BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa
Big Shadow Montana
LP / Digital Download
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Vinyl available through the Helen Scarsdale Agency: $18.00
After producing their frozen trilogy of intoxicated dronemuzik for the Agency, these Scandinavian gentlemen have ventured into more absurdist territories through fictionalized soundtracks for imagined Mondo films and science fiction serials. It is in this context that BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa present the apparitional Big Shadow Montana, an album of slow-motion delirium manifested in occluded smears, nocturnal gasps, and arcane tones from a variety of analogue synthesizers. Amidst the near constant wash of bleary-eyed etherialism, Big Shadow Montana cycles through several sonic themes and leitmotifs, displayed in varying states of clarity. In these transitions between half-remembered phrases and bleary-eyed thrumming, the album emerges as if it were the aftermath from a protracted bout of metaphysical channel surfing. Flickered impressions flash in conjunction with Breton's manifesto of Surrealism in the form of the memories from happily drunk escapades in the heart of winter, the sidereal spells cast by the innerspace travelers Klaus Schulze and Coil, and the nagging questions of existential portent: "Was that bassline from Goblin, or was it German Oak? Maybe something from Faust IV?"
The trio of Nilsen, Sigmarsson, and Thorsson elegantly twist and bend these fleeting images into a spiraling symphony of bubbling electronics and spectral drones that mutate on both sides of the record into lugubrious yet carnivalesque waltzes. When this first appears, it is the echoing undercarriage of a simple melody, bobbing amidst rattling chains and cascading cymbal crashes only to dissolve into sequences of cold-war era tone beacons and empathic swaths of maudlin sound design. At the second occurrence, the melody washes ashore on the Iceland beach, where nude Viking men and women try in vain to get a tan when the sun is just barely going to rise above the horizon in the winter months. It is a pyrrhic jubilation of calliope harmonies set down by organs and synths turning a pale-blue hue in the wake of all that white skin shivering underneath the arctic sky.
A hauntological album? Quite certainly. And yes, the vinyl does come with a download code.