Somnambule - Writing About Music

Paal Nilssen-Love and Hakon Kornstad ~ Schlinger

Paal Nilssen-Love is a much in-demand Norwegian drummer who may be best known for his drumming in Scorch Trio with Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten and Raoul Bjorkenheim. Schlinger is the latest of a series of drum and saxophone recordings initiated by Nilssen-Love which include duets with Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson. Hakon Kornstad is perhaps known for his work in Wibutee and as leader of the Kornstad Trio.

The first three and a half minutes of Playmachine are spent in Nilssen-Love solo time which he fills with fluttering percussives and strange tensile flickers. There’s a strong sense of narrative exploration, of edge of seat events unfolding. Beats are tormented by stuttering, clipped strikes firing at all angles. Hakon Kornstad’s arrival provokes snare hits which fizz at breakneck speed, blurring in the process. Kornstad plays with a churning, agitated energy whose tone is abrasive and rough-hewn. His sound is at times strangulated, at times urgent and frequently inflected with a blues which is perhaps less common in his contemporary’s playing than that of previous generations of Norwegian players.

One More Once begins in a desolate, eery place where the air seems starved of oxygen. Kornstad’s sax swoops and circles over this wasteland, returning again and again as if searching for something. Nilssen-Love responds with taps, clicks and ringings like fused minerals glinting in sunlight. The duo’s playing becomes increasingly agitated, railing as the piece continues.

A cd of drum and saxophone duets may sound a forbidding prospect. Something for the hardcore jazz fan perhaps, not to be seriously comtemplated by the casual listener or the half-hearted. The addition of a bass player would probably make this music more conventional, like opting for the warm fug of a country pub instead of daring to go for a ridgewalk in blustery weather. However the lack of bass exposes the two musicians to good effect. Schlinger is a bracing experience which may bring a sense of exhilaration and colour to your cheeks.
Colin Buttimer
January 2004
Published by the BBC