What do you get if your seven- to 12-piece improvising group has only three stable members? Answer: a different group with each album. And Real Time Satellite Data sounds as different from Pasta Variations as the latter did from Listen...And Tell Me What It Was. This time around (and that is, during two days in June 2003), the core Norwegian trio of Ivar Grydeland (guitar), Tonny Kluften (double bass), and Ingar Zach (percussion) was joined by cutting-edge improvisers from France (clarinetist Xavier Charles and saxophonist Michel Doneda), Germany (Axel Dörner on trumpet and Andrea Neumann on inside piano), and the U.K. (Rhodri Davies on harp). All these musicians share a certain similar approach to free improvisation, rooted in the legacy of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble but striving to find new sounds in the inner depths of their respective instruments. Real Time Satellite Data is thus a demanding album that lacks the relatively more immediate appeal of Pasta Variations, but is significantly stronger than the first CD. There are two long pieces ("In Gasping Death," 21 minutes, and "Who Is Changing Places," 31 minutes) and a flurry of very short ones (three minutes and under), creating a strange, uneven album flow. "In Gasping Death" is a stunning ensemble piece driven by acute listening and minute yet meaningful contributions from all the musicians. "Who Is Changing Places" is less of a success; some passages stall and Dörner's soaring trumpet line two-thirds in is not enough to salvage it. On the other hand, the short tracks display a lot of imagination. The closing "Super Opposition" almost sounds like a mock field recording, replete with clarinet birds, saxophone insects, a bass motorway in the distance, and the hum of electric (guitar) wires.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture