Arve Henriksen – Cartography


Albums released near or in december tend to fall through the cracks of the end-of-year-list frenzy. They are not noticed in the year they are released and will not get through next year’s selection because they are released the year before.
Some of these albums deserve special attention to help them get noticed.
(Especially since a lot of music addicts strongly tend to focus on their peer-group’s lists which – in the end-  makes every one of them buy the same album collection..).

One of these titles is Arve Henriksen’s Cartography.
Trumpet player Arve Henriksen already gained some attention with precious albums on Rune Grammofon (Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro and Strjon) and as a member of Supersilent (operating on the other side of the musical spectre, where ‘silent’ isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind ).

His latest, Cartography, released on ECM, is an amazing collection of thoughtful sounds. His trumpet playing sounds like Jon Hassell, the overall musical sound sounds like that of Nils Petter Molvaer (who’s trumpet playing, in turn, sounds like Jon Hassell).

Some of the musicians on Cartography album also played with Nils Petter Molvaer: Jan Bang, Eivind Aarset, for example. But there’s a difference…
Molvaer tends to connect to the outskirts of dance music – whereas Henriksen has more of a japanese rooted ‘Zen’ feeling in his music (especially on earlier albums like Sakuteiki).

There’s an interesting contrast between the overall emotional feeling of this album and the almost uncompromising experimental details on it: the strange, out-of-place, cut up texts spoken by David Sylvian, the almost uncomfortable collage-like track ‘Ouija’, deconstructed Trio Mediaeval vocals on “Recording Angel”, nervous trumpet twittering on “Loved One”, the otherworldly soundtrack-feeling of the closing track “Sorrow and it’s Opposite”.
Details like this prevent Cartography from becoming ‘easy listening’, without becoming too uncomfortable by the way. It’s not predominantly ‘experimental’, it’s more ‘associative’. And exactly thát is what makes this album as great as it is.

Cartography is a fascinating album that grows with every listen.  It should be in many people’s “Best of 2009” list!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *