BJNilsen - The Short Night

Blog (UK):

Gradually I’m catching up on some of the releases from last year that were high on my “to hear” list. The Short Night came out last September and is one of those CDs that has built up a strong reputation largely through good old fashioned word of mouth recommendations. Monorail in Glasgow say that they are shifting copies at twice the rate now than they were when it was released.

The Short Night takes field recordings from southern England, Sweden, Iceland and Italy and weaves them into a web of electronic drones and ambient washes. In some ways it feels like a nautical equivalent of the astronomical journeys of Murcof’s Cosmos. “Front” is a long, relatively static opener that serenely glides along with little in the way of changes. “Finisterre” starts in a similar vein, but with a much darker hue. The lapping water and singing gulls give way to an almost metallic drone, before a warmer, rolling wash of sound envelops the track with a subtle, slightly glitchy melancholy that builds into a stormy crescendo.

“Pole Of Inaccessibility” hums with sub-bass drones, and high end crackle, but has a calm centre and ends with the twitter of birds and a six second snatch of the Shipping Forecast (“Viking, Cromarty…”). “The Black Light” has an air of menace that ends in a short shard of white noise, whereas “Icing Station” takes the levels down again. The album ends with its best track, “Viking North”, a penetrating drone piece that threatens to turn the speakers into piles of smouldering ash before relenting and fading into another, slightly warped, rendition of the Shipping Forecast.

The Short Night falls into an area of experimental electronic music somewhere between Murcof, Stars Of The Lid, Biosphere and Pan Sonic. What it lacks in obvious melody, it more than makes up for in mood and atmosphere. Even at its most serene, there is an air of threat, and yet at its most threatening there is also a calm constancy at the centre. Like the aforementioned artists, Nilsen is pushing music into areas where environmental and generated sounds are becoming indistinguishable. A kind of back-to-nature, earth science electronica if that makes any sense.

Boomkat (UK):

Touch are a label that always put quality control above all else. They don't release much, but you can guarantee that when they do release something it's of an almost untouchable standard, and their small but perfectly formed group of artists are a testament to that. They first welcomed Swedish experimental artist BJ Nilsen into the fold in the late 90s, when he was writing under the name Hazard, but since then Nilsen has developed and 'The Short Night', his latest full length record, is for me his most coherent and enjoyable album to date. Nilsen has been busy in the last few years, contributing to the incredible 'Storm' album with field recording veteran Chris Watson and also to 'Second Childhood' with cellist Hildur Gudnadóttir and Icelandic trio Stilluppsteypa but 'The Short Night' feels like the masterwork these records were building up to. Utilising his tuned ear for field recording, Nilsen blends environmental sounds collected in Sweden, Iceland and England and layers them above and beneath some quite stunninelectronic parts. Taking vintage equipment (Sequential Circuits Pro-One, old Scandinavian generators, Korg MS20 etc) and recording and mixing using modern computer technology he comes up with a sound that owes as much to early innovators Popol Vuh and Delia Derbyshire as it does more recent ambient-darlings Biosphere and Deathprod. The mood is one of grim, crust-laden darkness, something akin to being trapped in an abandoned building as the Phantom of the Opera plays mercilessly in a sewer below - but while the mood is shadowy the sounds never become oppressive. Maybe it's due to the hypnotic nature of the compositions that draw you in and take hold of you entirely or possibly the actual character of the vintage generators used but the sounds float in and out of your consciousness with a wool-lined ease. Even as the album draws to a tremulous close with the incredible organ-drenched 'Viking North' and the amps reach eleven it is still washed with a veneer of melancholy and a palatable sheen that takes it above and beyond so many albums lumped into the same category. Touch have done it again then and thrown out yet another high water mark for the genre and a shining beacon in a mire of mediocrity. Huge recommendation.

Brainwashed (USA):

Those recordings that can successfully create visual atmosphere as well as an audio one are rare, but here is one that conveys, through field recordings, vintage electronics, and digital processing, a sense of cold and isolation, yet familiarity at the same time.

Though Nilsen utilizes field recordings from a variety of "cold" places (Sweden, Iceland, and the UK), it is never a crutch to fill in gaps in the sound. Instead, it is another pale shade in his sonic pallet, alongside vintage microphones, early analog synths, and modern DSP tools, that constructs a thick painting of frigid landscapes that still manage to ooze a natural warmth. The expansive field recordings that open the disc seamlessly segue into a processed, edited form that coalesce with the high pitched tones, all icy and glacier. Soft tones and melodies mix with a heavy, thick organ sound like the foghorn of a ship far off in the distance.

Other tracks revel in bizarre synthetic textures, the vinyl surface noise like crackles of "Icing Station" and the strange organic rattles of "Finisterre" are both some unknown combination of classic technology with modern processing, and the field recordings are among the few that actually give some sense of life in the barren cold: birds chirping and singing songs within the noisier elements.

Elements of noise, not in the harsh, punishing sense, float to the surface in "Black Light" and "Viking North." The noise sounds not as if it is coming from a distortion pedal, but more the product of the old tape equipment used being pushed beyond its limits. It is a very unique analog form of clipping that sets the noiser elements apart from the more lazy practitioners. Its appearance in "Black Light" is especially effective, as it is the apocalyptic climax to a sprawling piece of bleak, dark ambience with some subtle percussive elements buried deep the misty mix.

The Short Night, despite its singular title, is more of a collection of times and places frozen in space. Each of the tracks are entities unto themselves, and placed together form an excursion into the dark, frigid, and desolate, yet still maintaining a core of warmth and humanity. Unsurprisingly, BJ Nilsen and Touch have produced yet another winner. [Creaig Dunton]

Igloo (USA):

The Short Night is BJ Nilsen’s fourth album for UK label Touch and is the follow up to 2005’s Fade to White. Also known as Hazard, Nilsen utilises field recordings, weather, birdsong and radio to sculpture the sound for this album, much as he did with Fade to White. Apparently, if only subconsciously, based around a nautical or coastal theme, The Short Night is a further experiment in Nilsen’s quest to explore the effects of environmental sounds on the listener and the effective use of time and space in music.

Completely unrushed and slowly enveloping, Nilsen’s music takes generally unremarkable sounds recorded during 2006-07 on location in Mälaren, Stockholm, Sweden; Coombe Gibbet, Berkshire, England and Landakot, Vatnsleysuströnd, Iceland and combines them with flowing electronic texture with an expansive evolving quality. For well over 20 minutes, The Short Night drifts along serenely before, during the closing minutes of “Finisterre”, the fluid layered droning texture floods its surroundings and becomes dominant. This edgier outlook continues into “Pole of Inaccessibility” before dispersing once more
into the gentle tranquility of birdsong and minimal electronics with an uneasy air of intimidation. “Black Night” plays on its title with a deep dark guttural drone and nagging mechanical whir that warns of danger unseen. The mood lightens for “Icing Station” and returns to the flowing textures experienced earlier before the 11 minute album closer “Viking North” combines elements of all the tracks that precede it; opening with languid ambient atmospherics, the track begins to become edgier and more urgent as it unfolds, developing a glowing electronic core before closing with the distorted voice of a radio shipping forecast.

The Short Night is an ambient album with a dark alter-ego of menacing, insistent, slowly grinding industrial tones. The effect this has is to place the serene atmospheric textures Nilsen creates in a new light by giving them an air of urgency and permeating the whole album with a subtle, sometimes almost unnoticeable, feeling of apprehension. [Paul Lloyd]

VITAL (The Netherlands):

It's possible to go straight to the music here: BJ Nilsen is quite known in these pages for his long standing work inside experimental music, so we can cut the introductionary notes short. From his previous 'Fade To White' (see Vital Weekly 452) to 'The Short Night' is, I think a small step. Nilsen is still concerned with the recording of outdoor sounds, and has a bunch of old synthesizers and a computer. And he likes his music to be dark. As dark as night, be it short or long. All of his basic material goes into the computer and inside Nilsen gives the material a twist and cooks up his music. The outcome is usually dark, atmospheric music, drone/organ based, but if there is an important shift from 'Fade To White' to 'The Short Night', is that it seems at times a bit more noise based - of course not Merzbow styled noise, but it's louder, more present, forceful, or even a bit more distorted at times. Which makes quite a nice balance I must say with the ambient textures patterns that some of these pieces have. It keeps this album safely out of the hands of anything even vaguely new age. It's perhaps a small step in Nilsen's career, but it's nevertheless an important one. 'The Short Night' is not always a refreshing new look on the word 'ambient', but like it's noted before, That would be something, but it's a mighty fine CD in the genre of dark ambient. [FdW]

Goon (Germany):

Die BBC hat sogar einen eigenen Sender (BBC Food), bei dem es sich ausschließlich um die richtige Ernährung dreht. Doch vor allem die großformatig, aufregenden Reportagen auf BBC World erfreuen sich einer großen Beliebtheit und laufen im Vereinigten Königreich zu den besten Sendezeiten. Nun stelle man sich diese Dokumentationen aus aller Damen Länder und Wildnissen einmal ohne die farbenfrohen Bildgewalten vor – dann ist man plötzlich bei Musikern wie Geir Jennsen (Biosphere), Chris Watson oder BJ Nilsen. Musikdokumente von diesen Künstlern stellen sich nicht nur die Frage, wie die Natur durch Klang wiedererfahrbar wird, sondern immer auch, was denn bleibt, wenn der Klang von den zugewiesenen Bildern befreit wird: Entsteht wieder das gleiche Bild? Ein anderes? Gar keines? Benny Jonas Nilsen, geboren 1975 in Schweden, hat sich damit in den letzten Jahren ausgiebig beschäftigt, hat field recordings gesammelt, ausgewertet, elektronisch verfremdet, um sich der Antwort Ton für Ton anzunähern. Insbesondere in der Zusammenarbeit mit dem ehemaligen Cabaret Voltaire-Gründungsmitglied und tatsächlich späteren BBC-Toningenieur Chris Watson geht BJ Nilsen – früher auch unter dem Pseudonym Hazard unterwegs – in seiner Rolle als Dokumentarist der Klänge auf. Eine Arbeitsweise, die der des deutschen Schriftstellers und Filmemachers Alexander Kluge nicht unähnlich ist und in dessen Mittelpunkt das Sammeln und Transkribieren von »wahren« Momenten steht, die uns dann, in einen Zusammenhang gebracht, akustisch etwas über die Welt vermitteln. Auf Nilsens neuester Veröffentlichung »The Short Night« ist es eine sehr harmonische Welt geworden. Die Aufnahmen aus Umwelt und Natur (diesmal Schweden, Island, England) werden hier ausschließlich durch analoges Equipment, Filter, Generatoren oder durch den Gebrauch von 50 Jahre alten Kassettenrekordern verfremdet. Auch eher herkömmliches Instrumentarium – das mongolische Saiteninstrument Morin khuur wird von Hildur Gudnadóttir gespielt – kommt zum Einsatz, was den Kompositionen zusätzliche Wärme verleiht und mitunter nicht schlecht an Tim Hecker erinnert. Ein mehr als gleichwertiger Ersatz zum öffentlich-rechtlichen Fernsehprogramm ist »The Short Night« übrigens auch.

Keys (Germany):

Sound of Music (Sweden):

Det är vackra ljudlandskap som BJ Nilsen mĺlar i sitt senaste verk ”The Short Night”. Tillsammans med Jon Wozencrofts alltid lika snygga omslag byggs en mörk stämning upp. Ingenting skräckinjagande utan snarare nĺgot nordligt, kallt och avlägset. Lĺttitlar som ”Icing Station” och ”Pole of Inaccessibility” bygger effektivt pĺ känslan av att befinna sig i en isolerad del av världen.

Med en blandning av analog utrustning, radio och fältinspelningar skapas lĺnga ljudvĺgor som efter ett par minuter byts ut. Lĺtarna fungerar som ett vädersystem som hela tiden genomgĺr lĺngsam förändring vilket ger intryck av en organisk process utan mänsklig pĺverkan. Vid en mer noggrann genomlyssning märks dock hur extremt skickligt kompositören använder sig av smĺ detaljer pĺ rätt plats för att stärka effekten av sammanhang. Ofta blir musiken överväldigande och efter en stund infinner sig en känsla av utmattning, vilket dock bara är positivt dĺ mycken ambient musik annars tenderar att bara bli en oförarglig bakgrund. Detta undviks i ”The Short Night” och lyssnaren hĺlls hela tiden pĺ tĺrna.

”The Short Night” känns i mĺngt och mycket som en vidareutveckling av Nilsens skivor som gavs ut under pseudonymen ”Hazard”, men kanske framförallt en fortsättning pĺ ”Fade to White” frĺn 2005. Det finns dock vissa skillnader i uttryck mellan de bĺda verken; om ljudlandskapet pĺ ”Fade to White” präglas av en viss karghet, ger ”The Short Night” ett mjukare, rymligare intryck. Nilsen spelar skickligt pĺ förmĺgan att skapa sinnesbilder när vi hör nĺgot. Han bygger med varje skiva en ram som vi själva fĺr fylla med de sinnesbilder och associationer lyssnandet skapar. Dessa ramverk blir för mig den röda trĺd som löper genom Nilsens musik.

Jag har under en tid svurit över att den experimentella musiken ligger lĺngt före hos vĺra goda grannar i väster, med skivbolaget Rune Grammofon i spetsen. Där finns ett intressant sökande efter det ”nordiska” i musiken, ett svĺrt ämne här i Sverige. Vikingarock och annat elände har förstört mycket av det intressanta med att använda sig av nĺgot sĺ traditionellt som folkmusik för att bryta ny mark. Det lĺter kanske högst märkligt att jämföra folkmusik med BJ Nilsen. Men han använder sig i ”The Short Night” av känslan att vi som nordbor, precis som alla andra folkslag, ständigt söker efter en dröm om den del av världen vi hör hemma i. Detta kan vara ett intressant och effektivt medel för att skapa ny musik, vilket jag tycker BJ Nilsen lyckas med ypperligt.

Det mesta som kommer frĺn Touch är genomgĺende bra. ”The Short Night” är redan för mig en viktig komponent i ĺrets obligatoriska höstdepression, och en av ĺrets bästa skivor. [Olov Melin]

Quiet Noise (Germany):

Was den Kitsch zur Weihnachtszeit – und die beginnt hier in Wien mit der Eröffnung der ersten Punschstände in knapp zwei Wochen – anbelangt, favorisiere ich für meinen Teil weder die traditionell rustikal-alpine noch die mittlerweile zaghaft auftauchende, meist etwas unbeholfene Designer-Variante, sondern bin fest der jenseits des Polarkreises üblichen Mischkulanz aus beißender Kälte, Dunkelheit und vor sich hin dämmernder Natur zugetan. Genau solche Stimmungen dominieren auch das neue Album von BJ Nilsen, das mittlerweile sein drittes auf Touch ist. Und wie schon der gute Rosy Parlane im Frühjahr scheint auch der junge Mann aus Schweden nun zu Hochform aufzulaufen, webt unauffällig jedoch mit viel Übersicht Field Recordings, Wetterberichte und Rundfunkfragmente in die Ränder seiner atmosphärisch mild verdröhnten Klangterritorien. Das wirkt dann um einiges überschwänglicher und leichter verdaulich als beispielsweise die letzt jährige Zusammenarbeit mit Chris Watson (»Storm«) bewahrt sich aber noch immer eine angenehm ungeschliffene Patina. Teilweise wird das auch auf die Arbeitsweise zurück zu führen sein, altmodische Mikrophone und analoges Equipment war bei den Aufnahmen und nachträglicher Bearbeitung dienlich, lediglich arrangiert wurde per moderner Software. Die Field Recordings selber stammen aus Schweden, England und Island, sind nicht Fundamente sondern fügen sich organisch in ein sphärisches, oft auch ein von einer unheimlichen Stimmung geprägtes Gesamtbild ein. Trotzdem oder genau deswegen entsteht über die Spieldauer ein besonderer Eindruck von Heimeligkeit, der wohl ohne die latent spürbare Unwirtlichkeit der Natur in diesen Aufnahmen nicht annähernd so intensiv sein könnte. Die perfekte CD für den anspruchsvollen Winterschläfer! [Tobias Bolt]

Detour (USA):

Execute a few cursory Google searches on the equipment BJ Nilsen lists in the liners to Short Night, the Swedish experimental/sound artist’s fourth record for the celebrated Touch imprint — the Telefunken M10, the Ferrograph Series 4, and tone generators from Bruel & Kjaer, the Danish manufacturer of sound and vibration meters, oscillators, and other Nightstrange devices — and you’ll discover bookish Web sites devoted to ancient technology and images and YouTube clips of bulky relics that whir and mumble and scrape.Whir and mumble and scrape is also an apt description for Nilsen’s work on Night, which mix the groans of these elderly microphones and machines with the stillness, suggestion, and exploratory possibilities of field recordings. “Viking North,” the longest piece here at just under 11 minutes, begins with some tension before blooming like beams of light streaming through the rusted hulls and upended superstructures in abandoned shipyard. A high-pitched whine emits from the bottom end of “Finisterre,” while its surface sounds include the trickle of water, faraway music, and an unidentifiable hum. “Black Light,” meanwhile, is nearly all hum. On The Short Night, BJ Nilsen explores our environment and the artifacts we leave behind. But “Light” could easily be the first field recording to come from inside the alien vessel that will someday land on our heads. [Johnny Loftus]

Blow Up (Italy):

GoMag (Spain):

Bad Alchemy (Germany):

Orkus (Germany):

SPEX (Germany):

mit BJ Nilsen, Marcus Schmickler und A_dontigny
Text: Kai Ginkel

Unter dem Pseudonym Hazard wurden vor einigen Jahren zwei Alben herausgegeben, die bis heute zu den famosesten Leistungen im Bereich der Field Recordings gehören: »Wind« und »Land« waren beide so gleichermaßen still und vielsagend, wie man es in diesem Genre, in dem Auswahl und Sorgfalt oftmals über Qualität entscheiden, nur selten zu hören bekommt. Die Kunst, ein schlichtes wie treffsicheres Arrangement auszutüfteln, kombinierte BJ Nilsen, der Mann hinter diesem Projekt, damals mit den ungeheuerlichen Aufnahmetalenten von Chris Watson (u.a. Cabaret Voltaire), der selbst gerade mit einem außergewöhnlichen Album namens »Weather Report" in den Startlöchern stand. Obwohl die beiden ihre Kollaborationen fortsetzen und in Form von »Storm« 2006 sogar vertiefen sollten, bleibt die erhabene Zurückhaltung von »Wind« und »Land« eine Klasse für sich.

Mit »The Short Night« (Touch Music) allerdings ist Nilsen nun ein Longplayer gelungen, den man nach allerlei schönen und gelungenen Zwischenstationen erneut dick hervorheben sollte. Selten zuvor schließlich waren geheimnisvolle Feldaufnahmen so eng und selbstverständlich mit einer musikalischen Begleitung verwachsen, die in dieser Form zur absoluten Speerspitze dessen gehört, was jemals einen Ton auf Touch veröffentlichen durfte. Aus Nilsens Gespür für Stimmungen spricht eine sagenhafte Souveränität: Das sausende Flirren, das sich vermutlich aus der Faszination für die Orgel ergibt, erreicht zuweilen eine derartige Klarheit und Räumlichkeit, dass es fast wie ein Befreiungsschlag aus so viel Anmut erscheint, wenn die Musik in »Pole Of Inaccessibility" plötzlich durchdrungen wird von köstlichen Nebelschwaden aus purer, leidenschaftlicher Verzerrung, die das darauffolgende, betont langwirige Ausschwingen um so eleganter und idyllischer klingen lassen.

Dass »The Short Night« in erster Linie mit analogem Equipment erarbeitet wurde, ist im Grunde genommen nur für unverbesserliche Methodiker von Interesse. Die Idee allerdings schmeichelt Nilsens Musik auch über die bloße Randnotiz hinaus, denn in der Tat klingen diese Tracks in ihrer Qualität sehr griffig und auf überzeugende Weise erdverbunden. Obwohl das Basismaterial im Übrigen nicht nur in Grönland und Island, sondern beispielsweise auch in Triest, Italien, entstanden ist, werden alle sieben Stücke von einem poetischen Sinn für das Kalte getragen, wie man ihn sonst gegenwärtig fast nur bei einem Thomas Köner in vergleichbarer Vollendung erlebt.

KindaMuzik (The Netherlands):

Voor zijn vorige album Storm trotseerde Benny Nilsen met een Sennheiser 'omnidirectional' microfoon de bulderende wind op de Zweedse kust. Op zijn nieuwe album is de toon een heel stuk serener, al zijn de donkere wolken nog altijd promiment aanwezig in Nilsens muziek. De Zweed is sinds de jaren negentig een vaste waarde in de stal van Touch, het Britse ambientlabel dat kwaliteit boven kwantiteit stelt en onder andere snarenmanipulator Fennesz onder zijn vleugels heeft.

In tegenstelling tot die relatief beroemde Oostenrijker sampelt BJ Nilsen geen gitaren maar de natuur zelf. Voor The Short Night maakte hij veldopnames in Zweden, IJsland en op het Britse platteland. Waar hij af en toe ook aan de radio draaide. Zo duikt halverwege het album ineens een kort en verrassend weerbericht op ('Viking, Cromarty').

Nadat zijn analoge vangnet vol zit, verdwijnt de Zweed naar zijn studio om daar met stokoude filters, generatoren en stoffige tapedecks de meest prachtige harmonieën samen te stellen. Al is de toon vaak somber en soms zelfs besmeurd met machineolie. Zoals op het duistere 'Black Light', dat klinkt als een fietstocht door het schemerende stille bos naar een geheimzinnige fabriek. Langzaam maar zeker wordt het dreunende geluid van de zware machines sterker. En sterker. Ook langs de kust op 'Finisterre' is het niet pluis.

Tegenover zoveel dreiging staat dan weer een prachtig nummer als 'Pole of Inaccessibility', waarop je de witbesneeuwde ijsschotsen in gedachte voorbij ziet drijven. Op zo'n moment heeft Nilsen wel wat gemeen met die andere ambientcomponisten uit Scandinavië: Biosphere. The Short Night is verplichte kost voor liefhebbers van het betere zweef- en vliegwerk. Maar neem wel een regenpak mee. [René Passat]

de:bug (Germany):

Jazzthetic (Germany):

Orkus (Germany):

The Wire (UK):

Groove (Sweden):

*Fwomp.* En vindby blĺser in en krĺka i ett skjul pĺ Islands sydkust. BJ Nilsen har rest runt i Europa och ackumulerat fältinspelningar. Tillbaka i Stockholm lĺter han dem addera karaktär till den skira ambientmusiken pĺ The Short Night. Det pĺminner om Brian Enos mer drone-aktiga verk eller den ambienta Biosphere, men ändĺ med en egen personlighet. Kortare utflykter i mörkare noise-lika territorier gör att lyssnaren inte förlorar intresset. Det är vackert, kanske lite melankoliskt. En skiva som öppnar upp och lĺter dig resa utan att lämna ditt vardagsrum. [Henrik Strömberg]

Göteborg Posten (Sweden):

The Sound of Music (Sweden):

Med The short night fortsätter svenske BJ Nilsen att spännande utforska gränslandet mellan natur och civilisation. Inspelningar av väder och vind frĺn Sverige, England, Island och Italien sammanförs skickligt med elektroniska utdragna ljud pĺ ett sätt som gör BJ Nilsen till en av de mest intressanta ljudmakarna inom genren. Vackert, filmiskt och storslaget! Engelska väderleksrapporter möter keyboardliknande klanger i lĺtar med namn som Icing station och Viking north. Och lyckat har musiken i högre grad än tidigare fĺtt strukturer av lĺtar med melodiska teman, om än lĺngsamma och med en nĺgot diffus rytmik. [Magnus Olsson]

Ruis (Belgium):

Geiger (DK):

B(enny) J(onas) Nilsen er anderledes udfordrende i sin udforskning af lyd. Jeg har tidligere prist hans udgivelse med Chris Watson, og Nilsen skuffer heller ikke denne gang.

Nilsen har en formidabel evne til at bruge field recordings, forskelligt optageudstyr og manipulation af elektroniske kilder til at skabe storslĺede freskoer af lyd. Han forkaster ikke naturen, men udvider den. Han giver den nćrmest kosmiske dimensioner, hvor lytteren suges ind i et nćrvćr, der bringer én tćttere pĺ verden - og det er det mest vidunderlige ved Nilsens musik: at den pĺ én gang skaber distance og nćrvćr. At den skćrper lyttesansen uden brug af traditionelle virkemidler som rytme og melodi. The Short Night bringer endnu en gang lytteren tćttere pĺ naturens sublime, uforstĺelige mysterium.

Octopus (France):

Dans la lignée de Fade to White paru il y a 2 ans, ce nouvel album s'inscrit ŕ la fois dans un prolongement logique par rapport aux travaux récents de Benny Nilsen (dont une magistrale collaboration avec Chris Watson pour l'album Storm publié sur Touch) et également dans une démarche de longue haleine, débutée dans les années 90 sous le nom de Hazard. Maturité oblige, le côté brut d'Hazard a néanmoins été dépassé depuis longtemps, les morceaux de Nilsen étant désormais des compositions ŕ part entičre. Si les éléments naturels fournissent toujours la majeure partie du matériel de départ, ces derniers ne sont plus l'unique constituant de l'ensemble et sont réguličrement ŕ l'arričre plan, les nappes issues de vieux synthés analogiques, finement traitées et passées au filtre digital, s'arrogeant une place de choix pour arriver ŕ une synthčse remarquablement équilibrée entre approche environnementale et électronique. Si certains titres gagneraient davantage en densité ŕ ętre travaillés sur la durée (ŕ l'image de ce "Viking North" et ses 10 minutes d'une rare intensité), ces drones électroniques sombres habillent de leurs vibrations délétčres des paysages marins désolés de la maničre la plus sűre qui soit. Un brouillard opaque réduit la visibilité au minimum ; si l'onde plane semble calme en surface, nul ne saurait présager ce qui se trame sous ces eaux noires et glacées, transformant ainsi chaque écoute en une errance et une dérive des plus angoissantes. [Aymeric Lozet]

Popnews (France):

Aussi bien connu sous l'appellation Hazard que sous son propre nom, le Suédois BJ Nilsen fait parti avec Mika Vainio, Deathprod et Biosphere pour ne citer que les représentants les plus connus, de cette fameuse école nordique des musiques électroniques. Déjŕ rien qu'en écrivant cela, on a une petite idée de ce qu'on va écouter : sons analogiques et approche musicale trčs cérébrale, limite austčre. Bien entendu le Suédois ne déroge pas ŕ cette rčgle mais son nouvel album "The Short Night" apporte une dimension supplémentaire: l'évocation des grands espaces.

Aprčs avoir collaboré avec Chris Watson, l'ex-Cabaret Voltaire devenu le pape du "field recording", BJ Nilsen s'est converti aux joies de l'enregistrement de terrain et est allé capturer ŕ l'aide d'un appareillage complčtement vintage (certains éléments de son équipement étant sortis il y a prčs de cinquante ans) des sons environnementaux en Sučde, en Islande et en Angleterre.

Une fois tous ces sons (oiseaux au loin, murmures de vent, écoulements, diffusions radio) déposés sur le dioxyde de chrome, BJ Nilsen les a intégrés dans des compositions électroniques ŕ la beauté glaciale pour créer une ambient music trčs personnelle.

Ce qui est saisissant dans ce disque, c'est le travail apporté aux textures, ŕ la granulosité du son, qui donne ŕ ses compositions une profondeur et une puissance étonnante.

Ensuite, il construit sa narration et les sept plages de cet album sont la parfaite bande son d'un voyage nocturne dans les étendues glaciales du grand nord.

Commençant avec des images sonores, évocatrices et apaisantes ("Front", "Finisterre"), on se laisse prendre par cette nuit remplie d'inconnus, puis la musique va vers une abstraction angoissante, le chromatisme menaçant de "Black Light" nous rappelle alors que ce genre d'aventure nocturne n'est pas sans risque.

Aprčs s'ętre enfoncé dans une nuit polaire, pour une aventure surnaturelle ŕ la maničre de la petite Unn ŕ la recherche "du palais de glace" ("Icing Station") dans le roman de Tarjei Vesaas, le jour et la civilisation sont de retour avec "Viking North" dans un final aveuglant tout en strates et messages radio.

Rarement une musique aura aussi bien évoqué les espaces qui l'ont inspirée, il n'y a gučre que le fameux "Eskimo" des Residents qui, avec une esthétique trčs différente, arrive aussi bien ŕ retranscrire en sons les sensations et les émotions des grands espaces gelés.

Avec cette harmonie parfaite entre musique électronique et beauté de la nature ce disque trouve parfaitement sa place sur le label Touch grand défenseur d'une approche naturaliste des sons synthétiques, ŕ ranger entre Chris Watson et Rosy Parlane. [Cyril Lacaud]

Solenoide (France):

Arpenteur des grands espaces naturels d’Europe du Nord, BJ Nilsen aime y puiser la matičre thématique autant que sonique sur laquelle s’appuient ses différentes productions. Si cette escapade nocturne n’échappe pas ŕ la rčgle, elle voit désormais le matériau environnemental se mouvoir sur des trames analogiques méticuleusement ouvragées. Magistrale synthčse de manipulations concrčtes et de retraitements numériques, cet album brouille un peu plus les lignes démarquant le naturel du surnaturel, l’inquiétant du fascinant.

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Rockerilla (Italy):

Rock & Pop (Czeckia):

Triggerfish (Germany):

BJ Nilsen, der sich von Morthound über Hazard längst einen Ruf als exzellenter Klangforscher abseits seiner nicht minder erfolgreichen CMI-Vergangenheit erarbeitet hat, legt mit “The Short Night" ein Album vor, das voller mitternächtlicher Sounds steckt.

Vornehmlich sind es wieder Fieldrecordings (diesmal aus Italien, Island, England und Sweden), die als Basismaterial dienen. Diese werden hier innerhalb eines Rahmens platziert, der deutlich über das reine Collagieren der Aufnahmen hinausgeht. Für die sechs Tracks des Albums arbeitet Nilsen verstärkt mit musikalischen Elementen, die nahtlos eine Verbindung mit dem nichtmusikalischen Material eingehen. Hierbei entstehen akustische Stimmungsbilder aus tiefster Nacht, Gefühle von Übermüdung und stundenlangen Fahrten auf stockdunklen Landstraßen. Ambiente Musik für schlaflose Nächte bei sternenklaren Himmel.

Vinylfans mit etwas Geduld dürfen sich übrigens freuen: Neben der CD auf Touch ist eine Vinylversion auf Autofact in Planung, deren Erscheinungsdatum aber noch nicht festzustehen scheint. 5/6 [Sascha Bertoncin]

Touching Extremes (France):

There are records that ensure instant gratification to the senses and "The short night" happens to belong to that area. Sound artist BJ Nilsen found a way to organize and deploy his materials with a methodological rationality which nevertheless hides large quantities of aural pleasure. He mixed in fact field recordings from Sweden, England, Italy and Iceland with quietly unfolding electronic backgrounds - at times reminiscent of the best Eno - and harsher manifestations of saturated, oppressive static music, the whole obtained through an array of machines (minutely detailed by the author on the cover) of prevalently analogue derivation, yielding sonorities whose embracing, but at the same time dangerous warmth is at the basis of several moments of sluggish torpor. The distant voices perceived amidst the underlying drone at the beginning of "Finisterre" let us think to the cross of marine rumble and human presence typical of our childhood's days at the seaside, but it's soon taken apart by an outgrowth of semi-distorted pale resonance, while "Viking, CromartyŠ" is based on one of the most emotion-eliciting mumbles heard lately, upon which granular movements of uncertain origin build repetitive patterns and oscillations until we reach Rapoon-ish lands, then everything gets mangled by acrid discharges of electricity. There's actually nothing here that I didn't hear before in a form or another, yet Nilsen seems to have a knack for nailing the exact moment in which depth and charm should be exchanged, thus erasing the predictability factor from his creations. [Massimo Ricci]

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Wat in de sterren stond geschreven ,is met ‘The Short Night’ eindelijk gebeurd. Na jaren van zoeken, eerst als Hazard en daarna onder eigen naam, heeft BJNilsen zijn plaats gevonden en vindt hij succesvol aansluiting met zielsverwanten als Biosphere en Arvo Pärt. De experimentele muzikant legde in de laatste jaren een overtuigend parcours af. ‘Storm’ zijn samenwerking met Chris Watson waarop ze opnames van stormen in elkaar smolten, was een boeiende plaat en ook zijn samenwerking met Hildur Gudnadóttir en Stilluppsteypa leverde eveneens een paar heel mooie momenten op. Met ‘The Short Night’ groeit BJNilsen echter boven zichzelf uit. Als basis maakte hij veldopnames in Ijsland, Engeland en thuisland Zweden die hij nadien met behulp van analoge apparatuur subtiel verder inkleurt. Net zoals heel wat artiesten op het Touchlabel weet Nilsen een sacrale rust op te roepen die hij combineert met een ingehouden spanning. Het slotnummer ‘Vinking North’ dat op het einde doorkruist wordt door enkele radiostemmen is hier een mooi voorbeeld van. Het is vooral het oog voor detail en de intense sfeer die de muzikant uitmuntend weet op te bouwen die er voor zorgen dat Nilsen met dit album zijn voorlopig magnus opus aflevert. [PDS]

BJNilsen - Fade to white

Prefix (USA):

“Sound artist” can be an unattractive description to those wary of music created more by concept than by emotion, suggesting sterile exercises in studio trickery that can only be admired from a distance. It’s rare to discover experimental composers presented outside a daunting academic frame, and Swedish electronic artist BJ Nilsen’s Fade to White may seem better suited for multi-media installations than late-night headphone study. It’s an album that requires some patience and an interest in the technological processes involved, but it also forms an expertly organized abstraction.

Better known by his ambient alter-ego, Hazard, Nilsen has worked under the broad theme of a union between nature and technology. Some of his better-known tracks were built from sound recordings of local wind patterns first made for environmental study. The body of Fade to White is a series of slow altered drones, often arranged in wave formation: a persistent rise from slight hum to swaying, metallic cloud. Nilsen’s sources never reveal themselves, and dramatic shifts in his established pattern are rare, but the shrill “Grappa Polar” approaches the beginnings of melody, and the album’s final peak, “Nine Ways Till Sunday,” forms an ominous plateau before collapsing into shuffled units of fuzz.

Nilsen’s noise is not confrontational in the style of Japanese legend Merzbow, and he occasionally resembles a more abrasive version of ambient artists such as Tim Hecker, managing to create delicate structure from near atonality. Fade to White is far from an easy listen, but given time it can lead to an intense curiosity about Nilsen’s methods. He works in a field that’s very difficult to approach, making the personal affectations of this album an even clearer sign of his technical mastery. [Patrick Coffee]

Other Music (USA):

Last year, Touch Music brought us fantastic albums from Fennesz, Johann Johannsson, and Oren Ambarchi, among others. They're starting off 2005 on the right foot with a fine new release from BJ Nilsen, who has been recording under the name Hazard for a number of years. The incredibly powerful and dynamic tracks on Fade to White were created by layering field recordings from Central and Eastern Europe over studio recordings of acoustic and electronic instruments. Nilsen's editing and processing renders the original sounds virtually unrecognizable, transforming them into beautifully resonant and complex drones that gradually build to overwhelming crescendos. BJ Nilsen's compositions have a unique naturality. Though they don't exactly sound organic, they never drift too far in the direction of the cold digital world of laptop music. Fade to White is nuanced, melodic and highly listenable, an especially bright highlight in the Hazard discography. [RH]

The Wire (UK):

A sound like distant transport containers pounded by rubber mallets is succeeded by a single, wavering note that's increasingly underscored by dense, ululating undertones. The effect is tensely magisterial as if a king were standing on a cliff as it disintegrates into a stormy sea far below. The structural simplicity of this 10 minute piece, Purple Phase, combined with its textural detail and keening pitch makes for an impressive experience comparable to surveying a dramatic coastal landscape at length. Fade to White is Benny Jonas Nilsen’s first release since last year’s rather lovely Live At Konzerthaus Wien, issued by Touch on cdr. [Editor's note - no it wasn't. Although the series is called 'TO:CDR', it was actually a manufactured CD, not a CDR] It continues a fascination for environmental soundscapes but, unlike its predecessor, breaks proceedings into six tracks that range in duration between five and fifteen minutes. Each piece was recorded in open spaces around central Europe before being digitally remixed and arranged.

Dead Reckoning is denser and muddier than Purple Phase. It scuffles and scrapes at the eardrums as if trying to scour away an accumulated residue that might otherwise prevent its assimilation. Beneath the chilly vapours and surface scree of Let Me Know When It’s Over a tumbling piano motif can be spied, while parts of Grappa Polar are comprised of legions of patient trumpets. At least this is the impression intermittently conjured by Nilsen’s sonic sculpting, but like shapes seen in clouds, the trumpets and piano are an association of the mind that it’s difficult to verify the reality of. These soundscapes mirror the strange intersections of natural and manmade worlds in lengthy brooding passages that accrete into moments of elegiac grandeur. [Colin Buttimer] (UK):

Fade To Whiteeatingmovies - sleeve detailSince his early years as doom-laden
industrial act Morthound, pint-sized Swedish experimentalist Benny Nilsen (a.k.a. Hazard) has been a master of lonely, wistful soundscapes and the musical expression of loss and longing. Emotional versatility is perhaps not his strong point, but he has long been adept at working with his chosen palette and has honed it to a fine art, this album being no exception. "Purple Phase" opens with some indistinct machine rhythms, before expanding into a quavering drone, bleak yet somehow warm, that sets the tone for the rest of the album. It's never easy to describe drones in writing with much lucidity, but if you like the sounds the Swans were making before they called it a day, this will work for you - think electronic without sounding electronic, lo-fi soundtracks for films that will never be made.

It's not like the CD just consists of one homegeneous tone though, not like a few drone releases I could mention. "Dead Reckoning" is much more textured, with unplaceable organic noises clumping together all over some knobbly sonic surface, whereas "Grappa Polar" has a fuller, more orchestral sound, featuring stabs and squeals of high-pitched sound that resemble violinists with delerium tremens. Closing opus "Nine Ways Til Sunday", clocking in at a quarter of an hour, resembles some of the more recent Nurse With Wound drone compositions; tense and creepy, it features the indistinct sounds of plucked string instruments and perhaps even Honky-tonk pianos just below the surface, and ends with a couple of minutes of electronic creatures chittering away at each other in some bizarre digital menagerie.

According to the notes on the Touch website, much of this CD consists of manipulated field recordings and the sounds of performances in open spaces, with nature itself being roped in as an unwitting session musician. But I try not to dwell too much on process, as product is really what counts, and if delicately beautiful drones are your thing, you won't be disappointed. [Andrew Clegg]

The Milk Factory (UK):

Far from being a new comer, Swedish musician Benny Jonas Nilsen has released an impressive number of albums under a variety of names in the last ten years. Born in 1975, he become interested in experimental music at an early age, eventually releasing his first album, The Crying Age, under the pseudonym Morthond, at the tender age of fifteen. For the next couple of years, Nilsen continued his sonic explorations, inspired by the pioneers of experimental electronic music, releasing two more albums on Swedish label Cold Meat Industry, following a slight change of name, as Morthound.

In the mid nineties, aged just twenty, Nilsen shelved his original project and founded Hazard. With this new focus, Nilsen turned to more natural soundscapes while still taking advantage of the infinite possibilities of computer-based music, releasing a series of albums on Ash International, including a couple of collaborations with ex-Cabaret Voltaire and Hafler Trio mastermind Chris Watson, before joining Touch in 2002 with the album Land. A split EP with Biosphere and Fennesz and a live album later, BJ Nilsen returns with his first proper album published under his real name.

Built around three distinct pieces created during different seasons, and then edited, arranged and assembled during the summer of 2004, Fade To White is an impressive ambient journey through sounds. With outdoor field recordings sourced mainly during travels in Central Europe during 2003, and indoor recording made across Northern Europe in 2004, forming the basis of these six compositions, Nilsen also used acoustic and electric instruments recorded in open spaces, capturing the natural atmospheric substance of these moments to add more textures to his work.

The album opens with a series of pseudo mechanical sounds reminiscent of his work as Morthond, but, three minutes into Purple Phase, the sound of a distant drone begins to creep in, continuously gaining depth and substance until it becomes omnipresent. Its abrasive surface is matched by bleak sonic waves slowly waxing and waning in the background to set the tone for this record. The five remaining tracks all appear to draw elements from Purple Phase. On Dead Reckoning, Nilsen plays with what could be radio interferences or sounds of footsteps in snow, treated and arrange, contributing to give this track an unsettling twist which continues to grow as a dense cloud of sound emerges from the original noise platform.

Never a sound seems to appear in its original form here. Instead, Nilsen develops each one, crafting it to perfectly fit within the greater scheme that is this record, applying each sound precisely. Although his sonic assemblages can appear monolithic, they are actually finely detailed and intricately woven together, giving each track incredible depth and density. There are elements of contemporary classic and jazz, especially on Grappa Polar, on which Nilsen develops a string-based source to become at once drone and evolutive soundscape, yet his music is ultimately rooted in ambient, finding some affinities with some of Biosphere’s most recent work, notably the austere grounds of his Autour De La Lune album.

Fade To White is a beautifully crafted record, each track setting its own atmospheric scope, yet also contributing to the overall mood of the album. Although recorded over a long period of time and in various situations, Fade To White remains consistent in sound and structure, and proves a welcome addition to Nilsen’s extensive body of work.

Dusted (USA):

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. [Bill Meyer]

Aquarius (USA):

BJ Nilsen was a precocious youth, having recorded for the acclaimed Cold Meat Industries with his project Morthound back when he was only a teenager. By the time he was 21, he began working under the name Hazard. While the first Hazard album Lech was a bit of a clumsy attempt at tape loop trickery and elliptical dark ambience, his second album North earned him a well-deserved spot on the Ash International/Touch roster with his shivering gray drones and shadowy, X-Files paranoia. After having recorded 5 albums as Hazard, Nilsen may have dropped the pseudonym for good, although his minimalist signature mastery over electricity and ether remains firmly intact. Like the bulk of his Hazard recordings, Nilsen composed Fade To White from field recordings coupled with some acoustic and electric instruments; and his edits and digital processing thoroughly abstracts all of the original sounds into gliding dronescapes that are at once imposingly monolithic yet always intriguing and welcoming. Aside from a crunchy passage of sodden leaves being mulched underfoot at the beginning of the record, most of the source material for Fade To White is thoroughly abstracted within his majestic crescendos for slow-burning tonal interplay and subtle psychoacoustics. Really fantastic!

Coke Machine Glow (USA):

While I profess never having visited Nykoping, Sweden, judging by the online weather averages, I would imagine it to be a lush landscape nourished by the moderate rainfall it receives throughout the year. I would guess that the winters are cold, and that the summers are moderately warm. I would think the sun’s glare to be deceptively strong, particularly during the latter part of the skiing season, which would be excellent during the proper months. All in all, I’ve created a pleasant hamlet in my mind for jetsetters and tourists, one that begs to be populated by lovely B+B’s ran by married couples with rhyming names.

How could an artist who seems to revel in the sinister aspects of nature such as BJNilsen (a.k.a. Hazard) hail from such a potentially tranquil environment? His latest release, Fade to White, violently erupts through my tentative mental image of Nykoping like a jagged obsidian obelisk. Where there were once quaint cottages are now smelting factories, churning viscous black smoke into the air that rains down on the surrounding fields like ash from Vesuvius. No one lives near Nykoping and mothers warn their children to stay away from it. The trees have died; in their place a stretch of unfinished highway.

Since adopting the moniker Hazard, B.J. Nilsen’s work focuses on his relationship with both nature and time through a distinct ambient sound. Though Aphex Twin is an obvious parallel, Fade to White combines Fennesz’s electronic manipulation of live instrumentals with Chris Watson’s fascination with raw field recordings. However, unlike the aforementioned pair, Nilsen has little interest in melody or percussion, instead choosing to focus on a sound that could be considered industrial ambiance: an atonal M83, if you will.

An album such as this one was meant to be played in one sitting; discussing individual tracks are more similar to analyzing a Francis Bacon painting than a piece of music. However, every song has a unique aspect, a specific noise or glitch, that allows Nilsen to avoid repetition without taking away from the greater, albeit depressing mood. Synthesized horns vibrate and wail over what sounds like two wet rocks scraping each other drown on “Grappa Polar.” Although the beginning of “Dead Reckoning” more than likely is the sound of rain and wind fed through a laptop, I could not help but imagine the noise of wolves feeding. And a gently looped organ suddenly erupts into a cacophony of blaring synthesizer on “Let Me Know When It’s Over,” a track both hauntingly claustrophobic and coldly intelligent.

While there is a certain fatalistic beauty in the tones of Fade to White, something akin to a mammoth trapped in a clear glacier, the chasm between artist and listener caused by machine (the ever-present debate of electronic music) is vast. The final product of Nilsen’s work has more computer than person/nature, leaving Fade to White cold. Yes, this is deliberate, but almost too much so for its own good, thus alienating the listener. Example: for nearly eleven of the obstinently deliberate fourteen minute long “Nine Ways Till Sunday,” a painful screech plays in the background that becomes intolerable. Is this a truly avant-garde piece of music or simply an electronic artist not reigning in his own technology? I would tend to side with the latter.

That is not to say that Fade to White fails in its goals by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, Nilsen has created a niche for himself with his latest, albeit a lonely one. What inevitably separates Fade to White from, say, The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid, is both how original and how despairingly bleak Nilsen’s tracks truly are in their relation to nature. And what inevitably separates the casual from the hardcore ambient fan is who can repeatedly listen to Nilsen ’s metallically sober image of nature. [Evan Goldfried]

Amazon (UK):

Fade to White is Benny Jonas Nilsen’s first release since last year’s Live At Konzerthaus Wien. Environmental soundscapes obviously fascinate Nilsen (also known as Hazard), with each of the pieces on offer here being recorded outside, in open spaces, in numerous locations around central Europe, before being digitally remixed. After these sounds are arranged, they showcase the interface found when nature and non-nature collide: this is the sound of the wind whistling around a skyscraper, banging into bridges, brooding and rumbling next to a moody sea.

The Wire said Fade to White sounded "like distant transport containers pounded by rubber mallets [...] succeeded by a single, wavering note that's increasingly underscored by dense, ululating undertones". That tells you something about the interplay between the natural, the man-made and the digital at play here. The six tracks range in duration between five and fifteen minutes - the longer tracks tending to be the better ones because they allow Nilsen to work through his material and allow it to breathe. Purple Phase is, structurally, as simple as it comes, but over its ten minutes, it is that very simplicity that becomes so powerful - the textures are rich, the pacing exquisite.

On Let Me Know When It’s Over a piano can be heard, submerged, cowering, beneath the found-sounds; Grappa Polar has what could be trumpets. Dead Reckoning fights against itself - the open spaces of the other pieces is, here, more enclosed: a claustrophobic piece, built on scraps of scraping scrubland. Impressive stuff.

Brainwashed (USA):

The first thing I noticed upon picking up this disc was the cover, startling in its divergence from Touch photographer Jon Wozencroft's typically blue-toned design. The majority of images here are gradations upon a white scale, slow and detailed blends like the window ledge-fragment on the front, juxtaposed with the dramatic plunge into pure white of the tree silhouette on the inner sleeve. The choice of both title and design for Nilsen's debut full-length (under his own name) might not be coincidence; white, as a symbol of blankness or absence, seems the color most appropriate for the artist's recent work following years of recording as Hazard. Past Hazard releases, with names like Wind and Land, used a process in which environmental field recordings were transformed and obscured via computer and the addition of manufactured acoustic textures to create droning monoliths of hazy, indistinct but natural sound. Nilsen's relationship with nature has always been one of vague intent, his Hazard music forever avoiding the accessibility suggested by a "field-recorded" music. Fade to White, though, sounds like a conscious attempt to carry these sounds, however humble in origin, past the elemental abstractions suggested in previous titles and into a temporal realm of commonality and decay. Never have Nilsen's sources been more heavily obscured, though never have his compositions sounded so simply or weightlessly constructed. Perhaps taking inspiration from Nilsen's new-found love of the pipe organ, as documented on Spire and his prior live CDR, these six lengthy tracks are complex without being complicated, massive droning structures without weight or density, captured on the brink of a final dissolution. It's as if the insect frenzy, blizzard winds and hollow industrial spaces of previous releases are replaced now with echoes of an earthly movement, vestal remnants of the natural sublime reduced to its most basic melodic or textural parts. This music has an inertia separate from anything suggested by the naturalism of sounds or even rhythmic loops placed on top. Obscured textures move things in a perpetual fade-out doubling as perpetual saturation; I'm reminded of Bergman movies told in segments that overflow with light in perfect and anxious timing. I get the impression, based also on his recent collaboration with the unclassifiable Stilluppsteypa, that Nilsen has entered a new phase in his art, combining an exhausted reverence for natural phenomena with an interest in values that transcend or speak-through the natural world. Titles like "Grappa Polar," or the title of the new collaboration Vikinga Brennivin(a hallucinogenic Nordic liquor) indicate that altered states or the journey inside may now have eclipsed previous interest in the investigation of the surrounding world. Nilsen's Fade to White is a blindfold, a scraping clean of the canvas to discover which images are lost, which remain, and which are transformed. [Andrew Culler]

Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden):

Med Fade to white fortsätter Benny Nilsen (alias Hazard) sitt projekt att elektroniskt skapa musik av ljudinspelningar i huvudsak gjorda i naturen. Miljöljud frĺn resor i Centraleuropa blandas med statiska inomhusinspelningar frĺn Västeuropa och ljudupptagningar av instrument spelade utomhus. Resultatet är en tätt sammanbunden musik som genom sin atmosfäriska form ruckar pĺ sĺväl tids- som rumsperspektiv. Jag blir bĺde förförd och fascinerad av denna ljudvärld som mixar datormodifierade ljud omöjliga att härleda med elektroniskt färgade ljud av kyrkklockor, böljande vĺgor och prasslande vind. En musik som alstrar spänning mellan kyla och värme, massivt och poröst, rörelse och stillastĺende. En fast hĺllen rytm saknas pĺ de flesta av skivans sex spĺr, medan Impossibilidad närmast liknar en muterad dub. [Magnus Olsson]

VITAL (The Netherlands):

Still young of age and heart, BJ Nilsen (1975) is a mainstay in experimental music. His recording career started when he was 15 and he founded Hazard in 1996. As such he produced a couple of fine dark ambient CDs, but since some time he works exclusively on the computer, transforming his field recordings. These are made either outdoor or indoor throughout 2003-2004 in Europe. These field recordings can be open spaces in which acoustic and electric instruments sound, with a general love for the use of church organs. Once at home BJ Nilsen crafts his own new atmospheres on the computer by blending these various recordings together and a multi-layered event arises, which works on many levels. Occassionally the computer processings have too much control and plug-ins can be heard, but for the majority this is work of natural sounding beauty. Dark humming tones glide by, this ambient music of a more nocturnal kind. Daylight has disappeared and in the twilight the church organ breathes his last tones, captured in a big empty church. One man is there to share this with us, and his name is BJ Nilsen. In his catalogue of works this is the next step up. [FdW]

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

De laatste noten waren al lang uitgestorven, toch bleef ik zitten, luisteren. ‘Tarnan’ had minutenlang meegelopen met mijn hartslag. Geen mooier geluid dan het getik van de regen op mijn dak, geen mooier geluid dan de hartslag van een geliefde. Eventjes maar stal ik de tijd, waande ik me sterker dan de tikkende klok die onverbiddelijk doormaalt. Tijd is niets en eigenlijk ook alles, alleen al daarom geniet ik zo intens van elke klok die stilvalt, van elke klok die de strijd verloren heeft. Je steelt de tijd. Het is een illusie die ik graag koester. Laatst vroeg iemand me of ik een lijfspreuk had. Ik vertelde dat ik ‘Van hard werken gaat niemand dood’ koester als levensmotto. Het is eigen aan mijn roots, een deel van mijn cultuur. Vandaag kies ik voluit voor de zinsnede: ‘A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever’. Fluweelzacht en messcherp. Geluid is verplaatsing, muziek ook. Bj Nilsen en C-Schulz zijn geluidsarchitecten van een zeldzame soort. Ze passeren de grens van de techniek en schilderen hun eigen organische leefwereld. C-Schulz speelt accordeon en basgitaar en laat Harald Sack Ziegler hoorn spelen. Ik hoor niets van dit alles, ik hoor vooral minder en meer. Wit is hier een hoofdkleur, details krijgen de hoofdrol. Geluidsgolven zoeken hun weg, vallen tussen de plooien en nestelen zich in mijn hoofd. Ik heb geen levensmotto. Ik heb vooral platen die een heel eigen verhaal schrijven, vertellen, schilderen, gidsen. [pds]

Mana Mana (HU):

A svéd származású Benny J Nilsen a 90-es évek elején három albumot adott ki Morthound néven a legendás Cold Meat Industry-nál. Itt még nem voltak kiforrott elképzelései, a három lemez olyan mintha három különböző előadó készítette volna őket. Kis szünet után Hazard néven folytatta pályafutását. Munkássága négy album, amelyből az utolsó kettő már a Touch Records-nál jelent meg, legutóbbi nagylemeze pedig már saját nevén került kiadásra. Az album stílusa egy sajátos keveredés, a korai 80-as éveket idéző industrial, a jelenlegi modern kísérleti elektronika és a dark ambient között. Az album hangulatát tekintve illene a Cold Meat Industry új megjelenései közé is. A dark ambient és a kísérleti elektronika mesteri összehangolása - véleményem szerint - a Touch eddigi legjobb kiadványát hozta létre. A megszokott minimal ambient hangzáshoz egy kis mozgás, mozgalmasság párosul ezúttal, amivel páran már próbálkoztak de nem mindenkinek sikerült ennyire jól. Egyébként az a szerencsés helyzet állt elő, hogy a február közepén megjelenő korongot március végén az Ultrahang fesztiválon már élőben is tesztelheti a nagyérdemű. [Pék]

de:bug (Germany):


Civilization has fallen into its grave and a new ice age has begun. Frozen dreamers are buried in altered states of consciousness where the drone crystalizes pure primitive beauty. For a long time, BJNilsen, aka Hazard, has been resonating ambient ideas from the forms of nature, and this suite of six polar hums is his most accomplished yet. [Billy Hell]


Freemusic (Czechia):

Pomalou muzikou proti hektickým časům 10 - Touch
Pavel Zelinka, 19.04.2005 00:00, rubrika Recenze alb

Jubilejní desátý díl našeho seriálu věnovaného pomalé muzice všeho druhu zasvětíme renomovanému ostrovnímu vydavatelství Touch, respektive posledním dvěma deskám, které vyšly v tomto roce. Představíme si již zavedenou persónu na alternativně elektronickém poli - Bennyho Nilsena (Morthound, Hazard). Ovšem pozor, poprvé s deskou, kterou vydává pod svým občanským jménem. Druhým do party je zvukový experimentátor Jacob Kirkegaard, jenž pro posluchače zachytil dech matičky Země v blízkosti míst, kde se pracující pochody nitra země dostávají na povrch - na Islandu.

bjnilsencover.jpg BJ Nilsen - Fade To White
6 skladeb, 45:32, Touch / distribuce v ČR Starcastic

Letos bude Švédovi Benny Jonas Nilsenovi třicet. Mnozí nezávisle elektroničtí umělci v tomto věku teprve zrají. Ne tak Benny. Ten totiž již od svých patnácti let pod vlivem prvních ambientně elektronických veteránů, operujících ještě s magnetofonovými pásky, založil projekt Morthound. V polovině devadesátých let vydal postupně tři alba, na kterých předvedl svou vizi temného ambientu (This Crying Age), světlejší, etnicky zabarvenou elektroniku (Spindrift) a kytarově industriální hudbu (The Goddess Who Could Make The Ugly World Beautiful). Do druhé poloviny minulé desetiletky již vstupuje s novým pseudonymem Hazard. S ním přináší na celkem pěti albech více abstraktní, nerytmickou "přírodní" pomalou muziku. První album Lech zní ještě jako přechod mezi oběma hudebními koncepty, od druhého se upisuje vydavatelství Ash International, a navíc na albech Wind a Land spolupracuje s mágem přírodních zvuků Chrisem Watsonem (ex Cabaret Voltaire a Hafler Trio). V době vydání jejich druhého společného díla se píše již rok 2002 a Benny vydává u svého současného vydavatele Touch. Zde vychází pod smíšeným názvem BJNilsen/Hazard koncertní nahrávka Live at Konzerthaus, Vienna 6_12_03. Letos ji následuje novinka Fade To White již pouze pod Bennovým občanským jménem.

Koncept alba se opět motá okolo "polních" nahrávek a jejich následného zpracování. Cesta k výslednému tvaru není jednoduchá. Posuďte sami... Základem je zachycená atmosféra venkovních zvukových scenérií mnoha míst střední Evropy (Polsko, Estonsko, Rumunsko, Bosna a Hercegovina, Itálie), jež je doplněna statickým záznamem zvuků uzavřených prostor (Belgie, Švýcarsko, Holandsko, Rakousko). Z hodin nahrávek Benny vybírá vhodné pasáže, rearanžuje a remixuje původní materiál, který mísí se zvuky přírody a následně vytvořené, různě dynamické zvukové vrstvy kolážovým způsobem prolíná. Výsledek v podobě seversky chladné, ambientně odosobněné atmosféry má i přes veškerou prvotní bezútěšnost podobu recyklovaného hlasu země. Nenápadného hlasu plného foukajícího větru, proudící vody, pohybů země. Na rozdíl od výše zmíněných alb Wind či Land zde proběhly větší zásahy do původního materiálu, a výsledek je tudíž více technicky vyznívající. Šest výsledných zvukových pohlednic své tetičce asi nepošlete, budete si je ale moci v klidu znovu prozkoumávat a stále mít co nacházet. A to je jeden z největších kladů alba. [Pavel Zelinka]

DJ Magazine (UK):

Ten for today

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Les Inrockuptibles (France):

BJNilsen/Hazard - Live at Konzerthaus, Vienna 6_12_03

Dusted (USA):

30-minutes of BJ Nilsen (a.k.a. Hazard), working static hiss, wheezing electronics and the buzz of mosquitoes into an indescribably sublime mix. Headphone album of the year.


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. [I Khider]

Aquarius (USA):

The man we know better by his much more mysterious monicker, Hazard, steps out under his given name at this live performance, from a series curated by Fennesz in Germany in 2003. The sound though is unmistakenly Hazard. Using field recordings and found sounds, Nilsen gently blurs the edges of those recordings until they become indistinct and blurry, a drone of nature, crackly and warm, subtle and barely there. Not so much a drone record as a drone-y record. Lots of clatter and ambient detritus, footsteps, and passing vehicles, crickets and wind, but over the course of the performance, they shift and flow together until it's a warm and whirring wash of delicate low end rumbles and faraway shimmer. So beautiful.

xlr8r (USA):

Swedish musique concrete composer BJNilsen (aka Hazard)'s live document will make you drop everything and stare into space. His sound is distant, alien and yet seductive enough to draw you outside your house to drift through the streets, following its trail for hours on end. This 39-minute set at Vienna's Generator festival is a brilliant, watercolored symphony of murmuring drones, winds, thunderstorms, boat rickets and the odd bumblebee that reminds you that you're still on earth. Nearly everything is kept in the same key and saunters in a soft tone without ever pissing in your ear with bursts of feedback. 'Live...' proves that we should keep an eye on Nilsen. [Cameron Macdonald]

Pitchfork Media (USA):

Rating: 8.2 Filmmaker David Lynch loves to build things. In Lynch on Lynch, he told Chris Rodley, "Whenever you can build sheds, you've got it made. As soon as you capture some space and design how the shape of it is, mood starts occurring, light starts playing on the wall, and just to see it happening is unbelievable!" I remember another interview with Lynch where he talked about his love of forgotten spaces, places like utility closets, the area beneath a flight of stairs in an industrial building, and so on. What's interesting about the unexamined corners Lynch describes is that they have an ambience that comes from the most basic elements. Walls, floor and light combine to create a feeling, instantly. Something similar happens with sound. The way ductwork in an old building groans, the buzz of florescent lights, the rattle of a loose shutter, plumbing gurgling somewhere a few floors away. When I'm in a certain state of mind, I can fixate on these sounds, what filmmakers call "room tone," and let my mind wander. Swedish sound artist B.J. Nilsen, who also records as Hazard, apparently lives inside the sonic details of our everyday lives. Previous releases include Land, Wind, and Wood, all of which include, in part, processed recordings of the things described. Nilsen performed at the Vienna Opera House at a Touch event curated by Christian Fennesz (on a bill that [drool] included Fennesz and Philip Jeck), and Live at Konzerthaus, Vienna 06_12_03 is a recording of his set. The single 38-minute piece begins outdoors, with field recordings of thunder folded in on themselves, so the crashes and sub-bass rumbles happen with man-made frequency. Gradually, an industrial palette rises and overtakes the natural sounds. Nilsen is a whiz with atmosphere, creating held tones that blend perfectly with whatever ambient sound happens to meet them. I listened to this set at a medium level in my apartment, and it was difficult to tell where the recording left off and the world around me began. It was like my living space (which was admittedly a bit noisier than usual-- with the warm weather came more sound from the street) was engaged in a duet with Nilsen. The bus offered an even more interesting effect, and the grind of the coach engine slipped perfectly inside the music's whisper and hum. Rest assured, though, that Live at Konzerthaus, Vienna 06_12_03 is fantastic on its own at high volume, when nothing else but its rapturous drones can be heard. Field recordings come and go-- sounds of wind, buzzing bees, that sort of thing-- but the soul of the record is the subtle purr of vibrating metal. Gradually, the sound field becomes more dense and the textures more insistent. High-end static starts to creep in around the 20-minute mark, and the music develops a disorienting, psychedelic swirl. Over the last seven minutes, Nilsen erects a wall of pipe organ drone, pulled from material used to create "Breathe", his contribution to the Touch compilation Spire: Organ Works Past, Present & Future. It's an appropriate ending to an intense ride. [Mark Richardson, March 2nd, 2004]

VITAL (The Netherlands):

After a string of studio releases by Hazard, aka BJ Nilsen, follows a live recording made in Vienna last year. Hazard plays around with the notion of field recordings and the effect they have on human beings. Recentely he started to work with Chris Watson, who himself is the genius in the world of (untreated) field recordings. On his live concert in Vienna, Hazard adds another recent element of his field recordings to it: church organ sounds. Over the course of thirty seven minutes, Hazard plays some fine stretched out sounds, in which maybe the field recordings are no longer be recognized as such (save for some insect sounds), but in a rather subdued ambient setting. Cleverly building up tension, working towards a large crescendo at the end of the concert. A crisp clear recording with lots of care for the finer details that lurk in this kind of music. Just before this recording was made, I had the pleasure to see Hazard play similar material live and I was overwhelmed by some of the volume he put on, but in a controlled domestic atmosphere, one can adjust the volume to one's own needs and that makes this into a most welcome addition to his already fine body of works. (FdW)

Neptune Records (USA):

Christian Fennesz has started curating a series of events at the Konzerthaus in Vienna as part of the 'generator' series of live performances held there each month. In early December he performed with Philip Jeck and BJ Nilsen (a.k.a. Hazard) as part of the Touch night, during which Jon Wozencroft also showed his films. All the concerts were recorded, and BJ Nilsen's becomes the 5th in the Touch CD live series (following Philip Jeck, S.E.T.I., Fennesz and Rafael Toral). What starts as barely audible sound (possibly field recordings) slowly evolves into a resonating hum that ebbs and flows, becoming more intense throughout the duration of the piece, until near cataclysmic vibrations (that sound like everything all at once, but nothing specific), eventually give way only to dissipate back into the thin atmosphere from whence it came.

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

BJ Nilsen/Hazard


Various Artists
Sound Chambers

Bij voorkeur thuis te gebruiken / schudden voor gebruik. 2004. Feiten en fictie. Er is nog steeds geen betere muziekvorm te vinden waar DIY zo een pertinente rol speelt als in de elektronicawereld. Platen en parels worden geboren op de slaapkamer en experiment is nog steeds gemeengoed. Muzikale creativiteit die vaak niet vertaald wordt in het livegebeuren, want hoe goed er ook gezocht wordt naar een volwaardig liveconcept, de achillespees van de elektronica blijft het liveconcert. Twee opvallende actuele releases zijn Bj Nilsen en Sound Chambers. Beide cd’s zijn opnames van live-concerten. BJ Nilsen concerteerde, onder de vleugels van Fennesz die curator van de Touchavond was, op het Weense Generator Festival. Nilsen start vanuit natuurelementen, de plaat opent en eindigt met een onweer en het zoemen van een bij kondigt het tweede deel van de plaat aan, maar buigt het geheel soepel en efficiënt om tot een soundscapelandschap. Nilsen stuurt de hele plaat en speelt subtiel met het geluidsvolume en met de opbouw van het stuk. De opname verrast vooral door zijn evenwichtige en strak gehouden opbouw. Het slotstuk van de plaat, een openzetten van alle registers, refereert duidelijk naar de Touchrelease ‘Organ Works Past Present & Future’, waarop diverse geluidsarchitecten het typische geluid van de orgelklank interpreteren. ‘Soundchambers’ brengt drie meesters van de elektronische improvisatie, Ekkehard Ehlers (laptop), Joseph Suchy (gitaar) en Franz Hautzinger (trompet), samen. Sound Chambers is een architectonische, grafische en muzikale installatie die opgesteld staat in het Museu Serralves in Porto. Bin [Peter Deschamps]

Urbanmag (Belgium):

De Zweed BJ Nilsen of Hazard is de jongste telg van het experimentele Touch-label. Nilsen wil op zijn albums zowat alles tegelijkertijd zijn: hij profileert zich aan de zijde van Fennesz of aan de zijde van veteraan Chris Watson. Hij verzamelt detaillistische opnames van extreme weersomstandigheden (zie zijn cd 'Wind') maar maakt ook opnames van urbane fenomenen (zie zijn cd 'Land'). Op 13 juni 2003 was Benny met Fennesz en de Touch-crew te gast op het Generator Festival in Wenen. Zijn liveoptreden werd voor het nageslacht vastgelegd op de cdr 'Hazard 06_12_03'. In iets meer een half uur krijg je een overzicht van waar Nilsen allemaal mee doende is. De eerste 15 minuten krijg je onherkenbare natuuropnames. Vervolgens een Fennesz-achtig laptop-middenstuk. Nilsen vond trouwens onlangs een nieuwe nevenbezigheid als curator van het Touch-nevenproject 'Spire - Organ Works Past and Future'. Hier hoor je hem tijdens de laatste 10 minuten van zijn optreden ook nog eens bezig met tot het einde toe uitgerekte orgelgeluiden. Al bij al geen wereldschokkend document maar een onderhoudende cdr met een mooie dwarsdoorsnede van alle activiteiten van de heer BJ Nilsen. Oudgediende Z'ev is ook zo'n muzikant, die je onmogelijk kan enten op één enkel genre. De kale percussionist is al bedrijvig in de underground sinds het begin van de jaren '80 maar kwam pas onlangs opnieuw in de belangstelling door zijn activiteiten voor het New Yorkse Tzadik (voor 'The Sapphire Project') en voor het Londense Touch-label. Hij leverde onlangs een bijdrage aan het 'Spire' project en ging onder meer in zee met pianist David Jackman aka Organum. 'Tinnitus Vu' is een korte mini-cd van nauwelijks 16 minuten, die onderverdeeld werd in 4 stukken. De cd kwam tot stand toen Z'ev toevallig in Londen was en zomaar de studio van Jackman binnenstapte. De vier piano-akkoorden, die door Jackman opgenomen als basis voor een nieuwe reeks Organum albums, vormen de spil van het album. Daarrond weeft Z'ev digitale bewerkingen van veldopnames en wat subtiele percussieve elementen. Al bij al een beetje een mager resultaat voor de boomlange kerel met de onverwoestbare reputatie. [Peter Wullen]

Hazard - Land

VITAL (The Netherlands):

Well, here's a CD after my own heart. So much so, it inspired me to whip out my qwerty board and beat out a review in syncopated time. A compilation of tracks by person from an icy place, Benny J. Nilsen, recorded during his recent whirlwind worldwide Touch tour of well, of a few places he had to take a plane to get to. My modifiers segue nicely into the first track 'Substation', a mirage of another form of transport (a train) that spreads the bass port wide to allow one of Mr Nilsen's remixes of Chris Watson's wind recordings (see Touch) to whistle and rip it's fury. Nice one! Winds calmed, the laptop insects wind themselves up in typical plug-in display. 'Old Lead Mine' (a couple of moody Sylvian-like track titles here) cranks and clanks down into big space and softness. 'Windmill' (and the rest actually) made me quite nostalgic old timbre in a new coat, or something like that. I found myself back in the early days of ambience, when the word was fresh and considerably more precise and the drugs the same. Almost-melodies, no foreign bodies, arabesque harmonics, corners rounded. spinal trip, gone By the way, I didn't check to see if any of these tracks are off earlier releases (Touch, too), but why should I? This is great the way it is! (MP)

Phosphor (The Netherlands):

Benny J. Nilsen, born in Nykping Sweden in the mid seventies and now living in Stockholm, founded Hazard in 1996 after he stopped with his project Morthond. Nilsen was influenced by the early tape movements and its effects on humans, field recordings and the perception of time and space. The Baltimore based label Malignant released a very dark Hazard album in 1997 and due to that album and a few releases ("Wind", "Wood c/w Bridge/Field" and "North") on Ash International Hazard gained an enormous reputation among fans of ambient-industrial. His new album entitled "Land" is based on the live works from a Touch 2001 tour with Fennesz and Biosphere. The 11.18 minutes long openings track entitled "Substraction" seems to be the combination of extreem deep bass echos in a tunnel and a freezing polar wind (recorded by Chris Watson) Listening to it makes you feel cold shivers running among your spine. A few moments later manipulated laptop insects wind themselves up in typical plug-in display. As soon as the insects disappear Hazard takes you to one of his dark deep endless worlds in which emptiness is the only growing entity. It's all very pure and sophisticated, peaceful and frightfully beautiful.

All Music Guide (USA):

In 2001-2002, B.J. Nilsen toured Europe and Montreal as part of a Touch label showcase which also included Fennesz and Biosphere. During these concerts he continued to play with Chris Watson’s wind recordings, the base material for his 2001 CD Wind, released under his moniker Hazard. Land organizes excerpts from these performances into a suite that works like an extension of that fabulous album. It is not “Wind Live” so to speak, even though the music presents strong similarities with its predecessor -- enough to make this album slightly redundant. Wind came this close to masterpiece level. Its depth, artistry and originality ensure it a place in the pandemonium of laptop electronica. Land thins out the gravy. The music is nice, but it lacks the organic atmospheres of Wind. The set begins with the 11-minute “Substation,” by far the best moment on the album, not only because electronic processing happens entirely outside the listener’s ears, but also for its drama. Recordings of a subway train are turned into gigantic ocean waves in a wind storm. The first glitches and tones usually associated with laptop Improv surface one minute into the second track, “Church.” From then on, the music gradually moves away from the environmental recordings and closer to Hazard’s typical ambient electronica. Take this CD as an addendum - and most of all get Wind first. [FC]

? (Spain):

It's hard to say when one deals with minimalist boundaries like the ones I'm stepping on, but I would dare to say that Land is maybe more direct and focused than the prior editions of the project. So far seemed the more oppressive components of his darkest ages since the apparition of North; but even that said, listening to this I would say it has been a continuous evolution from a point of no return, as I have to insist in the more fluid, more dynamic quality of Land; when compared with its precedents, what makes me think it is unequivocally related to the live origin and goal of the compositions included here. A clear example can be found in the first cut, Substation playing with the recording of a train in a tunnel and the wind. So as I was trying to explain, lots of its sonorities may be easily recognizable; or well, more or less, don't take me wrong, of course all of these have been conveniently arranged for the occasion. But that value creates an especially unfiltered, purest, in one precise word, organic sensation, although we all know all the unjustified abuse this term has suffered in scenes such as Dark Ambient, etc. lately. And I even would say that I can find some passages more influenced by more melodic or at least easily listenable viewpoints, like in Windmill or Kissing Gate: firstly because an advised listener can deal with the work and assimilate it without as many attempts as other prior Hazard labours permitted, and on the other hand due to the almost total absence of coarse, rough or crunchy textures in the CD except for Church, the second track. Certainly everything seasoned by the Nilsen's coldness trademark and a lovely feel of the stereo panning.

About the artwork, the digipak and aspect of the disc look quite similar to that in Wind, although the cover of Land is pretty eloquent regarding the clash between Nature and technology, the paper and impact that human being has played towards Nature and what can be said from the aesthetics of electronic music. Absolutely distant from the synthetic exclusively laptop experiences of some of his contemporaneous, Mr Nilsen fuses both sides, inside and outside the machine, assuming a more unprocessed feeling that, as I've remarked, probably reaches one of its climax in these less granular last compositions.

Despite the fact of being a live representation, what we have here is in fact a whole new album that, even if it makes easily identifiable the typical Hazard field recording resonances (yes, maybe closer to Wind, not only because of the sonorous material, but because its evident chronological proximity in terms of development), we can say it presents a different Nilsen's facet that as a minimum avoids repetition. After having enjoyed one of his performances at the end of the last year, what one discovers is that, like many other electronic musicians, a show can be as well understood as a different oeuvre in which the artist works the way he can prepare a complete new issue, even if taking elements of the preceding; although I can't avoid pinpointing the brief duration of this one (39 minutes and 38 seconds), what maybe helps at some extent in the referred forceful and more straight side.

In conclusion, Land is again an obligated piece for those in love with the savoir faire of this young experimentalist or a possible introductory piece summing up, simplifying the main factors that have defined the perspective of Hazard. But since six paragraphs would sound simply plain trying to explore its artistic progress and philosophy, if you're still hungry and want to go deeper in what this sonic innovator has provided to the current Experimental scene, a nice chat with the man is waiting for you in our interviews section where, helped by the questions, Benny dissects each of the referred qualities that Hazard, and more precisely Land represent. What can future bring?, which past did bring us to this? Just at two clicks of knowing the answers.