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BJ Nilsen, Stilluppsteypa & Anla Courtis: Golden Circle Afternoon (Editions Mego)

This two track sprawl is a sort of unconventional sonic travelogue of European tour undertaken by Argentine guitarist Anla Courtis and experimental sound sculptors BJ Nilsen and Stilluppsteypa. Nilsen has collaborated with Thorsson and Sigmarsson of Stilluppsteypa before, but I’ve not heard much of it prior to this. It certainly has plenty in common with Nilsen’s own recent wandering sound diary of Eye of the Microphone, with its unusual juxtapositions and sound manipulations. As to who really contributed what, I’ve no idea… the mix is continuous even as abrupt edits break it into more discrete pieces. Having done a North American tour (as auxiliary personnel to Australian EBM act AngelTheory), I know what that experience is like, keeping odd hours, never staying in one place for very long. It can be simultaneously overwhelming and tedious; taking in so much geography and culture in a short period of time but rarely having much time to digest it or really interact. So I find there to be something quite compelling in the often elusive forms of Golden Circle Afternoon, with crescendos of noise, bending, haunted drones, bursts of abrasion, and more telling a vague yet engrossing aural account of the foursome’s touring experience.

The often abrupt shifts in sound work well against otherwise patient stretches of manipulated voices, drones, and field recordings, often recalling for me the most bewildering sounds of vintage Hafler Trio or Nurse With Wound. The second half’s recurring, patient waves of noise and dissonance are effective at distorting the mood and keeping listeners on their toes. The end result is both sonically interesting and at times downright creepy, harnessing each collaborator’s ability to shape sound in elusive and beguiling ways.

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