Supersilent 8 Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Magnificent and funereal and demands to be played long and loud.

Colin Buttimer 2007

Supersilent are eight albums and ten years old. There is something so rootedly elemental about their group endeavour that it sometimes seems difficult to identify a sense of progression over their releases for Rune Grammofon. This may also be attributed to the group’s unchanging working method: they meet to record their music without preparation or discussion beforehand. Each track is entirely improvised.

"8.1" is a brooding affair, agog with bass rumbles and skittering scrapes lost in mid-range gloom. Half trapped animal, half anti-social neighbour, it refuses to raise itself off the ground, preferring to lurk round dark corners, creeping earthbound and just out of sight. Four minutes in, its warped form briefly gathers itself up into a lumbering rhythm before disintegrating into something more interesting: asymmetrical lunges like a shape-shifting beast struggling to resolve itself into something useful. It’s heavy stuff, best lifted by suitably powerful cranes or the sort of lorries found in big quarries.

"8.2" is a cymbal-scape menaced by ruminant bass. Reflective, intense and lonely, its sibling is a spooked peace longed for, but never quite achieved. "8.3" gradually increases the tension with an ever-increasing thrumming activity out of which wails Ståle Storløkken’s signature synthesizer banshee cry. "8.4" returns to a mournful half-light like a distant cousin of Miles Davis’s "He Loved Him Madly".

"8.6" pummels the listener in an act of grimly determined pugilism whose percussive foundation is heightened by Arve Henriksen’s falsetto singing. "8.7" is an extended roar of mayhem, chaos overtaking the brooding atmospheres that preceded it, cataclysm deluging the listener. The final piece returns to the eery character of much of the rest of the recording.

I wrote at the outset that it was difficult to trace a clear development over Supersilent’s career. Perhaps the most identifiable change is a reduction of the sort of abrasive rawness heard on their debut. Despite occasional bursts of fire, Supersilent’s more recent albums seem increasingly twilit, occluded and subdued. 8 is no exception: it’s magnificent and funereal and demands to be played long and loud.

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