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BJ Nilsen - Live at Konzerthaus, Vienna 06_12_03

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Artist: BJ Nilsen

Album: Live at Konzerthaus, Vienna 06_12_03

Label: Touch

Review date: May. 11, 2004

Live at Konzerthaus…, the fifth installment in Touch’s ongoing public address series, is a constantly morphing 40-minute track by B.J. Nilsen, or more commonly known as Hazard. Nilsen’s abstract drones sound like a laboratory nestled deep in the British countryside. A curious wind starts things off, followed by the deep rumble of thunder and the light pattering of rain. These field recordings reappear throughout the set, thanks to renowned sound recordist and Touch stalwart Chris Watson (do listen to his Weather Report from 2003), but for now, they quickly vanish under a dense mist of drone. The inner workings of a wondrous monolithic machine take over; pulsing low-end tones emit myriad vibrating details.

A cycle is set in motion as the live set alternates between deep industrial murmurings and nature – rustling leaves, chirping birds, humming insects followed by oscillating air currents. But technology ultimately win, and electronics overwhelm.

Hazard’s approach is evocative of Terre Thaemlitz’s work, especially Soil and Tranquilizer, similarly manipulating and processing found sound to form something distinctly unnatural. Not to mention the two also share an affinity in working with low end frequencies, their results felt as well as heard.

It is in the final quarter of the Live at Konzerthaus… where the set takes an unsettling turn, reverting back to one of Nilsen’s earlier works entitled “Breathe” from the compilation Spire. A church organ intones a disquieting piece that morphs into imminent doom, sharply contrasting with Nilsen’s earlier, pastoral parts. A disconcerting and ill-advised twist, it nonetheless stays true to Hazard’s always challenging course.

By I Khider

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