B.J. Nilsen

The Invisible City

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B.J. Nilsen's follow-up to 2007's The Short Night is in essence an extension of the well-crafted drone and found-sound ambient aesthetic of that and earlier work, but then again, there's little surprise that Nilsen would not radically change his approach. But The Invisible City has something in it that is a distinct difference, namely a kind of subterranean focus on the possibilities of entrancing -- often ominous -- rhythm that suggests the most aggressive work of composers like Robert Hampson. Short songs like "Phase and Amplitude" especially seem to show this off, but the longer tracks on The Invisible City are no less able to explore this -- the highlight being "Virtual Resistance," which goes through the greatest transformation during its length. Beginning with crazy, almost cracked sounds, its main tones take a more soothing approach that ends up leading into an extended section that almost -- but never quite -- feels like it's about to suddenly explode into a full-on rock rampage. The tension, accentuated by the concluding appearance of shuffled, ghostly beats of sorts, is exquisitely handled, reflecting what might be his best individual piece to date. The opening "Gravity Station" helps set the possibilities as well by starting with calm yet high-pitched drones before swirling chaos settles in toward the end, like the station of the title is heading to Earth at a rapid rate.

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