Rune Grammofon/ECM

6 by Supersilent is a landmark album. It is a harrowing work of jazz, electronica and ambient textures that is as exciting as it is mind-blowing. Imagine the icy landscapes created by Sigur Ros, channeled through the experimental fusion of early Can and played in direct homage to Miles Davis, circa the Pangaea era. That is as well as words can describe the sounds this band creates. It is all the more inspiring when you consider that the recording of this album was improvised live in the studio. According to Supersilent’s website, the band members have little contact with each other outside of the studio and only come together during recording sessions. Incidentally, 6 is the fourth release by these Norwegians. Their early work, which has been described as bleak and hardcore, is replaced with a quietly evocative music that is a moving and elegiac wonder of sound.

Track “1” (similar to Sigur Ros, the tracks lack proper titles and instead rely on their numeric order. From what I gather, this is a constant in Supersilent’s repertoire and not a new convention) sounds like the eerie soundtrack to a murder film, albeit one that is being heard on cheap, foreign transistor radios in the mid sixties. Sun flares and ambient radiation cause the notes and melody to undergo strange bits of refraction so the overall effect is even more heightened and creepy.

Track “2” is more of a jazz number proper. It opens with bits of rumbling on the drums and gentle swathes of keyboards, as if something is struggling to life in the basement. The trumpet notes begin as if someone or something is gasping for breath and the strange alchemical mystery unfolds. As the track unwinds the permutations become more pronounced and yet subtle. The trumpet continues to hold sway for much of this track until the end when it once again folds itself back into nothing.

Track “3” is unlike either of the preceding tracks. It begins with tinkling keyboards that sound like a cross between a xylophone and a child’s toy piano. In the background one can hear the swollen sound of something like a bassoon. At thirteen plus minutes, this track is the centerpiece of the album and, as it develops, a bricolage of all the pieces that preceded it and will follow it.

It is no mere hyperbole when I describe this work as probably one of the most inspiring pieces of music I’ve heard in years. Yet, as unsettling and experimental as it is, it is quite accessible. Barring Sigur Ros, it would be difficult to identify an artist or group capable of creating a work this fiercely intelligent, that is so movingly human and entrancing.

Rune Grammofon:

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