Arve Henriksen has produced extraordinary work over the years. The Norwegian trumpeter first came to prominence as a member of Supersilent, and then broadened his audience via well-played collaborations with David Sylvian, Imogen Heap and others. Along the way, he's proven a consistent source of imaginative, richly nuanced solo recordings.
New album Towards Language — the ninth to come out under his name — features longtime colleagues Jan Bang and Erik Honoré, while Eivind Aarset adds guitar. There are few surprises here, but that's a good thing; Henriksen's trademark muted and treated trumpet is firmly in the spotlight on all nine tracks, meaning those who've come to admire his techniques will find much to love about this latest effort.
The artistic debt that Henriksen owes the great Jon Hassell is well established. There is a clear connection between their work, and yet, as this album illustrates, Henriksen's work has plenty of unique qualities if you're prepared to listen closely enough.
Bang is a key contributor in this regard. An accomplished electronic musician and producer, he has a uniquely positive influence on this disc. "Realign" is a prime example of his ability to share the aforementioned spotlight with Henriksen in a way that adds depth to both artists' playing. It's a stunning piece. "Paridae," another highlight, closes off the album with a brilliant vocal performance, a kind of falsetto religious oration.
Henriksen isn't for everyone. One of the downsides of having such a distinct (if not wholly unique) playing style is that your work tends to get lumped into one uniform pile — that turns some listeners off. That's a superficial critique, though; spending time with Henriksen's work is almost always worth the effort, and this new album is no different. (Rune Grammofon)