Bersabea – “The Newest Historic Site” (2017)

bersabeahistoricalsiteBersabea is a collaboration between Finn Niko-Matti Ahti and Icelander Birgir Örn Jónsson.  They describe their new album The Newest Historic Site as “improvisations, samples, voices, field recordings and other aural flotsam”, which is both a bit confusing and more than a bit apt.  Sounds combine in both usual and unusual ways, always leaving you guessing as to what is around the next corner.  Identifiable sonic threads do their best to hold each composition together within the framework of a broad theme, but the normal rules don’t apply here and surprises abound.  Bersabea is at their best when they maintain some type of underlying structure to their compositions, whether that be Chinese-sounding progressions or steel drums, thereby providing a familiar-sounding touchstone for the listen to orient themselves with.

The Newest Historic Site reminds me of some of the experimental electronica that was coming out of Europe in the late 1970s/early 1980s, bringing with it that same underlying sense of curiosity exhibited by those early pioneers.  And like those records, this isn’t something I expect to come back to often, because it’s an odd and at times unsettling listening experience.  But here’s the thing – I always come away from albums like this feeling like my mind has expanded, that the realm of what I’d considered possible or even remotely understandable has become just a little bit broader.  And that’s always a positive.  Give them a try HERE – maybe you’ll feel the same, and maybe you won’t; but you’ll be better for the experience.

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