A founding member of free improvised and electronic music quartet/trio Supersilent, Norwegian trumpet player Arve Henriksen is also a prolific artist as a leader. A sumptuous aural feast featuring the musician’s trademark liquid trumpet and eerie soprano voice on two tracks, Places of Worship was released in September 2013 last on the Oslo-based Rune Grammofon record label.

Arve Henriksen - Places of Worship (2013)
Arve Henriksen – Places of Worship (2013)

More than a solo recording, Places of Worship is the work of a trio involving the contribution of electronic musicians and producers Erik Honoré and Jan Bang. Almost all tracks are co-written by the three long-time collaborators and the interweaving field recordings, sound samples and synthesiser parts blend seamlessly to create an exceptionally rich sonic palette which also includes sparse piano (Jon Balke, Christian Wallumrød), guitar (Eivin Aarset), bass (Lars Danielsson) or strings from the Norwegian String Ensemble.

Places of Worship is an invitation to contemplation and quiet meditation in sacred places that are not necessarily associated with any particular religion, despite references to Islam, Christianity or Hinduism in the song titles. As suggested by the cover artwork (the World Tree motif?) and by introducing the first track “adhān” (the call to prayer) with a field recording of  birds chirping, the musician clearly seeks refuge in nature –  “the sublime geology of his Norwegian homeland” or simply the universal and cosmic mother nature – to find “shelter from the storm”.

[…] Henriksen’s music has developed into something beautifully at one with natural habitats and reflecting the hybrid, cosmopolitan environments of the twenty-first century. On Places Of Worship, he inhabits the space between these two worlds, in a series of tone poems and mood pieces located around religious buildings and ruins. These still, silent quarters and abandoned houses of the holy can be where we experience our deepest moments of reflection, silence and occasionally fear. Rune Grammofon

In response to the sublime and deeply moving “Lament” featuring Henriksen’s solemn “keening”, Norwegian video artist Anastasia Isachsen aspired to elicit:

[…] a nostalgic state between reality, memory and dreaming, contemplating life and death: loss, longing, light and hope.