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Fade to White

BJ Nilsen

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Album Review

With Fade to White, B.J. Nilsen abandons his Hazard moniker and Chris Watson's wind recordings (which have largely defined his sound since his breakthrough album Wind), but his artistry remains untouched and the music is as captivating as ever. If the technique and the approach are the same, the sound sources have changed, which makes Fade to White the exact opposite of Land: new and relevant. Nilsen treats his sources more extensively, their true nature now buried in multiple dreamy shrouds of reality. As usual, Jon Wozencroft's cover photographs add possible clues (or divert us from the true answers). "Purple Phase" opens on cavernous sounds, as if Nilsen was revisiting Janek Schaefer's Cold Storage rooms. Soon though, other sounds seep in, from twinkling filtered high frequencies to low rumbles, field recordings, and electricity. The inverted picture of a twisted leafless tree on the inner flap has a striking resemblance to a lightning bolt and; the crackling and hum of electricity seems to have replace the spinal role played by wind in Nilsen's previous three albums as Hazard. In any case, any interested listener will quickly put such considerations aside, for no matter what Nilsen uses, he uses it well. If "Purple Phase" makes a slightly cold opener, the five remaining pieces all draw the listener in a state of captive reverie. Orchestrations are seamless, evolving naturally, the music inhabiting the listening space, shimmering and sparkling. "Let Me Know When It's Over" and "Impossibilidad" are both brilliant examples of how experimental ambient electronica can be gentle yet complex, intelligent yet sensual. The closer "Nine Ways till Sunday," the longest piece at 15 minutes, features the only surprising moment of the set, an interrupted climax of near-violent proportions, followed by a strange quiet coda — a finale that amends the butchered one found on the limited-edition 06_12_03: Generator Festival, Konzerthaus Wien. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Fade to White, BJ Nilsen
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