In 2005 Norwegian superdrummer Paal Nilssen-Love joined up with a selection of cognoscenti di clamour for a piece of aural reality they aptly called Original Silence. A one-time phenomenon the only concert they did took place in Italy in 2005. Now the recorded gig has been released as a live album on Norwegian cred label Smalltown Superjazz. It is entitled The First Original Silence, which one could hope is indication of future re-groupings under the same idea.
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As one Norwegian reviewer put it, “the word silence is always indicative of noise”. And when the silence in question is not only original –as in primordial perhaps,(or just novel?) - but the first original silence, then the level, density and multiplicity of the noise is likely to be proportionate. And yes, it is noisy stuff, a feat of endurance; two tunes make up the album: a catchy pop song of fourteen minutes, and a more difficult piece, forty-five minutes long.
Now, this does not perhaps sound like something you would indulge in on an eve of musical relaxation, and no, it is not relaxing. But the line-up should open the eyes, and ears, of those interested in noisy art and the more unorthodox species of jazz and rock. Sonic Youth’s guitarist Thurston More is joined by Scandinavians Nilssen-Love on drums and Mats Gustavsson on sax, and members of avant rockers The Ex and Zu contribute electronic blitz and cacophony. All in all it is a melange of every reference and style, played simultaneously. “It is like playing several angry records at the same time in your living room”, as one critic put it, but he continued by recommending the experiment.
Nilssen-Love gives the turmoil its spine and groove –he is like the demolition machine that holds steady while the edifice collapses around him in a cacophonic whirl. And this is The First Original Silence… An alluring title, no doubt, especially for those who share the jazz-noise conception of silence that prevails these days –Supersilent is another Norwegian band to go grand in the genre of meta-silence. If these notions of silence have some deeper philosophical, or perhaps cosmological content (as First Original should suggest) is unbeknown to us, we hope not. If in the beginning, God was playing all his records at the same time, paradise has lost some allure.
The First Original Silence is out on Smalltown Superjazz from March 20th.