SUPERSILENT – a so-called Death Jazz trio

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This may come across as sounding anti-American, says Tony Ozuna, but Europe and other regions around the world are now leading the way for new directions in jazz, with Norway, of all places, at the forefront of it all.

Since at least the mid 90s, with the rise of nu jazz and future jazz. Jazz players from Norway including Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Petter Molvaer, and Eivind Aarset ripped down the borders for incorporating electronics into jazz, though they were also guided by Miles’ electronic jazz-rock sessions from the 1970s, and there has never been an attempt to obscure that influence. Miles unleashed himself freely, more than at any other time in his career on live and experimental sessions in the early 70s, and best captured on recordings “Live Evil,” his live at the Filmore East and West sessions and “Dark Magus.”

Influenced by Miles, as well, the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Hendrickson (born 1968), has a reputation for ambient music, a delicate folk-jazz, or zen-jazz, but he also has a side project called Supersilent—a polar opposite of his fragile works–where he plays not only trumpet, but drums, voice and electronics.

Along with Hendrickson, Supersilent has two others, the producer/sound manipulator Helge Sten (aka Deathprod) and Ståle Storløkken on keyboards and electronics, that take at its starting point, the harshest and wildest sections of Miles live with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarret, Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, and Jack DeJohnette, etc.—their unplanned intersections of noise and silence without a trace of rock or funk or jazz—just purely improvisational sonic sounds unleashed.

There is also the Stockhausen influence, the avant-garde German composer of live electronics (since the late 50s and early 60s), who was also an influence on Miles, and even Mingus and Coltrane.

With Hendrickson, at least, and his relationship to Supersilent, it’s also possibly similar to Stan Kenton and his early 50’s albums with lover’s ballads, while at the same time doing sessions of modern music meets jazz with still surprising and abrasive innovation, including “City of Glass” (1951), “This Modern World” (1953), “Kenton in Hi-Fi” (1956) and a few others.

Or, try to imagine if Chet Baker had, in the late 50’s or early 60’s, gone from playing his most fragile, tender songs with one group, then if he had kept an experimental collective of horns and electronics, sounding harsher than John Coltrane’s “Ascension” sessions or “Om,” at the same time, on the side.

Originally a quartet, Supersilent came together in 1997 and previous releases all titled numerically and released on Rune Grammophone had more ambient and longer hypnotic sound-scapes, an experimental improvisation that was mostly lulling and celestial, while then still peaking to uncomfortable intensities. However, with their newest release “13” on the Oslo-based electronic jazz label Smalltown Supersound, they’ve dropped their drummer Jarle Vespestad to become a trio of keyboards and electronics experimentalists for an often times much harder-faster, sonic-electronics improvisation.

On Supersilent 13, the trio reaches deeper for a savage crescendo of electronic sound textures (and for some it could be heard as a relentless and unbearable noise), while the calmer sections on recordings or live can then be more appreciated as a much needed respite, or the beautiful calm before the storm.

Supersilent’s upcoming shows:

Nov. 9—with Julien Despin at La Dynamo de Banlieues Bleues, Pantin (Paris), France
Nov. 10—at the Alternativa Festival of Dense Music, Prague, Czech

Text: Tony Ozuna

Images: Super Silent

Last modified: July 15, 2018