Supersilent - 7 (2005)

Filmed at
Parkteatret, Oslo in August, 2004, the performance itself is often downright stunning. As with most of Supersilent's output, this generous 109-minute set largely defies categorization as the free-flowing foursome fuses ambient passages with modal jazz and progressive rock with surges of noise and Eastern melodies. A deeply moving and physical experience from the most lethal improv combo of the present. No overdubs, just pure, raw energy.

Supersilent sounds better after total immersion, as extended exposure clarifies the logic of the group and pushes their subtle-yet-grand interplay closer to the surface. The fluidity with which the pieces develop makes jazz standards of strange bedfellows. The snarling, grainy tones of Helge Sten’s Deathprod project somehow complement Arve Henriksen’s romantic trumpet bursts perfectly. The glacial winds from keyboardist Ståle Storløkken bounce with drummer Jarle Vespestad’s rapid-fire rhythms like two kids on a trampoline. Supersilent’s fusions succeed so effortlessly that they seem to lead to a future where all genres melt together into a common improviser’s toolkit. But my experience with ear-grating electro-acoustic ensembles tells me otherwise. Despite their technological trappings, Supersilent gets by on old-fashioned chemistry.

Centered around trumpeter Arve Henriksen, the only member of the band facing the audience unobscured, Supersilent radiates outward, three spokes pointing towards different traditions.

Consider the postures: Helge Sten, crouches wolf-eyed over a set of knob-boxes. His dark, textured material pays its dues to post-industrial demiurges Nurse With Wound and Coil. Sten looks poised to pounce on the rest of the group, teeth bared with black noise spewing forth from tense jaws.

Rarely blinking, Storløkken monitors his crew, his eyes stealing light from the dim house. More often than not, his tones characterize the songs, leaving the melodic stamps by which they are remembered. Yet he is resolutely group-focused, refusing to outstrip his bandmates.

Henriksen angles downward, towards his mic and trumpet. His muse is more personal, passionate, prone to outbreaks of semi-lingual vocals, sung with impressive range. Supersilent owes much of its humanity to Henriksen’s powerful emotional presence.

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