Ten spontaneous compositions that, if possible, are even more beautiful than those on ”Sakuteiki”, creating an album that is deeply moving without being the least bit melodramatic, obvious or overstated. This is music that entirely bypasses the intellect and goes straight to the soul. If music is measured solely on its spiritual impact, then ”Chiaroscuro” is clearly a strong contender for album of the year.
Arve Henriksen's music effects a union of both the contemplation of nature and the expression of unmediated feeling. It seems that Henriksen is wringing his soul out to find the notes that he plays and sings. He expresses emotion in the same intensely heightened, verging on hallucinatory, way that the Fauves used colour. ”Chiaroscuro” as a title is well chosen, for each of these tracks does represent a shade between light and darkness. The focus upon both of these aspects, rather than only upon one or the other, results in a profound and singularly moving statement.
BBC Online (UK)
Henriksen is a sound innovator who has effectively recontextualised the role of trumpet in jazz for the 21st century. In today´s frantic world it is refreshing to hear a musician who can create a little magic and seem to make time stand still as these pastoral vignettes seem to hang in the air before drifting off into space.
Henriksen´s pieces involve song, stories and singing through his trumpet in a bell-like choirboy near-falsetto. Like Hassell, there are echoes of Eastern percussion, smeared, scraped and treated trumpet, and spangly lo-fi electronics reminiscent of the exemplary John Surman. What strikes most, however, like the autobiographical confessions of his live set, is his willingness to reveal his vulnerability, which is immensely touching, and stops ”Chiaroscuro” being just another ambient drone´n´horn album. Certainly, this beautiful CD is the first recording to make me cry in a very long time.
The Wire (UK)
To get straight to the point, “Chiarsocuro” is probably the most startling and moving album I've heard this year. . “Chiaroscuro” (taken from the Italian for “light and shade”) is quite an unbeleiveable listen, cinematic in a way that words cannot describe, a vast panoramic ocean of sound reduced to the most silent, heart-wrenching string arrangements, delicate live sampling (courtesy of Jan Bang) and a whispered sweep of barely audible percussion (from Audun Kleive), hovering around Henriksen unique, mesmerising trumpet playing and broken voice. This is by far and away the most inspiring album I've heard this year, a completely wondrous listen that seems to defy categorisation or description. Sometimes you happen across a record by chance and it ends up changing your musical vocabularly forever, “Chiaroscuro” is one of those rare records. We implore all music lovers to check it out without delay. Incredible.
Hello. I want to tell you about this new album in which a trumpeter makes beautiful music by blowing through a trumpet without voicing a tone. Breath and brass; breathtaking. He also takes off the mouthpiece to make his instrument sound like a bamboo flute and can bend an exhausted sob across a whole interval. A graduate of an alien musical conservatory called The School of Heartbreaking Vowels (I made this up), Arve Henriksen has a voiced tone that makes ECM's Nils Petter Molvaer sound autistic and a gift for making complex harmonies as satisfying as drink of mineral water on a hot day. Solo and in multi-tracked chorus, over beds of percussion and spare electronics, Henriksen treads ground first opened, perhaps, by John Hassell, searching the vocal potential of his instrument, virtuosity pressed to the service of simplicity. It's an extraordinary record now squatting my cd machine like a gentle dogkicker. Beautiful.
Straight No Chaser (UK)
One of the most talented musicians of his generation, Arve Henriksen creates here a stunning series of superbly crafted vignette. A true innovator, he takes his sound further into uncharted territories and constantly redefines the musical scope in which he evolves. Unmissable.
While not obviously “jazz” in the conventional sense, artists like Henriksen and Molvær keep alive a legacy of exploration pursued with unwavering dedication for many decades by the Art Ensemble of Chicago, something needed now more than ever in light of Lester Bowie's premature passing. This marvelous album testifies that that spirit still lives, so long as there are artists of Henriksen's caliber to be heard.
With ”Chiaroscuro”, Arve Henriksen, trumpeter and vocalist for the ubiquitous Norwegian improv unit Supersilent, has created a work that is more deeply intricate and more challenging than many are willing to assert. The sum effect may be likened to listening to Faure's Requiem. While the dynamic level rarely exceeds that of the quiet human voice, all manner of undercurrents keep attention focused and make for a beautiful, satisfying, and sometimes disturbing listening experience.
One Final Note (US)
Henriksen's music is unique, its lack of pretension and its effortless aesthetic research leaving an unforgettable trace in the listener's mind.
Finally a Norwegian jazzrecord that is inventive without being difficult. Finally a jazzrecord that says something profound without being unaccessible. Finally a record that shows that complexity doesn´t leave out accessibility. “Chiaroscuro” is beautiful and meditative, intense and penetrating. I want to put forward a strong assertion: “Chiaroscuro” leads Norwegian jazz one step further. This is Norwegian jazz history in the making!
”Chiaroscuro” confirms that Arve Henriksen is one of the most original voices in Norwegian improvised music. Several tracks give associations to both contemporary music as well as European church music, but after hearing it all ”Chiaroscuro” stands as yet another strikingly original release from Rune Grammofon.
One of the most telling and significant records in new Norwegian music in a long time.
I haven´t heard music this beautiful in a long time. A complete, organic, focused expression from beginning to end. 6/6.
As a musician he fascinates wether he´s improvising with Supersilent or alone on stage with only his trumpet. On this recording he´s in close communication with soundmaster Bang and percussionist Kleive and the result is just as surprising and beautiful as one could hope. His voice is almost out of this world, sometimes in the same landscape as Robert Wyatt, all extremely beautiful and lyrical.
His vocal use is close to arias of monumental beauty. No words are sung, and his way of using the voice as an instrument reminds me of Sigurd Ros. It sounds lonely and soulsearching, a notion also to be found in Henriksen´s trumpet playing. The two instruments work as each other substitutes, what one can´t express, the other will. Eternal and aching beauty is rarely expressed as convincingly as Henriksen manages with ”Chiaroscuro”.
Words like "lyrical" should be removed from the critical vocabulary and locked away for special occasions. Maybe then it would mean something to describe ”Chiaroscuro” as a lyrical album, filled with moments of fragile beauty. The music quietly throbs with life, unfurling warm sonic colors and textures, like a plant blooming in slow-motion, or warm breath crystallizing on a cold window pane. It's diffuse music that makes an immediate impression. Jazz created for Sigur Ros fans. An album as effortlessly graceful as it is difficult to describe.
Valley Advocate (US)