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October 5, 2007

Supersilent – 8

Filed under: Music — Cy @ 3:19 am

[Rune Grammofon; 2007]

Supersilent has come a long way from their frenetic free-jazz roots of 1-3. They’ve dabbled in almost every experimental genre you could name – minimalistic, ambient, post-rock, and free improvisation. In “8”, they throw all these disparate genres into a melting pot, but the results aren’t nearly as sublime or poignant as those on “6”, their most well-loved album. “8” runs like several truly beautiful moments, none of which encompasses an entire song, strung together by almost forgettable filler. The ideas are well and good, reminiscent of the aimless and spectral qualities of “6” with a darker and more drum-heavy sound, but the execution is rather lazy, something that I am unaccustomed to hearing from this band. The production and atmosphere of the album are quite fitting, but the actual substance is lacking compared to the band’s earlier efforts. Perhaps the overindulgence in percussion is what mainly ruins the album, as the drums and cymbals are often used capriciously (not in itself a bad thing) but sometimes without much thematic unity or apparent pattern.

The album starts out with the miasmic “8.1”, which is one of the better songs here. A mixture of the relentless plodding of Sunn O))) and the swirling ambience of Gas and Boards of Canada, the song does a fine job of setting a hazy and meandering mood. “8.2” is basically a bunch of drum and cymbal hits threaded together with rushes of aquatic blips. There’s hardly anything to the song until the last minute or so, when about five different sonic directions converge into one chaotic whole and then die and fade away into nothing.

The minimalistic “8.4”, probably the best song on the album, ironically has actual melodies and is rather pretty in an understated, subtle way. Calmly shifting electronics and horns explore laid-back sonic territories, appealing to both lovers of delicate textures and eerily gorgeous melodies. Sometimes the best songs are soft and simple, and this one is a fine example.

The initial components of “8.5” are: repeated drum cluster, drunken robot nonsensical ranting, background heavenly choir, and other small ornamental noises. Later, the song transitions into the quintessential Supersilent spacey swirling of guitar and unconventional rock instruments (in this case flute). Many of the aforementioned “truly beautiful moments” can be attributed to sections with the flutes and the latter part of this song in general; if not for the annoying start with spliced vocals this would be among Supersilent’s very best songs. As it is, it’s up there with 8.4 as the best material on this album. “8.6” starts out promising, with a somewhat interesting idea of spontaneous electronic bloops complemented by the ever-present sparse percussion, but the idea never gains any momentum or goes anywhere at all. They at last return to their freakout roots with “8.7”, a blizzard of electric trumpet and guitar noise thrown atop a tight and compact rhythm section. While the song is fluid throughout, for some reason or another it just doesn’t grab me like most chaotic free improvisation. A few of the remaining “beautiful moments” happen here, but not too many. The album finally peters out with, you guessed it, “8.8” which is similar to (but not as good as) “6.1”; it really just doesn’t have much interesting going on, apart from some melancholic wave-like sections which, if explored more thoroughly, might have salvaged the song.

Alas, the band just shies away from going beyond the cusp of good ideas and in general stinks of production without true substance. Perhaps I sound overly harsh here – there are plenty of great spots, and the album is pleasant enough really – but I was pretty disappointed by this one, as it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Let’s hope 9, 10 and all subsequent integers are more engaging and wholesome.

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