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(Rune Grammofon; US: 10 Nov 2010; UK: 25 Oct 2010)

It’s perhaps obvious, from the title that this is the tenth release from the always unpredictable Supersilent, a Norweigian collective of musicians whose music is completely improvised, never rehearsed, never repeated, and can only be described as experimental, ambient, free-jazz electronica. As a fan for years, I find 10 to be Supersilent’s most somber, dare I say relaxing, album, simply floating by like a light breeze, nearly reminiscent of something an acupuncturist or legitimate masseur would play in the background to calm you down. In fact, it really is background music, and I’ve found it absolutely perfect for reading.

10 starts and ends on bad notes, but there is much excellence in between. “10.2” for instance is simply an atonal drone with rhythmic pseudo CD skips, and is impressive for the level of atmosphere that exists in something so sparse. On “10.3”, Supersilent shows its jazz colors, and it plays like a John Cage composition trapped in Sun Ra’s “Heliocentric Worlds”. “10.4” is a brief, unsettling interlude, where so much is said with so little. “10.6” has a Peruvian touch with what sounds like a pan flute—or something of that ilk—over moody piano melodies, not unlike Sigur Ros. “10.7” struck me as Albert Ayler stuck in a horror movie soundtrack for 90 seconds, but the real star of the show is “10.9”, with its ever-present, evolving drone, flecked with white noise, as if Christian Fennesz smoked some pot and spent a few hours listening to early Tangerine Dream.

This is by no means Supersilent’s best album (I’d have to nominate 6 for that), but considering the band is wholly improvisational and doesn’t even discuss the music before performing or recording, it accomplishes an admirable feat, in that it sounds professionally written and pre-arranged.


Stephen Rowland has been founding and contributing to numerous underground film and music publications for the last 12 years. In addition to critiquing images and sounds, he makes no money as a regional historian and preservationist, co-authoring "Postcard History Series: Alameda" and "Images of America: Alameda," available from Arcadia Publishing.

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