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supersilent - 10
Supersilent 9 was the first album by this revered Norwegian improv group to have been recorded without founding member and drummer Jarle Vespestad on board. Perhaps as a reaction to Vespestad's departure the group radically shifted their approach, each member shunning their usual instruments of choice in favour of a Hammond organ. Supersilent 10 finds the three remaining players (Arve Henriksen, Stale Storlokken and Helge Sten, aka Deathprod) switching musical strategies once again, this time notably moving towards a more acoustic instrumental palette. Henriksen is reunited with his trumpet and Sten is back in 'Audio Virus' mode, but Storlokken spends much of the album at the piano, prompting some of the finest passages of music in this band's thirteen-year history. One of the most striking moments on the album comes during '10.6', when Storlokken's skeletal keyings are complimented by a clean and understated guitar part from Sten. Henriksen does well here to show restraint, joining his bandmates in their tentative and lightly percussive mindset. Actually, 'restraint' is probably the key word here, and the generally rather low volume and highly sensitive phrasing levels exhibited by all players allow for an impressive dynamic range: at a couple of points you'll find yourself following wispy melodic lines only for a huge swell of bass to take you by surprise in the background ('10.8' and '10.9' specifically - there's probably a bad joke to be made here about Richter scale measurements and Deathprod's floor shaking low-end...). It's not all simmering hush though, and for all this album's genteel and ornate harmonic constructions you'll find an intoxicating darkness creeping into the analogue droning circuitry of '10.5' and the unsteady intervals of closing track '10.12'. It's hard to think of there ever having been a bad Supersilent album, but after all these years and all these recordings this band still manages to refresh and reinvent itself, delivering a seemingly endless supply cerebral and emotive music along the way.