Mark Rothko No. 61 (Rust and Blue) 1953
"I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing, and stretching one’s arms again transcendental experiences became possible." Mark Rothko, 1947
by Arve Henriksen
Review by François Couture
Arve Henriksen’s follow-up to his first solo CD, Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro sees him exploring the same ethereal pastures, this time accompanied by sampling artist Jan Bang and percussionist Audun Kleive. As a result, the album has of course a fuller, busier sound, although the increment is discreet. Slightly closer in style to the softer moments of Supersilent, the album remains nonetheless the recognizable successor of Sakuteiki. Henriksen’s trumpet is the heart and soul of the music, uttering simple slow-paced themes and lonesome calls. The artist sings wordless melodies, his falsetto voice becoming an extension of the trumpet, instead of the other way around. Samples and percussion seem to proceed from within the horn’s sound palette and expand it outward. The resulting music is imbued with a fragile kind of beauty that is deeply moving and surprisingly immediate, given that the listener is minimally open-minded. Points of comparison would include Miles Davis at his most spaced out, Bill Dixon, and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura’s disarming solo CD Ko Ko Ko Ke. Highlights include the cinematic “Opening Image,” “Blue Silk” (the longest and most developed piece), and “Time Lapse,” a rare moment where the trio asserts its presence, backward samples and drumming equally sharing the stereo field with the trumpet. Henriksen’s music is unique, its lack of pretension and its effortless aesthetic research leaving an unforgettable trace in the listener’s mind.