The shadow of "Dark Magus" hangs heavy over the house of Supersilent. But this groundbreaking "jazz" group´s strenght has always been in extrapolating and exaggerating Miles Davis´pioneering themes and twisting them into ever more abstract, icy and alien vistas. On this, their first album in five years, the Norwegian quartet pushes the mode even further, while inadvertently scripting an imaginary soundtrack for an Argento gore fest. Their opening salvo, a billowing beast of thunderous drums and doom bells tolling, is like a Hermann Nitsch aktion captured in time-lapse playback, while Arve Henriksen´s voice filters in like a temperamental cherub amid spluttering electronic geysers and whinnying synths, gradually morphing into a fearsome, hyperventilating, Tourettes-ridden cyborg. But it´s when they are at their most sedate that Supersilent pack the biggest punch. Henriksen´s circular trumpet playing forges an organic foundation with Helge Sten´s sine software textures, creating the kind of captivating ambient soundscapes that made "4" such a pleasure.
Plan B (UK)
There´s something reassuring in Supersilent´s dogged refusal to compromise, their absolute, almost mechanistic, commitment to pure spontaneous creation, uncluttered by extraneous conceptual distractions: no rehearsals, no discussions, no track titles, just an intense devotion to sound and all its unsettling possibilities. In their 10 years together, they´ve already hewn a reputation as one of the world´s most intense musical units but their eight numerically titled release - their first full-lenght album in nearly five years - finds the Norwegian noise-improv ambassadors taking their brooding, post-industrial doom-jazz to even darker depths. As ever, it´s a sound that defies easy labelling, drawing on equal measures of free-jazz, electronica and modern composition, and the eight improvisations collected here resound with a demonic foreboding only usually found in the most eldritch backwaters of heavy rock. Taken together, in one sobering dose, it´s a lonely, lost sound, a desolate voice crying out to be found in the endless reaches of empty space, proclaiming its existence in the face of nothingness. And it´s that persistence that makes it so very human.
This marks a triumphant return to the studio for Norway´s icily impressive electro-jazz improvisers in their 10th year of existence. Kicking off proceedings with the foreboding clarity of "8.1" with its dark Moog squelches, tolling bell and scuzzed bass, by track two the mood soon mutates into what sounds like lunar distress signals from some forgotten galaxy. Jarle Vespestad´s fractured drumming dominates throughout, interplaying cleverly with Helge "Deathprod" Sten´s ochre electronics, while Arve Henriksen´s muted trumpet seems at times to be seeping through an air lock. Rounded off by Ståle Storløkken´s eerie synth blasts, this somnabulant collection of threatening and otherwordly soundscapes confirms Supersilent as masters at the top of their game.
This might be this group of Norwegian improviser´s finest work yet. With so few acts even considering the breadth of sounds at their fingertips it´s good to see someone utilising a room full of instruments for more than somewhere to stash their hash block. The concealed threat of "8.1" starts the album, en extended piece of inimical Fugazi-style art rock, buffed with a bit of electro. Taking up a rise and fall pace, internally thrashing bruisers lying next to quieter experimental pieces, "8" refuses tp accept a signature style. While the album´s finest peaks are the quieter textures of the more electronic material, they still manage to out the noise. The pile drive of "8.7" leaves buckled guitars to run by themselves, pulling the song close to the edge of splitting apart. The glitchy percussion of "8.6" develops a sense of tension, things gelling slowly like a deconstructed Autechre.
Supersilent specialize in intense improvised music, whose effect creeps up on you: you awake from for minutes of quiet drum tapping and find yourself amids crsahing guitar churn. It´s oddly cleansing. And though "8" touches on post rock, jazz, electronics, ambient and drone, there´s a nicely malevolent singularity of purpose here: it´s impressive, dark and invigorating.
The album starts off in a very dark place indeed. “8.1” is a morass of rumbling and droning synths, a drumbeat like a whale’s heart heard from inside its stomach, and guitar that skronks periodically in the corner like a sulky child. The total effect is somewhere between Tangerine Dream and Black Sabbath: ominous and fearsomely loud. Much of the music comes from this creepy mindspace. “8.5” features distorted vocals and gentle, choir-of-haunted-angels synths hovering in the right speaker like something from a John Carpenter movie soundtrack. Given the general desolation and creepiness of the goings-on, it’s no surprise that trumpeter Henriksen, the gentlest spirit, is largely absent. He first shows up toward the end of “8.5,” blowing gentle, almost flute-like lines and shadowed by delicate synths. This is in large part a forbidding, cryptic album, occasionally almost metallic in its loudness but also disconcertingly beautiful.
Mehrheitlich sind Supersilent zwar wahnsinnig ruhig, klingen als würden sie den Soundtrack zu einem Arktis-Naturfilm einspielen...kein Wunder, dass den Hörern nur zwei Optionen bleiben: Entweder driften die auch ab in diesen exaltierten Soundscapes oder sie stehen etwas fassungslos davor und wundern sich....
Auf ihrem neuen Album, das erste in fünf Jahren, erfinden sich Supersilent wieder neu. Keine Musikernamen stehen auf der CD-Hülle, kollektives Improvisieren als Gruppe ist die Sache hier. Da gibt's keine Proben, es wird entweder bei Konzerten gespielt oder gleich aufgenommen. Klarerweise gibt's keine Overdubs, die Musiker verstehen sich anscheinend telepathisch. Im Grenzbereich zwischen Rock, Electronica, Jazz und Zeitgenössischer Musikk angesiedelt muss man sich auf diese Klänge einlassen. Dann wird man aber reich belohnt. Faszinierende Sache.
http://jazzdimensions.de (interview, german)
http://www.jazzitalia.net (live review, italian)
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com (live review, italian)
http://www.allaboutjazz.com (albums of the year list)
http://www.boomkat.com (albums of the year list)
http://www.dagbladet.no (albums of the year list)
http://www.gp.se (interview, swedish)