Places of Worship
It would be hard to find a more profoundly moving musical experience captured on disc this year. Okay, the obvious thing to mention is The Necks’ Open, and though that sprawls as one long piece, where Places of Worship, is most certainly song/mood-based (10 relatively short pieces) there is a logical comparison between the two. Just as The Necks are not really a free-jazz unit but freely explore jazz and move from there to – well – wherever they please, so too does Norwegian trumpeter, Arve Henriksen. Just as The Necks have expanded the possibilities, stretched the limits of the piano-bass-drums trio, Henriksen has redefined the role of the trumpet, created a new space for it. You can hear the waft of Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain in cursory moments across this disc, but, as always, the biggest influence on Henriksen’s trumpet sound is in fact the Japanese flute – or shakuhachi.
But where Open by The Necks and Arve Henriksen’s Places of Worship are same-page similar, and where they succeed, is in the use of silence as part of the compositional process. Gorgeous passages of silence pass through the music, informing the tunes, spaces in the musical conversation where the best addition was to add nothing – actually add (in) nothing; consider it a component, part of the sound, a contribution to the shape and feel of the music.
And to keep that comparison going between the albums – there’s something hugely spiritual on offer, a music of the soul/from the soul that documents/comments around religiosity as a philosophy, as something open – essentially ideology-free. A place to visit internally.
Henriksen’s gorgeous muted tone is the lead voice in this music, buying moments of time in and around – and through – the silence.
Places of Worship is music as meditation, music for meditation, it’s a medication, a tonic to sooth the rough edges off any day, music that curls up into the nook of the night. It would be my day-spa music of choice, it would be among the very best things you could ever choose to fall into sleep with – and those two ideas don’t usually sell themselves as compliments. But they’re meant here as no backhander, this album is beautiful. So beautiful. It offers peace and love and heart and soul, it feels like warm-milk wisdom, like a friendly hand offering comfort, support.
It’s late in the year and the list is long but this is one of the finest records I’ve heard in 2013.