Great to see the renascence of Ferns after a six-year stasis. The French imprint – as one can recall by exploring their Bandcamp page – had been publishing a decent number of engrossing mini-releases involving several quality operators. BJ Nilsen’s Terroir – a 19-plus minute track lodged on a 3-inch CD – is evidently a welcome add-on to an already impressive discography.
As an incurable and ultimately ignorant nondrinker, I had to look up the meaning of the word that gives this piece its title. It’s not the first time that someone attempts to connect sonic arts and wine; Coils On Malbec by Alan Courtis and Cyrus Pireh, out in 2016 on Shinkoyo, is the nearest remembrance in that regard. Nilsen went a bit further: he gathered sonorities deriving from a complete process of harvesting and fermentation. This, of course, includes the manual/mechanical traits of the operations, whose clamorous prominence constitutes the bulk of the material.
At about 2/3 of the duration, the composer decided that the period of quasi-concreteness was over. From that point on, the original sources are condensed into supernatural reverberance with customary skillfulness. The basic sound expanded and stretched, the underlying energies uneasy to manage, the sense of being threatened by some horrific nuclear exhalation more immediate. Every component – either at the forefront of the mix, or as a darkish proximity – suggests a higher level of sensory activity. What had begun as a rather straightforward acoustic documentary is turned into a glorious painting of reconditeness that, played loud, might get you drunk quicker than a whole bottle of your preferred toxic beverage.