Formed in early 2001, No Spaghetti Edition consists first and foremost of a quintet of free improvisers: Frode Haltli (accordion), Ivar Grydeland (guitar), Håkon Kornstad (reeds), Tonny Kluften (double bass), and Ingar Zach (drums). But the group has been conceived as a pool-type collective, its lineup changing from concert to concert, depending on the availability of other musicians. Some incarnations of the group have included members of Element, Scorch Trio, Tri-Dim, and Spunk, besides featuring big avant-garde names such as Derek Bailey, Susie Ibarra, Thomas Lehn, Axel Dörner, and Phil Minton. The group explores free improvisation in a way that attempts to balance group sound and individual input.
No Spaghetti Edition premiered in Oslo on March 24, 2001, with Haltli, Grydeland, Kornstad, Kluften, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love being joined by reedsman Rolf Erik Nystrøm, guitarist Øyvind Torvund, and Spunk vocalist Maja Ratkje. Two days later, the group entered a studio to record its debut CD, Listen... And Tell Me What It Was, its ranks inflated by Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Ingar Zach, Axel Dörner, and Pat Thomas. This is the largest lineup (double sextet) the group has used yet. Zach eventually replaced Nilssen-Love as the permanent drummer.
The group performed a few more times in Norway that year. 2002 saw them more active, starting with an appearance of the core quintet with Thomas and Phil Minton in London in January. Two months later, the Englishmen joined them for a European tour out of which the album Pasta Variations was assembled. The same lineup was also featured on a tour of Central Europe in December.