Supersilent: 10
Rune Grammofon

If 10 is to be taken as indicative of Supersilent's current style, the group would appear to be mellowing with age. Mellow doesn't mean somnambulent, however, and neither does it mean dull or boring, as 10 is an unqualifiably satisfying outing. With drummer Jale Vespestad no longer with the group, Supersilent is now a formidable trio that includes Helge Sten (credited with “audio virus” and electric guitar), Ståle Storløkken (grand piano, keyboards), and Arve Henriksen (trumpet, electronics), and the recording serves as the first document of the band in its newly reduced form. Sometimes groups of long-standing formation are rejuvenated when the line-up changes, with remaining members working extra-hard to compensate for the loss, and so it seems in this case. Much of the set comes from sessions recorded by Jan Erik Kongshaug at the Rainbow studios in Oslo though some of it derives from recordings made during the 2005 sessions that produced 8. As is well-known by now, the members don't rehearse and so what's recorded is unique, real-time improvisation in the purest sense. Aside from the fact that half of the twelve pieces are under the three-minute mark and that the group's acoustic side is emphasized with electronics often woven subliminally into the material, what surprises most is that the collection's tone is generally delicate, introspective, and even, in places, heartfelt.

Though one might have expected Henriksen's instantly recognizable voice to be all the more prominent in the trio format, he's no more at the forefront than the others; if anything, the focus is split equally between all three members, with each getting moments in the spotlight. Mysterious in tone, 10.3 finds Storløkken's sparse, explorative playing taking center stage joined by intermittent punctuations of sci-fi electronic warble and Henriksen's flute-like tone. Sten's low-pitched ripples dominate 10.5, resulting in a cancerous slab of corroded sounds that his colleagues elect to steer clear of, and the album again moves into Deathprod territory during the ninth track when Sten sculpts space drones of cavernous and barren character. Henriksen's gentle cry takes the lead beautifully during 10.8, a move helped along considerably when Sten and Storløkken paint the subtlest of crepuscular backdrops for him to emote against. In this longest and most affecting of the album's tracks, the softly resonating tones echoing behind the trumpeter at times suggest theshimmering sounds of a glass orchestra. What results reflects the kind of sensitivity that comes from more than a decade's worth of collaborative exchange. The pianist and trumpeter also prove to be especially good foils for one another, as shown by the stately, classically tinged pas de deux they indulge in during 10.6 and the ruminative nachtmusik they conjure in 10.7. Taken as a whole, Supersilent's tenth outing brings out the group's lyrical side in splendid manner.

December 2010