Posted on Sep 30th 2010 12:17 am
Rune Grammofon 2010
12 Tracks. 41mins46secs
For the last couple of years, Supersilent have been operating as a trio following the departure of drummer Jale Vespestad, but, far from hindering their progress, this seems to have opened an entirely new field of experimentation for Arve Henriksen, Ståle Storløkken and Helge Sten. Following the beautifully introspective 9, released just over a year ago in Scandinavia, 10 denotes another foray into deeply atmospheric grounds, but unlike its predecessor, for which the trio used only sounds sourced from Hammond organs, this latest offering is surprisingly acoustic and delicate. Storløkken on piano for the first time in Supersilent, and Henriksen on trumpet dominate this album, with Sten weaving discreet electronic textures in the backdrop. Most of the tracks were recorded early last year shortly after Vespestad announced he was leaving the formation, with additional recordings sourced from the fructuous 2005 sessions for 8, the remainder of which are due to be released on vinyl as 11 imminently.
This move toward predominantly acoustic instrumentation shows Supersilent under radically different lights to anything they have served up until now. The intense exchanges between Henriksen and Storløkken makes for some particularly exquisite moments, right from the short opening piece. Storløkken’s beautiful and crystalline piano, for the most part introspective (10.1, 10.3, 10.4, 10.10), contrasts greatly with his more common keyboard contributions, bringing a level of musicality that has rarely been heard on any of the band’s work. This is emphasised even more by Arve Henriksen’s soft brushes and elegant melodies. This is very much the case on the stunning 10.3, 10.6 or 10.7, where his restrained yet expressive technique makes every moment an intense emotional experience. At times, the pair appear to circle around each other, playing against the natural grain of the music, while at others they clearly work together to create harmonies from which to build up melodies and themes.
These improvisations are amongst some of the band most stripped down and bare. Each instrument and sound occupies a particular space, and while paths often cross, they never overlap. This is particularly the case on the impressive 10.8, which sees Henriksen weaves a sparse web around Storløkken’s equally gossamer keyboard motifs and Sten’s discreet electronics. The mood here is so extremely contemplative, yet at the same time so warm that it makes this piece one of the most deeply beautiful you’re likely to hear. By contrast, pieces such as 10.2, 10.9 or 10.11, are often dark and ominous. 10.9 especially, with its dense sheets of muffled electronics forever morphing into new textural components, and 10.11, with its distant percussive noises, recall some of Sten’s most elusive atmospheric work as Deathprod. Before that, Sten creates with 10.5 a discordant set of sounds and noises from distorted guitars and electronics which leave little space for Storløkken or Henriksen to apply any particular pressure.
As the album draws to a close, the tone becomes much more mournful, Storløkken playing almost exclusively in the lower register, adding only fragmented melodies played in the middle register later on, while Henriksen casts disjointed stabs on the trumpet as additional layers of electronics can be heard moving into place in the backdrop.
In the twelve years they have been working together, Supersilent, who famously never meet outside of the band or talk about or plan any music they play, have managed to offer something totally fresh and new with every new record or live performance. While Jale Vespestad’s departure could have threatened the dynamic of the band, it has in fact created new opportunities for the trio, and given them a new lease of life, when they were apparently far from have exhausted the previous one. While 9 had all three musicians working from a restricted sound pool, they have, with 10, embraced a more acoustic approach and produced they most fascinating record to date.
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