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Arve Henriksen - The Nature of Connections [Runegrammofon - 2014]

Norweigen trumpet player Arve Henriksen, who has played with Supersilent, among others, has released countless albums both solo and collaborative since the year 2000.  "The Nature of Connections" is but 1 of 5 releases in 2014.

What we have here is earthy, delicate chamber music, with enough space that the inflection each note is audible.  Gentle rhythms are created largely by plucked strings alone; there is only very subtle percussion on the album.  Each piece is strongly tuneful, stating its melodic subject with luminiscent, perfectly measured tones.  The circular scalar refrains have roots in folk both European and American.  The note choices reflect a love of the classic Brahms and Schubert, as well as more experimental/atonal 20th century influences.  If you enjoy heady chord progressions with enough intricate voice leading to create a complex emotion that couldn't easily be called 'happy' or 'sad', this album is for you. 

Though jazz informed, the carefully composed, emotionally reserved style of this music leads me to place it in the realm of classical/soundtrack music.  Henriksen goes with traditional classical chamber music instrumentation, although the group is larger in size than would be typical, with 7 musicians appearing on the album.  Sweet, sensitive strings of all registers take the prominent melodic role most of the time.  Though credited as bandleader, Henriksen rarely takes a central role, blending seamlessly with the other musician's harmonized choral tones. 

The smoothness of his pitches is almost glowing.  Henriksen's playing in "Aceh" is enough to make one weep, bearing not a trace of cynicism or distance that would separate him from the powerful, raw feeling he is capturing.  It helps that the album is produced perfectly, with an immediacy like the instruments are being played right next to the listener's ears, and a perfect ear pleasing softness to the surrounding reverberant space.

The measured patience and thoughtful lucidity of this music is utterly at odds with the time managed world that surrounds me.  In the sound, there is no excess; each piece contributes logically to the overall meaning.  Lucky are those with the stillness, solitude and presence of mind to construct these sounds.

At 42 minutes, this album is an easily and pleasantly repeatable experience.  Anyone with a taste for quieter, understated music should appreciate the multifaceted beauty of this album, particularly those immersed in folk, classical chamber music and soundtrack music.  It's a wonderfully candid and openly emotive alternative to the surreal mirror maze that is Supersilent's music.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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