Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love is certainly a star on the rise. On the US and European scenes, he is much in demand. You can find him in bands fronted by Ken Vandermark (FME, School Days, and in a duo), Mats Gustafsson (The Thing and also a duo), Raoul Björkenheim's Scorch Trio, Frode Gjerstad's trio, Håvard Wiik's Trio, and with the band Atomic. He made Schlinger, his fourth duo recording, with fellow Norwegian and band mate Håkon Kornstad. This intense 34-minute outing was recorded in New York and Norway.
The disc opens with Nilssen-Love's processional solo. From the muted fingertips on skins, he calls forth Kornstad's horn with his gentle tapping, tapping. Not just a drum solo; Paal beckons the skittish horn entrance. He continues to direct the action throughout. At times he nudges the saxophonist forward, restraining him, and running aside his melodies. As he has proven with Vandermark or Gustafsson, his presence commands attention.
For his part, Kornstad plays like the Norwegian equivalent of Albert Ayler. That is, an Ayler without the marches and anthems. Full of reed pops and clucks, Kornstad displays a fiery nature which can turn to the gentlest poetry in response to any stimuli. The Parker-like (that's Evan Parker) "One More Once," with its upper register acrobatics, follows. Because Kornstad is unfamiliar to US listeners, we can think of Evan Parker's music here.
The sixteen-minute closer "Arched Shape" plows through an exhausting workout of sound. The challenge between drummer and horn man makes for a crowd-pleasing track. Muscles are flexed and the audience roars; even the quieter moments scream. Impressive stuff.