The Invisible City
[Touch # TO:77, 2010]
CD - 8 tracks
Recorded and Mixed during 2008-2009 in Berlin.
All tracks composed by BJNilsen using Tape Recorders, Computer, Organ, Acoustic Guitar, Electronics, Viola, Subharchord. Field recordings from; Sweden, Iceland, Norway, UK, Japan, Portugal and Germany. The Subharchord was recorded in the EAM Studio @ Adk, Berlin. Viola played by Hildur I. Gudnadottir.
Mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Published by Touch Music [MCPS]
Gravity Station: subharchord, pitch-regulated viola, amplified chair dragged across floor, window shutters, grand piano, virtual Hammond organ, steel whistle coffeepot, acoustic and electric guitars, B&K Sine Random Generator Type 1024, birdsong through B&K Frequency Analyser Type 2107, Studer B67, various DSP
Phase and Amplitude: bumblebees, acoustic guitar, Studer B67, various DSP
Scientia: birdsong feed-backed and overdriven through B&K Type 2107, B&K Type 1024, subharchord, wing-flaps and bird eating, virtual Hammond organ, door slam, glockenspiel, Online Voice Decoder, Studer B67, various DSP
Virtual Resistance: subharchord, birds, acoustic and electric guitar feedback run through B&K Type 2107, cat climbing up door, airplane, virtual Hammond organ, broken Fishman Parametric EQ, bowed acoustic guitar, footsteps on snow, Studer B67, various DSP
Meter Reading: virtual Hammond organ, train, Studer B67 tape cut-ups, boat ramp, feedbacked Ferrograph Series 4, various DSP
Into Its Coloured Rays: wasps run through B&K Type 2107, piano, dead trees leaning against each other, crows, Studer B67, various DSP
Gradient: acoustic guitars, virtual Hammond organ, B&K Type 1024, Studer B67, various DSP
The Invisible City: amplified chair dragged across floor, feedbacked Ferrograph Series 4, rain, acoustic guitar feedback, tapeloops of found sounds, various DSP
The Short Night
[Touch # TO:75, 2007]
CD - 7 tracks
A follower to 2005's Fade to White [Touch # TO:65], BJNilsen develops his work further, based on field recordings and electronics. This time he adds harsher yet clearer harmonies with musical elements to the compositions, creating a beautifully complex and detailed study. Recorded in 2006-7 with mostly analogue equipment, using up to 50 year-old tape-machines, filters and generators that end up being the soft cushion in these cold location recordings.
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 stunning electronic 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.
Chris Watson ¬ BJNilsen
[Touch # Tone 27, 2006]
CD - 3 tracks
“During December 2000 several significant storm fronts developed across the North Sea and Scandinavia.
Benny remarked to me that he had recorded some of these on the Baltic coast and proposed a collaborative cd project based around our mutual interests in the rhythms and music created when the elements combine over land and out to sea.
We spent the next few years gathering recordings on our respective coastlines and islands during the very active weather windows during the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. This was focused around our following one particular cyclonic system, which veers over Snipe Point on Lindisfarne to the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth, and finally descends upon Öland and Gotland where Benny listened in with a favourite pair of Sennheiser omnidirectional microphones.” [Chris Watson]
Fade to White
[Touch # TO:65, 2005]
CD - 6 tracks
Benny Nilsen writes: "'Fade To White' contains material from the making of 3 pieces which were created within a different season and then edited, re-arranged and re-mixed in the summer of 2004. 6 pieces contain outdoor field recordings from travels in mainly central europe in 2003 [Gdansk/Poland, Narva/Estonia, Sarajevo/Serbia Herzegovina, Arad/Romania, Trieste/Italy], and static indoor recordings from 2004 Stockholm/Sweden, Brussels/Belgium, Amsterdam/Netherlands, Vienna/Austria, Geneva/Switzerland.
I used acoustic and electrical instruments recorded in open spaces picking up the natural ambience, blending those with environmental sounds of nature and then arranged it in the computer, creating dynamic layers of sound that feed from one another."
[Touch # TONE17, 2003]
CD - 7 tracks
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! [Mark Poysden, VITAL]
[Touch # TO:CDR5, 2003]
CD - 1 track
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. [Dusted, USA]