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Supersilent, "9"

cover   imageFinding themselves a drummer down for their ninth release, Supersilent have this time approached their music from a completely different angle. Dispensing with their usual instrumentation, the remaining members have instead utilized Hammond organ exclusively for these four pieces. While the end result sounds nothing like their previous work, this is a thrilling and captivating album that is an unusual entry into an already curious catalogue. The music is cosmic, sacred and psychedelic in ways that have not previously been delved into by the group.

 

Rune Grammofon

Supersilent - Supersilent 9

As ever, Supersilent did not plan what they were going to do for this album before entering the studio. The results clearly reflect this approach to music production, the variation in playing style throughout 9 runs from the staid and minimal end of the spectrum to the wilder edge of improvisation. The four pieces here explore limits of the mighty Hammond organ, the music often sounding distinctly unlike the familiar tones of the Hammond. The opening piece begins with a sparse and largely silent introduction before some tremulous melody lines are played. The music slides out of earshot again, an enigmatic and haunting beginning to the album.

The mood here is very different to what would normally be expected of the Supersilent crew, although occasionally they fall into the type of anti-rhythms that permeate their work. For example, the second piece on 9 begins on a similar path as the opening piece of their last album. However, this path has become overgrown and dangerous since we last walked down it; the sinister horror movie character of the Hammond coming through strongly. This is especially true later in the piece when the organ sounds more like some kind of man-eating theremin/guitar hybrid.

The remainder of the album is given over to more ambient-inclined pieces, which is a little disappointing as I would have enjoyed another “busy” piece or two. Listening to these pieces on their own merit as opposed to part of an album (albums being an unnatural environment for Supersilent’s music based on their working method), their true worth becomes evident. The devil is in the detail and devoting one’s attention fully to the textures within the music reveals the luxuriant and multifaceted tone of the Hammond organ.

I wonder whether Supersilent will now continue without Jarle Vespestad on drums, find a replacement drummer or, Darwin forbid, remain super silent. That last option is too horrible to consider but equally I imagine it would be hard to find someone who could fill the void on the drum stool. As good as this album is, I cannot see them repeating it either in terms of instrumentation or in terms of mood. However, hopefully this shake up to the band’s dynamics will spur them on to further experiment with their already fluid sound. And should this be the last we hear from Supersilent, it is a worthy end to a stunning string of releases.

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Review of the Day

Bad Company UK, "Shot Down On Safari"
System
Electronic music has had many casualties over the years, but none probably as depressing as the death of drum n' bass. Unlike many genres who have fallen victim to the same ultimate fate, drum n' bass (which for the sake of this review will encompass all subgenres that would fall under the larger grouping) found itself divided inside itself as well as commercially exploited in a ruthless manner. In the end, corporate trend vultures and shady admen reduced the music to 30 second loops, while those who originally loved the music splintered off into "new" genres such as garage and breakcore. Still, there are artists out there plugging away and writing music truly evocative of the genre. However, the question lingers: does this effort even matter anymore? If Bad Company is any indication, then the answer is, sadly, no. In order for a genre to thrive, the music must remain interesting. Over the course of two CDs (one album and one continuous mix), Bad Company's Shot Down On Safari represents the stagnancy that helped bring down drum n' bass. From the overused ragga vocals (particularly on "Mo' Fire") to the same old tired breakbeats and synth effects, it becomes abundantly clear why so many people jumped ship for more progressive sounds. Admittedly, my tastes in drum n' bass have always leaned in the darkstep / techstep direction, but this album just doesn't offer anything up worth mentioning. If for some bizarre reason after reading this review you still feel like you want "Shot Down On Safari," rest assured that the mix CD offers quite a few older tracks that reflect the brighter days of drum n' bass.

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