Discovering what you can do with six bits of wire on a wooden frame with mains voltage running through it is something millions of people around the world have enjoyed. A much smaller number become proficient and truly innovative, and with Niss we get to share the genuine excitement of someone embarking on that road.

Niss is Robin Stjerndorff, from Sweden. He played acoustic guitar for 10 years before plugging one in and experimenting with effects. He is on a voyage of discovery and he’s excited about it. ‘Inspiriando’ is his first release, recorded in his home, and it is distinctly better than the average one-man-band following the path of self-recording and Bandcamping.

Robin writes: “I don’t really see a money aspect of this project as a whole, it is more of a way to document the development of my music. And if people like Niss then that is good, but I don’t blame them if they don’t. I’ve always liked the different side of things and I hope this reflects in my music.”

I love good post-metal and death-metal guitar, although I’m not a huge fan of the screaming. The range of sounds under the banner of post-metal is almost boundless. Alcest with its jangly guitar, full-on reverb and understated dream-like vocals; Encircling Sea with songs that run well over 30 minutes with anything from silence to a wall of noise; and then the large number on Bandcamp like Forks of Ivory and Cosmonauts Day – metal without vocals. It’s in this crowded and diverse style that Niss seeks to create a new path. It doesn’t quite make it, but you can see the spark in its eyes.

A simple bass riff is a great start to the record. Enter some drum beats and jangling guitar over the top and we’re away. A minute later and ‘Rigid’ heads off in another direction, then almost immediately taking another corner where power chords and experimenting with time signatures are the order of the day. Another third of the way and the guitar sounds almost banjo-like and the whole thing quietens down before suddenly things just stop and the last note fades.

‘Concrete Hills’ starts with a little drone before a pulsating dischordal guitar comes in, swirling through your head. This is followed by slice after slice of different phrases – all characterised by loud guitar and drums. At the half-way point a pause leads into ambient noise (generated by wind on the guitar strings) before we are off again at walking pace through the last two minutes, including a few bars of melody.

The mid way point of the record is ‘Electrical Potential’ which gives us two minutes of noise, reminiscent of the likes of Nekrasov but quieter and with a bit of scratching.

To the last two tracks and there is plenty of listenable material in small bites all held together by unobtrusive drumming, and both fading away on single notes, the only hint of a cadence being in the final track ‘Living in the Rain’.

For me the highlight is probably ‘Dodging Pitfalls’ and the only track that really carries a theme all the way through.

Being the only member of your band and recording and producing your own material has artistic limitations. Yes you are free to do what you want, but without others sharing the development of your songs, you lack that second opinion and a range of other ideas. Those limitations are evident on ‘Inspiriando’ in two areas: tying together the components of a song, and a good ending.

But Robin has bravely bared his soul and is asking music fans to listen and give their feedback. He knows the dangers of a one-man-band and he has chosen what he sees is a way around it, dodging Pitfalls, you might say! Already it has been suggested that he adds vocals and he has responded with eagerness.

I admire what he’s done here. It’s not a masterpiece but it’s no dud, with plenty of innovation and originality. Why not have a listen, give some feedback, and play apart in Robin’s musical development. Because it’s worth developing.

Released November 11 2011 through Bandcamp

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Posted by Gilbert Potts

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