Arve Henriksen: Cartography (ECM 2086)


Arve Henriksen

Arve Henriksen trumpets, voice, field recording
Jan Bang live sampling, samples, beats, programming, bass line, dictaphone, organ samples, arrangement
Audun Kleive percussion, drums
David Sylvian voice, samples, programming
Helge Sunde string arrangement and programming
Eivind Aarset guitars
Lars Danielsson double-bass
Erik Honoré synthesizer, samples, field recordings, choir samples
Arnaud Mercier treatments
Trio Mediaeval voice sample
Vérène Andronikof vocals
Vytas Sondeckis vocal arrangement
Anna Maria Friman voice
Ståle Storløkken synthesizer, samples
Recorded, engineered and mixed at Punkt Studio, Kristiansand, except
Track 1
Recorded live at Punkt Festival, Kristiansand, June 2005
Overdubs recorded at Punkt Studio
Track 2, Part one
Recorded at Samadhisound
Trumpet recorded at Etage
Additional trumpet recorded at Punkt Studio
Track 10, Part Two
Recorded live at Punkt Festival, Kristiansand, August 2006
Track 11
Recorded live at Stadtgarten, Cologne
Assembled at Punkt Studio
Voice recorded at Samadhisound
Mastered at Audio Virus Lab, Oslo by Helge Sten
Engineered and produced by Erik Honoré and Jan Bang

After lurking as a figural, melodic force on many ECM sessions, at last Arve Henriksen dropped his unique brand of acid with Cartography. Although his place among Norway’s defining trumpeters—including Nils Petter Molvær, Per Jørgensen, and Mathias Eick—had already been firmly established, this leader date gave that badge some spit shine. As with his compatriots, electronics are a vital part of his toolkit, and here the incorporation achieves new levels of organicity courtesy of associates Erik Honoré and Jan Bang, who has contributed equally memorable soundscaping to the work of Eivind Aarset (see his recent Dream Logic), Jon Hassell (a huge influence on Henriksen), and singer-songwriter David Sylvian. In fact, Sylvian appears twice on this disc, bringing his idiosyncratic wordsmithery to bear on some amorphous territory. In “Before And Afterlife,” his speech is split and stitched, flashing cosmopolitan utterances across rural stages. The silvery ebb and flow running through Henriksen’s trailing commentary tilling the soil gently in his wake. “Thermal” further sets Sylvian’s stunning poetry of object-oriented diaspora in motion.

Photo credit: Oliver Heisch

With such evocations of land, (un)settlement, and water, the album’s title might seem an obvious one: the art of mapmaking translated into sound, comprising a trans-idiomatic survey recorded in multiple locations. To be sure, such connotations abound. Whether floating through the gossamer electronic spread of “Poverty And Its Opposite” or hooked by the widening beat of “Migration,” Henriksen moves through thick clouds with surety of calibration. The sense of continuity in his trumpeting evokes a romantic sort of cinema, a feeling of sustained emotional lift and robust physicality.

Henriksen is indeed often the focal center—sometimes of ambient rustlings and digitalia, sometimes tracing the shadows of voices, sometimes diving headlong into them. In the latter vein is “Recording Angel,” which samples the singing group Trio Mediaeval in a half-conscious sleep. The effect is eerily similar to Stephan Mathieu and Janek Schaefer’s Hidden Name (2006, Crónica), which was created using source material from composer John Tavener’s personal record collection. Words waver in and out of consciousness, swapping exigencies and feeling patterns. Through this goopy mixture, Henriken’s lines glide like water snakes, blind yet ever attentive to their food source.

The album also veers into deeply personal spaces, as in “The Unremarkable Child,” a short and dulcet piece with an orchestral backdrop, swaying and mellifluous. “Sorrow And Its Opposite” is likewise inward looking, revealing Henriksen’s warmth to the utmost against a shifting assemblage of upheavals, a ballad for time immemorial, for the enchantment within and the whispers without. A piano turns like an Escherian helix, until only the sounds of footsteps remain. Therein lies the real cartography: a form of travel not across tactile surfaces but through ghosts of mortal ends.

Another one of ECM’s finest.

2 thoughts on “Arve Henriksen: Cartography (ECM 2086)

  1. Many thanks for your review (and many, many others). Having just receive the double lp, and reading the notes… I was surprised to read that the album was produced by Jan Bang and Erik Honoré. My question is the following, is there a lot of titles (like this one) on ECM that aren’t directly produced by Manfred Eicher ?

    1. Thanks, Éric! There are quite a few not produced by Manfred Eicher (though he has produced most of them), including earlier ones produced by Thomas Stöwsand and scattered gems throughout the catalog produced by Steve Lake. Explore this site, and you will find them 🙂

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