Supersilent Supersilent 1-3 Review

Album. Released 12 January 1998.  

BBC Review

Reissue of the sprawling debut triple CD from the Norwegian electronic improv quartet.

Colin Buttimer 2003

Though the music remains unchanged, this reissue has been repackaged to minimise visual signification. The new plain blue cover of 1-3 joins 5's black and 6's grey. 4's expressive surface - whose pencil marks and pale blue typeface once intimated mental illness and its attendant pharmacology - is also to disappear.

1.1 Slamming percussion in only the left channel for the first two minutes is joined by electronics and voice in the right which appear to trace parallel, independent trajectories. The voice enunciates instructions for an unspecified electronic unit. At times it is almost obliterated by electronic noise. An electrical hum beats an ineluctable pulse.

1.2 Crypto-funk beset by metal fatigue. 1.3 Is cacophonous, squalling, fearsome, urgent, scorched, blasted. Enter this track with care, prepared perhaps to leave before its end.

1.4 Invokes rushing, swarming spirits: worrying and racing, renewing and continuing, humming and modulating gradually upwards towards an abrupt end.

2.1 Begins with howls from a parched throat under a spooked moon. Conjures images of sparks showering from a short-circuiting Giorgio Moroder machine, of sub-bass needles littering the floor around speaker cones.

2.2 Tries to start and fails, tries again and fails again. Over and over. 2.3-2.4 Is the sound of demolition followed by construction, of heavy earth moving equipment harried by low flying helicopters.

2.5 A dental drill encounters bone. A new machine has been invented to scour the cranium, perhaps this is its sound. Meltdown appears imminent: as it approaches surprising new shapes separate out from the soundmass.

3.1 Consists of uncertain processes, palpable sounds; of fourth world echoes emanating from the undergrowth. A storm appears to be always gathering, but never quite breaking.

3.2-3.3 The electric pulse from 1.1 is reprised and accrues increasing sounds of industry, of multiple shortwave transmissions from Pacific Rim economies melding together, of severed cables suppurating electronic discharges.

3.4 Is the sound of rattled percussion under lowering skies and feedback circling, vulture-like as it awaits a final conflagration. Instead a delicate emptiness appears, mourned over by a simple melody which is gradually overtaken and ultimately obliterated by a final sonic storm. In the ensuing silence after the blasting of this music, 1-3 appears in the memory to have been forged from igneous rock. This music imprints itself on the mind like a retinal afterimage, like a tattoo that will not fade.

1-3 is vital music, not for the faint-hearted: don't be faint-hearted.

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