On Towards Language, Norweigan trumpeter Arve Henriksen creates a blend of meditative and suspenseful ambient-jazz, demonstrating a more soothing side to his playing than his noisier output with electro-acoustic improvisers Supersilent. The sound of his trumpet often resembles a bamboo flute, recalling tranquil images of Japanese gardens. His melodies are generally mellow and peaceful, but occasionally mysterious, suspenseful, or filled with passionate longing. The atmospheric accompaniment consists of slow, ambient guitar played by Eivind Aarset, spacey synthesizers by Erik Honore, and shadowy livesampling from Jan Bang, who processes sounds from the other instruments to create new textures. While most of the music seems to float by loosely, a few tracks are tethered to sparse but solid beats programmed from bass synths and claps, like the submerged beat in “Groundswell” or the slow dub bassline in “Demarcation Line”.
A1 – Patient Zero
The brief opener, “Patient Zero”, is introduced by slow, reverbed swells from guitarist Eivind Aarset, who provides much of the pillowy atmospheres on the record. Henriksen soon joins him with soft, breathy trumpet playing that somehow resembles bamboo flute, conjuring images of tranquil Japanese gardens.
A2 – Groundswell (Recommended)
This Zen vibe continues on “Groundswell”, until a slow but determined beat enters, programmed from submerged-bass synths and a well-placed clap. As Arve plays a mournful solo, washes of sound bubble up from underneath. A lot of the reactive sounds surrounding the trumpet are created through live-sampling, where band member Jan Bang processes sounds generated from other instruments to create atmospheric accompaniment.
A3- Towards Language
The title track is probably the most uncomfortable pieces on here, consisting of dry, non-diatonic kalimba and Henriksen’s high-pitched singing, as if his voice was escaping through his closed throat. Like the title suggests, the unique vocalizations suggests language without using words.
A4 – Demarcation Line (Recommended)
This song begins with mysterious trumpet playing, shadowed by Bang’s watery live-sampling, as well as other sparse, washy electronics in the background. About halfway through the trumpet playing surges with feelings of longing, making for a beautiful solo.
A5 – Transitory
An eerie, suspenseful interlude featuring lone trumpet playing echoed by the electronic live-sampling.
B1 – Hibernal (Recommended)
This song is characterized by a longing trumpet melody over a slow-pulsing electronic loop. Suspenseful, creepy sounds occasionally fade in and out, creating a quiet sense of danger lurking beneath the surface. As the trumpet playing becomes more and more passionate, the background sounds became lusher and more harmonic with the melodies. Eventually the trumpet fades out, leaving the slowly disintegrating loop.
B2 – Realign
Solo trumpet in a mysterious key plays a descending melody, while electronics occasionally creep into the empty spaces.
B3 – Vivification
Feeling like a continuation of the last track, “Vivification” begins with a lone trumpet plays a sparse, tentative melody. De-tuned electronics creep in and out, as does a kalimba. Eventually a loop builds until somewhat of a beat develops, feeling very full compared to the sparseness it follows.
B4 – Paridae (Recommended)
The closer features the beautiful vocals of Anna Maria Friman sharing melodic duties with Henriksen. Together they evoke the soothing but sad feelings of reminiscing.