This second edition of No Spaghetti Edition is much smaller. Scaled down from 12 to seven members, the group has dropped all doubled instruments (Listen... featured two bassists, drummers, guitarists, and reedmen) and replaced original vocalist Maja Ratkje (of Spunk) with Phil Minton. Then again, the group was conceived as a geometrically variable unit and the basic idea of collaboration between Norwegian and other European improvisers remains, the latter group being represented by Minton and keyboardist Pat Thomas. Of the Norwegian contingent, Håkon Kornstad (sax), Frode Haltli (accordion), Ivar Grydeland (guitar), Tonny Kluften (bass), and Ingar Zach (drums) remain on board. Recorded live in March 2002, this album, strangely enough, contains more dynamics and energized playing than its predecessor. The Scandinavians have developed their own understanding of non-idiomatic free improv. They have taken the British mold (the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey) and put back some of the fire found in their free jazz scene -- not much, but just a bit so that the music loses its occasional cold, clinical feel without reverting to the jazz idiom altogether. You can hear this in Kornstad, Grydeland, and Zach's playing. Haltli and Thomas provide the elements of danger: The faint sound of the accordion imposes a certain quietness that the musicians attempt to escape at times, while Thomas' creative keyboards and electronics mean that some strange sounds make their way through the stereo spectrum. Throughout, Minton stays at the helm. Not that he hogs the spotlight, but the power and fascination exerted by his vocalizations constantly re-center the focus of the music. There are tentative, uneasy moments on this disc (particularly in "PV5"), but also plenty of brilliant passages.
Pasta Variations Review
by François Couture
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