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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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NOBUKAZU TAKEMURA, "SIGN"
This indeed is what it should all be about. Side one has three tracks, two different versions of the title track, "Sign" and another track, "COGWHEEL." As expected from the last release, "Sign" harbors Takemura's love for beauty and the voice, coupled with his ability to hack and chop away at sounds and beats electronically. The real excitement happens when you flip the record over to side two. Now, I set my timer to this one as it looked like it was pressed rather tight (the vinyl that is). Experts have claimed that only about 25 minutes would fit comfortably on one side of a 12" record, played at 33 1/3 RPM, right? The improvisational "jam" that takes place on side two features Chicago friends Bundy K. Brown, John McEntire and Doug McCombs (all from Tortoise and related camps) clocks in just over 35 minutes. Right, that's not a typo! The piece is fantastic and might as well be another one of those songs you always wished would appear on a Tortoise record. It starts off with a wonderful showcase of how all four musicians have a keen sense of improvisation and incredible talent to create cohesive noise with each other. It starts off like a jamming rockish jazzish tune, but then something goes awry, glitchiness ensues in a dreamy audio bath of laptop fuckery with live instruments... I'm getting flashbacks and almost begin dreaming that this could honestly be "Djed 2!" Yes, I'm a fan and I love Tortoise music, but this track simply titled only as "Souvenir in Chicago" is a stunning performance, and it's something you knew these guys could do and hoped they would do, but never actually heard. This record only comes on vinyl and is limited to 2000 copies. Tortoise fans, Takemura fans shouldn't pass this one by, you'll regret it for years to come! And vinyl sure makes for a great stocking stuffer!

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