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The components of sound that make-up Arve Henriksen's Cartography, the trumpeter's debut as a leader on ECM, reads like a hyper-processed, low-nutrition, junk food for the ear brew: samples, treatments, synthesizer, dictaphone, programming, beats, voice samples. It is a stew of musical inputs, a layering of sounds that mixes ambient and electronica with snippets of soaring vocal segments and a dash of spoken word into a reverberant, in-the-cathedral solemnity, with Henriksen's gentle-breeze of a sound, his often voice-like trumpet in the forefront.
Putting aside the ensemble aspect of the recording for a moment, the leader's blowing is soft, full of inward ruminations, something in the mode of Miles Davis on the opening notes of "Basin Street Blues," from Seven Steps to Heaven (Columbia, 1963). Combine that dynamic with a sometimes ringingly reedy, flute-like approach.
The set has a very mapped-out feeling to it, not unlike Miles Davis' Aura (Columbia, 1985), or Bill Frisell's Floratone (Blue Note, 2007), but with a more mystical, pastoral feelingan exploration of tranquility and cool beauty.
The disc opens with "Poverty and Its Opposite," on a soft electric warble soon joined by Henriksen's talking trumpet, in a sweet synthetic/organic blending that rattles and swells to an orchestral level. "Before and Afterlife" breaths to life on a series of piper-in-the-forest notes that opens up to the first of two of spoken word segments by David Sylvian. "Migration" features cajon-like beats knocking in an airy wash behind Henriksen's serene trumpeteach breathy, sinewy note chosen carefully and well.
Cartography is a collage of musical pieces, masterfully assembled, a mellifluous blending of disparate sounds that pushes the junk food ingredient comparison out of the listening room. A beautifully tranquil, soul-nourishing experience.
Track Listing: Poverty and Its Opposite; Before and Afterlife; Migration; From Birth; Ouija; Recording Angel; Assembly; Loved One; The Unremarkable Child; Famine's Ghost; Thermal; Sorrow and Its Opposite.
Personnel: Arve Henriksen: trumpets, voice (1, 6), field recording (1); Jan Bang: live sampling (1, 5, 10), samples (2, 3, 6, 8-12), beats (2, 3, 7), programming (2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12), bass line (6), dictaphone (6, 8), arrangement (11, 12); Audun Kleive: percussion (1, 11), drums (10), organ samples (7); David Sylvian: voice (2, 11), samples (2), programming (2); Helge Sunde: string arrangements (2), programming (2); Eivind Aarset: guitars (3, 11); Lars Danielsson: double-bass (3); Erik Honore: synthesizer (3-5, 7, 10), samples (3), field recording (4, 7), choir samples (7); Arnaud Mercier: treatments (4)l Trio Mediaeval: voice sample (6); Verene Andronikof: vocals (6); Vytas Sondeckis: vocal arrangement (6), vocal performance (6); Anna Maria Friman: voice (10); Stale Storlokken: synthesizer (10), samples (10).ement; Anna Maria Friman: voice; Stale Storiokken: synthesizer, samples.