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The high impact duo of Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) and Ken Vandermark (reeds) has been working together at an accelerated rate since 2002, and they have put out seven albums of exceptional and wide ranging improvised music since then. Though they have both worked in many critically acclaimed groups- from the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet, Lean Left (with Terrie Hessels and Andy Moor of The Ex) to Double Tandem (with Dutch saxophonist, Ab Baars)- they have continued to return to their duo for more than a dozen years because it remains crucial to their creative output.
Now the duo releases “Screen Off” on PNL Records. This is their tenth album, and this time the duo have decided to look backwards at the last ten years of their career, although in a very unusual way. In collaboration with producer Lasse Marhaug they have gone through the numerous clips of live performances that exist on YouTube, unofficial documentation recorded and uploaded by members of the audience without the duo’s involvement. None of these clips were full concerts, neither were they recorded on professional gear, often containing artifacts that compresses and distorts the audio. The idea was to embrace the limitations of the format and to make a collage out of the material, but using only the audio and not the video from the recordings. By drawing inspiration from experimental cinema – especially the Structural film movement of directors like Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton and Tony Conrad – Marhaug set a rule of only 60 seconds from each clip should be used, and since the duo does not play short pieces the cuts would often be disruptive, cutting the music off in the middle of movements. The cuts were then assembled together not in a chronological manner, but rather what made sense musically, often jumping back and forth years in the process. The results was that this stylization doesn’t distance the listener from the music, but rather creates a viable document of activity, much in the same manner a film would - just with the screen off.