Paal Nilssen-Love Extra Large Unit
“more fun, please”
Only Connect Festival, Oslo
May 20, 2017
The players were spread across the floor of the Marmorsalen theater in the Sentralen – a posh, newly opened arts center in an old bank building near the city center – with scattered audience seating just beyond them, so that that players and spectators were very nearly sitting together.
The piece, “more fun please,” seemed an endless succession of cues and causation. It started after an extended silence with a trombone blast and a piano smash and then a quick scattering of isolated events until a vague arabesque emitted from a standing violinist. The blasts continued including from electronicist Christian Obermayer, Nilssen-Love’s secret weapon in the group. The violin dance seemed to soothe the beast – first one of the three pianos joined in and in short order everyone had followed into a quiet rumble.
There then followed a remarkable meditation for flute and two accordions (one in drone, the other seeming to pop reeds, if that’s possible) before Nilssen-Love began cuing unison blasts, which seemed to kickstart a vibraphone, playing something quicker but rather in keeping with the flute song. One of the student pianists started playing in opposition to the vibes but quIckly 180’d, then two drummers and four bassists pushing into free jazz territory. A cadre of horns stormed in and the Very Large Unit began to resemble (in sound, not size) the Cecil Taylor Unit that preceded it.
- Kurt Gottschalk (text and photos)
My report on the rest of the Only Connect festival can be read at I Care If You Listen.