The Idealist: I Am The Fire

Gothenburg, Sweden resident Joachim Nordwall may be known to some through his membership in Alvars Orkester and The Skull Defekts but his solo debut under The Idealist guise, I Am The Fire, captures an entirely different yet equally compelling style. Its six electronic tracks straddle meditative ambient and industrial drone, the combination of which makes for a subtly unnerving listening experience, akin to being strapped into a chair and therefore helpless to do anything but watch while a centipede scuttles across one's arm. The framing pieces, “The Knives Are My Eyes” and “My Head Is On Fire,” exemplify that quality by being simultaneously placid and unsettling.

Elsewhere, the disc offers extremes. The eighteen-minute “To Make Exact Copies Of Every Mistake Ever Made” is, in some respects, a microsound excursion as minute sounds grow in volume subtly, though it's hard to characterize it as such when its reverberantly droning nucleus swells so imposingly throughout; Nordwall shapes the material with such restraint, the appearance of a soft tone twelve minutes in assumes a significance it would hardly have in a less obsessively controlled setting. “The Cranium,” a seething and blistered swirl of atmospheric noise, is considerably more aggressive though it never reaches the ear-shredding pitch one associates with Merzbow and Pita, and it may be that the heavily-distorted speaking voice in “The Declaraaation of Indeeependence” is, in fact, reciting the titular text but it's hard to tell when the voice is so mangled; regardless, it resembles the sound of Nordwall dragging a razor blade across the speaker's vocal cords and transmitting the operation via intercom. I Am The Fire is disquieting material (best appreciated as a headphones listen) but captivating nonetheless.

January 2007