Boomkat Product Review:
One of our favourite pairs of ears, sound artist/composer BJNilsen, makes a very welcome solo debut on Editions Mego with Massif Trophies; a richly evocative travelogue of his month long hiking trip in Gran Paradiso - site of the highest Alpine peak in Italy.
Originally hailing from Sweden but based in below-sea-level Holland for some time, you get the feeling this may be a sort of nostalgic effort for the artist to reconnect with vertical, rugged landscapes, as much as it is a personal challenge to give his own perspective on well worn and perhaps familiar sonic tropes.
In five parts, Massif Trophies represents an impressionistic portrait of ‘The Mountain’ as a psychological symbol of ardour or as “the accursed or sacred place” of myth and legend common to practically all cultures with a bump on their landscapes.
He does so with all the preternatural sound sensitivity we could wish, stealthily dissecting and layering his location recordings into five distinctly unique narratives variously ranging in length from 3 to 13 minutes, and with varying degrees of human presence and surreal natural interaction.
The success of the combined work possibly lies in the way Nilsen evokes his subject in enormous detail with only the slightest gestures and canny timings, as with the way he barely perceptibly infilitrates the thunderstorms of Alpe Djouan with thee subtlest synth drone which makes the appearance of sheep herders seem incredibly impending or even scary, and likewise the way he turns the jangle of cowbells into something like a windborn gamelan orchestra in Rough Grazing, or how he realises an immense sense of relief from the spectral tension of La Descente by the introduction of perfectly timed panting breathes and textural scree.
It’s an immensely satisfying listen for anyone who appreciates the elemental chaos of the natural world and the subtleties of great concrète or field recordings, right up there with your favourite Chris Watson or Jana Winderen releases.