Review: Niilas’ new album of experimental sound design and ethereal beats, River of Noise

Daringly diverse, and full of folk-driven melodies, Niilas’ fifth LP, ‘River of Noise’ was released on 3 November, to immediate acclaim. Already exciting ears around the world, its first two singles received extensive support from Stereogum and VICE. The new album’s varied tracks also gained significant airplay from both NPR Music and BBC Radio 1. From out-of-this-world, soaring breakbeat rhythms to conventional and catchy four-on-the-floor percussions, Niilas channels his own prowess into an exciting vision of electronic music.


The featured single ‘Strawberry Dub’, was released with a stunning live performance of Niilas exploring a more ambient approach with a mouth-controlled dynamic FX processor and synthesizer from SOMA Laboratories called “The Pipe”. Niilas is seen performing the instrument against the backdrop of towering, mirrored monoliths. Reminiscent of an ancient primordial shrine which brings to mind the opening scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The track itself has been lovingly layered and textured with great skill. A gentle approach with the atmosphere of a serene soundscape; quickly giving way to huge percussions and sweeping synths.



‘Pyromid’ features the oscillating, organic sounds of a Norwegian Harding-fiddle played by collaborator Erland Apnoseth. As Niilas’ beats begin entering the fray, a distant throbbing draws itself closer, and closer, before nearly consuming the foreground entirely. The track blends ethnomusicology and dance-ability – resulting in an exotically lush piece of music sure to captivate and astound.


The excitingly fresh (for Western ears) sounds of the Persian, Santoor, beckon the listener into the decadent tones of the album’s single, ‘Oshea’. With a warbling flick of the pitch wheel, Niilas disrupts and delights the accompanying bounce of Mirsaheed Hosseiny Panah’s Santoor. Offering a monumental acoustic resonance, the zither instrument transports the listener to another world; a desert wonderland of fresh beats and hypnotic rhythms.


Never beholden to just one category; notable Norwegian virtuoso Niilas’ fifth record is flush with tracks each more varied than the last. Sometimes languidly haunting, and other times aggressively in your face, Niilas has here crafted a phantasmagorical kaleidoscope of electronic compositions that refuse linear categorization. Combining his electronic sensibilities with carefully curated collaborations, River of Noise is indeed a refreshing dive into the stream of consciousness of a maestro who cannot be stopped. Not by genre, nor by the constraints of reality – Nillas is sure to push the envelope as far as he can. One experimental approach at a time. 


I’ve tried to completely let go of my own expectations and rather try to let the immense changes that the world is going through impact my creative direction. Sort of letting the music river run through me. River Of Noise has both conventional club tracks, and some really interesting collaborations with folk musicians from both Norway (with the Harding-fiddle) and Iran (Santoor)” said Niilas about his latest album, released 3 November. Stream the whole album, ‘River of Noise’ below:



Follow Niilas: