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Nest: Body Pilot

img  Tobias Fischer

Nest is the collaborative project of electroacoustic composers Huw Roberts (of Wales) and Otto A. Totland (of Norway). Body Pilot, Nest’s fifth release, is a suite of ambient compositions inspired by landscapes. Moving between organic and electronic source material, Nest paints quiet, sonic portraits inspired by the Earth and the cosmos.

While Body Pilot certainly has a uniform sound—one of quietly sustained chords and hazy atmospherics—the EP is split into two distinct halves. The first uses piano to punctuate quiet clouds of strings and woodwinds, offering a sense of melodic shape and harmonic progression rooted in the organic. In the sense of the record’s programmatic intent, these are portraits of “the Earth.” The album opens with “Stillness,” a composition described perfectly by its title. A pensive piano melody sounds delicately over a bed of quiet, sustained strings. Slowly, woodwinds are added to the piece’s single underlying chord, shimmering around a tonal center while the piano delivers clustered jazz chords with a quiet sense of child-like wonderment. The second track, “The Dying Roar,” begins as building tidal wave of dissonant strings and woodwinds before giving way to a quasi-classical solo piano figure that ends mid-phrase.

The second half of Body Pilot is more “ambient” in the traditional sense, concentrating entirely on texture and the manner in which dissonances beat subtley against one another. These two compositions use less organic sounds (strings, woodwinds, piano), instead employing the colors of synthesizers and unidentifiable samples. These pieces are sonic representations of the sky and of space. Koretz’s Meteor,” is a stormy swell off sustained tones oscillating quietly between two chords. Colored with swishing found-sound crackles and analog synth sounds, the piece conjures images of a slowly rotating celestial body beginning and ending in the vacuum of silence. “The Ultimate Horizon” builds imperceptibly from silence to a single shimmering chord of crunching synth, sub bass and beating overtones before returning to the void of nothingness.

Though the entire EP lasts only 20 minutes, it feels longer, because it literally covers a lot of space. Body Pilot initially offers a quiet image of the Earth seen from above, using acoustic instruments and field records to root the music with a sense of humanity and culture and familiar landscape. It then pans out to the larger picture—one of the unknown: beautiful vacancy and the amorphous quality of the unknown.

By Hannis Brown

Homepage: Serein Records

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