Ivar Grydeland

These Six

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Guitarist Ivar Grydeland and bassist Tonny Kluften are two-thirds of the core trio behind the improv collective No Spaghetti Edition. Here, drummer Paul Lovens seems to be subbing for the third third, Ingar Zach. They form a suitable trio on paper, but reality is somewhat different. Lovens' legendary jerky, fragmented playing finds resonance in Grydeland's Derek Bailey-derived approach. And when the guitarist picks up a banjo for the second of These Six's untitled pieces, one briefly thinks of Lovens' longstanding musical partnership with Eugene Chadbourne, before the trio moves into a very different region. This is a laid-back session, almost comfortable in a free improv context: no harsh or brutal onslaughts, no extremely arid sound research. The music sounds casual, even a bit too casual starting with the fourth piece (the fifth definitely lacks focus, despite some beautiful playing from Grydeland). Kluften's bass gives a slightly jazz tone to the session, especially in the first and fourth pieces, but Lovens' playing -- weighting much more toward texture than rhythm, cymbal and junk metal than drum -- is anything but jazz, and is a frequent aural marvel. After a couple of strong improvisations, especially the second one, which ranks among the longer tracks at 11 minutes, the album loses some of its momentum, as if the players had already fished out all their ideas and couldn't decide what to do next -- like a conversation with an acquaintance running cold and embarrassing after only a topic or two. A conscious move toward quieter, more detached music in the second half, or a meeting that didn't go quite right? You decide.

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