Unless you're a fan of the somewhat obtuse, a new release from Supersilent isn't going to be something that the average listener really gets into on the first listen. The long-running improvisational group create music that is, quite simply, difficult. I don't say that as if it's an entirely bad thing, of course, as the quartet is capable of some devastatingly beautiful and destructive stuff, often within the same song. My favorite work of theirs is still the placid and unnerving 6, with the often-devastating concert film 7 not too far behind that. Recorded during a five-day studio session, 8 is another bewildering release from the group, as it leaves smashed genre boundaries and shaking heads in its wake.
In some ways, the release is sort of like a dip into just about everything that the group has done to date, with a couple curve-balls thrown in for good measure. It's also an album of extremes, and that becomes pretty apparent early on as "8.1" shifts from some analogue warbles into a gradually more intense and heavy piece that seems to gradually suck oxygen out of an enclosed room as it collapses on itself with thick, overdriven synths piling on top of one another. On cue, "8.2" lightens things a bit, with soft cymbal rolls and meandering synth melodies that fade to almost complete silence at times. "8.3" again amps things up with pummeling drum hits and low-growls of synths before "8.4" gets really placid, skimming by with a barely-there horn and synth piece as soft drum hits provide signposts.
"8.5" picks up right where the aforementioned 7 left off, as Henriksen opens the track with gated, babbling words that melt into a creepy jazz motif before morphing into a downright pretty finale. In terms of overall progressions, it's easily one of the most successful tracks on the entire release, and even without any real explosive moments shows off the real range and subtlety of the group and their dynamics.
Those hoping for one more solid kick in the head get it with "8.7," and the quartet unloads with double-barrels for just over nine minutes on the thunderous track, which finds crushingly-dense synth layers pouring around blistering drums, filtered vocals, and electronic feedback squalls. It's one of the most chaotic pieces of music I've heard in the past couple years, and yet it's absolutely hypnotic at times as well.
If you've heard Supersilent before and know what you're getting into, you're probably not going to go wrong here. 8 is certainly more challenging than 6, and it finds them breaking through into new sounds touched on with 7 without hitting the mark at every point. Given the nature of their work, it would be nearly impossible for the group to not have moments where it sounds like they're repeating themselves, though, and there are several spots on this newest album where it feels like that is the case (and part of that might simply have to do with the unique sounds that Ståle Storløkken coaxes out of his keyboards, but also has a tendency to use time and time again). It's still one of those releases that's essential for fans of the group, but those looking for a place to dive into their discography (which now stretches well over ten hours in time) might want to start with something else.