Supersilent - 12 [Rune Grammofon - 2014]Supersilent's "12" is something of a throwback to the days of early Tangerine Dream, in which ambient music still felt dangerous, fresh and alien. It's not unlike the industrial precursor LP "Biomechanoid" by Joël Van Droogenbroeck, sketching an unwelcoming dim landscape with the unruly neon soundshapes emanated from analog synthesizers.
In modern terms it is a work of "dark ambient", but has the vivid analog forwardness that one finds in the best of old industrial music. The audio fidelity is not at all dissimilar to the "Horology" box set of early Clock DVA material, surely some of the best of late 70's psychedelic noise improvisation, alongside Throbbing Gristle's sporadic moments of meandering brilliance and SPK's horrifyingly precise imagery bombardment.
With its ghoulish microtonal choirs, this music also perhaps takes cues from the darkly surreal worlds of John Zorn and Mike Patton, in particular "Absinthe" and "Delirium Cordia". Surrealism is of course an older tradition than this, of course, and perhaps they pay respect to the same ancient pagan energy as did Zorn with "Grand Guignol", and composers like Ligotti or Berg before him.
The sly intrusion of trumpet in "Plastic Gnome" is like a moment of first suspicion. It's a great example of the band's ability to find exactly the tone required for their desired sound picture, with the synthesizer in particular taking many forms to fit the occasion. This combined with an underlying melodic coherency make for a powerful atmosphere of tension.
In conclusion, I love this album with a passion. It could pass easily as the soundtrack to a vintage TV sci-fi like Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. These sound textures have hardly lost their mysterious resonance. "12" is an entry into a niche that was never big enough; who could say no to such charmingly dated futurism?Josh Landry