Supersilent have always lurked at the furthest fringes of jazz, my first recommendations to listen to them usually came from those who were more into Eric Dolphy and Albert Ayler than the kind of stuff I was listening to at the time. With 10, the group have picked out the more traditionally jazzish elements of their improvisations and focused on them. The result is not a straight jazz album, it’s not a straight anything. Labyrinthine but uncluttered, Supersilent again show that they are unwilling to remain in any kind of musical stasis.
The brief "10.1" opens the album and it is easy to imagine this being an unreleased session from Miles Davis’ electric era or indeed an Sun Ra era; Arve Henriksen’s trumpet letting out a strangled drone as a piano tinkles nocturnally. This thread is picked up again on "10.3" as jagged chords on the piano merge with an electric organ and/or a theremin, the overall effect being like what would be a typical ECM release if all the musicians were on ketamine. Later on, "10.7" takes this skewed approach to modern jazz and creates what seems like a forever shifting topography of notes in less than two minutes.
"10.6" and "10.8" reveal another hidden aspect to Supersilent's work: a catchy tune. Granted these two pieces ache with melancholy but it shows a melodic side to a band renowned for eschewing harmony. "10.8" sits somewhere between the trio’s own freeform style, traditional jazz and the blissful sonic blankets of Labradford and Pan•American. It acts as a focal point for 10, balancing everything that makes this album stand out. As it progresses, the natural shaping of the music by the group becomes slowly apparent; like water slowly eroding the landscape, Supersilent erode the silence.
Reinvention has always been key to Supersilent’s existence and their success. Sometimes it pays off (every album to date has been a musical landmark) and sometimes it doesn’t (the one time I saw them live was a bit of a fizzle rather than a bang) and here it has worked remarkably well. Granted I do miss Jarle Vespestad’s drumming (this was the first Supersilent session recorded without him but last year's 9 was also drumless) but the group has always striven for the new and the loss of an integral part to an inventive group can only be the gateway to novel sounds and ways of playing together. 10 is certainly a terrific album, possibly one of their best but I say that about all of them.
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