BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteya / Anla Courtis - Golden Circle Afternoon LP
Label: Editions Mego
Ah, the plight of the supergroup touring the world with fits of drunkenness, wanton groupies, the drudgery of long travel days, and of course a couple of good gigs between. Such is the fictional landscape mapped out by the dada-punk sound artists BJ Nilsen, Sigtryggur Sigmarsson & Helgi Thorsson (aka Stilluppsteypa) and Anla Courtis. Nilsen & Stillupsteypa have been working together for many many years now, alternating releases between Editions Mego and The Helen Scarsdale Agency, proving to be a rare commodity in the realm of avant-electronics that a collaborative project can develop beyond the one-night stand of hedonistic improvisation followed by bouts of slumped file-sharing. No, their wintery psychedelic collages of existential madness, sheering drone, VHS horror sound design and Haflerian confusion have developed into one hell of an expressionist vocabulary. In bringing fellow paratactic musician Anla Coutis into the fold, the notion of these four embarking on some stupid-ass world tour akin to the Travelling Wilburys seemed apt. So, they ran with it in the same lysergic madness that Leif Elggren musters in his ludicrously brilliant art forms. The languid drones of the opening number "Aurora Australis" (named for the southern hemisphere polar-light phenomenon) suspends cryptic field recordings and nocturnal creaks upon corona-glow drones that ebb and flow with a psychological tension that Lynch & Splet mastered on the Eraserhead soundtrack, but here pocked with frightening gasps for air and violent jabs of noise. Side B's title "Fish Is God" seems like the punchline to a surrealist's knock knock joke; and if that may be an apt analogy, these four take that credo of absurdity rather seriously. Rolling out oceanic swells of rippling tone that rise up its tidal crescendo only to have its motion cut out with a dramatic tug to silence before an unsettling chunk of guttural vocalizations of an one-man orgy fitted to scabs of fragmented white noise. It's hard to really tell what Courtis may be up to in these procedures, as the album is very much a continuation of those amazing records that Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa have crafted over the years. Brilliant stuff.