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BJ Nilsen - Fade To White

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Artist: BJ Nilsen

Album: Fade To White

Label: Touch

Review date: Mar. 27, 2005

Swedish sound artist BJ Nilsen has been recording music for half his life, initially under the name Morthond, more recently as Hazard. Rising on 30, he’s dropped his pseudonyms, but not his methodologies.

Fade To White, his first proper release under his own name, could very easily have been a Hazard CD. There’s the same electronic exaggeration of natural sounds, the same paradoxical distortion of space; passively attended, Nilsen’s music evokes grand vistas and distant horizons, but if you concentrate on the jagged little artifacts of digital manipulation that he introduces into his material, you might feel like someone has sucked all the air out of the sky.

Still, this is no rehash. One difference is the degree to which Nilsen has disguised his source material; while parts of Wind (Ash International) were quite recognizably windy, Fade to White’s environmental sounds have been so thoroughly processed that there’s no telling where they came from. The manmade elements retain a bit more identity; there’s no mistaking the shortwave radio tuning noises on “Nine Ways Till Sunday.” But you can’t always be sure; in “Impossibilidad,” what sounds for a moment like a brass fanfare soon degrades into a series of DSP-dimmed flickers.

Another difference is the material’s darkness, which is more than a tad ironic given both the album’s name and the high pitches that pepper its sonic expanses. Particularly bleak is “Grappa Polar,” in which footsteps crossing the stereo spectrum give way to choking rattles hacking impotently at a great siren’s wail, and the piercing high frequencies that seep from the cracks of “…Sunday” suggest cruel intent.

And therein lies the biggest difference between this record and its immediate predecessors, Hazard’s Land and Wind; despite moments of loveliness, Fade to White uses sound to impart drama, not comfort.

By Bill Meyer

Other Reviews of BJ Nilsen

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Find out more about Touch

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