By Paul Acquaro
The pleasure of A General History of Flame is as much in the timbers and tones of the instruments as it is in the collective improvisation. It’s obvious that a great deal of detail and attention go into the aesthetics of the music, and while the tracks themselves are delightfully flowing inventions that lurch along naturally, the particular mix of the electronic and acoustics instruments is very striking. The synthesizer and Wurlitzer add a great deal of color to the collective pallet, and they also reference early fusion efforts - when synthesizer patches actually referred to a mess of cables. A great example is the track ‘A Memo on Texture’, which grows from a slight whisper to a slightly louder whisper, each instrument contributing to the texture of the piece without ever establishing a melody, per se, yet evoking feeling throughout.
Everyone, of course, is essential to the recording. Brunel's clarinet and Kohase's sax intertwine melodically on ‘Brain Pan by Astrid', while the rhythm section drops fraught chords like tension filled bombs around them. Platz and Karayorgis provide dark rhythmic texture to 'Six or So.' About halfway into the track, amid the ring modulators and punchy grooves, the groups trades a round of solo spots with Demos taking an extended run. 'Flame Freeze (I Will Crush the Rhythm and Soul into a Fine Powder)' is a great example of the ensemble developing jarring rhythmic patterns and unusual syncopations. The track also features interesting fretwork by Platz and Demos.
You can get an idea of the group's sound here, though this video features a slightly different line-up: