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Gard Nilssen: Drumming Music

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen is one of the most-in- demand and versatile musicians in the vibrant Nordic scene. The musical range of his own bands—Bushman's Revenge, sPacemonKEy, Astro Sonic, Cortex, Lord Kelvin, PUMA, saxophonist Eirik Hegdal's Team Hegdal and bassist Per Zanussi's quintet—encompasses free improvisation, modern and free jazz, techno, electronica, metal, noise and experimental ambient sounds. But his musical universe is even wider, as his debut solo album reveals.

Drumming Music's title corresponds with the seminal work of composer Steve Reich, "Drumming," from the beginning of the seventies. And Nilssen mentions Reich as one of his inspirations along with Swedish drummer-composer Sven Ake Johansson, iconoclast composer John Zorn, contemporary composer Gavin Bryars,fellow Norwegian sound sculpting outfit Supersilent and pianist-composer Christian Wallumrod.

The very short 28 minutes consist of two acoustic compositions. Both release Nilssen from the role of powerhouse rhythmic time-keeper and introduce his highly inventive concepts of creating rich and colorful sounds out of his arsenal of percussion instruments, constructing them into a cohesive composition. The first one, "Live, Work, Create!" reference Zorn's cut- and-paste compositional methods and plays with lush, ambient gong sounds, powerful, hypnotic drumming, minimalist gong and cymbal sounds and spare rubbing and hitting of the drums skins. All these sounds ebb and flow, morphed into the other organically. creating a dramatic and intense sonic experience.

The title of second piece, "Rinzen (suddenly awakening)" is inspired by Zen Buddhism, describing an experience that leads to a spiritual enlightenment. This piece uses the drum set, gongs and vibes as orchestral instruments—exploring the infinite sonic qualities of the skins of the drums, surfaces of the cymbals, the sticks themselves and eventually the whole set as a massive sound generator, featuring Nilssen in full command of this exploitative experience. Nilssen sounds at times as a musician possessed with these sounds, surrendering to the captivating and intense sonic experience, insightful and powerful as seminal solo percussion and drumming journeys of American drummer-shaman Milford Graves or Japanese Tatsuya Nakatani.

A highly original masterpiece.

Track Listing: Live, Work, Create!; Rinzen (suddenly awakening).

Personnel: Gard Nilssen: drums, vibraphone, gongs, percussion.

Title: Drumming Music | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Gigafon

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