No-one does introspective soul-searching quite like the Scandinavians. Isolated geographically, they form a willing island of the mind wherein every dark corner is probed. This manifests itself in their art, literature, (fabulous) TV, and of course, in their music. One only requires a modicum of intelligence to recognise that even Abba were singing about far more than “boy meets/breaks up with girl” in their paens to selfism. Ruining my argument somewhat is that odd byway death metal, but as I know less than nothing about it I will conveniently ignore it!
One such purveyor of innate inner wisdom is Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, best known for his long-running avant-minimalist band Supersilent, a name some of you may recognise because of their recent collaboration with John Paul Jones, always the most forward thinking of Tribe Zep. Now, some five years after the last album in his own name, we find the highly regarded brass blower has moved from ECM to Rune Grammofon, both labels of exacting high standards.
Places of Worship is a reflection on the space between the spiritual and the physical, centred around religious buildings and ruins. We are immediately enticed into this respectful and reflective state by Adhān, a muezzin’s call to prayer, quietly, beneath a breathily waking trumpet and cleansing waves of ambience.
The poetic nature of the record is encapsulated by Arve’s interpretation of French poet Paul Valéry’s Le Cimitère Marin, sounding for all the world like Miles at his most poignant.
The sympathetic and tasteful supporting musicians include Jan Bang with his samples and programming and Erik Honoré, who contributes samples, synth bass, synthesiser, and vocals on his own Shelter From The Storm. These two appear on all the tracks, sometimes together, and both get co-writing credits, mostly together, on all the tracks.
Arve’s evocative trumpet playing, helped along by the equally revelatory soundscapes that support it, takes us through all manner of emotions while remaining contemplative. These meditations are never hidebound by religious dogma, simply deeply spiritual musings that serve to shine light onto the big metaphysical questions. This emotional pull is felt on all the tracks, one example being Lament, wherein Arve lends his falsetto voice to the proceedings backed only by elongated sample chords eventually swapping for a distant and yearning trumpet solo. Heartstrings are tugged.
The basic tracks of Alhambra were recorded at Jakobskirken in Oslo, a former church used regularly by musicians of all types for recording and performing. This time the basic trumpet/electronica line up is augmented by guitars, piano and percussion. The deft and subtle musical backdrop is used by Arve to paint a mood piece that again yearns for the slightly out of reach.
The album closes with Erik Honoré’s Shelter From The Storm, a tune with a more conventional melody, and Erik’s slightly weary vocal fits in perfectly.
Places Of Worship is an impressionistic and meditative ambient-jazz album that is perfect to chill out to after a long day dealing with the never ending pressures of modern living, and it is an aid to reflective thinking. It has been a pleasure reviewing this finely crafted album.
01. Adhān (3:20)
02. Saraswati (4:28)
03. Le Cimitère Marin (4:28)
04. The Sacristan (3:11)
05. Lament (3:54)
06. Portal (4:10)
07. Alhambra (5:04)
08. Bayon (3:42)
09. Abandoned Cathedral (4:15
10. Shelter From The Storm (3:33)
Total Time – 40:10
Arve Henriksen – Trumpets, Field Recording & Voice
Jan Bang – Samples, Programming & Live Sampling
Erik Honoré – Samples, Synth bass, Synthesiser, Drum Programming, Live Sampling & Vocal
“Stahlquartett” – Jan Heinke, Alexander Füller, Michael Antoni, Peter Andreas
Lars Danielsson – Double Bass
Eivind Aarset – Guitars
Jon Balke – Piano
Ingar Zach – Percussion
Record Label: Rune Grammofon
Catalogue#: RCD 2147
Year Of Release: 2013
Arve Henriksen – Website