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BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa/Anla Courtis – Golden Circle Afternoon

Editions Mego

BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa/Anla Courtis - Golden Circle AfternoonRecorded across two continents and one island not exactly in between, as well as in various environments on tour in Europe, BJ Nilsen (AKA Hazard), Stilluppsteypa and Anla Courtis (from Reynols) each bring their own particularities to the jump-cuts and drone-fades of Golden Circle Afternoon.

Of course, it’s often difficult to determine who might be responsible for what – some pass notes are offered up, but they’re almost as obscure as the music. The theme is travelling, so taking the album as a journey, it’s a fairly relaxed one at first, slurred and processed voices circling with intent to drone, clatters and clacks gearing up for ignition and making an arrhythmic procession through the lysergic straits of audio hallucinations. It’s a trip more than a ride, a slide down the rabbit hole more than a cruise on the autobahn; there are few roadsigns and no-one seems to have packed a map; or if they did, each has one from separate territories overlaid with psychogeographical waypoints determined by who know what particular mystical mystery tour guide to the outer suburbs of inner space.

Nilsen, Courtis and Stilluppsteypa are veterans of a thousand psychic campaigns, a slew of discs and tours notched on their flight cases and stored on tapes both virtual and magnetic to prove it. So it’s not much of a surprise to suddenly find that while concentrating on the rush and rumble of real-world sounds layered and stereo-panned (imagine the distraction possibilities of a surround-sound mix…) that the outside world has become the one inside the brain-pan; that tunnel hearing is crawling with unseen chaos at the peripheries; and that it’s gone decidedly outré on Side A’s “Aurora Australis”. Is this a power electronics ear-cleanser or a psychedelic scare story to tell the grandkids when they ask what it was like out there on the edge of sanity?

Perhaps, then, it’s a darkly ambient glide through a visionary landscape, and the conductors and tour guides are deftly combining and recombining their schedules for the listener’s pleasure, shifting and swapping a texture here and a warbling tone there, a half-hinted chord and a repeating loop sending the signal. The crew draw down, kick back, go with the flow, let the monks do the driving (though they might fall asleep at the controls, singing and chanting idle snatches as they go) until the glitches tear away the fogged-up fabric of space-time reality and declare, according to side B, that “Fish Is God”.

And so it comes to pass that signifier and sign become estranged and rather muddled; that the mists of time can, when comprehensively stretched, layered and multi-tracked, be turned back and made whole again, if not necessarily as recognizable passages from simple A to complex B; and that the churning and bleeping in the ears might be an indicator of a sonic attack on a nearby district (or that the LP is stuck in an interesting and perhaps somewhat non-Euclidian groove), judging by some of the groans – whether in pain or relief is not exactly certain – and crunchy auditory collisions which occasionally emanate from the speakers.

Together, Stilluppsteypa, Nilsen and Courtis demonstrate that sometimes it is actually possible to move without moving, to hear without comprehending the true source of what’s being heard (or assuming that anyone involved ever really did either) yet still getting it, of liking where Golden Circle Afternoon is coming from and digging where it’s going, going… gone.

-Linus Tossio-

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