Supersilent with John Paul Jones
Sunday 18 November
Arve Henriksen. photo by Tim Owen.
When John Paul Jones and Helge ‘Deathprod’ Sten played a Minibus Pimps set at Cafe Oto earlier in the year their performance was tentative, often enthralling but more suggestive of potential than a full-blooded success.
When Supersilent become a trio on the departure of drummer Jarle Vespestad in 2009 they seemed to stall. Their album 9 was recorded as a Hammond trio, while 10 saw the band essay a more lyrical approach, with Ståle Storløkken on acoustic piano. Both are beautiful recordings, with 10 arguably their most accessible, but they lack the bite of their best work. So this was a better show than I dared hope for; in fact it was the best Supersilent concert I’ve seen, comparable in musical style and creative intensity to the magnificent performances captured on the Supersilent 7 live DVD.
With Storløkken once again on electric keys, the major surprise here was that Arve Henriksen now plays drums, in addition to trumpet, voice and electronics. Though his percussion style is more straightforward than Vespestad’s, it still combines beautifully with Supersilent’s intricate, fractured electronics. In more ambient passages his etherial vocalese and plaintive trumpet lend the sometimes imposing soundscapes a haunting beauty.
If Jones seemed sometimes ill at ease with the ambient textures of Minibus Pimps he was in his element plugged into the electric ebb and surge of Supersilent’s gathering storm/ocean-swell crescendoes. He played with a fluency and freedom that only served to amplify the emphatic precision with which he grooved Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures.
There was nothing about this show to suggest that Supersilent altered their established freewheeling improv aesthetic one iota to accommodate Jones; rather he fit the group dynamic as if he’d been a part of it all along. Before this tour he’d guested with the band at the 2010 Punkt and 2012 Moldejazz festivals. They should do the world a favour, and make the union permanent.
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