Large Unit – Erta Ale
- Stewart Smith
- 17 December 2014
Renowned jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love delivers a sizzling three-disc album
As the rhythmic engine behind The Thing and sideman to Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark, Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the world's most exciting and inventive drummers. Large Unit is his new Scandinavian big band, comprising of two rhythm sections, copious horns, guitar and electronics.
Named after an Ethiopian volcano, Erta Ale is a massive three-disc eruption of high-octane skronk, brash riffs and abstract free improv moves. A standout among their big tunes is 'Culius' – Finnish for slab of meat – where full-blast horn salvos slap you round the chops while Lasse Marhaug's electronics drip hot fat and sizzling juices.
Out of this emerges a demented seventies cop show theme, all wailing sirens and hot-wired chase riffs, before it all rides off into the prairie night where burbling trombones converse inquisitively with the lowing cows. Tremendous noisy fun, but not without stretches of lyricism or quiet exploration.