FESTIVAL REPORT: Day Three of 2015 Match & Fuse Festival, Warsaw

The livestream from Match&Fuse Warsaw 2015.
Photo credit: Thuy Duong Dang

Match & Fuse Festival Warsaw
(Cafe Kulturna, Warsaw. 12th June 2015. Second day of three. Report by AJ Dehany)

The festival’s third day took place in Cafe Kulturna in a vast cultural complex in Warsaw Centrum and was streamed live over the web. I hope the folks at home turned it up loud, because this isn’t exactly music to accompany an evening mug of Horlicks and an improving novel.

Merkabah at Match&Fuse 2015.
Photo credit: Thuy Duong Dang

Merkabah are a great Polish example of a fascinating trend to fuse dark doomy metal with classical structures and jazz improvisation. Metal is essentially chromatic, moving in semitone steps and dominated by the flatted fifth, so even within a format dominated by guitars and tight proggy locked-down rhythms bands like Merkabah demonstrate how jazz vocabulary and improvisation techniques can work with other forms.

MatsGustafsson at MAtch&Fuse 2015.
Photo credit: Thuy Duong Dang

Fire! Trio (Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Weliin) were an eagerly anticipated festival highlight. Gustafsson is a heavyweight with a recognizably muscular tone, and when they get going he really wrenches the upper partials out of the horn, while bass player Berthling’s rumbling minimalism locks into drummer Weliin’s rocky attack. Musically and sonically you could say they are one apotheosis of the festival, fusing diverse styles from jazz and rock and beyond into one superbly bruising package.

I wasn’t sure how anyone could follow Fire! but Luxembourgian trio Dillendub rounded the evening off nicely with their quirky take on improvised dance music with outrageously squelchy retro organ sounds and deft hi-hat work in a confident interplay between the three of them that makes room for surprise leaps but never veers too far from the all-important groove.

In conversation with festival organiser Dave Morecroft I learned that the name Match & Fuse has a surprisingly literal - if cunningly punning - provenance. The festival ‘matches’ artists together from disparate countries in a kind of exchange programme, and bands tour together supporting or headlining depending where they are. In 2013 Norwegian band Mopti toured the UK with the Laura Jurd Quartet, who in turn will tour in October-November 2015 with Lab Trio for four shows in Belgium and four in the UK. The ‘fuse’ part is the fusion of styles and cultural origins that goes into making these international programmes and in the unifying live collaborations where artists play together as the Eirik Tofte Match & Fuse Orchestra. There’s a sense in which matching and fusing is what jazz has always been about, but perhaps what’s sweetly original about it in this instance or project or incarnation is its fearlessness with regard to accepting less easily categorizable music. If there’s such a thing as purism in jazz it feels a long way from the hybridity of actual practice.

I’m not given to pathetic fallacy but without a word of a lie the moment the music finished the sky erupted into the most incredible lightning storm, nature providing a flamboyant end to a visceral three days.

In 2016 Match & Fuse goes to Toulouse, and with talk of squats and unusual venues it promises to be the most edgy and exciting one yet.

LINKS: Geoff Winston's interview with Mats Gustafsson
Match&Fuse website

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