Places of Worship signals trumpeter and composer Arve Henriksen's return to Rune Grammophon and furthers his collaboration with both Jan Bang and Erik Honoré. Here his experimentations with sound, space, and texture offer listening environments that reflect various sacred spaces the world over, hence its title. While these tracks are impossible to separate from the influences of Jon Hassell's Fourth World Music explorations or the more murky moodscapes of Nils Petter Molvær, they are also more than a few steps removed from them. Henriksen never separates himself from the environmental information provided by his natural Nordic landscape. The lush, wild, and open physical vistas of its geography provide an inner map for the trumpeter and vocalist that amounts to a deeply focused series of tone poems. The sonic backdrop in "Adhan" transforms his trumpet's role to that of a cantor or muzzein, calling others to prayer though he cannot see those whom his call might reach. The crisscrossing rhythmic palette in "Saraswati" is equal parts North Indian and Northern European. His wordless vocal, which hovers atop the loops, samples, strings, and droning double bass, is eclipsed only by his horn as it creates a mantra-like quality. On "Lament," Honoré's backdrop samples frame the trumpeter's falsetto singing voice in a hymn that evokes early orthodox Christianity and Norway's Sami ritual prayers. Guitarist Eivind Aarset, pianist Jon Balke, and percussionist Ingar Zach join the trio on "Alhambra," the only track recorded away from the Punkt studio and improvised live. Though there are more players in the mix, it is less subsumed in ambient effects, and equates the music of North Africa with that of the Sephardim and a poignant flamenco. "Abandoned Cathedral" is the sound of an "interior" emptiness," as a layered trumpet, unidentifiable sampled sounds, and Henriksen's falsetto reflect the ghosts of previous inhabitants. The set closes with the Honoré -penned "Shelter from the Storm," which features his own lead vocal and piano as well as the leader's horn. It is the only departure from the tone poem structure of Places of Worship; it amounts to a sung prayer that recalls the later songs of Bill Fay. This album is less murky and dark than much of Henriksen's work either with Supersilent or solo. Despite its authoritative command of the languages it speaks, it carefully hews a meditative space for the listener at heart level inside the music; it is both inviting and enveloping.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek