Supersilent is, in a sense, the flagship band of Rune Grammofon, and seems to embody the label’s manifesto. Supersilent was formed by the alliance of an existing improvisation group called Veslefrekk with ten years of playing history behind them. They played together for the first time, without any prior rehearsal, at the Bergen Jazz Festival in 1997 and immediately made headlines. The musical success of the experiment convinced the participants that this had to be a permanent group, and they went into the studio to play many hours of non-stop improvisation from which their debut triple album, “Supersilent 1-3”, was ultimately drawn. “1-3” was released in Norway in January 1998.
Supersilent (the name, by the way, derives from a logo on the side of a truck spotted in Oslo) was quick to build a reputation as one of Scandinavia’s most viscerally exciting concert acts. There is a dangerous unpredictability about their music, a sense that anything can happen. All parameters are open. From moment to moment, they can touch on elements of hardcore noise, imply industrial soundscapes, recall Miles at the Fillmore or Stockhausen in Donaueschingen, or play the most delicate and filigree ‘ambient’ sound-washes. There is a savage beauty in this music, with lyricism and disruptive fierceness counterbalancing each other. In brief, Supersilent stretches definitions of jazz to near breaking point, yet at the same time its members’ improvisational skills are finely honed, all four players and Sten/Deathprod must be considered a player, too, not just the wild card - know how to listen, how to react and interact. And if jazz can still be considered the ‘sound of surprise’ then Supersilent fulfils the description. Helge Sten, Ståle Storløkken, Arve Henriksen, and Jarle Vespestad still don’t rehearse or even discuss their music. They meet only to play concerts or to record.
In this group, Sten is credited with playing ‘audio virus’. He explains, “My instrumentation is made up of home-made electronics: old tape machines, ring modulators, filters, theremins, samplers and so on, and my usage of these devices is very unpredictable”. Supersilent records in Deathprod’s Audio Virus studio, packed with analog and digital hardware amassed originally for his electronica/ambient solo projects; the improvisers are not shy about experimenting with this technology but, as free music players, they insist on real-time applications only. Even in the studio, all the music is played live. Overdubs have no place in the band’s modus operandi.