Fires is an EP of collaborations between NYC funky experimentalists Ui and London's Stereolab. The two groups have toured together and the mutual admiration is evident here. What's most distinctive are the vocals of Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier and Mary Hansen and the bottom-heavy Ui rhythm section. Unlike many collaborative efforts, this goes well beyond the sum of its parts and is as entertaining as any of either band's usual efforts.
Four of the six tracks are versions of Brian Eno's classic "St. Elmo's Fire." The "Radio" version is a straight, danceable take on the song, while the "Red Corona" version is Ui's Sasha Frere-Jones' remix of the above, a stripped-down affair with clipped-off bass and drum tracks. "Spatio-Dynamic" is Stereolab's mix, with added percussion (by both groups) and acoustic guitar, giving it a Brazilian feel. Heavy percussion also turns up on "Impulse Rah", a track based on a Sun Ra organ riff. Finally, "Less Time" is a slinky Ui tune with wordless, Philip Glass-style vocals by Sadier and Hansen. It's often hard to tell who's responsible for what sound on here, which in itself is a tribute to the like-mindedness of both groups and the success of this joint effort.