Friday, March 16, 2007

ARVE HENRIKSEN: Strjon (Rune Grammofon)

ARVE HENRIKSEN
Strjon
RCD2061
Rune Grammofon 2007
12 Tracks. 47mins08secs




Buy it: CD
Arve Henriksen | Rune Grammofon

With fingers in more pies than humanely imaginable, it is a wonder how Norwegian trumpeter extraordinaire Arve Henriksen actually finds the time to work on his own music. An active member of formations as diverse as avant-garde improv super group Supersilent, Iain Bellamy’s Food, Audun Kleive’s Generator X and the Christian Wallumrød and Trygue Seim Ensembles to name but a few, Henriksen is one of the most adaptable and gifted musicians of his generation. His first solo album, Sakuteiki, released on Rune Grammofon at the end of 2001, introduced his sparse and beautiful soundscapes, while its follow up, Chiaroscuro (2004) vastly extended his sonic range. .

Recorded with fellow Supersilent members Ståle Storløkken (Keyboards) and Helge Sten (electronics), with the latter also producing, Strjon, the medieval name for Henriksen’s home town of Stryn, is once again a departure from previous recordings. While echoes of Sakuteiki and Chiaroscuro resonate throughout the album, the scope of this third solo effort is much more open and vast than that of its predecessors.

While the compositions remain largely focussed on Henriksen’s unique sound, Stroløkken and Sten often force Strjon out of its lingering semi-torpor and into the harsh blare of electric lights to reveal much more angular and abrupt tonalities. The album opens on traditional Henriksen territory with Evocation, but the abrasive textures of Black Mountain set Strjon on a different course as Sten wraps a recurring trumpet theme in coarse noises and processed electric guitars. Ascent is quieter, but darks shadows lurk in the distance, entangled in brushed rhythmic patterns, evoking in part a malfunctioning clockwork mechanism or a hypnotic tribal call.

On Green Water, Henriksen first applies gentle touches against a cluster of percussive noises, but as the background layers become more vivid, so is the increasingly deconstructed main melody. Set against the ominous and dense textural cloud of the title track, the wonderfully airy and light Glacier Descent, with its cascading layers of vocals ranging from deep guttural hums to mystical incantations, appears incredibly sharp and poignant.

Henriksen relentlessly drifts from conventional musical forms (the radiant harmonies of Alpine Pyramid and the delicate brushes of In The Light are amongst of the finest moments on this album) to uncharted experimentation (Black Mountain, Green Water, Wind And Blow). In turn raucous, croaky, vibrant or ethereal, Henriksen carves distinctive shades and tones out of his trumpet which Sten then places into context. Yet, unlike on Sakuteiki and Chiaroscuro, where Sten remained largely in the background, his electronic textures, combined with Stroløkken’s keyboard work give this album a much earthier feel.

At its most peaceful and reflective, Stjron is as spiritual and voluptuous as its predecessors, but when subjected to harsher soundscapes and processes, it becomes a haunting collection of dense organic atmospheres. Here, Henriksen continues to develop his distinctive lexical and challenge his work to deliver his most uncompromising record to date.

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