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Supersilent - 10

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Artist: Supersilent

Album: 10

Label: Rune Grammofon

Review date: Oct. 18, 2010

It took 12 years from 1997 until 2009 for Supersilent to release their first seven albums. By comparison, 2010 is a hyperactive year; the release of 10 on CD will soon be followed by 11 as a double LP then 12 on CD – three albums in as many months. After the release of 8 in 2007 (recorded in August 2005), the long-established quartet became a trio when drummer Jarle Vespestad left. The threesome recorded three sessions: The second, from March 2009, was released as 9; the third – recording date and content as yet unknown - will be released as 12; and that first post-quartet session, from January 2009? That’s 10, which also includes some leftovers from the 8 session.

OK, enough background. What about the music? It is radically different to the three Hammond organs of 9. Compared to past Supersilent music, with its focus on collective creation, there are more recognizable individual voices here – they could even be called solos. While no band including Deathprod could ever attract the “unplugged” tag, the music here does feature more acoustic sounds than before. Arve Henriksen plays trumpet and electronics, Helge Sten (Deathprod) plays electric guitar and “audio virus,” while Ståle Storløkken is on keyboards and Steinway grand piano, the latter making the greatest difference to the band’s sound. Also key: This 2009 session was recorded in Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, a favorite for ECM recordings.

Right from the beginning of the brief opener “10.1,” with its sustained trumpet plus delicate piano arpeggios, it is obvious that Supersilent is in new territory. At less than 42 minutes, 10 is the band’s shortest album to date, consisting of 12 tracks, the majority of which are less than two minutes long. By punctuating the new acoustic sound with older quartet pieces, it emphasizes the contrast between the two as well as making the change a transition, not a clean break. Supersilent has not abandoned the traditions developed in those 12 years; it’s building upon them.

Electonics-dominated pieces, like “10.2” and 10.9,” contrast in sound and mood with the acoustic pieces, particularly those that highlight acoustic piano or trumpet. These dominate 10 and repeatedly command attention because of their simple melodic beauty, tranquillity and fragility. The closing track, “10.12,” is typical of them, with Storløkken slowly overlaying chords to build up a mood, soon joined by complementary electronics and Henriksen’s breathy trumpet, in a well-constructed piece.

Far more than the maverick one-off that was 9, this album feels like a new beginning for these three men. Excellent and beautiful in its own right, it adds a fascinating piece to the ever-changing jigsaw that is Supersilent.

By John Eyles

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