Noise + Funk from Paal Nilssen-Love

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Paal Nilssen-Love | New Japanese Noise & New Brazilian Funk
PNL Records (2xCD/DL)

In 2018 the Roskilde Festival in Denmark commissioned two exclusive performance to the Norwegian free-impro drum veteran Paal Nilssen-Love. Playing with the concept of contamination between music traditions and calling in some really outstanding musicians, he was able to contrive two radically different performances which still somehow bond together and appear to be two sides of the same coin. The recordings of the two concerts, mixed and mastered by Lasse Marhaug, are now released under the names of New Japanese Noise and New Brazilian Funk.

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In the line-up of New Japanese Noise appears, among the others, the legendary saxophonist Akira Sakata, who definitely contributes a lot to the whole project, often acting like the anti-melodic thread that keeps the whole picture together, while the other musicians argue in an exquisitely Japanese conflicting fashion with shattered gestures that occupy the whole frequency spectrum, with a certain fondness for the mid-high range (yes, exactly there where it hurts the most!).

On this record we recognize the most typical Nilssen-Love signature drumming: broken, but still continuous, and above everything, FAST! In this free form frenzy at its roughest stage the only time to rest is granted by Up the line to Death which plays the role of the ballad on the album. This comes about mainly because we can sense a worn out suggestion of what could resemble a song structure, with a steadily irregular groove and the saxophone singing with its broken voice – the deepest of the sorrows of the inner self.

Other than that the album is a restless, relentless tickle of the most sensitive parts of ears and mind that doesn’t allow the listener to sit comfortably for a single moment. The coarse sensation of uncertainty, the constant motion of swarming insects creeping and biting their way up your body is a loud, hard and definitely not welcoming listening experience, but an highly rewarding one!

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On the other hand, New Brazilian Funk is based on radically different assumptions. Here the saxophone, the guitar and most of all Paulinho Bicolor’s cuíca get into an ecstatic, trance-driven dance that results in a constellation of high-pitched, bird-like counterpoints, while the drums and the bass dive into a more magmatic tribal mood. It is the sound of a postmodern macumba, where electronic waste blends with recondite beliefs depicting a gloomy and dystopian soundscape made of electric noises and ancestral totemic strokes.

Certain passages, especially in the way the guitar is presented, evoked, like an avatar, the spirit of a chronologically impossible fusion between Arto Lindsay from his first experimentations with DNA and even in what Lindsay is doing today. While Nilssen-Love’s drumming here steps totally out from his usual abstract fragmentation, to dive into heavier and more recognizable patterns he still doesn’t give up an outstanding degree of complexity.

Personally I found very interesting the use of the voice, dark and reverberant, as in the fashion of the old school rough Baile Funk of MC Cidinho and Doca, adds a shamanic touch to the blend and creates the atmosphere for a rotten ritual that brought my mind back to the scene of Zé Pequeno’s nomination in City of God.

The two projects, even if animated by the same propulsive power, a certain sense of acceptance of ugliness and the clear will of totally deconstruction of musical clichés, lead to two completely different outcomes, that only share a common tendency towards a de-compositional approach to structure and a certain independence of different parts in the overall sound picture.


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