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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

The Boggs, "We Are The Boggs, We Are"
Arena Rock Recording Co.
My record collection reads like many other music-obsessed mid-20s male computer geeks (let's be honest). I've got loads of laptop generated music, a bunch of jazz (especially stuff on the 'fringe'), some good ol' Krautrock, not to mention the classics: Zeppelin, Floyd, etc, to name just a few of the genres represented on my shelf (but, I am proud to say, no Magnetic Fields or the like). But I'm lacking something integral in my record collection: BLUEGRASS. I was brought up in Appalachia, with bluegrass and old-time music around me my entire childhood. The lack of Louvin Brothers or Carter family records in my apartment is therefore appalling; I've always liked and appreciated bluegrass and old-time, and a good banjo player always knocks my socks off more than a flashy guitar player. So where are my Flatt & Scruggs LPs? It must be city life - how can I ever have "Knoxville Girl" in my head when I'm trying not to get hit by cabs as I speedwalk to the subway? All of this is leading up to the fact that I love this CD by The Boggs, who live in the same city I do and somehow find themselves inspired to pick up banjo, mandolin, etc and make some damned fine downhome bluegrass. On the cover of the album, the band looks like deceivingly like any other NYC band, possibly one that would make "dance music with a punk edge," but the Boggs couldn't be further from the typical NYC trend in bands. Though no one is going to confuse the Boggs with Doc Watson or Bill Monroe, this is straight up bluegrass, not 'alt country' or 'bluegrass-infused rock.' Usually, I make progression a priority in the music I like; that is to say, I like to use the argument, "Why listen to [new artist making music in an old style] when I could just listen to [artist from 20-50 years ago]?", but I find myself unable to justify that argument with the Boggs. Maybe I like them so much because there aren't too many people up north making music coming from an Appalachian influence (though I must admit I don't know the true roots of the members of the Boggs). In a city overflowing with bands aping bands that ape 20 years ago, it's refreshing to hear a group whose music isn't dictated by their surroundings.

 

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