Silence Trio

Series 1
ILK 271 CD

Rather like the popular perception of Scandinavia and Scandinavians, this disc of nine improvisations by the Silence Trio initially appears frosty and intractable, but soon is revealed to be pulsating with subtle warmth. In its preoccupation with silence, chance and degrees of unification, it’s a contemporary Nordic cousin of ensembles such as the Jimmy Giuffre3 and AMM. Furthermore some of the near-static sequences confirm that details of the journey are as crucial as the destination.

With trio contributions as carefully balanced as the sides of a triangle, Danish pianist Jakob Davidsen is first among equals since he conceived the session as part of a trilogy, with future disc recorded with different partners. Improving on the simpatico interaction may be hard though, since his associates here are Paris-based, Danish-born guitarist Hasse Poulsen and Norwegian-born, Copenhagen resident Torben Snekkestad who plays soprano and tenor saxophone, clarinet and reed trumpet. Poulsen, who follows both a populist and an experimental path, doesn’t stray from the latter here. The wave form undulations and crackling static ambiance that accents many of the tracks can be traced back to guitar permutations.

“Bliss”, despite is soporific ECM-sounding title, for instance matches folksy guitar strums with reed spetrofluctuation plus brief piano patterns. By the finale, as the exposition turns tremolo, echoing timbres melt into one another. More warmth is generated by the trio on “Calm” where Snekkestad’s cold Giuffre-like reed elaboration is heated by Davidsen’s repeated cadenzas and finally wrapped blanket-like in emphasized string picking and comprehensive downward keyboard glissandi. In contrast a track such as “Det Swedenborgske rum, erftermiddag”, which is like a specimen suspended in amber. Here bright piano lines are as prominent as sweetened soprano saxophone sighs. Meanwhile the calmness alluded to on another track is more obvious on “Now”, where straight-line phrasing from the reedist glances off darkened piano chords to resolvee the narrative suggested by airy tones and electronic buzzing from Poulsen, a concpt he subsequently energizes with distanced knife-sharp, licks.

Eight preceding tracks serve as a preamble to “Absolute Silence” – which is anything but – the nearly 11½-minute final piece. Balancing on an ostinato of pinched buzzing telephone-wire-like electronic impulses and keyboard sweeps, it accedes to a unique duet between Snekkestad’s needle-thin exposition and single guitar plinks. With an occasional interjection of singular piano notes the piece finally climaxes with the buzzing, emphasized theme that is subsequently recapped until the end.

It’s wise that Davidsen plans Silence Trio Series 2 and Silence Trio Series 3 with completely distinct configurations. It may be heard to top this session with the same trio.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Enter 2. Deeper 3. Calm 4. Now 5. DetSwedenborgske rum, formiddag 6. Bliss 7. Over 8. Det Swedenborgske rum, erftermiddag 9. Absolute Silence

Personnel: Torben Snekkestad (soprano and tenor saxophone, clarinet and reed trumpet); Jakob Davidsen (piano) and Hasse Poulsen (guitar