BJ NILSEN – The Invisible City

A distinguished accumulator of field recordings and correlated studio treatments, BJ Nilsen creates music that fluctuates between ephemeral and material, not failing to maintain a vision of the world’s real traits that, in his soundscapes, never cease to elicit interest. The Invisible City – announced by Jon Wozencroft’s routinely impressive photographic cover artwork – is definitely one of the best exemplars of Nilsen’s sound art, a record that could be filed in different departments of a hypothetical archive without erring. Naturally, drones form the basis of most everything. Halfway through crudeness and mortality – touches of more typical instrumental timbres like Hammond organ and guitars wrapped by a veil of strange frequencies, altered animal emanations and processed fumes – this work hardly reveals its fairly indecipherable facets in settings that might be deemed as “static” only by extremely superficial ears.

The majority of the tracks seem to signify an ascension of sorts, from a near-degradation level towards a high pinnacle that, inexorably, remains just conceivable but is not actually reached. We wait for something serious to happen – an explosion of violence, a shaking of our confidence, a breaking of fossilized convictions – yet are left with a mere potential, the intuition of a bigger (and somewhat ominous) impending occurrence. This excludes any tendency to ambient innocuousness: the way in which the sonic events unfold, revealing luminous interstices amidst a general sense of bleakness, furnishes the listener’s mind with the idea of a scrupulous procedure whose results are evidently magnificent and, at worst, perplexingly attractive.

If a slight disapproval, so to speak, exists then it must be directed to the composer’s will of listing, in each piece, every single source from which the action derives. Sometimes it is better to leave judgments and (mostly) errors to the mind’s eye, capable of making apparently unrelated elements combine marvelously in a private merging of textural features and implied meanings. Ingested as such, this release offers lots of captivating perceptions to investigate, substantial gratification coming either from sheer contemplation or relatively uneasy involvement.


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