, and repeated the immortal wisdom of master free improviser drummer-poet Paul Lovens: «Only dead fish swim downstream». And Gustafsson adds: «In our search and research – in music and art – we go for solutions that create friction and energy. We walk the paths of the unknown, or at least we walk in directions where we can get surprised and learn something from that experience. Curiosity conquers it all. Learn from (y)our mistakes. And put it all into (y)our music. These are all mechanics I strongly believe in. We keep on doing the research. Together. TOGETHER! With the people who kick our asses and minds. People we trust to push us onward (up the stream). Elin, Gustaf and Erik. They can swim. SWIM! (it does rhyme with FRIM!) This is one of the most powerful swimming events I have heard in a very, very long time. Friction. Energy. Resistance. It is all THERE! Throw yourself in! Just go with the gushing flow of an extremely emotional and spiritual experience».
And what exciting swimming it was. «Can’t Hide» is divided into two extended pieces, «Question» and «Answer». Both pieces offer cohesive, fiery dynamics, rich with powerful, punkish vibrations, and unexpected music turns, typical of such a first meeting. Forkelid, Hielm, and Carlsson sound well-versed in the legacy of the European, spiritual free jazz and free improvisation, including the schools of Peter Brötzmann, and obviously, Gustafsson and The Thing or Fire! Trio. But this trio insists on swimming in its own special way, with its own distinct, raw and uncompromising sound and Thorny interplay, but also with a similar level of life-affirming and liberating energy, up until the ecstatic catharsis. And as another master of free improvisation, Swedish pianist poet Per Henrik Wallin, once told Gustafsson: «Only upstream swimming teaches you something of importance».
Take your chances, jump into this trio’s invigorating water and swim – upstream – with this great trio.
Erik Carlsson (dr), Elin Forkelid (s), Gustaf Hielm (b)