Close Encounters Of The Skronky Kind
Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the hardest-working musicians in the European free jazz and free improvisation scenes. Amongst his near-countless activities, the Norwegian drummer collaborates on a regular basis with Chicago reed multi-instrumentalist Ken Vandermark, in their ongoing duo, in the Double Cement trio and Lean Left quartet, as a member of Peter Brotzmann's Hairy Bones quartet and Roma Trio, and the now-defunct Chicago Tentet. He's also a member of the Swedish-Norwegian power trio The Thing and Atomic quintet, and collaborates in Norwegian reed player Frode Gjerstad's trio, in addition to organizing the All-Ears festival in Oslo. And he has his own boutique label that he uses to release ad-hoc collaborations.
Terrie Ex / Paal Nilssen-Love
This collaboration with guitarist Terrie Ex, of the Dutch avant-rock band The Ex, was recorded in 2009. Ex and Nilssen-Love are also half of Lean Left, with Vandermark and guitarist Andy Moor (also of The Ex). The self-taught Ex has a unique experimental approach to the guitar, totally unpredictable, highly inventive and always adventurous. The four free-flowing improvisations differ in temperament, though all enjoy an intense, uncompromising and powerful interplay.
The opening "Harar" is a raw and chaotic collision of noisy, scorching guitar sounds and energetic, fractured rhythms. Ex and Nilssen-Love explore all aspects of creating sounds from their instruments, through a relentless flow of ideas. "St. George" begins with disturbing metallic textures, slowly morphed into more recognizable patterns when Nilssen-Love's rolling drumming set a different course. "Bedele" and "Meta" focus on exploring abstract sonic textures. Noisy, hurried sounds float around, vibrate, clash, explode and evaporate or blend quickly into new raw sounds, without diminishing the high level of tension and creativity.
This trio with fellow countrymen vocal artist and electronics manipulator Maja S.K. Ratkje and noise master Lasse Marhaug has been active since 2004. Its debut album was recorded at the 2010 edition of the Oslo Jazz Festival and is a meeting between close friends who had already found a suitable dynamic, sharing the same kind of dark, dadaist humor, a tendency to experiment with sounds and a constant desire to push the musical envelope to its extremes.
Ratkje's vocal acrobatics include wild screams, guttural squeaks and often electronic manipulation of her voice; Marhaug creates a wall of detailed, surprising noises and feedback; and Nilssen-Love's muscular, propulsive drumming melts into abstract, thick electric, otherworldly storms, where all sound sources are blurred. This violent sonic assault sounds apocalyptic and disturbing on the aptly titled "Slugs For Lunch." But on the longer tracks"Bring 'Em On" and "Happy After Party Dance"it creates massive, subtle soundscapes comprised of inventive and nuanced usage of static noises, funny, childish vocal samples and powerful rhythmic patterns.
Highly rewarding sonic experiences, but, obviously, not for the faint of heart (or ears).
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Harar; St. George; Bedele; Meta.
Personnel: Terrie Ex: electric guitar; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums.
Tracks: Get Out The Traps; Remote Control Mafia; Slugs For Lunch; Bring 'Em On; Happy After Party Dance.
Personnel: Paal Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion; Lasse Marhaug: electronics, turntable; Maja S.K. Ratkje: voice, electronics.