Now this is one hell of a monolithic jazz colossus. Drummer extraordinaire Paal Nilssen-Love, somehow finding gaps between the vast panoply of releases and live works which make him such a renowned and prolific player on the European jazz scene, has put together an eleven-piece big band with a fearsome attitude. Following an initial live album from 2013, Erta Ale finds Large Unit laying down a massive declaration of intent with this three-disc (or four LP) boxset. With Nilssen-Love very much in control of compositional duties, the collective strips down into smaller working units in which the predominantly young Norwegian horn and guitar players cohere seamlessly with blasts of Lasse Marhaug’s power electronics in nervy tangles of wiry interplay. When Large Unit unite into one whole body, as on the mammoth nuclear blast of “Culius”, they are truly an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. Erta Ale is stunning and big band jazz just took another evolutionary step.
Published in Rock A Rolla Dec-Jan 2015