Four long years have passed, since Supersilent released their eighth album 11 on Rune Grammofon. Since 2010, Supersilent’s fans have eagerly awaited the next chapter in the Supersilent story. At last, the wait is over. Supersilent recently released their ninth album 12, on Rune Grammofon. 12 marks a welcome return from the innovative Norwegian supergroup.
It’s no exaggeration to describe Supersilent as a supergroup. They’re made up of some of the best Norwegian musicians of their generation.
Keyboardist Stale Storløkken is a member of Elephant9, Humcrush, BOL and Reflections In Cosmo. Stale’s also a member of Terje Rypdal’s trio Skywards. As if that’s not more than enough to be going on with, Stale works with a variety of other bands. The other members of Supersilent are just as busy.
Trumpeter Arve Henriksen has released eight solo albums. That’s not all. He’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in Nordic music. This includes Jon Balke, Trygve Seim and Christian Wallumrod. Arve Henriksen has also worked with David Sylvian. Just like his brother’s in arms, Helge Sten (a.k.a. Deathprod), is just as busy.
Previously, Helge Sten was a member of Motorpsycho. Not any more. He’s now a member of Susanna’s trio and has released three albums as Deathprod. That’s not all. Helge has worked alongside Jaga Jazzist, Nils Petter, The White Birch, Susanna and Jenny Hval. Given how busy the three members of Supersilent are, it’s incredible they’ve found time to record nine albums since 1977.
1997 is when the Supersilent story begins. That’s when Supersilent were formed. Sound artist, musician and producer Helge Sten approacehed improvisational trio Veslefrekk. Helge wanted to form a new quartet. It, he proposed would comprise Helge and Veslefrekk. This new quartet became Supersilent. They made their debut at the prestigious Bergen Jazz Festival.
There wasn’t even time to rehearse. Instead, Supersilent took to the stage, and became one. This was the start of a musical journey that’s lasted seventeen years and nine albums.
Supersilent released their debut album 1-3 on Rune Grammofon, late in 1997. This was Rune Grammofon’s first release. Since then, the label has gone from strength to strength, and has released Supersilent’s next eight albums, including 12.
12 was recorded back in 2011, during three sessions. They took place at Deathprod’s Audio Virus LAB, Athletic Sound in Halden and the Emanuel Vigeland Museum. It’s famed for its twenty second natural reverb. The recording sessions were lengthy. Supersilent jammed, improvised, innovated and experimented. Musical boundaries were pushed to their limits, as musical genres became one. Hours and hours of music was recorded. It was then edited by Deathprod, who produced 12. It features the three members of Supersilent at their innovative best.
Supersilent don’t describe themselves as a group. They’re a collective, who do things their way. This includes never rehearsing. Neither do Supersilent discuss their music with each other. They only meet to play and record. This they explain, means every album or performance in unique. It can never be replicated. Equally unique is the music on be Supersilent’s ninth album, 12.
On 12, trumpeter Arve Henriksen, tape experimenter Helge Sten and keyboardist Stale Storløkken improvise. There’s no room for showboating. Everything is off the cuff. They feed off each other, driving each other to greater heights as they fuse avant garde free jazz, rock, electronica and modern composition. The result is a genre-melting album, 12, which I’ll now tell you about.
Opening 12 is 1. A wave of moody, broody music moves towards you. It’s like an unstoppable force. For two minutes, the music veers between dramatic, melodic and haunting. There’s a nod to Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, as Supersilent continue on their innovative way.
2 has a futuristic, sci-fi sound. Cinematic describes this fusion of washes of synths, sound effects and chimes. It veers between futuristic, cinematic, ethereal and discordant, as Supersilent combine avant-garde, electronic, experimental, free jazz and rock.
Cinematic and dramatic. These words describe 3. Waves of cinematic music become dramatic. Before long, the drama increases. This comes courtesy of urgent stabs of keyboards. Meanwhile, washes of sound effects assail you. Sometimes, its reminiscent of a howling gale, as Supersilent provide the soundtrack to an austere, futuristic landscape.
4 quivers, shivers and shimmers. The arrangement builds and grows, picking up where 3 left off. It’s akin to a soundtrack to a sci-fi film. Sounds assail you. They’re panned left and right, and flit in and out of your consciousness. Gradually, the music becomes moody and futuristic. It bubbles, squeaks and becomes eerie. By now, it sounds like the backdrop to the type of film Alfred Hitchcock would be making if he were alive today.
Understated, spacious, hesitant and experimental describes 5. It’s as if Supersilent are drawing inspiration from Brian Eno. Later wistful, ethereal trumpet plays softly. Haunting and beautiful, its melancholy sound is yin to the rest of the arrangement’s yang.
Searing, bristling guitars feedback on 6. The rest of the arrangement is like a merry-go-round. It’s one you don’t want to get off. Not when Supersilent lock horns. Arve unleashes his trumpet and Stale his banks of keyboards. Helge’s uses his tape recorders. He adjusts the tempo. Deliberately, the tempo fluctuates and quver. After that, this fusion of avant-garde, experimental, free-jazz and rock heads off in the most unexpected directions, reinforcing the fact that Supersilent are musical pioneers, who push musical boundaries to their breaking point.
A haunting, thoughtful trumpet solo opens 7. Bells chime in the background. This adds a poignancy. So does the wash of synths. Avant-garde, classical and experimental combine with jazz to create an ethereal, wistful and later, dramatic track.
As 8 unfolds, a myriad of musical ideas assail you. Drums pound, a trumpet sounds, soaring above the arrangement. Meanwhile, a myriad of experimental sounds make their presence felt. They all vie for your attention, as they play their part in something that’s bigger than any of the constituent parts.
9 has a post apocalyptic sound. Sparse and minimalist, sci-fi sounds descend. Gradually, the drama builds. Sounds flit in and out the arrangement. Some are understated, others dramatic and disturbing. Again, the track has a cinematic sound. Pictures unfold before your eyes. As the track ends, it sounds as if Supersilent have written the score to the next Win Wenders’ movie.
Drum play in the distance. Then lo-fi sounds sweep in as 10 reveals its secrets. Soon, elements of ambient, avant-garde, cinematic and experimental unite. Sometimes, there’s an element of darkness. It threatens to descend. The music becomes eerie experimental and chilling.
11 picks up where 10 left off. The music veers between eerie experimental, to disturbing and chilling. It’s also innovative, cinematic and hypnotic.
The introduction to 12 is not unlike a siren going off. Short, sharp bursts assail you. In the background, a myriad of futuristic sounds play a supporting role. They’re part of what sounds like post apocalyptic soundscape.
Closing 12, is 13. Bells chime, as a futuristic, droning sounds sweep across the arrangement. Instruments are unleashed, and transformed by producer Deathprod. In his hands, they become something totally different. Here, he combines futuristic, sci-fi sounds and wistful, ethereal beauty. This reinforces that Supersilent are one of the most innovative, pioneering bands in Europe.
12 was Supersilent’s ninth album, since they formed in 1997. Since 1997, they’ve established a reputation as one of the most innovative, pioneering bands in Europe. They’ve come a long way from their debut at the Bergen Jazz Festival.
Stale Storløkken, Arve Henriksen and Helge Sten are at the heart of Norway’s thriving music scene. They are, or have been, members of some of Norway’s most successful bands.
This includes Motorpsycho, Elephant9, Humcrush, BOL, Reflections In Cosmo and Jaga Jazzist. That’s not all. The three members of Supersilent have worked with the great and good of Norwegian music. That’s no surprise.
The three members of Supersilent are hugely talented and versatile musicians. Supersilent are made up of three of the best Norwegian musicians of their generation. They’re capable of seamlessly, fusing musical genres, to make their unique soundscapes.
Everything from ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, free jazz, psychedelia, jazz and rock can be heard on the thirteen tracks on 12. As these disparate musical genres melt into one, it’s apparent that the music is ambitious, bold, innovative and pioneering. 12 you see, is no ordinary album.
12 is akin to an album of futuristic soundscapes. They veer between beautiful, broody, moody, chilling, cinematic, dramatic, eerie, ethereal, melancholy and wistful. Futuristic, sci-fi sounds are omnipresent on what’s like a long lost soundtrack album. All this makes 12 a truly compelling and captivating album from Norwegian musical pioneers, Supersilent, who are at the vanguard of Norway’s vibrant music scene.