Supersilent

5

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1-3 is raw, manic, and excellent, but a bit imposing as a three-CD set. 4 is good, but slightly under average since it captures Supersilent in transition from the group's feverish beginnings to its slightly more laid-back sound of later years. And then you have 5, full of consistently exciting free improvisation, perfectly balanced between acoustic and electronic, rock and jazz, loud and quiet. This one is definitely the place to start exploring the seductive music of the Norwegian quartet -- because after you get hooked, you can still look up to the exquisite 6. Released in 2001, it was put together from four different performances recorded in 1999 and 2000. There is a gap between 1998's 4 and this album, a gap the group members spent honing their listening skills. Arve Henriksen's trumpet, already fractured in the previous albums, becomes downright ambient and haunting -- the almost obligatory reference to Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis must be updated with serious acknowledgments to Bill Dixon. The drums also adopt a quieter attitude, exploring background textures and taking tortuous, covered paths to impose a groove without anyone noticing. "5.4," by far the softest track on this CD, also provides its highlight. Its measured pace and use of space are exemplary. But 5 is not all droning and floating. In "5.1" and "5.3," the group engages in galvanizing passages that come close to matching the disordered intensity of some of the material on 1-3. This group has yet to release an unconvincing album.

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