«Who would have thought that Scandinavia would become such a hotbed for free improvisation? Over the last few years, reed player Mats Gustafsson has been instrumental in putting a spotlight on the Swedish scene (which has been going strong, if a bit under-documented for several decades.) Now the Norwegians are starting to get their due. No Spaghetti Edition is a collective group with a revolving ensemble of musicians. This recording captures a tentet of Norwegians, joined by British keyboard and electronics player Pat Thomas and German trumpeter Axel Dörner. On paper, the group breaks down to a sort of double sextet, but the playing here is more akin to Gunter Christman’s Vario projects or the King Ubu Orchestra with dashes of the aggressiveness of early FMP onslaughts. The collective developments move from dense, layered assaults to open spaciousness. These rough-scrabble spontaneous interactions are full of finely detailed textures, heavy doses of extended techniques and swirling skeins of electronic samples, glitches, and skirling sine waves. The strategy is starting to gain a certain cachet in the free improv scene, but the group has put their own spin on things that make these improvisations stand out. The quirky stamp of Frode Haltli’s free-folk accordion and Maja Ratkje’s fractured wordless vocals make an immediate impression. A close listen continues to reveal a group of players who traverse a tension-filled balance between caterwauling, propulsive bluster and shifting free refractions with daring invention. Each of the players weaves their complex lines into collective orchestrations of beguiling intensity and focus. Sometimes it is the thundering percussion of Zach and Nilssen-Love that drive things, other times it is Thomas’ cascading piano, and yet other times it is the chattering swell of pointillistic filigree. Laptop computers are becoming almost as common place as saxophones for certain practitioners of free improvisation. No Spaghetti Edition proves that the two can have a healthy coexistence and chart commanding, fresh ground in the process.»

Michael Rosenstein