Posted on Jan 6th 2010 01:03 am
Rune Grammofon 2009
04 Tracks. 50mins45secs
Necessity is the mother of all (re-)inventions. This must have been in the mind of the three remaining members of Supersilent following the departure of drummer Jarle Vespestad last year. Not that the band are strangers to regeneration. Indeed, each one of their six releases to date has, in one way or another, seen them going back to the drawing board, but, for the first time since Helge Sten joined the original trio of Arve Henriksen, Ståle Storløkken and Vesperstad in 1997, the fundamental dynamic of the band has changed. And Supersilent have changed with it. With Vesperstad‘s rhythmic powerhouse gone, Henriksen, Sten and Storløkken have created a totally atmospheric and moody record; not one that growls, threatens or jumps at the throat, but one that lurks in smoky corners and dark alleyways.
In appearance, nothing has changed. The album continues in the anonymous numerical order of its predecessors, and the tracks are still divisions of that number, but while Supersilent have always channelled moments of intense calm in their work, most famously on 6, the dense soundscapes that gather right from the opening moments of 9, and continue to do so throughout, set it on a totally different orbit. There are still occasional reminiscence of the Supersilent of old, but the trio opt for a resolutely more haunting and eerie sound here, often evoking sixties TV sci-fi series. It is perhaps that, whilst all its predecessors seemed to share deep earthy connections, 9 is much more of a cosmic affair.
The album was recorded at the Henie Onstad Art Centre, just outside of Oslo, during a series of sessions spread over three days last March. Using only Hammond organs, the trio utilise much of the range of their instruments to create extremely contrasted soundscapes, from the pulsating flashes of 9.1 or the angular sonics of 9.2 to the ethereal pastoral beauty of 9.3 and the icy cold ambience of 9.4. This choice of a unique sound source could have led to a more restricted exploratory framework, but Supersilent appear here at their freest. Forced to find alternative ways to push the boundaries of their work, they throw themselves into vast atmospheric improvisations. 9.3 and 9.4 are particularly detailed and delicate pieces, with the former appearing slightly more arid, especially as it dissolves almost entirely in its middle section, with only minute sonic elements still denoting signs of activity. The constant shift between various layers gives the latter a slightly less austere sheen.
This latest album shows how Supersilent can adapt to situations thrown their way without compromising their ethic in any way. It would be wrong to assume that Jarle Vespestad was, after all, not essential to the dynamic of the group. It was, when he was around. Now though, Arve Henriksen, Helge Sten and Ståle Storløkken have found ways to work as a trio without needing to compensate for Vespestad’s absence, and this is, without doubt, the single most important aspect of this record. Yet, 9 is also Supersilent’s most daring and gripping record to date. You couldn’t ask for more!
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