The uniquely lyrical, liquid and mellifluous sound of Arve Henriksen’s trumpet has had an important supportive role to play on a number of ECM recordings of the last decade. Amongst them – Christian Wallumrød’s “No Birch”, “Sofienberg Variations”, “A Year from Easter” and “The Zoo is Far”, Trygve Seim’s “Different Rivers”, “The Source and Different Cikadas” and “Sangam” , Jon Balke’s “Kyanos”, Sinikka Langeland’s “Starflowers”, Frode Haltli’s “Passing Images”, Arild Andersen’s “Elektra” ... albums which between them represent a very broad range of musical possibilities. In each context, however, Henriksen has proven to be both a highly-distinctive and uncommonly adaptive player. This versatility provides a subtext for the present disc, which pools a shifting cast of creative musicians from diverse genres including jazz, electronica, ambient and classical music and the world of the remix. Singer David Sylvian makes two appearances reading his own texts, Ana Maria Friman sings fragments of William Brooks’s “Anima Mea” and the voices of the Trio Mediaeval emerge, sampled, on “Recording Angel”. Guitarist Eivind Aarset, and drummer Audun Kleive loom out of the mix, and Ståle Storløkken, Arve’s colleague from noise/rock/improv band Supersilent, has a cameo on “Famine’s Ghost”.
“Cartography”, the art of making maps, is an apt title. Recorded in the studio and in concert in Kristiansand, Oslo, Cologne and London it is almost a map of moods, of landscapes and soundscapes for Henriksen to explore. His trumpet floats and hovers over ever-changing territory.
“Over the last few years, “ says Henriksen, “I’ve been trying to find ways of playing that feel right for me and areas of music that interest me enough to keep returning to them. And I’ve been feeling uncomfortable with the idea of ending up playing ‘improvised jazz’. This album is part of a process of going back to go further. For more than twenty years electronics have been part of what I do, and the collaboration with Jan Bang and Erik Honoré has been inspirational. I like very much their way of bringing together acoustic instrument and electronics, their way of building and combining elements, sometimes from different places and times.” He points out that Bang and Honoré draw inspiration from the work of Jon Hassell, who is also a primary influence on Arve’s ‘vocal’ trumpet sound. There is a sense of a cycle of history completing itself - especially with Hassell, Eno and others now contributing to the Punkt festival curated by Bang and Honoré, where ‘live remixing’ is a standard part of the programming. In that sense, “Cartography” belongs to an alternative tradition of music making that includes improvisation and sound-sculpturing, dubs and remixing and awareness of ambience.
It’s also clearly in line with Arve’s own history. The early interest in far eastern sound and the shakuhachi which triggered investigation into new means of tone-production is reflected once more in pieces like “From Birth”. The work methods employed also extend experiments Henriksen and Bang had begun on the album “Chiaraoscuro” issued by Rune Grammofon in 2004.
The association with David Sylvian has been percolating for a few years. Arve has contributed to some of the singer’s work, including his “Nine Horses” project, and Sylvian has utilised samples of Arve’s trumpet in a Japanese art museum installation piece, “When Loud Weather Buffeted Naoshima”. Material from this source was refashioned into “Before and Afterlife, Part 1”: “The first part of this piece is really David’s production: then Jan Bang began adding material.” (As “Cartography”’s associate wordsmith, Sylvian also provided titles for the tracks here).
Several of the pieces began life as improvisations, “but there were many ways of working. There are also layers of composed music... including sketches Jan Bang sent me as computer file back at the beginning of the project.” Being open to contingency was part of the plan; the work, Henriksen figured, should develop organically. “Recording Angel” is one such instance. Bang had been working with arranger Vytas Sondeckis on another project and began to develop it experimentally. Having recently recorded the Trio Mediaeval (the three singers are also part of a new quintet with Henriksen and Bang), he integrated the voices singing the mediaeval song “Oi me lasso” into his mix. “It fit perfectly into this new soundscape,” Henriksen says.
Currently Henriksen, Bang and friends are exploring ways to bring this music to the stage.
“Cartography” was launched with a release concert in Oslo on October 17 2008.
Arve Henriksen studied at the Trondheim Conservatory from 1987-1991, and has worked as a freelance musician since 1989. “Cartography” is his first recording as a leader for ECM.