After its eighth record, Supersilent, the Norwegian avant-garde quartet known for including solo artists Arve Hendriksen and Helge “Deathprod” Sten, suffered the loss of drummer Jarle Vespestad for undisclosed reasons. That’s bad news for any group that’s done improvisational work — and so well — as a single unit for more than a decade. But rather than running home crying to their mommas, or forsaking music to become human paintbrushes, or whatever, they turned lemons into lemonade and gave it a go as a trio.
The three remaining members swapped their usual instruments — a cornucopia of horns, guitars, electronics, and miscellany — for one single Hammond organ per head. Unfortunately, what was poised as a band reinvention is more like 50 minutes of nodding off. Recalling a noncommittal Kevin Drumm on no sleep, the new Supersilent screeches and growls their way through four marathon tracks, but they do so in a hushed tone that makes no sense. 9 is whisper quiet from front to back; the volume knob is humorously ineffective, but without cranking up the music, it veers too close to being nothing. It’s hard to tell whether the musicians are working together or are just playing their Hammonds at the same time, a pressing concern when the chords are so drawn out and the frame is so formless. Supersilent have since picked their way back up to a more integrative form of music-making, adding acoustic pianos and electronic programming on their follow-up, 10. If this were a basketball game, where team members play off of each other to give a good performance, listening to 9 would be like watching the players brick during the warm-up.