Less dramatic than Sooner or Later, Bob Ostertag's previous CD for the Swiss label RecRec, Burns Like Fire remained unnoticed somehow, which is too bad since, even though not as strong as Attention Span or Say No More, it represents an important step in the man's artistic development. The music is all patched together from sample fragments of various sound samples. The central piece deals once again with social issues, this time tolerance toward homosexuality. Parts one and four of "Burns Like Fire" use recordings of a "queer riot" in San Francisco. These reinterpretations of a riot against "the bigotry of the straight world" (says Ostertag in the liner notes) sandwich the redneck music of Conway Twitty, amusingly abused and disembodied -- the listener recognizes a western guitar motif after nine minutes and the voice one minute before the end of the song. The four segments segue one into the other, forming a 30-minute piece with interesting techniques but not enough variety in the material. On "Snow on Water/Smoke on Snow," Ostertag uses samples of Fred Frith playing electric guitar. The 14-minute piece goes through gradually changing movements that multiply the hands of the musician to create a stunning piece completely freed from his personal style and very different from the work found on Attention Span. Burns Like Fire may not be an essential Ostertag record, but it will still fascinate the fan.
AllMusic Review by François Couture