- Nathan Yoder
Album Preview - Niksen - Invisible City
Niksen is a Portland-based improvisational duo comprised of multi-instrumentalist Derek Hunter Wilson (a good friend of this site), and harpist Joshua Ward, who is also one half of the band Location Services. Influenced by both ambient and modern classical music, they weave together inspired compositions, which once unfolded, reveal arrestingly beautiful melodies within softly minimalist structures.
"Niksen" is a Dutch term which means taking time to purposefully do nothing. And perhaps this name references the approach that DHW and Ward took on their first album, Invisible City. It is the result of an all-day, improvised recording session edited and crafted into seven tracks. So while they certainly did not "do nothing," the musicians' laissez faire approach is evident when appreciating their collaboration. Opener A Quiver of Light tiptoes as delicately as a construction on Ironomi's Kotonoha, feeling like a meander through woods. This light feeling continues on the second track before a slightly more minor (but no less beautiful) tone on Never Seen Nor Heard. Like Mirrors and then The Landscape Opens Its Eyes are both highlights, and exemplify the duo's interplay and focus on painting small vignettes dedicated to simplicity.
Using piano, rhodes, harp, cello, and electronics, DHW and Ward perfectly compliment each other. Through their collaborative Niksen project, they have effortlessly made one of the year's best albums to sit with in early morning hours or as dusk settles in. You can find it released this Friday, independently by Derek Hunter Wilson on Bandcamp, and remember that since it's the first Friday of the month, all money goes directly to artists.