When not adding falsetto coos and breathy, attenuated trumpet murmurs to the electro-acoustic doom jazz of Supersilent, Norway’s Arve Henriksen has also released a pair of solo albums whose contemplative hush and soothing day-spa vibe brought to mind some lost project for pristine jazz label ECM. It’s only fitting, then, that Henriksen’s third solo release arrives via Manfred Eichler’s Euro-austere art imprint.
The fetal-position appeal of Henriksen’s confessional trumpet tone is right there in the first almost flute-like notes of opening track “Poverty and Its Opposite”; only Miles Davis at his most naked or Jon Hassell at his most straightforward can make a few yards of brass tubing sound this vulnerable. Cartography builds its melancholy spell as tabla-like percussion and misty synth drones start to fill in the vast emptiness surrounding Henriksen’s instrument, and the leader manages to vary up his approach considerably without breaking said spell, from the light funkiness of “Migration” to the Supersilent-esque electronic percolation of “Ouija.” On cuts such as “Recording Angel” and “Unremarkable Child,” Henriksen hits an especially appealing stride, soloing against noir-ish orchestral sound fields. Cartography would serve as mood music of the highest order if not for art-pop guru David Sylvian butting in out of nowhere to recite his own verse on cuts near the beginning and end of the album’s otherwise limpid flow. And suddenly, you’re not in the mood anymore.