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supersilent - 9
This album is a particular milestone in Supersilent's career, chiefly because it's the band's first release as a trio, following the departure of drummer Jarle Vespestad late last year. The outcome of the subsequent recording session from the remaining members (Helge 'Deathprod' Sten, Arve Henriksen and Ståle Storløkken) marks a considerable departure from form, most closely resembling the hushed exchanges and loose threads of 2001's Supersilent 5. Even that doesn't seem like an entirely legitimate comparison, however: this album is devoid of percussion altogether - which in itself would completely transform the dynamic possibilities of the group - but going even further, the trio restricted themselves to playing only Hammond organs throughout. It seems particularly strange to hear a Supersilent album that lacks Henriksen's singular trumpet style, but the group have managed to turn this self-imposed restriction to their advantage, taking the opportunity to become a whole new entity. In typical Supersilent style, the album is sufficiently shrouded in enigma and auditory beguilement to sound quite unlike anything that might have been exclusively derived from a Hammond organ, and as ever, it's hard to believe that there's been no electronic post-processing, overdubs or editing. The first piece arrives in a slow dissolve of fuzzy oscillations and glimmering ring-modulated high frequencies. Soon, the low throb of Leslie speaker tremolo superimposes a rhythmic presence, but it vanishes as quickly as it appeared, leaving muffled echoes and half-formed passages of melody to struggle for audibility in a realm of extreme quiet and discipline. The second piece is a doomier affair, pitting demonic harmonies against lumbering bass tones before a mid-section full of gothic drama transforms into a creaking, groaning soundtrack to a Mario Bava film. The third recording continues in this dark vein, but settles into a more composed feel that plays with purer tones and their harmonic relationships. The final track is the ultimate anti-crescendo, unfurling deep-set, sonorous (and very un-organ-like) flourishes that slowly stretch out into prolonged, warming sustains before coming together for a final humming exchange of spiraling chords. From the apparent adversity of losing a member Supersilent have taken a creative sidestep, one that results in an outstanding record that boldly digresses from the main thread of their back-catalogue. This band has always taken the principles of improv and free jazz to extremes, but on this record they're in uncharted territory, and sound just as awe-inspiring as ever.