“Again it made me long for another life…” sings Nils Bech on ‘Glimpse of Hope,’ a raw lament with interludes of upbeat percussion and a postlude of delicate string motifs. The multi-talented, Norwegian artist finally released his new album ‘Echo’ last week. From his debut record ‘Look Back’ which came out in 2010, Bech has repeatedly established himself as somewhat of an anomaly and a visionary in Norway’s music scene. Though he never attended art school, the influences of dance, theatre, and performance art permeate his work — and this fourth album reflects even deeper exploration and experimentation.
It seems that Bech is entering a new season, with ‘Echo’ as his first official collaboration with the New York City-based label, and the young DJ and producer, Drippin’ from Bergen, who has gained wide recognition for mostly his work with rappers. The atmosphere created here is slightly more ominous and futuristic than his previous pop-infused LPs. Though his inspiration still stems from the complexities of romantic love, the alienation, anxiety, and nostalgia exposed in these pieces can be felt by anyone living in the modern world. He straddles dystopian and utopian existences, previewed by his opening single ‘Waiting.’
As a classically trained singer, Bech’s musical decisions are reminiscent of 16th century sacred choral music, his milky voice soaring over primitive, industrial, unclassifiable sounds. The contrast is powerful. With melancholic intensity Bech’s voice draws you into his inner life, a narrative that provokes a need for movement and reflection, while Drippin’s unapologetic beats and edgy production balance out his sensitivity. Like a bioluminescent creature, each song has a hypnotic beauty in which listeners feel unsure whether to embrace the allure. We ultimately do, because we know there is reconciliation. Sounds of shattering glass are coupled by dovetailing, interweaving melodies in ‘Please Stay.’ The album ends on a gentle note with the reinvented tracks ‘Jealousy’ and ‘A Sudden Sickness,’ a personal visit to past records ‘One Year’ and ‘Look Inside.’
Nils has always described himself as “a feminine man” (http://www.polarimagazine.com/interviews/nils-bech-interview), and the polarizing aspects of ‘Echo’ are a perfect culmination of his self-portrait that will tempt many to remix and make it their own anthems. The ever-expanding universe of Nils Bech can be seen, heard, and touched in this album. If you haven’t experienced it yet, don’t hesitate to make the first move.