BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa
Big Shadow Montana
LP HMS 020

April 2011

     In contrast to the way I felt about their last collaboration, Space Finale, Big Shadow Montana is a dynamic, ever changing composition that mixes random sounds, droning electronics, and even some actual, albeit odd, passages of music into a perfect soundtrack for a '60s exploitation flick that never existed.
     A single piece split over two halves of vinyl, each actually functions on their own, but feel best played as a whole. The A side opens with gentle, pensive drones that expand with a sense of nostalgia, through faded photographs and lingering dust. Occasionally, melodies of another time seem to be carried in by icy winds, as are ghostly passages of lost radio transmissions. Looped basses and clattering wind chimes appear as a more forceful, dominating element in the slow, dream sequence like passages.
     Through this, the occasional odd bit of voice appears, along with some pretty notes and odd creaking noises amid the huge walls of heavy ambience that are broken up by what sounds like expansive harmonium. As the half ends, the constantly evolving and flowing sound ends on some truly bizarre waltzing Casio keyboard sounds. On the flip side, the music is more spacy, psychedelic, and a bit playful. Modular synths and weathered textures abound, forcefully over some subtle melodies. Overall there’s a more restrained, chilled out sound, even in the open canyons of sound, with the occasional outburst of radio transmissions and what sounds like passing UFOs.
     The absurdity goes on to even greater heights, where the Casio sounds reappear in an outright bit of lounge music, which has the right level of kitsch to be fun and not obnoxious. All the while the sonic debris from this bit of pure oddness are processed and effected into completely weird, but brilliant passages of sound. With almost mournful, icy sounds on one half and weird, absurd science fiction vibes on the other, it makes for an odd combination, but one that really flows beautifully together. Compared to the sprawling Space Finale, Big Shadow Montana is a more concise document that is both fascinatingly complex and bizarrely fun at the same time, a pairing that just sadly does not come along often enough. -- Creaig Dunton