Focus Intensity Power (Moving Furniture Records; LP/DL)
Released in a limited edition of 300 via vinyl on August 24, the latest from BJ Nilsen, the Swedish sound artist and field recordist based in Amsterdam, harnesses a powerful new sound. Opening with the fifteen minute Beam Finder, a wavering sound field emerges. This is pure modern machine music. The trance-inducing pulse imitates the low oscillations of an industrial generator, and the longer it goes, the more intense its impressions. The pitch and tone seem to waver some about eight minutes in, though it could be a test of least resistance. The built resonance is neither harsh nor aggressive, more centered and emanating from within. It’s not until the ten minute mark that a crackling vinyl pop ignites a bit of warp and higher pitched drone relegated to the distance. The two layers play off each other in a dueling atonality that plays with process. In the end it’s a bit of a broken space warp aware of its own edges.
The Sound Of Two Hands follows on a lengthy one-note as if played on organ, until bouncy sound effects and atmospheric synths enter. It’s like an animated coda, a meta take on his previous work, it’s more fun than serious in scope with half whistle and buzz. A timer is added, over the continued industrial scape. After a bit it feels as though I’m trapped inside this clock/device ticking, counting down. The layers vanish and reveal only portions fizzling away into a quasi dark ambience which is then picked up, with more lubricious drama on Flattened Space. It’s dank in here, you can almost hear each bead of sweat rolling away, into the ether. A dragging sound is balanced by a hive-like buzz that just levitates.
I can most definitely appreciate when a title matches the content, and there is an uncanny sense of focus on the intensity of power herein – and with it this understanding of space, the containment of, and the breaking free from. Nilsen, with many years under his belt to do so, has developed a way of delivering the most keen sense of atmosphere. It rides the edge of creepy but never goes there. His sound explores dark metal and experimental electronics but is both and neither. This esoteric mix is cerebral, and you could easily get lost in the Table Of Hours. The track writhes in an exotic ambient that is as silky as it is slithery, and that is the exact dual tension that the artist delivers in a broad spectrum on Focus Intensity Power – it’s a new chapter for the in-situ inspector. For the finale, The Limits Of Function tests the theory with a crusty electronic layer embedded with undulating waves and low-hum cracks. It’s perfectly mysterious, and uses subtle amplitude to build a shallow peak that paralyzes in psychedelic gray tone hues. Nilsen modulates the layers in such subliminal ways here. Best to listen in a dark room with little outside ambient noise. After it’s over the impression is only a sense of hallucination.