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Album Review

Second Childhood is an intriguing collaboration between B.J. Nilsen (aka Hazard), Helgi Thorsson and Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson of Stilluppsteypa, and Hildur Gudnadóttir, the latter being the lesser-known artist here (at least outside of her native Iceland). With these names on board, you don't expect something melodic, beat-driven or even childlike (as the album title may suggest) — and the music here is neither. Assembled as a one-hour set, Second Childhood is a very elegant drone, with moments of compelling beauty interspersed with stale passages. Nilsen's typically quiet field recordings dictate the overall mood, while Stilluppsteypa's abstract electronics bring in an extra dimension, adding depth and occasionally triggering changes. Gudnadóttir's contribution is harder to pin down, but surely important, since this album is definitely not the result of a simple Hazard + Stilluppsteypa calculation. The 19-minute "It's About the Size of a House" starts the album out on a gorgeous drone crescendo, filled with a microcosm of sounds, suddenly choked halfway into the piece to let its softer elements filter through. Another highlight is "The Direction Was Foggy or Cloudy," driven by an organ drone. For "I Have Seen Similar Stones," the quartet steps out of the drone feel to produce what comes through as a pastiche of early musique concrète — and a good one at that. There are a few weak or overstretched moments, and the album as a whole remains extremely quiet and low-profile, but it makes for a nice, attentive late-night listening. Note that the track list announces seven pieces, but the continuous material is split into only six. ~ François Couture, Rovi

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Second Childhood, Hildur Gudnadottir, BJ Nilsen and Stilluppsteypa
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