Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
Supersilent is, in a sense, the flagship band of Rune Grammofon, and seems to embody the label’s manifesto. Supersilent was formed by the alliance of an existing improvisation group called Veslefrekk with ten years of playing history behind them. They played together for the first time, without any prior rehearsal, at the Bergen Jazz Festival in 1997 and immediately made headlines. The musical success of the experiment convinced the participants that this had to be a permanent group, and they went into the studio to play many hours of non-stop improvisation from which their debut triple album, “Supersilent 1-3”, was ultimately drawn. “1-3” was released in Norway in January 1998.
Supersilent (the name, by the way, derives from a logo on the side of a truck spotted in Oslo) was quick to build a reputation as one of Scandinavia’s most viscerally exciting concert acts. There is a dangerous unpredictability about their music, a sense that anything can happen. All parameters are open. From moment to moment, they can touch on elements of hardcore noise, imply industrial soundscapes, recall Miles at the Fillmore or Stockhausen in Donaueschingen, or play the most delicate and filigree ‘ambient’ sound-washes. There is a savage beauty in this music, with lyricism and disruptive fierceness counterbalancing each other. In brief, Supersilent stretches definitions of jazz to near breaking point, yet at the same time its members’ improvisational skills are finely honed, all four players and Sten/Deathprod must be considered a player, too, not just the wild card - know how to listen, how to react and interact. And if jazz can still be considered the ‘sound of surprise’ then Supersilent fulfils the description. Helge Sten, Ståle Storløkken, Arve Henriksen, and Jarle Vespestad still don’t rehearse or even discuss their music. They meet only to play concerts or to record.
In this group, Sten is credited with playing ‘audio virus’. He explains, “My instrumentation is made up of home-made electronics: old tape machines, ring modulators, filters, theremins, samplers and so on, and my usage of these devices is very unpredictable”. Supersilent records in Deathprod’s Audio Virus studio, packed with analog and digital hardware amassed originally for his electronica/ambient solo projects; the improvisers are not shy about experimenting with this technology but, as free music players, they insist on real-time applications only. Even in the studio, all the music is played live. Overdubs have no place in the band’s modus operandi.
Keyboardist Ståle Storløkken is a full-fledged member of Terje Rypdal�'s Skywards band. He studied at the Trøndelag Conservatory and has participated in projects with Louis Sclavis, Jon Balke, Lars Danielsson, Jon Christensen, Audun Kleive, Nils Petter Molvær, Anders Jormin and Tore Brunborg, and has composed commissioned music for the Kongsberg and Vossajazz festivals.
Arve Henriksen is a graduate of the Trondheim conservatory and has been a freelance musician since 1989. He has played with many musicians familiar to ECM listeners, including Jon Balke (of whose Magnetic North Orchestra he is also an alumnus), Anders Jormin, Edward Vesala, Jon Christensen, Audun Kleive, Nils Petter Molvær, Misha Alperein, Arkady Shilkoper, Marc Ducret, Bjørn Kjellemyr and the Cikada String Quartet, as well as Sten Sandell, Frode Gjerstad, Peter Friis Nilsen, DJ Bjørn Torske and many other Scandinavians committed to free improvisation. He was also heard recently on No Birch with the trio of pianist Christian Wallumrød. Arve Henriksen also appears on Nine Horses - Snow Borne Sorrow (David Sylvian, Japan) released in 2005.
Drummer Jarle Vespestad has played in diverse rock, jazz and improvised contexts. He worked with Henry Kaiser and David Lindley during their ethnomusicological trawl through the far North, has recorded several albums with the experimental jazz-folk-rock band Farmer’s Market, and played with the jazz collective Embla Nordic Project. Jarle Vespestad has also played with Nils Petter Molvær, Jon Balke and Tore Brunborg, amongst others.
Supersilent also appeared on Mute/The Wire’s 20th anniversary triple CD box “Adventures” as the only nordic act besides Iceland’s Björk.
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