Somnambule - Writing About Music

Supersilent ~ 7 (DVD)

Supersilent are a mysterious, qppqrently tight-knit quartet. The last time they played in the UK, they sat facing inward, like a hermetic sect whose music only accidentally escaped to the audience past their hunched figures. The group’s music is a product of unrehearsed performance, an extemporising that succeeds in avoiding the well worn ruts of so many other stabs at musical freedom. Their name was plucked from the side of a passing lorry and they’ve shunned visual embellishment, choosing only to allocate a number, a single plain colour and bare typography to each release. In the eight years since the triple CD debut that also served as inauguration of their label, Rune Grammofon, Supersilent have produced music of brooding magnificence which has at times been genuinely frightening in its austere grandeur.

Surrender or flight seem the only genuine responses to Supersilent’s onslaught. So too with Kim Hiorthoy’s visual direction which employs a number of techniques to convey the power of the group. As well as being a recording artist in his own right, Hiorthoy is Rune Grammofon’s designer and here for the first time takes up the role of director. He and his cameramen perfectly capture the wonder and strangeness of the group’s specially convened performance. The DVD lacks a menu or any of the annoying extras that might otherwise detract from the power of the recording. There isn’t even a menu, instead the disc plays immediately upon insertion. The 108 minute concert is recorded entirely in black and white, the group seated in semi-darkness, the lighting calculated perfectly to highlight the drama of their performance. The six pieces of music captured here navigate a spectrum from an intense mainlining of primal urges to a delicately hushed lyricism. Such is the power of Supersilent 7 that it’s difficult to imagine anybody not being both moved and changed by it.

Colin Buttimer
October 2005
Published by Jazzwise magazine