Other sides of the Amazing guitarist Reine Fiske | Bleader

Other sides of the Amazing guitarist Reine Fiske



Reine Fiske
  • Reine Fiske
For this week's Reader I wrote a preview for mellow Swedish psych-rock band the Amazing, who open for Tame Impala at Metro on Tuesday. One of the people who makes the group so great is guitarist Reine Fiske, who's also responsible for some of the overdriven leads in heavier Swedish combo Dungen. But Fiske has been sharing his talents elsewhere of late, and he surfaces as a key member on two new jazz-oriented albums, one by Norwegian organ trio Elephant9 and another by a new Swedish quartet called Svenska Kaputt.

The sublimely heavy Elephant9, led by Supersilent keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, also includes electric bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen and drummer Torstein Lofthus (Shining, Mathias Eick Band); its recordings reference the chugging Hammond B-3 sound pioneered by drummer Tony Williams in his early-70s band Lifetime. But on the group's new Atlantis (Rune Grammofon) there's a noticeable shift toward prog rock, with increasingly intricate unison passages, psychedelic improvisations, and atmospheric colors.

Fiske helps out with that transformation: on four of the seven tunes, he contributes spaced-out long tones as often as he drops in slashing riffs. On "A Foot in Both," a possible reference to the group's jazz/rock dichotomy, delicate Hammond accents and Eilertsen's strummed 12-string acoustic guitar set the stage for Fiske's folk-flavored nylon-string picking—it all sounds a lot closer to Pink Floyd than to a greasy organ combo. The deliriously bombastic "Psychedelic Backfire," which you can hear below, summons the spirit if not the inexorable drive of early Terje Rypdal with a slow, lumbering groove: thundering, gut-rumbling beats, distorted dinosaur-grade organ licks, and exploratory guitar lines. The tune doesn't so much progress as seethe and sputter. "A Place in Neither" is even more ferocious, suggesting Deep Purple without the chest puffing, and the episodic 13-minute closer, "Freedom's Children," bears an unmistakable trace of loping Hendrix funk.

Svenska Kaputt is a new collective featuring seasoned jazz players (saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar and bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg), rock drummer Johan Holmegard (the Amazing, Anna Järvinen), and Fiske. The five tunes on the group's self-titled debut album on Moserobie are jazz based and melodic, dominated by Kullhammar's fat-toned, post-Coltrane blowing, Zetterberg's nimble upright bass, and Holmegard's swinging grooves. For his part Fiske doesn't radically alter or constrain his sound in this context—his guitar is usually amped up and raw and treated with an assortment of effects, and he rarely plays any chords—but he fits perfectly into the hypnotic tunes rather than bulldozing his surroundings. If anything defines the band it's Zetterberg's mesmerizing ostinatos, which anchor the pieces and give them an appealing directness and accessibility—I suppose it's not surprising that the one piece cowritten by Fiske, "Over Surnadal," features electric bass and a more meandering, moody feel. Below you can listen to the lovely "Syster Per," the one tune where Fiske vamps on chords.

photo: Lotta Harder

Today's playlist:

Barkingside, Barkingside (Emanem)
Talento Brasileiro 7, As Músicas de Milton Nascimento (What Music/CID)
Kenny Wheeler, Gnu High (ECM)
Pauline Oliveros, Electronic Works (Paradigm Discs)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, En Concert Avec Europe 1 (RTE)