CD – 1 track
1. Live at Konzerthaus, Vienna
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]
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.