Celebrated Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love is featured in the January edition of The Wire. The respected music magazine describes Nilssen-Love as “one of Europe’s finest utility players”. Jaga Jazzist’, Poing’, and Maja Ratkje’s records were also among the publication’s 2003 favourites.
To classify British The Wire is a hard job. Which is also typical of the music they favour. Editor Rob Young is looking for improvised music, cutting-edge electronica, experimental contemporary music and other genres that push the development forward. And apparently, drummer and percussionist Nilssen-Love fits into this universe.
Paal Nilssen-Love is the ever-energetic young drummer and percussionist of Scorch Trio. He has appeared at more than 40 albums, and his countless projects, such as Frode Gjerstad Trio, Schooldays, or Atomic have brought him around the world. In 2002, Nilssen-Love was artist of the year at Molde International Jazz Festival, a title he only shares with Chic Corea and Pat Metheny. Down Beat magazine then wrote, “ Nilssen-Love is one of the most innovative, dynamic and versatile drummers in jazz."
Freedom of music
The Wire’s Mike Barnes argues that “his playing slips with ease from rolling, tumbling, abstract rhythms into propulsive, agitated bop and veers towards improvisational hyper-rock with Scorch Trio, which also features bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim. Nilssen-Love is also inclined to introduce defined patterns into freeform flow, aware that the more purist free improvisers may view this as an imposition on the freedom of music”.
These days, the 29 years old drummer is up to his ears with the ongoing All Ears Festival in Oslo. All Ears is dedicated to contemporary and improvised music, and the best Norwegian improv musicians (Håkon Kornstad, Hild Sofie Tafjord, Ivar Grydeland, Ketil Møster) will enter the stage, as well as a bouquet of strong international names (Emi Maeda, Peter Brötzmann, Axel Dörner, Pat Thomas). Not surprisingly at all, Nilssen-Love is the initiator. Nilssen-Love/Björkenheim/Håker Flaten last Album, Scorch Trio, was released at the respected indie label Rune Grammofon
Jaga Jazzist on the top 50
Jaga Jazzist and their The Stix album (Ninja Tune) are ranked 26th at The Wires’s list of the 50 best records of 2003. The eclectic and popular collective of friends with a mutual interest soon became one of Norway’s finest live-bands, and their reputation abroad has skyrocketed the last few years.
Norwegian composer Maja Ratkje and her Voice album (Rune Grammofon) is listed as 11th in the Modern Composition category. In an article about the No Title Performance and Sparkling Water opera at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Rob Young writes, “Maja SK Ratkje, the 30 year old prodigy whose Voice cd on Rune Grammofon introduced an amazing take on notions of the broken voice via her bruitist vocal poetics, often achieved via deft manipulations of a tape machine. Her Improv quarted Spunk are one of the cores around which she has built this awkwardly titled opera, more of a series of phantasy tableaux tracing the origin of utterance from creation of mankind to the sacrifice of Christ. It is, however, essential to consult the notes to know any of this, as the sense of narrative is difficult to detect in the actions depicted on stage.”
Applaud for Poing
Norwegian jazz trio Poing is also featured with a review of the Giants of Jazz (Royal) album. Julian Cowley argues that “this unusual Norwegian trio is doing interesting work off the beaten track.” Rolf-Erik Nystrøm, saxophone, Håkon Thelin, double bass, and Frode Haltli, accordion, are credited for “considerable technical depth and breadth, as well as a strong ensemble identity.”
Clearly, The Wire’s journalists still keep their eyes on Norwegian musicians.