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Niilas (Norway) – Driving To Gárasavvon (track from forthcoming album)

We cover all manner of new releases in NMC. The most recent ones have been the closest we’ve come to mainstream pop so it’s almost a welcome diversion for 10 minutes or so to appraise Niilas (Peder Niilas Tårnesvik) with his all-embracing electronica. It’s so powerful you’ll think you’ve been watching the final moments of 2001 – A Space Odyssey while listening to Swans without ear protectors.

Niilas is an electronica producer from Bergen who received acclaim for his last album ’Also This Will Change,’ a  Spellemann 2020, (‘Norwegian Grammys’) winner. Periodically we feature experimental electronic artists, usually solo ones like Niilas, but few are this intense.

The track is from a new album, ‘Stone Skipping,’ which will be self-released on 20th May.

I thought it might be worth checking where Gárasavvon is, in case it threw any light on the track’s meaning. It seems it is a part of the northernmost locality in Sweden and also known as Karesuando, bordering Finland, in the Sami speaking trans-border area which encompasses those two countries as well as Norway (which is only 20km away) and parts of Russia. Having said that, it isn’t exactly off the beaten track, being located on European Route E45. Here endeth today’s geography lesson.

In fact we’ve featured a Sami artist or two along our own road, and the video for Bina’s song ‘Northern Lights’ was also shot in that area. There is apparently a Sami electronica movement that Niilas has dipped into.

The track is described as a “road-trip” one and as the “climax of the record.” It sure as hell beats Chris Rea’s ‘Driving home for Christmas.’

Don’t expect its 11 minutes to be an easy listen. It mixes ample synthesisers with heavy percussion in the way you’d expect a top electronic artist to do along with assorted recordings and sanṭūr stringed instrumentation (think hammered dulcimers and zithers) courtesy of Mirsaeed Hosseiny Panah thrown in for good measure. Not to mention the sampled Nils-Aslak Valkeapää & Esa Kotilainen track ‘Eanan, Eallima Eadni.’

Think of the likes of Katie Gately and Sweden’s Klara Lewis and you won’t go far wrong. Except that if anything Niilas is even more forceful.

At times he sounds like a Canadian lumberjack trying to yodel, while Santa’s reindeers’ hooves clop along the tarmac of the E45. Or is it the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

The PR refers to ‘detailed soundscapes’ and that has to be one of the understatements of the year. Musically, there’s so much going on that it could be the music to the birth of the universe. Or its end.

It’s ambient but this is a road trip, you won’t be spending any time in an airport.

And in the midst of all that he even manages to find a toon from time to time.

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