Anders Brørby - Nihil - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Anders Brørby - Nihil

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2016-03-24

Anders Brørby has crafted a real work of beauty with Nihil, slipping back and forth between lush ambience and more aggressive electronic in the vein of Future Sound of London. There are some darkly droning sections as well, but the overall vibe tends toward the meditative, and the set suffers from very few missteps.

A lot of the tunes here remind me of Future Sound of London in their more ambient moods. The opener, 'When You Look into the Abyss' (yes all the titles are like that, gloomy and apt), is a perfect example of this, sounding like some of the interstitial bits on Dead Cities, all echoes and large pieces of machinery grinding and banging around in the distance.

'As Dead As the Stars We Watched at Night' (told you), lifts off into space, with scratchy radio transmissions in the background giving it a mission to Mars vibe, before things take a major turn for the creepy with long, drawn out bass lines carrying wispy clouds of synth haze across before a nightmarish, screeching blast of noise resolves itself from the mist, indicating this mission has gone horribly, terribly wrong. We're talking face-suckers here. It's just an utterly bleak and devasting wave of doom that's tough to listen to. It has something of a coda in the later track 'The Logic Destruction of Man', which has more transmissions and another fizzy blast of static pushing through a morose fog.

'Bodies in the Water' brings in some FSOL-style micro-synths, glittery little jewels, and a bunch of seagull samples to place you right on the beach, where you can get a good view of those aforementioned bodies. As in many of the songs here, once the scene is set, a real sense of timelessness is achieved with the huge, gaping slabs of sound Brørby crafts. You're just stuck, drifting, watching and waiting, with nothing to grab hold of.

'I Will Always Disappoint You' and 'Put Your Ear to the Ground' veer off in a much more aquatic direction, with the ambient gooeyness of Biosphere or Ken Camden. And 'You Have Made Me No Longer Afraid of Death' is straight up Biosphere: gentle pads, super slow melody, and a whirring, rattling hum in the background. Then there's 'From the Window Above the Lake', which starts quite and ambient, but builds up to a bleak, grinding wail and then descends into noise. It's probably my least favorite track because it's both depressing and grating, and tries some of the same things that 'As Dead as the Stars We Watched at Night' does, but with less success.

'The Knives in Her Eyes' is mostly a piano piece, and it's another downbeat song, slow, empty, and sad. And the final track, 'We Sat in Silence, Watching Each Other Disappear' is a perfect finish for the set on its own terms: nostalgic, miserable, yet somehow there's a glimmer of optimism hiding in the gauzy folds of sound.

This album is excellent, but it can be emotionally challenging depending on one's mood. Sometimes it works as ambient music, but others it can leave you feel drained and as though you've been dragged through a muddy graveyard filled with the tombstones of dead ancestors. Tough but utterly worthwhile stuff here.

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