Thursday, February 28, 2019

Paal Nilssen-Love - New Brazilian Funk (PNL Records, 2019)

Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love is a relentless explorer of improvised music, whether playing in a collective group like The Thing, or as a sideman on literally hundreds of records. On his own label, this adventurous spirit has led him to form his own big band, the Large Unit, and explore the music of different cultures. This album is a glorious mashup of free jazz and electric Miles funk all with a Brazilian tinge. He is supported on this quest by Felipe Zenicola on electric bass, Frode Gjerstad on alto saxophone, Kiko Dinucci on electric guitar and Paulinho Bicolor on cuica. "Biggles and the Gun-Runners" opens the album with raw saxophone and heavy bass and guitar taking the music to the brink of maelstrom, adding squeals of saxophone and pummeling drums to a jaw dropping opener. Massive slabs of pneumatic bass and drums keep this rattling and clanking edifice in motion, with some vocalization adding a human element to the music. The saxophone returns into the mix adding further depth to the complex interplay, while remaining locked in and true as they barrel into "Beating Back Pain" which develops a very cool vibe though inventive use of drums and percussion, laying down the beat as storming bass coalesces the group into a roaring collective improvisation. The full band howls like a jet engine where all the parts of the turbine are in overdrive as thick bounding bass, saxophone and guitar trade madcap phrases. "Rural Rides" backs vocalization with shards of electric guitar, leaving music hanging in space before thick, all encompassing bass seethes in, punctuated by injections of jagged saxophone, before delving into a unique sludge metal jazz improvisation. A funky feeling pervades "Five Dollars and a Jug of Rum" with wild rhythm established from the drums and percussion, driving the music forward in a ravishing and alluring manner, with Gjerstad's alto taking on an Ornette Coleman tint that gives the whole operation the feeling of a massive Prime Time jaunt where there are no limits. A swirling vortex of bass and drums creates an event horizon while raw, breathless saxophone orbits just beyond the void. "Fruit of the Lemon" features percussion the slowly builds over the fascinating rubbing sound of the cuica (which was also used to great effect in some of Miles Davis's electric bands) which is joined by PNL's drums to develop a complex rhythm. The rest of the band delves in, building a wonderful musical layer cake from the ground up with percussion, then deep heavy bass, scratchy guitar and finally saxophone, allowing everyone to mix well and bake into a massive improvisation of slashing guitar and drums and bubbling bass and saxophone powering though to the conclusion. Finally, "Pick a Time" again uses the cuica to develop an exotic sounding rhythm, laying the foundation for the band to pile into in a cacophonous free improvisation that is over the top in terms of volume and excitement, the perfect ending for this excellent album of joyous music, which sounds like it has the energy to go long into the night. New Brazilian Funk PNL Records Bandcamp

Send comments to Tim.