The intensity of Bourne/Davis/Kane’s set would have been a hard act to follow for most groups but Atomic managed to ignite a fire at the RNCM with their chaotic and energised sound.
Combining both tight funky riffs and cacophonous collective improvisation Atomic created a truly unique sound. At times the band locked down a groove that was accessible and almost straight ahead (I do emphasise almost!), but any sniff of standard time was axed relatively quickly in exchange for a whirlwind of polyrhythmic melodies. Barely stopping for breath for an hour each player weaved in and out of each other in an organised chaos that was both disorientating and hypnotic all at the same time.
Drummers are usually the backbone of a band but Paul Nilsen Love was something quite different on this occasion. As one of the most sought after drummers in Europe his ferocious power and often jaw dropping lateral approach to the kit has made him hitman of choice for luminaries such as John Butcher, Ken Vandermark and German sax colossus Peter Brotzman. In this setting his dizzying attack was pivotal to the group dynamic; at times setting the group free and at others reining them in.
Leading the group from up front was charismatic tenorman Fredrik Ljungkvist who was in charge of the leading this group one way or another with his seemingly abrupt battle cries. This was a highly entertaining gig by a group of improvisers that aren’t afraid to swing from time to time. Challenging and manic as much of the music was in this set, there was an overriding sense that we as listeners were being taken somewhere tangible, and that whoever was driving knew how to read the map… even if we didn’t.