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nmperign / Jason Lescalleet - Love Me Two Times

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Artist: nmperign / Jason Lescalleet

Album: Love Me Two Times

Label: Intransitive

Review date: Aug. 14, 2006

There’s an everlasting debate on just what to call the type of improv nmperign practice, and there’s no one term that seems to please everyone. Regardless, whatever you might want to call it, nmperign have been at the forefront of the style for years. Greg Kelley and Bhob Rainey have always been the nucleus, though the group started with the esteemed Tatsuya Nakatani on percussion. Additional collaborators, have always been welcomed into the fold, with like-minded musicians such as Axel Dörner and Günter Müller making appearances with the duo on record or in concert. Jason Lescalleet first recorded with the duo in 1999, and seven years later, his opus with the group has arrived.

Love Me Two Times is a two-disc, 23-track monster, and given nmperign’s penchant for sparse and restrained improv, one might presume the project is much ado about (almost) nothing. Therefore, it’s a pleasant surprise how varied things get over the course of this album. There is an over-arching aesthetic, a stylistic cohesiveness, but Love Me Two Times isn’t two hours of the same trick done from different angles; the album combines rather straightforward improv (by Nmperirgn’s standards, at least) with more conceptual pieces, and shifts focus distinctly as the discs progress. Lescalleet often proves to be the wildcard; he’s frequently the catalyst for the album’s most divergent segments, and his tape loops are an engaging foil for Rainey and Kelley. When nmperign are in calmer waters, Lescalleet is a gentle addition, often offering a subtle supplement to the music, a drone or ambient cloud. But on tracks like “Four Ears,” his tape loops are the focal point, setting the stage upon which Kelley and Rainey perform. “Julia” explodes from the speakers, segueing through multiple movements of granular improv, garnished with a sample of Ms. Child herself. And for every “Imaginary Friends,” full of microscopic drone and contemplative gestures, there’s a track like “No. Twenty-Seven,” busting with activity, or “Velvet Gloves,” in which the ambience of the music takes on a much more insistent, enveloping tone, suggesting a slight claustrophobia more than a sense of reduction.

For all the talk of nmperign being a quiet, minimalist group, there’s a healthy dose of straight up noisiness on Love Me Two Times, and while none of it sustains a high level of aggression, it’s still a consistent wake-up call to anyone expecting two discs worth of staid and controlled improvisation. It’s not just during their more meditative pieces that the trio are on target; though their attention to detail is impressive, other tracks on the disc prove that there’s a visceral edge to nmperign’s sound that rarely sees the spotlight.

Love Me Two Times is a lot to swallow, but it’s well worth the effort. Kelley and Rainey extend their technique so far it’s hard to tell where it started, with the duo molesting mouthpieces in all manners of nefarious ways. Lescalleet pulls the duo in a variety of directions, and proves himself an equal part of this trio repeatedly; he’s no sideman on these recordings, and makes a good case for permanent inclusion in nmperign’s ranks over the course of the album’s many minutes. Recorded output by nmperign these days isn’t so bountiful, but Love Me Two Times seems well worth the wait.

By Adam Strohm

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