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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

Greg Davis "Mort aux Vaches"
Staalplaat
Greg Davis' music is difficult to not like. If abstract computer music is at all your thing (and it occasionally is mine), Davis' is nothing if not pleasant. It exudes a serene positiveness—an easy and smiling warmth. The music of this disc, culled from a live radio session on VPRO in Amsterdam and featuring songs that appeared on his previously released albums and singles, appears to be grounded in folk and pop songs with the structures gently splayed into digital dots. Stephan Mathieu and Christian Fennesz tread along paths such as this one, but Davis' music is remarkable in that, despite the random bleeping noises, there are no sharp edges to it at all. It's inoffensive, innocuous, fading into the background just as readily as it intruiges (to those who wish to engage it in this manner) with the richness of its component sounds. When Davis finally sings and plays acoustic guitar in the Beach Boys cover that closes this album, I imagine him sitting with his laptop at the bedside of a child, tucking her in and lulling her to sleep. Or else he's sitting on a swing in some lush garden on a sunny afternoon, soaking in the sun and running some loose melodies through a Max patch. This could easily veer off into Nobukazu Takemura-like quasi-New Age drool, but somehow it remains tasteful. Only a real cynic could not smile along with him. 
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