7, the latest live album from Norway's Supersilent, shows music at its
most multidimensional and promiscuous. The quietly medititative crawl of a Mellotron
against a brittle digital canvas gives way to chromatic tidal rolls of metallic
sound, darting synths, and the agonized squeal of Arve
The album is in DVD format, but the added visuals do nothing to demystify these
dark, brooding compositions the image of four sleek individuals set
against a black-and-white stage simply adds to the many enchanting tangles
and delicious sensual contrasts forged on the spot.
Dark and despondent, the first two pieces find Jarle Vespestad's delicately
varied percussion haunted by Stale Storlokken's alien synth zaps as Henrikson
falls into his characteristic breathy, slightly astringent tonalities. Gradually,
this jazzy aura takes
on more strident
edges as Helge Sten adds huge blocks of dramatic sound.
spirals out of its own orbit, with nebulous overtones swelling amid
pounding drums and
Henrikson's manic, jarring, confrontational shrieks.
The four players sustain these frenzied,
sputtering collages of iridescent sound for minutes on end. But aside from the
musicians' endurance, these ecstatic heights reveal serious concentration: the
splash and crash of cymbals, the swift, broken flurries of trumpet, and the outer-space
keyboard lines do
not simply fuse into mush, but remain sharp, articulate,
moving. (After repeated
visits, however, many will quibble that the build-to-release
formula, however varied, is a tad formulaic.)
On the third composition, though, Supersilent step away from this
something altogether subdued and elegant. Once more, Henrikson's
rich trumpet is a focus,
but so too are Storlokken's tender organ chords, slightly chopped up and sprayed
out into glinting ribbons
of sound by Sten. As the track approaches the eight-minute mark, Henrikson's fragile, altogether angelic falsetto emerges against a
atmosphere, providing a moment that is
somber, contemplative, and gentle all at once.
True, Henrikson often seems an easy focal point. But it's more accurate to say
one player is outdone by
any of the others. Supersilent
craft a colorful, engaging pastiche of sound, merging free jazz, ambient, and
improvisation into one
startlingly complex yet wholly approachable document.