THE FILM Here are the men behind the curtain of Nordic experimental sonic mystery and mono-design CD cover art that is Supersilent. And thanks in part to gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and deep, lush sound, little of the overall mystery is lost. Trumpeter Arve Henriksen, keyboardist Stale Storløkken, tapes/electronics guru Helge Sten (aka Deathprod), and drummer Jarle Vespestad have spent much of the past eight years plumbing the still largely uncharted musical terrain between the realms of jazz and electronic music, their explorations spanning aggressive sonic squall and delicate tenebrous musings. After six numbered CDs of choice excerpts from their live and studio improvisations, Supersilent 7 presents a 2004 Oslo concert in its entirety. Much of what happens will sound familiar to fans, though watching it happen creates a complicated frisson: At points, Henriksen squeezes fetal cries from his muted instrument or sings wordless falsetto into its mouthpiece as his comrades conjure climatic rumbles and moans in the dark behind him; elsewhere, Vespestad summons octopus drum thunder as Storløkken and Sten lock into high-velocity Autechre-esque crunch-and-blip duels, the latter dripping sweat onto the electronics clustered around his knees amid the flashing lights. Unlike so many experimental acts, Supersilent isn’t afraid to be pretty, or sweeping, or vulnerable, yet the musicians don’t get lost in mere gestures; though the entire 109-minute performance is improvised, the players take up a few of the epic themes from most recent disc 6. Henriksen’s vocal improvisations sometimes sound stuck in a handful of modes, but the quartet moves easily from indescribable mood to indescribable mood; the filmmaker(s)—no director is credited—even manage to add to the power of the concert’s more intense moments by, say, making the movie look like it’s jumping in the gate. While no replacement for Supersilent’s previous recordings, 7 proves the group’s sui generis power is no mere illusion.
THE DISC As the movie is designed to play like an album, there are no extras, not even a menu. It starts and it stops, and it looks and sounds great in between.