Cover art by Rob Musters & Peter Verbruggen
ORT005 : Arve Henriksen - Teun Verbruggen / Black Swan
This release sees the return of magical Norvegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen ( bio, ORT002, ORT003 ) this time playing and singing over prepared drums and electronics by Teun Verbruggen ( bio ). It's a beauty like always with Monsieur Arve. It was mixed by Eric Honoré and mastered by Helge Sten.
To some, this might seem like an unlikely collaboration. Throughout much of his recent career, whether solo or as a member of Supersilent, Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen has explored expansive, deeply atmospheric territory. He has recorded not only for Rune Grammofon, but also for ECM, and his austere, breathy tone inspired by the Japanese shakuhachi is entirely in keeping with the latter label's Scandinavian cool, even when Henriksen is displaying his abstractly explorative side. Belgian drummer Teun Verbruggen would seem to embrace experimentalism of a somewhat different stripe, seated on the drum stool for Peter Vermeersch's oddball big band Flat Earth Society for a decade, collaborating with creative jazz pianists, and recently firing up noisy jazztronica improvs with his groups Othin Spake and the Bureau of Atomic Tourism, documented on his Rat Records label. But here they are on the 2012-2013 Rat album Black Swan, although not exactly together, since Verbruggen recorded drums and electronics in Belgium during September 2010 and sent digital files to Henriksen, who added trumpets, vocals, Hardanger fiddle, keyboards, snare drum, samples, and treatments from his home in Norway during February 2011. Knowing the back-story behind the creation of these 11 sonic vignettes makes the results that much more impressive, particularly in how Henriksen found evocative ways to build upon Verbruggen's foundation of abstract, even arrhythmic percussive and electronic sounds (although the listener sometimes can't discern with absolute confidence which musician produced which sounds on the album).
In fact, "Fridge Detective B." sounds primarily like a Henriksen creation, a calming, drifting foray with subtle overlapping rhythmic pulses and sequenced tones, random plucks and droplets, falsetto vocals, and trumpet harmonies stretching out luxuriously — the percussives seem muted and drowned. Henriksen fans should delight in it. With its own ghostly atmospheres, "Sweet Marrowbone" is a fine trumpet showcase, with lingering windy and cavernous drones, Verbruggen's cymbal washes, and sequenced repetitions providing subtle seasoning for Henriksen's entry, retreat, and reentry, which give the track a semblance of structure. The one-two punch of the title track and "Bryggen" are at the other end of the spectrum: the former with squelchy deep throbs and a sustained, multi-layered electro-acoustic percussive attack; the latter continuing with more treated percussives, repetitive clicks and pops, electro bursts and throbs, gated noise, and undefinable implements escalating into a mechanistic cacophony. Somewhere between the extremes of these tracks lie "Boxgrove Home Page," in which Henriksen's exploration of Middle Eastern phrasing ascends into near abrasion against Verbruggen's stop-start pound and clatter, and "Baby Flock N," in which Henriksen explores a deeper yet similar mode against a more flowing, rolling backdrop of percussion, electronics, and tones. Almost a straight-up drums and trumpet improv over empty space, "Orange" is a nice palate-cleanser, although it is a mere precursor to the concluding "Mystery," in which Verbruggen's crisp punctuations make room for Henriksen's trumpet to enter beautifully against a distant chordal sweep, encapsulating all that the simple one-word title could possibly evoke.
Already relesed on Rat Records as RAT017 HERE.
Original digital Release on Off on the 20th of December 2013, now in Bandcamp.
1. AHOB 1
2. Fridge Detective B.
3. Site Q1/B
4. Boxgrove Home Page
5. Fresh Air Inspector
6. Black Swan (for Allowin)
8. Sweet Marrowbone
9. Babyflock N.