Towards Language

Towards Language

by Arve Henriksen


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Towards Language is the second album released by trumpeter/composer Arve Henriksen in 2017. The first, Rímur, was a collaborative experimental effort with Trio Mediæval on ECM. While Henriksen has become a familiar presence on that label, Rune Grammofon is the home of eight of his nine solo albums. Here he reteams with longtime sonic collaborators Erik Honoré and Jan Bang --who assisted on his albums Chiaroscuro (2004), Cartography (2008), and Places of Worship (2013) -- and guitarist/sonic architect Eivind Aarset. (The latter two also played with him on Tigran Hamsayan's Atmosphères.) Henriksen's solo approach has always been deliberately slow; because of his loose embouchure, each note is the result of intense concentration and emotional openness bordering on fragility. He is unrelenting when it comes to expanding the tonal and textural palettes of his horn. "Patient Zero," at just over two minutes, is a haunting, elegiac melody above Aarset's seamless chord articulations. "Groundswell" emerges even more haltingly before strummed electric guitar, dirgelike handclaps, and a synth bassline and drone offer a delicious, warm rhythmic backdrop to seduce the listener. When he solos, Henriksen pushes directly at the rhythm section members; his bamboo flute-inspired phrasing increases in force intuitively to give them a broader surface as they all increase the volume and tension. He winds through and around them, using his voice through the horn to moan and cry, without losing the sense of restraint. As a result, it's more exotic than anything on Jon Hassell's pioneering Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics. These proceedings are more holistic and expressionistic, as evidenced by both the title track and "Demarcation Line," as kalimbas and electronic squelches slip in and out and Henriksen's horn takes in more air, surrounding his improvisation with the force of a kazoo. When he bleats toward the end of the latter tune, the emotional impact is devastatingly beautiful. With its circular sample of a church organ, "Hibernal" emerges as a hymn, but Henriksen's approach offers just a hint of blues layered under his high register, before the sampled sounds of a ship's bell and subaquatic terrain emerge and synth waves wash over it all. The set-defining "Vivication" commences with an unadorned mouthpiece-less line before Aarset enters to add dimension. Elementals like reverb, digitally delayed synths, bass pedals, and kalimbas all enter slowly until the entire ensemble engages in dark swirls of tonal colors that border on the fully harmonic. The closing "Paridae," with Anna Maria Friman of Trio Mediæval, offers another human dimension. It is from a Kven theme that pays a tender and moving homage to the roots of Henriksen's family in the north of Norway. Throughout Towards Language, the emergent notion of "slow jazz" -- music that unfolds deliberately in a communal context rather than the accepted soloist and accompaniment formula -- is almost defined. Its individual utterances are elementary building blocks that collectively move toward an artfully realized goal of musical speech. It achieves its power from the sum total of its sounds and atmospheres. Magnificent.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/16/2017
Label: Rune Grammofon
UPC: 7033662021925
catalogNumber: 2192
Rank: 140623

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