Michael Begg * BJ Nilsen

Michael Begg - Titan


If you know Michael Begg for his work with Fovea Hex only, his work as Human Greed or under his own name may come as a surprise: it is far more experimental – and often much darker in nature.

Titan – A Crane Is A Bride  is a great example of the way he merges experimental soundscapes with theatrical orchestrations.
It is the stereo version of the quadraphonic work commissioned by Cryptic for the 2017 Sonic-a Festival: a location project housed in the wheelhouse on top of the Clydebank Titan, 150 ft above the river Clyde.

The Aeolian Harps that were stationed at the top of the crane for the duration of the festival are the main performers here. The sound of the wind playing with the strings can be manipulated somewhat, but they will always stay incalculable by nature. Begg’s instrumentation (strings and electronics) leaves the song of the aeolian harps intact but adds a striking emotional dimension to it. It is as if the Titan Crane tells its tales – fierce, sad, contemplative –  struggling against the wind, and warns us about the state of the world we live in.

“In the face of a sociopolitical climate increasingly founded on fear, mistrust, closing borders, and the enforced alienation – geo-politically, economically, culturally and psychologically – of nation states and their populations, Titan stands, brazen and severe, as an articulation of the increasingly endangered idea that real strength, real character, real value, is in the realm of reaching out with all the skills at ones disposal – engineering, manufacture, imagination, collective endeavour, BUILDING – to connect with the world beyond our borders.”

Industrial field recordings are often just that: objective recordings of sounds. But with Michael Begg’s instrumentation, the Titan Crane feels like a living creature. One that tells us an important story.. if only we listen.

I personally hope the surround (quad) version will also become available in the future. But this stereo version definitely is immersive – and impressive – enough too!

BJ Nilsen - Massif Trophies


While Michael Begg places his field recordings in a musical setting that alters its origins, BJ Nilsen often presents the sounds of nature as it – and in unmatched sound quality.
I assume there will still be a lot of editing and sound manipulation necessary to get to a sonic result like this, but still it feels as though you are actually standing at the original recording location.
Before listening to Massif Trophies, you might keep some extra clothes at hand – a hiking trip in the Gran Paradiso alpine mountains does not guarantee good weather.

It’s not ‘just’ the Sound of Nature, however – above all Massif Trophies is a, experimental, ‘musical’ album. Details like background drones and manipulations of the environmental recordings are added to tell the story of the tough trip through the mountains.
The album starts with the natural sounds of thunder (Alpe Djouan, Rough Grazing), but also presents a drone piece where the environmental sounds are moved to the background (Eaux Rousses).

“Drawn to the monotonous and physical effort that mountains and high altitudes contributes, this [hiking trip] became one of the main inspirations for the album, reflecting upon the perception of the landscape during several hours of physical difficulty, let alone rapid weather changes, horizontal thunderstorms and rock avalanches.”

Especially recommended for all of us that like adventurous armchair travelling!

Note: Bandcamp link only offers digital download. Click this link to get the vinyl version.

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