BJNilsen & Z'ev: 22.22

Fear Falls Burning & Birchville Cat Motel: s/t

The X-ray imagery adorning the cover of the self-titled collaboration between Fear Falls Burning (Belgium resident Dirk Serries) and Birchville Cat Motel (New Zealander Campbell Kneale ) is well-chosen as the fifty-minute drone truly gets to the heart of the matter. It takes only about three minutes for the piece to kick into gear, with strangulated squalls rising from the metallic ooze to roam the rumbling terrain like a dazed behemoth. Fear Falls Burning's Epiphone Les Paul and Danelectro and Kneale's guitars, “cheap-o effects pedals,” and field recordings merge into a simmering, slow-moving mass with tinkling percussion added for psychedelic sweetening. Sixteen minutes in, the piece sounds more like two dozen organs jamming on a single chord than guitars, and the pulsating sludge, not surprisingly, swells in volume and intensity with each passing minute until it starts to feel like the most harrowing nightmare you could possibly have while fully awake. Faint cymbal accents briefly appear before they're smothered by scorched guitar howl, after which the comedown ensues and the layers melt away to a single tone before dying away altogether.

BJNilsen and Z'ev's 22.22 is split into three pieces, each twenty-two minutes and twenty-two seconds, naturally, with BJNilsen (formerly Hazard) opening the set with a quietly building, trance-inducing black drone. Wordless choral murmurs and organ enter at the eight-minute mark and the mood remains calm and peaceful until distant rumbles and clatter appear six minutes later, making the piece seem more like a drone performed in the middle of a war zone. Picking up the theme in his own piece, Z'ev opts for a much heavier approach, with artillery fire, shrieks, percussive rumbles, and smothering haze collectively generating a nightmarish mood of danger and threat. It's unclear whether the third piece (not listed on the CD case) is a collaborative effort or a solo exercise (being largely a showcase of percussive prowess, one presumes it to be Z'ev alone); regardless, it's actually a five-minute closer that's preceded by seventeen minutes of silence in order that it too weighs in at twenty-two minutes and twenty-two seconds.

January 2008