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reviews:

"Prostration Before Infinity"

 
Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars, March 2015 (by Mélanie Meyer):
 
- Je me demande si, en présence d’un spectateur qui n’est pas en prière, quelque chose doit arriver ? - Qu’est-il censé arriver ? - Ce que vous voudrez. […] Mais vous devez au moins vous agenouiller A. Tarkovski, Nostalghia, 1983. 
L’exercice de la traduction mène parfois à des développements contradictoires. Quels en sont les niveaux de difficulté ? En premier lieu, la pluralité des termes correspondants au mot recherché. En second lieu, l’existence de sens paradoxaux donnés. En dernier lieu, la contextualisation sémantique en vue du choix à effectuer. Au final, il s’agit toujours d’une loi exponentielle. Le terme anglais de « prostration » présent dans le titre de cet album invite à trois interprétations différentes : le prosternement, l’accablement, l’anéantissement. Faut-il en désigner un comme étant le plus adéquat ou bien les trois peuvent-ils rendre compte du contenu sonore de l’album ? Puisqu’il s’agit d’interprétation en relation avec un langage non verbal, la seconde option offre évidemment une cartographie bien plus vaste concernant les directions possibles. D’autant que l’autre terme mis en regard est « infinity »…
 
Le parcours de Chris Sigdell AKA B°Tong le mène à produire des paysages sonores dont l’inspiration développe une identité musicale d’une constance peu commune. Des nappes mélancoliques telles qu’on peut les relier à des univers comme ceux de William Basinski, des drones inquiétants évoquant les guitares saturées de Maeror Tri, des captations faisant alterner tour à tour l’ampleur, la distance, l’aliénation évoquées indifféremment dans des films de science-fiction ou fantastiques. Toutefois, de ces parentés pouvant constituer des jalons de compréhension, une unique réalité n’émerge au final : le seul processus de construction musicale bien spécifique et à l’œuvre depuis 2005.
En effet, en tant que telle, aucune composition véritablement mélodique n’est présente : n’existe qu’une progression sonore développant et amplifiant sur chaque morceau les éléments retenus pour sa construction. D’un point de vue technique, aucun instrument n’est convoqué : tout est capté puis assemblé électroniquement. Que reste-t-il donc à explorer de ces non-événements ? L’esprit de l’ordonnateur. Il y a dans tous les albums de B°Tong le même respect pour la ligne tracée. Chaque pièce semble faire sens dans une collection plus vaste : celle de l’œuvre exercée. Une cinématographie d’espaces considérables, illimités, parfois désolés, toujours jalonnés d’anfractuosités formidables qui inspirent autant crainte que respect et dont l’exploration aboutit à l’errance.
L’influence la plus évidente serait sans conteste Biosphère, ce qui ramène naturellement à la dimension cosmique de cet opus. À la croisée des scènes industrielle et ambient, Chris Sigdell déploie une gamme de sons qui semble vouloir traduire une forme hypothétique d’énergie invisible en langage musical. L’invisible devient un sujet de prospection. Avec pour fil conducteur l’orgone, le musicien semble tenter tour à tour d’appréhender différentes manifestations célestes avérées ou non. Cet incommensurable champ d’investigation permet toutes les interprétations. Pourquoi ne pas voir modelée NGC 7304 dans le titre éponyme bien qu’il s’agisse d’une galaxie aperçue dans la constellation de Pégase une seule et unique fois et qui, depuis, demeure insaisissable à toute observation ? Puis détecter les effets inconstatables, puisque réfutés par le second principe de thermodynamique, de la fameuse entropie négative de Wilhelm Reich dans A Sudden Burst of Negativity ? Ou enfin emprisonner l’arc de choc stellaire longtemps théorisé dans Bow Shock ?
 
Les six morceaux présents sur l’album, auxquels il faut adjoindre un bonus track présent sur le bandcamp du label Silken Tofu, paraissent autoriser une telle licence. Au final, quelle que soit la posture adoptée, un terme résume tous les possibles audibles : Infini.

Heathen Harvest Periodical, February 2015 (by Angel S.):

Prostration Before Infinity is a huge, predominantly drone work by Chris Sigdell, who is otherwise known as his recording alias, B°Tong. The general feeling that this album carries with it is one of a comforting isolation. However, Prostration Before Infinity is certainly not limited to the definitive boundaries of the aforementioned genre. On the contrary, the extensive variety of details really expand what one may consider to be an otherwise ordinary dronescape. Indeed, the album ended up turning towards a very gradual and structured exploration of solitude. The sea surface portrayed on the artwork may indeed indicate that the music has been designed to come in waves, while at the same time moving yet retaining its stationary essence. What I find more relevant to the music in regards to the artwork is its very grey scale.
Prostration Before Infinity is cold, monochrome, and immersed in vastness; it is layered and evolves at different paces. In this environment, you’ll find a range of elements lurking, each picked and used craftily. They keep you anxious, and despite the information for the release mentioning that the record reaches a ‘noise orgy’ state, I find these compositions to be very structured—logically, or at least intuitively existing. There are microsounds and glitches that are stereo-swapped around your ears, and very punchy ‘drops’ that pulsate like sci-fi sonic bombs. None of this sounds unnatural, even though the sound sources for Sigdell’s experiments are varying in nature. The album is carefully and organically mixed, transformed into something of an audio ecosystem, living on its own, following its own rules of nature.
The one and only piece that I’d call more chaotic is actually the bonus track. Its eclecticism and slightly different sound, however, makes this a nice addition as well, even if it moves away from the overall atmosphere established by the rest of the album.
On Prostration Before Infinity, B°Tong utilizes a variety of samples from different forms of media and film transmissions. There’s a lot of speech/voice resampling, most of which has been captured from either Sigdell’s own voice or from various other sources. I often find myself thinking that drone ambient music could benefit from more vocal usage: not in the most banal way of, let’s say, scientific reports or general big words about the universe (in the sense of a vocal sound that is effect with delay), but as textures that have been re-pitched and shaped as pads, ambiances, or heavy deformations. A fine example of this is a piece like ‘Interspersed’, which for me reaches a peak because of the very detailed voice deconstruction and the following massive build up.
All of the elements that form Prostration Before Infinity are a lesson not only in intelligent experimental musicianship, but in smart sound design as well. The album really succeeds in telling a story—and a complex one at that—which leaves a lot of room for personal interpretation, and I think that’s part of what experimental music should be about. I’m really looking forward to the moment when people will begin to write films based on similar works, but maybe it won’t be that easy of a task, because the images on this album—even if they were structured only with sound—are far too vivid to be recreated one-sidedly. For now, I’ll stick to watching this film with my eyes closed. 

"Hostile Environments"
 
The Pit Of The Damned Blog (April 2014):

Prodotto dalla Greytone nel 2013, il nuovo nato nella casa degli esperimenti sonori chiamata B°Tong ci proietta in un vortice cinematografico di sensazioni oscure. Chris Sigdell, musicista elettronico sperimentatore di suoni non convenzionali prodotti da variegati materiali e oggetti (metalli, giocattoli elettrici, etc.), ci conduce alla scoperta di una colonna sonora post atomica ricca di atmosfere siderali piene di spunti di sopravvivenza esistenziale. Lunghe trame musicali ricche d'atmosfera aliena e alienante, gelida ma allo stesso tempo carica d'emozionalità; la sua esperienza maturata sin dal 2005 si fa sentire nella alta fedeltà del suono che non tradirà gli amanti dell'effettistica hi-fi, se poi pensiamo al modo con cui questo alchimista sonico ottiene i suoi sospiri musicali, tutto acquista un doppio valore. Avvolti in un paesaggio degno delle atmosfere di 'Blade Runner', le nove tracce si muovono come una lunga colonna sonora. Legate tra loro alla perfezione, ripercorrono ambienti cari ad Alva Noto, Einsturzende Neubauten, Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Orchestra, Tim Hecker, Fennesz, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, Bohren & der Club of Gore, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Brian Eno. Ovviamente, riletti e ragionati in maniera del tutto originale e drammatica, cosparsi di sussulti umani, minimalismo elettronico, grida di animali nella notte, mostri, noise, accenni di notturno sperimentalismo unto e catramoso, Drones, ansia vampiresca da club notturno dei bassifondi, umori tratti da un film decadente e senza via d'uscita, una colonna sonora da ascoltare tutta d'un fiato in stato d'allucinazione perenne, in una buia notte tutta da fissare oltre la finestra, profondamente ignari di cosa sarà il nostro domani. Cadete pure in tentazione, fatevi tentare, trattenete il fiato, c'è posto anche per voi in questa lunga passeggiata malinconica verso l'oblio! Esperimenti di rumoristica e dark ambient d'alto rango! Ascoltarlo è un dovere assoluto!!! (Bob Stoner) Voto: 80
www.thepitofthedamned.blogspot.it

Aquarius Records (March 2014):

We first discovered Chris Sigdell, aka b°tong via a four way split called One Man Drone, which as you may have surmised, was a collection of one man drone-groups, and our favorite of the bunch happened to be b°tong, whose sound was weirdly cinematic, and fantastically and psychedelically noisy and chaotic. We compared the sound to Philip Jeck mixing Goblin and Wolf Eyes! We later discovered that Sigdell played in NID, another group who utilized drones, but wove those drones into something much more cacophonous, and expansive and lushly layered. But still, ultimately, it was all about the drone.

We had always hankered for more b°tong, and while apparently there have been a bunch of full lengths, this is the first we've managed to get our hands on, and it's just as good as we remember; and yeah, if there was ever any doubt, Sigdell firmly establishes himself as an aQ-pantheon-worthy dronelord.

The opener, is ominous and cavernous, laced with weird crackles and gritty crunch, kindred spirits with our own Jim Haynes for sure. The sounds oozing a sort of sonic decay, and some deft and subtle sample placement, makes the opener even more chilling. It's almost like some industrial doom, stripped down to its skeletal core. A moody, muted melody, playing out like foghorns in the distance, echo drenched chimes, and tinkling percussion, buried under grey washes of softly undulating thrum, lots of constantly shifting textures, and some seriously harrowing sound design reminiscent of Ben Frost. And the sound continues to drift southward as the record progresses, a virtual journey through dark caverns, toward whatever lurks below, fields of deep resonant rumbles, dripping water, distant billows of thunder, stretched out into weird glossolallic shimmers, thick chordal blurs that ooze and bleed ominously, splashing water doused in FX and transformed into a sort of garbled alien language. Plenty of barely there lowercase ambience, but also super active sprawls of electro static gristle, ultra creepy moans and gasps, sonar pings that disappear into the abyss, short wave broadcasts from beyond, lumbering behemoth beats, dulled into barely perceptible pulsations, smears of almost dub like throb, and keening high end tones dulled into bleary shimmery sonic ripples, all locked in a sort of hazy stasis, while all around, billowing clouds of black hum drift malevolently, and beneath this black soundworld, hushed melodies, and dreamlike sonic coloration, shift constantly creating an ethereally prismatic sonic backdrop. Fantastic. Essential dronemusic for sure!!

Drone Records (March 2014):

Fantastic new album by the Swiss experimental droner, very dark and otherwordly transcendental muzak with no recognizable instrumental sounds or harmonies, everything that appears is transformed, deranged, mutated in an eerie way... a surrealistic dark drone masterpiece!!!

Muhmur Blogspot (January 2014):

Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest releasee by b°tong. The CD album "Hostile Environments" on Italian label Greytone.
I was fortunate to play a couple of shows last year in Germany with b°tong, aka Chris Sigdell, this was my introduction to his sound, although I did know his past work as a member of NiD and Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim.
Chris is a soundscape artist, his sounds are gathered from field recordings, the sampling of non-musical devices and passing them through a multitude of sins (and effects boxes), radio voices and battered old synthesisers. (This was live anyway) … Fascinating to watch, mind blowing to listen to.
"Hostile Environments" is a very dark album. It has a vibration a certain drone of deep space. Track one "Stasis Field" with a wide static sound, disembodied voices and grand piano blending into "Processed" and post-apocalyptic rumblings. "Thepsis" has a feel of despair and abandonment with a voice questioning "what in blazes are you doing?". "Interference" is a gothic masterpiece - a house of dark shadows with a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde awakening the beast within feel.
The album is a post-industrial dark ambient classic. For me it is there with Inade's "Aldebaran", Lustmord's "The Place Where The Black Stars Hang" and "Digitaria" by T.A.G.c. The final piece "Hemihypopiasia" is almost new age Kosmiche Elektronika with dolphins calling across space before ending with the wise words; "would you mind taking my sweater off?"

Chris has a b°tong facebook page where there is a link to buy this beauty or go to www.greytone.bandcamp.com where it is available for download. Best album of 2014 so far!
 
"split with Beyond The Ellipse Of Time"
 
bºtong and Beyond the Ellipse of Time united efforts to provide a split release revolving around a sphere of influenza where the mind dyonisically roams within a wicked and ecstasic momentum. A finer and subtle state of consciousness conceived through dark ambient and sinister elements that spreads huge amounts of sulphur and unmoral individualistic imagery deriving in a supreme and energetic de-humanistic conceptualization.

Santa Sangre:

You can never have too many of a good darkness. And this split is good, solid, created by people who know what they want to achieve and what means of expressions they wish to use. B*Tong I know, but I’d never heard of Beyond The Ellipse Of Time before. This split however is very homogeneous, like the work of a single musician. One who knows what dark ambient/ experimental is all about.

Both projects contribute three tracks each, while one track “Passage” is a joint effort. These gentlemen remain consistent in their avoidance of the light and positive emotions from start to finish, wallowing in a pitch- black, ominous atmosphere. Though I should mention that it’s not limited to simple and safe droning, they aren’t afraid to experiment, use different approaches in generating horror; sometimes it’s difficult to guess the source of certain sounds on the album. And as we know from horror movies, sounds of an unknown origin are obviously helpful in creating a sense of uncertainty and insecurity.

I have the impression that B*Tong’s compositions are more anxious; theoretically speaking more things take place within them, sometimes turning into quite unexpected directions, a fact that further enhances the generally unpleasant, schizophrenic feeling. Voice samples, the sound of a drill boring through the eye directly into the brain, bells, the twanging of some sort of chains, electric charges crackling merrily inside an electroshock machine. It is suggestive. And it’s Chris Sidgell project that in my opinion is responsible for the best part of the album, namely “Invocation to Obsolescence”, the last track. I have to admit that this piece, where multiple tracks veer around each other surrounded by samples, noises and glitches – one more atmospheric, the other noisy or completely insane – is almost a ritual in which sex and pain are intertwined into one inseparable whole.
 
"split with Emerge"
 
Staalplaat:

This split LP by Swiss “dark ambient” artist B°tong and label founder EMERGE inaugurates a new series of limited edition split LPs on white vinyl in unique hand-painted sleeves on Attenuation Circuit. Each vinyl release on the German-based experimental music label comes in a limited edition of 100 copies, with each copy painted in the same colours yet a unique design by Tine Klink and an inlay card lavishly designed by graphic artist Jens Börner. The first release combines an original 22-minute track by B°tong and a composition by EMERGE which uses the same source material to create a work in its own right. Soaring cosmic harmonies with a dissonant edge, digital glitches and voices processed beyond all recognition, and a constant tension building up through minimal variations, but massive layerings of sawtooth-flavoured loops: never has it been more obvious that B°tong’s music is not necessarily about “darkness” or any of the spiritual/occult subjects that he likes to toy with in his liner quotes, but about states of mind different from the everyday. In this track about the sun (sic!), “musique spectrale” meets the high (drug-induced or not) of the rave and the pleasures of minimalist repetition and proves that, 100 years after Cage’s birthday, experimental music outside an academic framework can still yield some quite psychedelic results (even without mushrooms).

Vital Weekly:

The release by Swiss b°tong and Emerge was released on a highly limited LP and no doubt sold out, but it's also available as a unlimited CDR release - which is what I have here. Emerge is 'man behind the label' and active force b°tong has had a couple of releases on this label already. They both work extensively with computers to process whatever sounds they have at their disposal. b°tong uses his own sound sources here, although we are not told which ones they are and Emerge uses the same sounds for his composition. There are more similarities: both operate from a rather dark end of the sound spectrum. Atmosphere, space, ambience, they all play an important role in this music. And perhaps minor differences. Here we have the sons of Legion (see elsewhere) playing their own version of dark ambient music. Using concrete sounds, feeding it through vast amounts of computer treatments, they create a sonically dark, layered, atmospheric piece of music - each one of them. b°tong's piece is a bit more bass like and Emerge's take on that is a bit more higher pitched at times, with nastier frequencies and might accounted for as something a bit more industrial than by b°tong, who stays on the more ambient side of these matters. But the margins on such divisions are quite small. You could as easily thought that this release was by one and the same band for all I know. I didn't hear much new for either band, but for the record, I'd like note that both works are particularly strong, in the case of Emerge probably the best I heard from him.

Dyana Records:

Es gibt Schallplatten, die kauft man des Namens wegen: man vertraut einer bestimmten Band oder Musiker blindlings, da man bisher eh nie – oder vielleicht ganz selten – enttäuscht wurde; oder weil man sich als Nerd kein Release seines/r Lieblings-Labels entgehen lassen kann.
Es gibt aber auch Schallplatten, die einen vor den Kopf stoßen. Schallplatten, mit denen man so nicht gerechnet hat. Schallplatten, die begeistert zu einer neuen Vertrautheit und Leidenschaft führen.
In diese Kategorie stecke ich die soeben erschienene Split-LP von BºTONG und EMERGE, das erste Vinyl-Release des Labels Attenuation Circuit.

BºTONG bringt als akkustischer Reiseführer bereits reichlich Erfahrung mit. Er weiss, wie minimalistische Soundschnippsel angeordnet werden müssen, um den Fahrgästen einen unterhaltsamen, spannenden und tiefenentspannten, aber drogenfreien Trip zu präsentieren. Eine Therme der Wohlfühldissonanzen, in der man badet und sich anschließend deutlich besser fühlt. Der Track (oder besser: die Tour?) ist abwechslungsreich, vielschichtig, aber immer wohl temperiert. Ein Trip, der all seine Geheimnisse sicherlich nicht gleich beim ersten Besuch preisgibt. Gut so!

EMERGE ist ein aufmerksamer Fahrgast, der auf seiner Seite des Vinyl-Longplayers den Reisebericht wiedergibt. Glücklicherweise verschließt er aber zuvor Tagebuch und Fotoapparat hinter der knarzenden Kellertür und interpretiert das Erlebte komplett neu und aus eigener Sicht. Eben ganz die emerge´sche Weise: Der akkustische Licht-Dimmer sorgt für ambiente Stimmung und einen Raum, der sehr groß wirkt und in dem immer wieder seltsame Schatten herumgeistern. Wir sind nicht allein und uns nicht sicher, ob das für die derzeitige Situation von Vor- oder Nachteil ist. Der Spannungsbogen ist lang gezogen und immer präsent. Am Ende stehen wir da, ohne zu wissen, ob das soeben Erlebte einer realen oder einer imaginäre Erfahrung zu verdanken ist. Und jetzt? Nochmal bitte!

Die von Tine Klink bemalten Cover geben dem akkustischen Raum aus den Rillen individuelle Gesichter: beide Seiten des Covers wurden handbemalt. Wenn man sein (wir sprechen hier ja von Unikaten!) Cover-Motiv aus einiger Entfernung betrachtet, entsteht eine raumerkundungseinladende Tiefe, welche den 2 unterschiedlichen Farbauftragungsmethoden (nenne ich jetzt mal so) geschuldet ist. Aus den weichen Weiten brechen sich in den Vordergrund drängende, figurenartige Strukturen aus.

Die Split-LP von BºTONG und EMERGE wurde in der verschwindend geringen Auflage von nur 100 Stück gepresst. Das Vinyl ist überwiegend weiss mit – mal mehr, mal weniger – schwarzen Schlieren. Somit ist selbst jede Platte für sich schon ein Unikat. Das Label Attenuation Circuit hat damit einen großen Wurf getan und steht jetzt vor dem Problem, diesen hohen Anspruch mit der nächsten Vinyl-Veröffentlichung halten zu können.
Aber das soll nicht unser Problem sein

Drone Records:

Very first LP for both Drone Records artists and for the young label Attenuation Circuit, with two side-long tracks full of fantastic experimental drone-muzak that never stands still => morphing & moving dronescapes from B*TONG, more slow & contemplative, eerie metallic rumblings by EMERGE; both artists use the exact same source materials but come to very different results, just excellent! Numbered ed. 100 copies, handpainted covers with great 3D-effect, our highest praise !!

Bad Alchemy #75:

C, L, M, P, R, S, T - bald wird das Alphabet nicht mehr ausreichen für die diversen AC-Serien. V steht nun für das Vinyl, auf dem erstmals ein Split (ACV 1001, LP, weißes Vinyl) von B°TONG & EMERGE die Vinyloptik der AC-CD-Rs in echt, aber auch in Weiß, aufgreift. Dazu kommen die individuelle Coverkunst von Tine Klink und Inlaykarten des Grafikers Jens Börner als schon optischer Anreiz. B°tong gibt seinem perkussiv durchbebten, sonor dröhnenden 'first kiss of the lady of initiation' durch Vokalsamples einen französischen Touch. Als sei Französisch - und ein feminines Aaaaa - nunmal die Sprache einer Rite de passage. Aber statt archaisch und psychopomp wirkt das Brausen und Wabern translunar und psychedelisch und nimmt Kurs ins Sonnengeflecht. Emerge setzt den Trip fort, indem er die gleichen Samples und Klangquellen wie sein Partner seinerseits zu 'expulsion' verarbeitet. Der Sound ist zarter, pfeifender, wie von einer Glasharmonika, nimmt die Phantasie aber dann auch mit auf eine ratternde Zugfahrt. 'Expulsion' heißt Vertreibung, Ausweisung, Aussiedlung, und das gibt dem Zuggeräusch einen unguten Unterton. Der melancholisch changierende Sound wird in seinem Sirren und Dröhnen unheimliche Schatten nicht mehr los. Dabei ist das Unheimliche eigentlich B°tongs Metier. Der Split ist insofern mehr als das, nämlich eine kollegiale Anverwandlung.

Black Onlinemagazin:

B°tong ist in der Experimentalszene schon länger unterwegs, genau wie Emerge; auf der vorliegenden Split-LP nutzen jetzt beide erstmals das gleiche Ausgangsmaterial, um daraus je ein gut 20minütiges Stück zu entwickeln; das ganze verpackt in einem Unikat-Cover von Tine Klink als 100er Vinyl-only.
B°tong übernimmt mit „First Kiss Of The Lady Of Initiation“ den ersten Teil der Split-LP und lässt zunächst einen klaustrophobisch dunklen Drone mit einer inneren, paradoxerweise verführerischen Melodie entstehen, der von sich dauernd wandelnden geräuschhaften Fitzeln begleitet und wie umschwirrt wird. Und die auch den längeren Atem haben, wenn nach gut sechs Minuten der Drone langsam abtaucht und sich die Hörer in einer (durchaus hörfreundlichen, wohlabgestimmten jedoch trotzdem:) Kakophonie aus ebendiesen Geräuschen wiederfinden, die aber trotz ihrer zersplitterten Basis über Soundästhetik, Setzung im Hörräum und B°tong’s Gefühl für Spannung ein zusammenhängendes Universum bilden. Mit, Überraschung, einer Art Meister mittendrin, der unverhofft Anweisungen, Beschwörungen oder Erklärungen abgibt. Und den Weg öffnet für die Wiederkehr des Auftakts; diesmal länger, intensiver, noch zwingender.
 
"Augenaufschlag"
 
Vital Weekly:

Likewise I wasn’t too pleased with the direction Swiss artist B*tong took in ‘Un_B*tong’ (see Vital Weekly 811), moving away from his dark ambient music into the world of musique concrete. Here he tries something out his usual ordinary, a collaboration with Swiss writer BoUm, who recites his prose, in German, and B*tong providing the soundtrack to this. He presents music that is again atmospheric as we know and like from him, but then being less heavy, less dark and a bit more sparse. From what I gather from the prose, which seems somewhat surreal and dark, the music fits quite well. My German is fine enough to follow most of the recited prose, but perhaps I’m not really all for music with pieces that are just read, even when BoUm has a nice voice (aided with some reverb). I like good music, like a good story, but perhaps in combinations I set up myself. However I think this music is something that fits B*tong better than the previous new direction. Way to go!

"The Soul Eater"
 
Vital Weekly:

Its been a while since I last heard music by Chris Sigdell from Basel, Switzerland, but  his work is always welcome on my desk. Music that is based on soundscapes from electronic sources as well as field recordings. Apparently in his concerts he uses a microphone, metal, springs and kitchen stuff, which he transforms into music, using effect pedals to create his drone like material. I assume this is what he also uses when recording at home, just expanding more on the sounds. Whatever he uses, his end-result is firmly fixed in the field of very dark ambient music, of what was once called Isolationism. Sounds get locked into some circuit and stay there to live a life of their own. A cavernous sound of metallic rumble, spooky voices, animal cries and transmissions intercepted. I think I made the reference to Lustmord before and it still applies to this new release. Utter dark, highly atmospheric and simply very good music. It has a certain menace about it, like waiting for some mass destruction that, thank god, never arrives. Intense music, that doesn't come with a warning: don't play this in the dark on your own.

Kulturterrorsmus:

Nicht übermäßig, aber stetig, schickt der Wahlschweizer Chris Sigdell alias BºTONG neue Releases ins Rennen, die allesamt experimentellen Dark Ambient bescheren. 2011 publizierte das polnischstämmige in England ansässige Label NOECHO Records das BºTONG Album “Soul Eater” als Download (MP3 wie WAV) & Gears Of Sand als limitierte CD-R, das die Augsburger Tonträgermanufaktur Attentuation Circuit 2012 in Form einer limitierten CD-R Auflage wiederveröffentlicht.

Gleich sämtlichen Attentuation Circuit Opera wartet “Soul Eater” von BºTONG mit eindrucksvoller Musik auf, aber die Qualität der Verpackung lässt zu wünschen übrig, wo dünnes Papier (80gr.) zum Ausdrucken der Außen- wie Innencover Verwendung fand, wodurch der Gesamteindruck einen faden Beigeschmack erhält – ein Manko woran die bayrischen Schwaben definitiv arbeiten sollten!
Wer gebürtig aus den weiten von Schweden stammt, bringt das Potenzial mit, um düstere Soundtracks zu kreieren, mit denen die Hörerschaft Reisen ins dunkle Ich unternehmen kann, wofür sich “Soul Eater” nicht nur inhaltlich perfekt eignet, den Chris Sigdell bestückte die Tondokumente mit einigen Sprachsamples, die diese Begebenheit perfekt suggerieren. Des Weiteren bastelte BºTONG ergreifende Klangcollagen aus Dark Ambient, Drone & Noise, deren Atmosphären direkt vereinnahmen bzw. wie ein Sog das Innere erfassen und verschlingen. Insgesamt eine äußerst intensive Arbeit, welche der in Basel ansässige Interpret mit “Soul Eater” schnürte, die als Nebeneffekt Angstzustände bzw. Alpträume beschert. Alleine die Vielschichtigkeit wie Detailliertheit der Tracks sorgen für ein spannungsgeladenes Hörerlebnis, das von der ersten bis zur letzten Sekunde (knapp 50 Minuten lang) packt. “Soul Eater” – insgesamt mehr ein Soundtrack als eine Ansammlung von einzelnen Tondokumenten, der auch nach unzähligen Durchläufen noch in seinen Bann zieht – Wahnsinn!
Fazit:
Innerhalb des beachtlichen BºTONG  Kosmos stellt “Soul Eater” ein echtes Juwel dar, welches eine Wiederauflage definitiv verdient – meine absolute Empfehlung! PS: Für Freunde von psychisch berührendem Dark Ambient ein Pflichtkauf!

Bad Alchemy #75:

The Soul Eater (ACR 1020, CD-R) von B°TONG ist die handfeste Version einer Audiodateien-Publikation auf NOECHO Records 2011. Chris Sigdell zeigt sich dabei als verlässlicher Lieferant von Brainfood mit schnarrenden Darkwaves, die von ominös peitschenden und atmenden Lauten durchsetzt sind. Geschickt überlässt er es der Phantasie, sich einzubilden, was sich da abspielen könnte. Alle acht traumhaft mäandernden Szenen sind alien und leicht unheimlich. 'Eclipsed' beginnt mit einem Blitzschlag, aber etwas Naturhaftes ist hier ebenso auf Spurenelemente reduziert wie der menschliche Faktor, den ich in verzerrten Klängen spüre, bei denen ich Stimmen als Quelle vermute. Eigentlich sind da nichts als Drones und Beats, Clicks + Cuts. Aber immer andeutungsvoll 'sprechend', mit thrillendem Effekt. 'Inertia' öffnet sich als Landschaft, mit Tauben und Krähen, Wasser, Wind und Insekten. Aber deren Surren mischt sich mit einem hintergründigen Chor, mit Gewisper und unruhigen Wallungen, die alles Idyllische durchkreuzen. 'Firm And Level' wird durch eine murmelnde Stimme und Mönchsgesang akzentuiert, türmt sich dabei aber wie stürmische Meeresbrandung. I stopped before that part of the rock where the noise was loudest; the surface was firm and level; but from time to time, blows and falling stones seemed to strike our ears, heißt es in The Swiss Family Robinson; or Adventures in a Desert Island. Wind, heftige Schläge und gnomisches Gequieke hallen durch eine Höhle. Orgelklänge, dunkles Flöten und kaskadierende Wellen driften durch 'You Float'. B°tongs Suggestivität ähnelt der von Lustmord und Rapoon. Bei 'Sphere 1' erklingt Geisterbahngelächter, aber die Einbildung wird gequirlt bis zuletzt und wer durchhält, wird noch mal so richtig ausgelacht. Ha Ha.
 
"Ov ELF And HAARP"
 
Kulturterrorismus (Juni 2011):

Wenn sich ein Künstler auf Dauerkonzertreise befindet, dann Chris Sigdell alias B°Tong, der mit “Ov Elf And Haarp” ein Konzeptalbum abliefert, das die Verschwörungstheorie rund um das High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP) behandelt, womit Kopfkinofetischisten in ungeahnte Weiten vorstoßen.
Zu Anfang erschienen auf dem Augsburger Label Attenuation Circuit ausschließlich die Releases von Emerge, nach einer Neuausrichtung finden nun meist Protagonisten aus dem lokalen Umfeld Platz, zu denen sich auch B°Tong mit “Ov Elf And Haarp” gesellt, der gebürtig aus Norwegen stammt und dessen Lebensmittelpunkt in Basel, der Schweiz, ist.
Um das High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP) ranken seit Beginn an Gerüchte, weshalb unzählige Verschwörungstheorie kursieren, denen durch unregelmäßige Meldungen neuer Nährboden zukommt, dass diese Geschichte immer neu aufflammen lässt. Insgesamt ein Thema mit unerschöpflichem Potential, welches Chris Sigdell aus mehreren Perspektiven beleuchtet, wodurch er vor allem Personen anspricht, deren Horizont außerhalb der von Politik, Wirtschaft & Medien „vorgekauten“ Grenzen endet.
“Ov Elf and Haarp” offenbart die perfekte Symbiose aus Dark Ambient & unzähligen Geräuschen, woraus ein mitnehmender Soundtrack resultiert, der aufgrund seiner Organik tief in die Materie eintauchen lässt, das einmal mehr die Klasse von B°Tong unterstreicht. Innerhalb des Dark Ambient existieren unzählige Strömungen, weshalb erwähnt sei, dass es sich hier mehrheitlich um Drones handelt, deren Bandbreite von äußerst melodiös bis hin zu experimentell verworren reichen, das die kurze wie kurzweilige Publikation sehr komplex gestaltet. Zur weiteren Akzentuierung pflegte der Artist vereinzelte Sprach- & Tonsamples ein, die der Gesamtheit den letzten Schliff zum Meisterwerk verleihen, welches von seiner Ausdruckskraft her an Filmsoundtracks wie “Blade Runner” (Vangelis) & “The Crow” (Graeme Revell) erinnert. Aufgrund der engen Verflechtung der Tracks untereinander, entfällt die explizite Benennung eines Anspieltipps zugunsten der Empfehlung Komplettdurchlauf. PS: Auch nach der x-ten Hörprobe kam kein Funken Langeweile auf!
Fazit:
Wie nicht anders von  Chris Sigdell alias B°Tong erwartet, präsentiert der Wahlschweizer mit “Ov Elf And Haarp” ein packendes Konzeptalbum, das aufgrund seiner Intensität zu den Aushängeschildern der Szenerie gehört – meine absolute Empfehlung! PS: Für Kopfkinofetischisten ein Pflichtkauf!
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Vital Weekly 786:

The Attenuation Circuit label started out with the release of music by Emerge, and now expands to other artists, and the first one is B*tong, the Swiss artist who has already produced a fine body of atmospheric and ambient music. This new one is more or less a concept album about the conspiracy theory ‘on the High Frequency Active Auroral Research project’, which, according to Wiki, is ‘its purpose is to analyze the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance purposes’, set up by the US government, so you know for a fact there is a hidden agenda (not me). This sort of conspiracy theory/lunacy about such matters fits the music really of B*Tong, who is known to use radio signals, sound effects and electronics to create chilly, eerie, atmospheric music. Sometimes there are voice bits, whispering, not singing, adding a radioplay like texture to the music, which is otherwise quite inspired by the work of Lustmord: lots of reverb, but used in an effective way and not over the top. Excellent work.
 
"The Great Disintegrator"
 
Unknown:

When we walk the path of experimental music and abstract music created with an unique sound, we must talk about Chris Sigdell, a creative spirit having his headquarters in Switzerland, and the main force behind B°TONG, an experimental/ambient project which has been working from time ago and has released several albums and performed at important music festivals. This time Chris offers us a very floating composition, focusing on ambient structures and drone elements from a point in which you should experience a kind of astral gnosis, due to how each of the five tracks included here, merges into the other, creating a disintegration of senses, spirit and flesh - a kind of self-transformation through sonic soundscapes. Opening the album is "Voices From Within" a kind of psychotic drone ambient structure, with intense moments from start to end. Then comes "Strange Journey", a more dense composition with industrial tunes emerging from time to time to offer you a different angle, as seen from my personal perspective. The disintegration continues with "Batisphere", an ambient drone structure collapsing and mutating itself with the passing of the minutes, always emerging with different angles and having amazing dense passages, yet staying dynamish throughout the whole track. The interesting point with the whole structures created by B°TONG is the way he deconstructs and recycles diverse sound sources in order to create something unique and well elaborated. "Bottomless Pit" is another piece whith such deep atmospheres, mutating and growing all the time. "Beyond...And Further Still" closes the album through strong ambient passages and suggestive elements. A very impressive work by B°TONG, which got so much my attention due to the dynamics and hard structured emphasis on the whole concept in general. So be prepared to enter beyond... the great disintegrator!!!

Unknown:

Kontynuując wydanie z naszej kasety, mamy przyjemność przedstawić Ci naszego artystę B°tong’a.

Przed tobą muzyk wydający i grający koncerty na całym świecie. Zajmujący tworzeniem się alternatywnej eksperymentalnej muzyki elektronicznej. Jego twórczość przybiera różnie ciekawe formy, teraz skupimy się na jego dark ambientowym „odłamie”. Powstał bardzo techniczny album o tytule: „The Great Disintegrator” myśle, że na tej publikacji skupią się nie tylko słuchacze muzyki industrialnej, ale także ci ,którzy lubią, dobrze wypracowane muzyczne odcinki w postaci materiału na nowej płycie. Generalny klimat, udziela się już odbiorcy od pierwszej sekundy tego albumu, gdy słyszmy pełen emocji niespotykany wokal. To, co dzieje się dalej, konsekwentnie potwierdza pierwsze zafascynowanie. Poza granice, a nawet jeszcze dalej, granicę zmysłów odczuć i percepcji. To taka dziwna podróż, w której robisz to, co chce artysta. Będziesz używał jego przedmiotów, ale będzie to dla Ciebie ciekawe i zobaczysz, jak bardzo będziesz zadowolony. Sam zaczniesz budować.
 
"Hysteria"
 
Kulturterrorismus (Dec 2009)

Komplex, nachdenklich & zeitintensiv!
Mit “hysteria” setzt Chris Sigdell, der starke Mann hinter b°tong, ein weiteres Ausrufezeichen in Sachen experimenteller Dark Ambient, welcher im Besonderen durch seinen vielfältigen Atmosphären besticht, die bei “Kriegsszenario” anfangen und bei “Schwerelosigkeit” enden.
Der Zeit angemessen, erscheint die Publikation “hysteria” in den zwei Varianten kostenloser Download (Noecho Records) & limitierte CD (100 Exemplare, Gears of Sand Recordings), die sich bis auf das Mastering nicht voneinander unterscheiden.Thematisch “beackert” der Artist auf “hysteria” vordergründig Persönlichkeitsstörungen bzw. Neurosen, die er von der Entstehung bis zur letztendlich Diagnose und aus anderen Blickwinkeln beleuchtet. Fans der komplexeren Inhalte werden an “hysteria” sicherlich Gefallen finden und unzählige Interpretations- & Auslegungsmöglichkeiten entdecken, welche sich auf den ersten Blick nicht sofort erschließen, aber im Endeffekt über einen Kern verfügen, der…
Den zu vernehmenden Gesamtsound von b°tong lupenrein kategorisieren zu wollen, scheitert alleine an der Tatsache, dass Chris Sigdell unzählige Stile wie Drone, Noise, Industrial, usw. in seinen Dark Ambient implantierte, wodurch letztlich nur noch von experimentellen Klangcollagen die Rede sein kann, welche sich vornehmlich in dunklen Sphären abspielen. Für die perfekte Akzentuierung sorgt eine große Auswahl von Sprach- & Tonsamples, wobei besonders der Einsatz von Sequenzen des Zarah Leander Klassikers “In weiss es wird einmal ein Wunder geschehn” zu erwähnen ist, die in Kombination mit harschen Power Electronics Attacken das Kopfkino in Richtung “Deutschland unter Beschuss der Alliierten im Zweiten Weltkrieg” lenken – Wahnsinn! Alle Songs des Releases strotzen nur so vor Ausdrucks- & Durchschlagskraft und fesseln aufmerksame Hörerschichten unter Garantie vor den Lautsprechern. Wer das schnelle Hörvergnügen favorisiert, sollte von dieser anspruchsvollen Publikation die Finger lassen, welche so manchen Durchlauf benötigt, um ihren Charme zu entfalten, der bei Entdeckung seinesgleichen sucht!
Aus dieser sehr zusammenhängenden Erscheinung einen Track als Anspieltipp herausreißen zu wollen, macht keinen Sinn, hingegen das Empfehlen von kompletten Listening Sessions schon, welche zu Anfang vielleicht ein wenig Ratlosigkeit hinterlassen, die aber von Mal zu Mal verfliegt.
Fazit:
Chris Sidgell liefert mit “hysteria” ein sehr komplexes wie nachdenkliches Meisterwerk ab, welches der Konsumentenschaft einige ruhige Minuten mehr abverlangt, um seinen wahren “Geist” zu entfalten, der letztendlich gefangen  – meine absolute Empfehlung den Individuen, die von Tonkunst mehr als einfach nur Berieselung & Entspannung verlangen!

Heathen-Harvest (Sept 2009):

B°tong is the project of former Nid member Chris Sigdell.  Hysteria was conceived through the concepts of earthquakes and water.   Using samples from actual earthquakes recorded through seismographic institutes, a creepy, stygian atmosphere is born.  Btong’s prolific output is only matched by the variety of music he creates.  From electronic, to ambient, to experimental, each release takes a form all its own and makes it’s own statement.  From the actual music to the artwork and packaging, Btong’s creations are all encompassing.  Everything is inter-related and suitable, yet interesting.

Hysteria begins with “Unlimited Release”, layers of noise with vocals interspersed throughout.  Sonically it’s the sound of the abyss opening before us.  “Awakenings” crawls and floats, ambient sound and movie loops unite.  “Tremor”, brings us water rushing and bubbling.  Intonations of swaying and creaking loom, encompassing the listener.  “Diaspora” blasts off with inhuman vocals.  Ghoulish and sinister in its delivery.  “Damage Receive”, has an excellent use of earthquake recordings.  It gives the track an incredible and unsettling backbeat with dream-like keyboards dancing about the din.  Sounds creak and gape in the background.  “Heartbeat (Broken)”, features a slow beat of minimalist ambient, enhanced by the sound of softly falling rain.  All this flows directly into “Fragile Package”; bell-like tones give an all around unsettling atmosphere to the piece.  “As Specified” rounds it all out.  Static scrapes and lumbers toward us.  Descending pitches and disembodied backward vocals are sucked into a vortex of singing crickets.

That the atmosphere created here is eerie is a given.  Not in an evil way, but more ghoul-like.  The usage of effects, vocals and keyboards are as always pertinent and executed flawlessly.  Yet at times it almost sounds too perfect.   Somewhat hindering is the lack of spontaneity. There are moments, especially in “Diaspora”, where it feels too contained; the vocals are scary true, but in a cartoon-ish way.  It would be interesting to hear what might have been had boundaries been pushed further.  The use of earthquake recordings was a saving point, that more than anything gave the songs an anxious and foreboding aura.   

Magnus Creative Eclypse (June 2009):

Hinter "Hysteria" stand die Idee Geräusche und Klänge von Erdbeben und Wasser zu nehmen und daraus unheimliche Sounds zu kreiieren. Mission erfüllt, würde ich sagen. Dunkelste Ambient Klangcollagen mischen sich mit völlig zerstörenden Noiseerruptionen mit Sprachsamples im letzten Track. Man hat das Gefühl durch eine tiefe, dunkle Höhle zu klettern und schreckhaft vernimmt man immer wieder neue Geräusche: Mal plätschert Wasser direkt neben einem, dann vernimmt man wieder weit entfern fast maschinelle, kalte Klänge. Der manchmal fast beatartige Charakter, der einzelnen Passagen unterliegt, stammt von direkten seismographischen Aufnahmen von Erdbeben. Sie klingen auch wie Granateneinschläge in weiter Ferne, deren Hall unterirdisch völlig gepresst und dumpf übertragen wird. Dunkel bis zum Anschlag, kalt und gespenstisch, das sind die Kurzformeln von "Hysteria". Wie immer bei Verato Project Veröffentlichungen: Limitiert auf nur 60 Exemplare.

Vital Weekly (2009):

Slowly b°tong builds an interesting body of work that moves in various directions at the same time. From dealings with ambient and isolationism on one hand and experimental music, ranging from the soft microsound end to the more engaging noise end, in a clever combination of ideas. Its a bit hard to say whether this is a concept album of sorts, but it could just be as well. b°tong works here with a variety of sounds and ideas, using electronic processing of (his?) voice, adding to the notion of hysteria. As said, various interests are combined here and make solid impression on the listener. 'Damage Receive' and 'Fragile Package' are soft and meditative pieces, where 'Diaspora' has multiple layered voice treatments, embedded in a bit of computerized noise. These are the extreme boundaries of this work, but throughout they make a very coherent work which works very well. Well-made album, thought out, carefully constructed, rich in ideas and detail. That's the way to do these things. Bravo for b°tong.

"Genetic Design Flaw"
 
Kulturterrorismus, Dezember 2009:

Düster, hypnotisch wie komplex! Im Winter 2004, kurz vor dem nahenden Ende von NID (2005), entstand b°tong das Soloprojekt des in Basel ansässigen Skandinaviers Chris Sigdell, der seit der Gründung fleißig Releases produziert, aber auch unzählige Liveauftritte spielte, welche ihm weltweit einen exzellenten Ruf einbrachten. Wo die meisten Künstler über ein “Haus & Hof” Label verfügen, publiziert der Experimentalist seine Werke über sehr verschiedene Tonträgermanufakturen, wozu auch Ambolthue Records aus Oslo, Norwegen gehört, die “Genetic Design Flaw” (CD-R) das Licht der Welt schenkten. Inhaltlich lädt Chris Sigdell seine Hörergemeinschaft zu einer “Reise” durch die Abgründe der Gesellschaft ein, welche in Dortmund, Bom(b)bay & bei Al Qaida Halt macht und zu dem über vakuumierte Venen, eine Hottentottenschürze und weitere genetische Fehler berichtet, die diese Welt bestimmen. In diesem Kontext seien noch die Zeilen vom Backcover erwähnt, welche der Gesamtthematik den passenden Rahmen verleihen: “and should the Gods turn their backs upon us, blindly jerking theier heads about and hellfire embrace us… and torch us… and bring us to fall we’d still be asking for more“. Alle Tondokumente auf “Genetic Design Flaw” wandeln zwischen atmosphärischen Klangcollagen und Hörspielen, welche vom Kern her aus Dark Ambient bestehen und vereinzelt durch Sprach- & Tonsamples wie Effekthaschereien aus Drone & Noise Akzentuierung finden. Diejenigen, die vornehmlich auf stringente Sounds ohne Ecken & Kanten abfahren, dürften sich mit den experimentellen Darbietungen von b°tong sehr schwer tun, welche hingegen Freunde der industriellen Improvisationskunst bestimmt faszinieren. Der Grundtenor dieser Arbeit ist in meinen Gehörgängen düster hypnotisch komplex, weshalb gerade Individuen dieses Opus antesten sollten, die sich schwere Kost wie Sunn O))), Lustmord, Svartsinn, Ten Horned Beast & Endvra reinziehen. Im Fall von “Genetic Design Flaw” gilt der Satz “Love it or hate it!”, weshalb die Benennung eines expliziten Anspieltipps entfällt.
Fazit: Aufgrund der Komplexität dürften sich die Konsumenten an “Genetic Design Flaw” scheiden, aber an dem Können von Chris Sigdell, der hier ein sehr erdrückende wie einnehmende Vorstellung abliefert, gibt es zu keiner Sekunde der Spielzeit etwas zu bemängeln – meine absolute Empfehlung, wenn man nach Dark Ambient auf höchstem Niveau verlangt! RaF
das beste Hörerlebnis bei einem Komplettdurchlauf hervorkommt.

Inhaltlich gibt sich Chris Sigdell auf “Structures” abgedrehten Thematiken wie “Bitte die Hand heben, wer sterben möchte!”, “Der Traum des schwarzen Hundes” usw. hin. Für mainstreamige Wesen bestimmt schwer nachzuvollziehen, hingegen für eingefleischte Fetischistinnen und Fetischisten von elektronischer Extremklangkunst Normalität bzw. ein Muss!

Fazit:

Bisher war meiner Wenigkeit das Project b°tong von Chris Sigdell nur namentlich bekannt, zum Glück änderte sich der Zustand mit dem Werk “Structures”, welches gerade aus musikalischer Sicht ein Highlight für Personen darstellt, die sich äußerst düsterer Tonkunst im elektronischen Bereich zuwenden.
Diejenigen, die sich eine Kreuzung aus Klangcollagen der Marken Lustmord, Troum, Svartsinn & Tholen vorstellen können, sollten unbedingt “Structures” von b°tong antesten und bei Gefallen für die heimische Sammlung ordern.

Vital Weekly 2008
Music by B°Tong has been reviewed before, but when? The search engine has some difficulty, but as far as I can remember they were all on CDR. This might very well be his first real CD. B°Tong is originally from Sweden, but now lives in Basel and was once part of the duo NID. 'Structures' is inspired by a trip to Jukkaskarvi's ice palace in Sweden, although I don't believe this release deals with field recordings. Both music and inspiration recalls very much the work of the earliest works of Thomas Koner: icy fields of music, stale cold wind on your body, the mood is dark. Humming slowly, played on, perhaps, a bunch of analogue synthesizers and lots of sound effects. Perfect Isolationist drone music. There is never anything new under the ambient sun, it seems, but what B°Tong does here, can easily match his previous work - no, let me correct that: this is his best work to date. For all fans of Brian Eno, Thomas Koner, Biosphere and Troum: this is the new name to watch out for.
Franz de Waard 


"Structures"
 
Heathen Harvest 6 2009
Released on 2008, "Structures" has a story behind it. B°Tong's Chris Sigdell, who has worked on this project alone since 2004  got his inspiration for this album from a visit inside an ice castle in Switzerland. The harsh contradiction between the cold and dark environment of the icy castle, and the summer outside.  Come to think about it, indeed the impressive thing about this contradiction in climates is found not in the cold darkness of the interior, nor is it in the normal temperature of the outside. It lies in the structure itself, in the Exo-skeletal hall, whether engineered or naturally created. That still organ that manages to hold within itself a different world from the outside.
 
Begining with "Hands up: Who wants to die?",  B°Tong works with delicate sound layers and manages to bring forth monumentalism as well as fragility. The sudden roar, asking indeed who wants to die, sounds desperate and powerful above the cold layers of sound. Over Dante's gates of hell, the declaration to abandon all hope is positioned for all to see. The frozen castle that gave birth to "Structures" might have shouted the track's title words in Sigdell's ears in a similar manner. Is hell cold? Not for everybody, but we are here to talk about the structure it self, the frame. And this frame indeed grows cold and monumental with each passing track.  
 
Second track begins with a much deeper and uneasing drones. Sounds of crickets giving the notion of night time and a french woman's voice is making it all the more mysterious.  For a moment there I am drawn to the album "Wolf Pact" by boyd rice and friends, but this is much darker and slightly ceremonial. "Tu me degoute!" then transform into the following track, almost without notice, and becomes  a hellish dialogue between alien sounds and various voice samples, and I am quickly lost inside a towering dark forest that shouts at every direction. It then mellows down into a detuned guitar solo, and turns to the next track, "Stalker", which attempts to display an  epic monument.  Slowly shifting between serene and almost holy sounds to maddening, metallic mayhem.

"Structures" seems more and more like a journey, with a general landscape that keeps its features similar from the first track to the last. Yet it grows in shape and in details that are added one on top of the other, as each minute passes. More stones to build the freezing monument that B°Tong tries to shape.  Sigdell's plea for hand raising that occured on the first track and then gave way to the slow and painful road onwards comes to an end with barely comprehensible whispers that are burried under harsh and intense sonic overloads. "Clockwork mantra" gives no way for air to escape the dark and dense solution that lies in the heart of "Structures". One should not be surprised when arriving at this dead end, especially if he or she raised their hands 46 minutes ago...
 
A very powerful album by B°Tong, with  a fine combination of long sound scapes and  sonic events that are dotting the landscape. The result, whether monumental or not, is indeed worth time and money.  With thanks to the label for a very nice packaged album and thanks to the artist for its contents.

Sonomu.net 2009:

An artist who dips his foot in many different pools. A Swedish émigré living in Basel with over a decade´s recording experience. For Structures, he moves effortlessly between small-scale sound experiments and shifting moods and modes, to a darkness so remininiscent of Robert Rich and B. Lustmord´s "Stalker" - in spirit if not sound - that I had to go back to the original to check whether or not he has ripped them off directly, or just succeeded in capturing their essence. And believe me or not, but it was only after writing that comment that I noted the fourth track was entitled "Stalker". Spooky. As Paul Auster writes, "One nightmare replaces the other".

The artist claims his main inspiration for this album was the famed ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, a great modern-day symbol of man´s determination and the ultimate futility of his actions. Each winter architects, engineers and construction workers build an entire hotel out of ice, and each spring, it melts into nothing. Of course, this allows them to design and build a different hotel each year.

This album is designed to convey cold and dark and has been created from "natural sources" according to the liner notes - whether water, melting ice or pine cones is not specificed - and, I am assuming, a studio full of expensive equipment.

The immobilizing cold and dark of the north at midwinter is certainly effectively conveyed from the very beginning, but B˚Tong is not averse to creating surreal juxtapositions, like the snatch of female French dialogue, warm and intimate, superimposed on the blackness. More voices appear on the following track, but now disembodied, floating against their will in the wrong context. The dark tone is at times absolutely monstruous, beginning with "Stalker" and bleeding or rather penetrating through to the next track, "Motherlode"; both rip the black right out of the sky and cram it through the speakers. "Black Dog Dream" is much less scary and much more interestingly constructed and features what sounds like Brian Eno lecturing through a air duct. "Clockwork Mantra" ends this multivalent nightmare with a quiet, repetitve clanking and a hiss.

A wonderful effort, and best of all, Structures is available from the Noecho imprint, a London-based DIY collective who release the kind of music it wants to listen to. And which you will, too.
Stephen Fruitman

Kulturterrorismus.de 2008:

Pure Bedrohlichkeit und Zerstörung aus Feldaufnahmen

Diese stimmungsvolle Publikation “Structures”, des Ein-Mann Projektes b°tong, erblickte das Licht der Welt auf der Tonträgermanufaktur NOECHO Records in zwei Formaten, als CD Pressung mit 7 Tracks im Digipack (Vollversion) und als kostenfreier Download (3 Stücke + 3 Bonussongs). (Anmerkung: Meine Besprechung bezieht sich ausschließlich auf die gepresste Variante des Albums!)

Hinter dem Namen b°tong verbirgt sich keiner Geringerer als der Schwede Chris Sigdell mit Wohnsitz in Basel, der zu den Gründungsmitgliedern der Formation Nid (1995 – 2005) gehört, welches sich durch experimentelle elektronische Tonkunst einen Namen in der so genannten Szene machte. Seit 2004 “werkelt” der Soundakrobat alleine unter dem Namen b°tong, womit er einige Releases und zahlreiche Live-Auftritte in ganz Europa vorweisen kann. Des Weiteren betätigt er sich als Erschaffer von Kunstfilmen bzw. Videoclips, die auf seiner MySpace Seite angeschaut werden können.

Die Arbeit “Structures” erscheint auf dem noch recht jungen Label NOECHO Records mit Sitz in London (Großbritannien), welche der Artist im Zeitraum von 2005 bis 2006 konzipierte. Die gekonnte Melange aus den Stilen Dark Ambient, Drones und Noise, produzierte Chris Sigdell komplett aus Feldaufnahmen (field recordings) ohne Hinzunahme von Synthesizern. Zur Akzentuierung der einzelnen sehr atmosphärischen Tondokumente verwendete der Protagonist eigens erstellte Sprachsamples und harsche “Störsequenzen”, die die sehr drückenden Strukturen der Lieder auflockern. Die zu vernehmenden Klangsphären auf “Structures” schwingen zwischen Bedrohlichkeit und Zerstörung - Licht sucht der geneigte Hörerkreis hier vergeblich – Faktum! Im Besonderen besticht das Oeuvre durch facettenreiche Kompositionen, welche auch Individuen, die schon unzählige Dark Ambient Opera konsumierten, noch ansprechen bzw. mit Spannung über den Verlauf erfüllen.

Aus “Structures” einen Anspieltipp herauszusezieren, bringt keinen tieferen Sinn, weil die “Verzahnung” zwischen den Lieder stimmt und das beste Hörerlebnis bei einem Komplettdurchlauf hervorkommt.

Inhaltlich gibt sich Chris Sigdell auf “Structures” abgedrehten Thematiken wie “Bitte die Hand heben, wer sterben möchte!”, “Der Traum des schwarzen Hundes” usw. hin. Für mainstreamige Wesen bestimmt schwer nachzuvollziehen, hingegen für eingefleischte Fetischistinnen und Fetischisten von elektronischer Extremklangkunst Normalität bzw. ein Muss!

Fazit:

Bisher war meiner Wenigkeit das Project b°tong von Chris Sigdell nur namentlich bekannt, zum Glück änderte sich der Zustand mit dem Werk “Structures”, welches gerade aus musikalischer Sicht ein Highlight für Personen darstellt, die sich äußerst düsterer Tonkunst im elektronischen Bereich zuwenden.
Diejenigen, die sich eine Kreuzung aus Klangcollagen der Marken Lustmord, Troum, Svartsinn & Tholen vorstellen können, sollten unbedingt “Structures” von b°tong antesten und bei Gefallen für die heimische Sammlung ordern.

Vital Weekly 2008:

Music by B°Tong has been reviewed before, but when? The search engine has some difficulty, but as far as I can remember they were all on CDR. This might very well be his first real CD. B°Tong is originally from Sweden, but now lives in Basel and was once part of the duo NID. 'Structures' is inspired by a trip to Jukkaskarvi's ice palace in Sweden, although I don't believe this release deals with field recordings. Both music and inspiration recalls very much the work of the earliest works of Thomas Koner: icy fields of music, stale cold wind on your body, the mood is dark. Humming slowly, played on, perhaps, a bunch of analogue synthesizers and lots of sound effects. Perfect Isolationist drone music. There is never anything new under the ambient sun, it seems, but what B°Tong does here, can easily match his previous work - no, let me correct that: this is his best work to date. For all fans of Brian Eno, Thomas Koner, Biosphere and Troum: this is the new name to watch out for.
Franz de Waard
 
"El Inventor Del Schabernack"
 
Heathen Harvest 2009:

Chris Sigdell is an experimental artist and sound deconstructionist who has been working for quite some time on his particular craft. As such, he has experienced many structures under his other experimental project, NID. This German artist has now focused all of his efforts on exploring another facet of his personal realities and B-TONG is the next deconstructive organism born from the deepest subconscious level. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, David Lynch, H.R. Giger, and Wilhelm Ranch among other, Mr. Sigdell's music is diverse, complex and even enigmatic if we take care to explore the different sonic elements generated within this album. "El Inventor del Schabernack" is an aural sculpture representing facets in memory of the honorable professor Dr. Schabernack - the inventor of the practical joke.
Within "El Inventor del Schabernack" we find deep explorations and mutations of sounds that persist throughout the entire album. The compositions are written with such a personal touch that the album features a creative spirit that develops an intense and strong piece of art. For example, take a listen to "...und Diser Kreis Dreht Sich". The dense soundscapes crawl from the void to bring upon the listener parallel realities through discordant sounds and evolving atmospheres. Or you could note "I Never met a Decent Cop (Exterminator)". This track is a sonic voyage to the centers of chaos, generating eclectic soundscapes, voices, and electronic devices that compliment the expressed atmospheres perfectly.
In the process of a defining track, B-TONG uses many deconstructive elements in order to give birth to organic creations. Christopher utilizes everything from samples from television, radio and film, field recordings and artificial sounds to his own voice recorded, distorted, and processed through various elements. After that, the mixing process is a magical convergence of ideas and creative inspirations. "The Transformed Man" is an electronic defragmentation of noise elements which give us an idea of B-TONG'S capability to create bizarre sounds. Another track, "Mjolnir", is a type of 'floating' track that utilizes dynamic elements and drone noise with repetitive oral expressions and more.
Through "A Variation of Infidelity", the album would seem to go further into a drone industrial-oriented touch with enrapturing elements here and there that keep your sense awake consistently. "Sento Odor di Figa" is an ambient voyage wherein each sonic element is built up in order to give you a definitive pattern inside your mind; its like an experiment in which everything is possible. For B-TONG, performing requires relying on effects-pedals, samplers, and gadgets such as metallic scrap, a rusty grill, a battery ventilator, vibrators, an electric motor, a homemade noise generator and an old Casio keyboard to creat instant space - space, especially inner space, is the place for B-TONG.
transcribed by Sage L. Weatherford
"Microsleep"
 
Heathen Harvest November 2008:

The newest CD from B°Tong, also known as Chris Sigdell, Microsleep, is a fascinating romp through an industrial ambient wasteland. Mostly driven by percussives, synths making a dehumanistic iceberg of a droning and underneath it all, other metallic objects clanging together, Microsleep seeks to infuse all of one's senses at once with sounds that have feels, tastes and smells.
Sigdell has been around the European industrial/ambient world for a while now, putting together his own brand of the genre. The music on Microsleep as well as other releases of his go from droning, humming noise to discordant metallic scratchiness and in between that there are ups and downs - electronic beeps, bells and whistles - literally - and samples of all kinds of odd noises.
From 1995 to 2005 Chris Sidell was a member of Nid, a German experimental “sound collective” that sought out the most extreme ways to be different. He has also played with such luminaries as To Live and Shave in L.A., Origami Galaktika, Sudden Infant and Column One.
On Microsleep, B°Tong keeps up with the Joneses, so to speak, not being outdone by anyone else out there. But at the same time, it isn't that innovative a record. Track 7, “Rest Area” and the closer, “Insomnia” both are interesting cuts, they flow into one another and both sample that classic intro to the one hit by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (“Fire”) - you know, the part at the start of the song where Arthur Brown screams “I am the god of hellfire and I bring you...” as well as some spoken word philsophy or philology by an academic-sounding brain, spouting off about consciousness and the states of the brain. “Lunar Landing” and “Powernap” are also inventive songs with many different things being used. In fact, on the whole of Microsleep, more and more items of dubious musical value on their own will be probably discovered on various tunes each time one listens to it. Sigdell tries to capture the same effect he brings about on record to the stage when playing live. He'll go to many lengths to get creative - everything including the kitchen sink - as well as utensils, found sounds, odds and ends, they all complement more traditional things like synthesizers, percussive instruments, microphones and samplers.
B°Tong lists his influences on his MySpace page as “...HP Lovecraft, David Lynch, Jacques Cousteau and Wilhelm Reich,” none of which are musicians but that list does give you a reference point as to where his mind is while coming up with his interesting tunes.
Chris is one of these musical renaissance men who seem to be “total artists” - into making his music, but also into video art, writing, fine art (painting, drawing, etc) and I'm sure there are other projects yet-to-come in his thus far young life. He's been all over the world collaborating with all sorts of people which can't help but rub off on one and help shape one's outlook. Besides playing with the aforementioned bands, Sigdell's also had a video (from Sphere II) appear at the 2007 Miami Art Fair; another of his videos appeared at a Beijing film festival in 2008.
This latest project, Microsleep, is an eerie, night-crawling jumping off point for one who wants to hear something of this genre but is not long on experience to “hard-to-listen-to” music. It isn't really “hard-to-listen-to” at all, just a bit unorthodox. Each song is a crafty work of art that stands on its own or is great with the whole of the album: just sit back and let the sound go through you.

Creative Eclipse 2007:

Wirklich ein seltsam-düsteres, interessantes Album, das Chris Sigdell mit Microsleep vorlegt. Schnell sein, denn die CD-R ist nur auf 60 stück limitiert. Alle Sounds der CD wurden mit einem Laptop und verschiedenen Samples aus natürlicher Umgebung wie auch aus Filmen, Radio etc. kreiert. Dabei ist ein wirklich sehr spezielles Gruselkabinett an Klängen und Ambiancen entstanden, wie sie dunkler und bedrückender kaum sein können. Man stelle sich vor, man steht im Dunklen vor einem tiefen Schachteingang und hört weit unten unter sich Geräusche, Stimmen, ein Knacken und Krachen. Microsleep wurde von einem Trip nach Australien inspiriert, wo am Wegrand immer wieder die Schilder stehen, die vor Microsleep, also Sekundenschlaf warnen und drauf hinweisen, Ruhepausen einzulegen. Thematisch dreht sich alles um Übermüdung, Einsamkeit, Träume und Albträume auf einer Strasse ins Nichts.

Vital Weekly 2007:

Chris Sigdell, one half of the now split duo Nid (see also Vital Weekly 585), has already released a couple of releases as b°tong, in which he showed an interest in playing the atmospheric card in music and continues where we left him off with 'Polar:is' (see Vital Weekly 522). Metallic percussive sounds, drenched in a lot reverb, spiced with some extra delay, and some rumbling of analogue synthesizers as we go on this journey. A less subtle version of the early Thomas Köner (when he played the gong, anyone remember that), but certainly a release in which b°tong shows a development from his previous. Things sound more worked out, there is more variation among the separate pieces, and while it doesn't sound too new or strange, this is actually quite a nice release in the field or ambient, drone and isolationist music.
Frans de Waard
 
"NID: Plate Tectonics"
 
Independent Electronic Music, Russia 2008:

Nid is the German experimental band, existed from 1995 to 2006. Chris Sigdell is known now for his solo project b°tong, Jürgen Eberhard is one half of another eccentric and hermetic project: Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim. "Plate Tectonics" was released not so long ago, but this seems to be the only CD - Nid was much more into live performances rather than album recording sessions. The main idea behind Nid was the subsequential changing of the established meaning about electronic music, rooted in the very nature of sound sources. So the music was born in the real time ambience, witnessing the sound space architectural changes, causing constant improvisation. Some of you who have read previous reviews should remember the ongoing creative workshops committed by Günter Schroth and his Six And More ensemble. Nid were very welcome there, as well as in the program of various important festivals like "European Culture Capital". Actually, this particular album is the live recording made during a concert in Arnheim (NL) in the fall of 2002. The common feeling is very close to the post-industrial collages (the New Blockaders and alike) and dark ambient experiments (Lustmord is still living in our hearts!). By the way, the concert was recorded by Mars Wellink, ex-member of the legendary Vance Orchestra. The deep echoing and muffled, slowed down voices are treated with various handmade appliances, the bells and some old mysterious records combined together in the underwater laboratory of secret art-science.

Mouvement Nouveau 2007:

Irony is an integral part of the music business: after over a decade of touring, performing and playing, Nid finally get to release their first full-length record with one of the bigger labels on the scene and then the band has already disbandened. For twelve years, the project was a constant, its members operating from their home bases of Switzerland and Germany, but reaching out to all of Europe, selling self-burnt CD-R’s from the trunk of their car. But even though “Plate Tectonics” has missed out on providing them with their hoped-for breakthrough, it is still a welcome document of a band who could truly “rock” a crowd.
After all, none of the previous publications was able to capture this three-piece with the energy and hypnoticism of their live acts, filled with turntable aesthetics and knob tweaking in sets of many different stages and moods. Till Kniola of the Auf Abwegen label has been one of the project’s patrons, inviting them over to his “Geräuschwelten” series over here in Münster, where i could witness them in action and was left wondering about why Nid has never made it to the upper echelons of the experimental family. All the necessary ingredients were there, after all: dense, abstract collages. Mesmerising passages of classical string magic, molten into an industrial amber vision. Rotating beats, noisy ambient and spoken word contributions. This made for a multifaceted listening experience. “Plate Tectonics”, too, characterises their style as accessible and catchy, yet profound and stimulating. These three tracks may be stretched-out, but they are never fuzzy or wilfully opaque, never prone to intellectual boredom nor out to cheaply provoke. The band has found the golden cut and merged aforementioned genres into a subliminal, unobtrusive yet engaging and coercive flow. Everything is possible, as the dreamy threads of “Earth’s Crust” are softly pierced by a looped radio melody or the closing “35 000 Feet Below The Ocean Surface” changes its timbre and pulse constantly over the course of its almost twenty-two minutes’ duration.
As Chris Sigdell has gone on to intensify the effort behind his stoner rock project phased and his solo act b°tong, Jürgen Eberhard and Oswin Czerwinski have once again retreated into the spacey excursions of “Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim”. They have remained in close contact as well, continuing to perform live together. And yet, there was something special about Nid, which transcended the individual and undeniable talents of its constituent elements. As ironic as its belated arrival may be, “Plate Tectonics” captures this certain kind of magic on record at least once.
Tobias Fischer

Aquarius Records 2007:

While not new, we only just discovered Nid, and our discovery came about in a very random manner, considering various related works were right under our nose. We listed a killer 4 way split 12" a while back called One Man Drone, and our favourite track from the split was a piece by a group called b°tong. We later discovered that the man behind b°tong was previously a member of German experimental sound-collective Nid. (…) So now it's sort of come full circle and we have this, the only proper full-length recording (as far as we know) from the group Nid, aka Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim and it's pretty amazing. Pretty bizarre too, but then with a (sometime) name like Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim, what else would you expect?
Three looooooooong tracks. Each an epic, incredibly varied sound-world, blending found sounds and field recordings with drones and intense blasts of layered sound. The opener begins with a muted cacophony of birds and crickets, before disappearing into a roiling black cloud of rumbling low end and distant droning guitar buzz. It almost sounds like sticking your head out of a speeding car, the wind whipping by and causing all sorts of distortions, but blurred into an impressively massive wall of sound. Within all this whipping sonic wind and rumbling whirs, are strange bits of percussion, the clang and bang of metal on metal, shakers and simple rhythms, they drift briefly in the eye of the storm, before the drone drops again, even more furious than before, until it fades out amidst the dreamy shimmer of female vocals and haunting minor key melodic buzz. Really intense, and strangely beautiful.
The second track is another deep cavernous roar. A bit smoother than the previous number, but not for long, bit of metallic buzz surface amidst the undulating rumbles, with some serious dynamic spikes, some of which sound like brief bursts of Sunn 0))), and others are even lower and more aggressive bits of low end exploration. There are bits of static and random buzz here and there, but mostly it's black and dark, a massive growling beast, slowly uncoiling into a monster that blocks out the sun. Near the end of the track, the darkness abates and in its place is a strange skipping stuttering snippet of music, wrapped in hazy distortion and looped into a mesmerizing rhythm, repeated over and over and over, gradually crumbling and becoming more and more distorted before erupting into a final burst of chest rattling low end, finally slowing down and sputtering to a halt.
The final track is over twenty minutes and is the most melodic of the bunch. Beginning with a looped cycle of xylophone melody, over a throbbing low-end pulse and streaks of keening distant guitar and bits of operatic female vocals. Very ominous, and mysterious sounding. When suddenly everything stops, and there's a guy with a British accent ranting over someone ransacking a kitchen, breaking glass, clanging cutlery, and suddenly it's gone, and we're back in some new dronescape, a mumbled voice looped into a haunting mantra, beneath distant thunder like rumbles, and little blurs of high end melody, indistinct, but gradually building in intensity. The drones drift away leaving birds and voices, and some strange bits of hiss and skree, before transforming into a plodding doomdrone beast. A simple stretched out rhythm over cavernous thrums and the sound of subway cars, everything pulsing and throbbing, a bizarre bit of dark collage, that manages to be strangely musical and completely hypnotic.
An amazingly weird record, and absolutely essential listening for the drone obsessed, which we would assume should be most of you...
 
"Polar:is"
 
Wonderful Wooden Reasons 2008:

B°tong is Swiss composer Chris Sigdell who has been active since the mid nineties in various guises.  His music is a deep and dark somnambulant stream punctuated with occasional flurries and eddies of sound and texture that serve to both enhance and agitate the flow.  Much of Sigdell's sounds display a love for the harsher ends of the sound spectrum but they are assembled with such a sympathetic ear that they achieve a naturalistic quality that is the flip side of what early expectations lead one to expect.  'Polar:is' is forceful and vigorous excursion into the outer edges of ambient music.  It's considerably more interesting than most music being produced in this style at the moment and if, to use a crass term, dark ambient is your particular bag then you'd be hard pressed to find anything better.

Vital Weekly 06:

Many of the 1000+1 TiLt recording releases deal with people from Greece, but b°tong is from Switzerland, being Chris Sigdell of Nid. His first release was on Verato Project (see Vital Weekly 486). 'Polar:is' is a release that is just one step further from a sound installation b°tong did, together with Camilla Schuler and Brigitte Gierlich. It consisted of 'a white room with three looped record-players in rotating psychedelic light, plus a separate underwater installation where two live-performance in icy atmosphere where held'. In what way the release is related I don't know, but it mentions natural sound and samples. Maybe because this release lasts a bit longer, we get a more coherent picture of the music of b°tong. Moving away from the microsound laptop doodling, he enters the spheres of isolationist drone music. Deep dark rumbling bass sounds, with gentle, glacier-like moving textures on top. It reminded me of what was called isolationist ten or so years ago, but more in particular Thomas Köner's earliest works. A bit dated perhaps, but quite nice for those who love their drones to be darker than dark.
Frans de Waard