released September 28, 2018
Arve Henriksen - Trumpet, voice and electronics.
Helge Sten - Electronics.
Ståle Storløkken - Keyboards and electronics.
Longtime fans of Norwegian improvisational collective Supersilent may think they know what to expect from the band's numerically titled 14th full-length and sophomore effort for Smalltown Supersound. The progenitors of "slow jazz" (music that unfolds deliberately in a communal context rather than the accepted soloist and accompaniment formula) deliver what both a companion to trumpeter/electronicist Arve Henriksen's 2017-issued Towards Language, and a shift in direction from the celebrated 13. Produced and mixed by bandmate and sound artist Deathprod (Helge Sten) and performed by him, keyboardist Stale Storlokken, and Henriksen, 14 is very brief, its dozen tracks clock in at just a shade over half-an-hour with most pieces ranging from a minute to just under four.
These concentrated works offer a panoply of sounds from the nearly formless to the boisterous. "14.2" commences as a glacial utterance of synths and treated trumpet tones. They commingle as the dynamic escalates, gradually approaching a full-blown cacophony that recalls Giacinto Scelsi. "14.5" uses keyboards and sound sculpture to layer electronic drones in staggered cadences in varying lengths as reverb and washed-out ambient effects color the margins. The "single" "14.7," emerges from near silence to frame the lower register of Henriksen's horn in fragmented distortion, as melodic drift and pulsating white noise threaten to erupt but never do, though the oscilloscope pulses of "14.8" create a backdrop for Henriksen's use of multiphonics and warmly treated pitch management ushering in a layered, chamber group-esque melody from reverb, controlled noise, and bell-like percussion. "14.9" may only be a minute long, but its disembodied industrial electronics and fractured ambience make it the creepiest thing here, while a spiky organ-y sound frames Henriksen's tongue-slapping techniques on "14.10."
Before it concludes, Middle Eastern tonalities are introduced by all players, creating an open harmonic that ends without warning. Closer "14.12" juxtaposes drone, electronic peals, pulses, and drift, crossed with gated industrial noise in a soundscape of fractures and fragments. The darkness swirls as Henriksen adds a lonesome, clear-belled balladic statement that turns it all back on itself. Storlokken and Sten respond with empathetic, strategically placed lines of amorphousness that pare back that implied melodicism as the track winds back into silence. On many levels, 14 is classic Supersilent, but the more deliberate restraint and pacing in these improvisations also contrast with what has come before. Like Henriksen's aforementioned album, 14 sounds like an exercise in the creation of a musical language with little regard for discernible speech or predictive direction.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
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