Jon Wozencroft’s photography on the cover of The Invisible City gives a good indication of what’s inside. A city at night, human activity hidden behind closed doors, the physical details of the city distorted by the shadows. The foreground is dominated by a deserted station concourse, the train either expected or recently departed, only an intense golden hue of electric lighting remaining. Pulses of street light pick out architectural details in the distance. Windows reveal the harsh glow of televisions and emergency lighting. Whilst the city’s human inhabitants rest, a network of electronic systems remain active.

As well as the usual tape recorders, computers, organs and guitars, the album features a Subharchord, a relic of the former German Democratic Republic’s attempts to out-do western musical technology, which generates sub-harmonic noise. Personal favourite Hildur Gudnadottir also features on the viola, but the sound of her instrument is somewhat lost through heavy layers of electronic manipulation.

The interface between humans and nature or technology are reoccuring themes in Benny Jonas Nilsen’s work. On The Invisible City the focus is certainly on technology.

Human activity is referenced intermittently throughout the album. Voices appear on Scientia, recordings of a news report, which are further distorted to leave you feeling disconnected and a bit helpless. This feeling is further enforced on the epic following track, Virtual Resistance. This opens with a high energy screech of electric guitar; a symbol of our control over electricity to produce music, until it is slowly strangled and replaced with soft, static-drenched oscillations and a series of distant memories of instrumentation and field recordings.  These include some beautifully recorded, and bizarrely harrowing, footsteps crunching through snow – it is a fascinating exercise trying to pinpoint the various field recording through the layers of manipulation. Every time human interference is hinted at it seems to get quickly suppressed. Despite Nilsen ultimately being in control of the sound, he is able to give the electronics space to breath and assume their authority.

Into Coloured Rays features the closest thing to a beat on the album, almost tribal, but with the bassline replaced with a purring mechanical vibration. The effect is quite anthemic, albeit in praise of a concealed industrial process.

It is an album that’s pretty easy to get excited about; there is so much going on. It actually feels as if you could move around and explore the space it creates. There is a  familiarity due to the constant hum of the city’s white noise embedded in your consciousness, but this is permeated by emotions ranging from anxiety and terror through to optimism and hope.

Samples and download available from Touch, which includes additional bonus material when you buy directly from their shop.