Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Tobias Lilja : "Time Is On My Side" (n5md)

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tobias Lilja : "Time Is On My Side" (n5md)

n5md base the concept of their label around the mantra "emotional experiements in music". Last year saw the release of their most emotional recording yet, Last Days' epic "Sea" album. That collection of affecting compositions contained all of the hallmarks of n5md's individuality. Fast forward to 2007, and "Time Is On My Side" by Swedish electronic composer Tobias Lilja reinforces n5's commitment to music that is just that step ahead in terms of emotional intensity and creativity.

Lilja has created a sprawling album based around the concepts of time, choices and longing. Having spent two years studying sound engineering, Lilja was disillusioned with the boundaries of technical sound perfection. "Time Is On My Side" is his response to those barriers, a deeply emotive album that evokes images of decay and degeneration. Most importanly, though, this album is upfront and extremely intimate.

The most startling aspect of "Time Is.." is the way Lilja has incorporated his voice into the compositions, giving a feeling similar to "Bachelorette" period Bjork. His hypnotic voice is backed by a soundtrack of crumbling beats, static-soaked sounds and desolate melodies. Opening number, "A Ruthless Beast" sounds expansive, yet there's a real feeling of isolation an claustrpohobia, with Lilja remarking "Am I tied up or am I clinging on?.." over and over. In fact, this album is a mass of contradictions, it's dark yet shards of light seem to break their way through all the gothic gloom. It's bleak yet incredibly beautiful in parts. "Blood Tracer" is a prime example of this, intially enevloping the listener with a sense of remotelessness. Deadend beats collide with one another, almost like an almighty storm, as Lilja's multi-tracked voice, once again, becomes the focal point. This near nine-minute mini-opera explodes beautifully towards the end, though, culminating in a stunning mix of ethereal female vocals with despairing synths.

"Beginner's Optimisim", is another stand-out with a repeating cycle of strained orchestral sounds and supressed electronics. The beats seem to escalate euphorically, before subsiding into a mass of drones and filtered vocals, with Lilja again uttering "Am I tied up or am I clingling on..."

Lyrical themes are important to "Time Is On My Side", while the titles of some tracks ("A Settlement Of Dust, "Gas of Forgiveness") reinforce the sense of controlled despair. The latter allows desolate sounds to assemble ominously, while Lilja hypnotically informs us that he "slept like a king". Tracks like this bear some resemblence to some of the darker moments on Thom Yorke's "The Eraser" opus.

"Time Is On My Side" is the first important album of 2007. It is constantly interesting, grabbing you with a vice-like grip, suffocating the listener with each of the 11 apocalyptic compositions. At times it's bleakness seems relentless, but a subtle melody or a dim string passage breaks its way through now and again, conveying a sense of hope. It is not until the last static-drenched strains of "To Be Thought Of" that you can pause for thought. Lilja's brooding vocals ensures that this album is thoroughly captivating throughout. A constantly evocative and deeply personal recorded document, "Time Is On My Side" is an outstanding achievement for Tobias Lilja and an excellent find for the ever-impressive n5md.

Order "Time Is On My Side" here.

Rating = 90%

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