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Cartography

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Album Review

Trumpeter Arve Henriksen's brand of contemporary improvised music could easily be compared to ECM labelmates Jon Hassell and Nils Petter Molvær. Yet there are certain distinctions that separate the voodoo economic vistas of Hassell and the film noir style of Molvær from the spacious, more organic sound that Henriksen has created on this recording, as the title suggests. Using the slightest of note clusters or phrases, Henriksen also surrounds himself with a certain yin-yang concept, where 180-degree polar opposites congeal without clashing. The titles of these tracks suggests such a maelstrom and symmetry within ideas that in real life have nothing to do with each other. It is to the trumpeter's credit that he has the grand foresight to take these disparate themes into a music whose homogeneity and beauty are heard clearly without any foggy scenarios or cryptic meanings. Each track (some were recorded in concert at the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand) features a differently configured group of musicians, all with Henriksen in tandem with programmer Jan Bang, who also is a collaborator with Hassell (see his 2009 ECM release Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street). "Poverty and Its Opposite" and "Sorrow and Its Opposite" bookend the CD with small loops, a serene framework, a somewhat nautical presence, and the trumpeter's spare inserts. David Sylvian recites poetry during the overdubbed, layered, space music-infused "Before and Afterlife" and the more romantic, sex in the morning-inspired "Thermal." More sensuality appears during "Migration" as legendary ECM bassist Lars Danielsson makes an appearance, bolstering the backdrop while Henriksen muses away à la Hassell. Where "From Birth" is wafting and "Ouija" is drifting, nothing is lost or dissipated as a flutelike sound is extracted from brass or steamy loops, respectively. There are two duets back to back from Henriksen and Bang, as Arabic samples and a dictaphone are employed during "Loved One," while a classical motif of echoed repose is employed on the somber "The Unremarkable Child." While mood shifts are slight and flow from track to track, they do mark a discernible development that is smartly programmed, as with most ECM efforts. Early-period vocal mavens will find the medieval fragments written by William Brooks in "Famine's Ghost" and the reverent, delicate samples borrowed from Trio Mediæval with live singing on "Recording Angel" to be quite captivating. Cartography is a wonderfully realized, musically mapped study of land, sea, and sky through the ears of a very literate, wise, and wide-eyed sonic landscaper who understands the beauty, subtleties, nooks, and crannies of both ancient and modern musical values. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 22 March 1968 in Stranda, Norway

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Arve Henriksen is a classically trained musician whose ethereal, Japanese-influenced trumpet playing has placed him in a league of his own. He was born in Stranda, Norway, and educated at the Trondheim Conservatory. It was during his time at the conservatory that a friend gave him a tape recording of the shakuhachi flute. Henriksen was hooked. "I let the music 'ring' and develop in my head," he said. "I was astonished by the sound...
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Cartography, Arve Henriksen
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