Nik Beeson
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Nik Beeson

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The best kept secret in music


"Review of 'Howlings'"

Howling at the Gates of Sound

The history of electroacoustic composition began back in the late 1940s, not with musical composers, but with poets. It was the poets who first realized the compositional potential of the tape recorder, and proceeded to use this new tool in their primitive experiments, creating works in which their voices were manipulated through speed and pitch changes, tape looping and reverberation

Since that time, the use of electronic instruments and machines to alter acoustic sound, and also to generate new synthetic sounds unheard of in our natural world, has spread far and wide throughout the Western arts. It is found among visual artists who use electroacoustic environments for their site installations, among professors of music in the academies, among 'sound poets' who continue to explore the interface between voice and technology, and among various practitioners of more popular forms of musical culture. Within this activity, the borders between the various modes of expression have blurred, melted, melded and given birth to new hybrids that defy classification based on past paradigms

One such hybrid is the ambivalent area of musical/sonic culture which today carries a number of tags, such as ambient, techno, and trance; and one of the new practitioners in this area is the multi-talented Nik Beeson whose Cirque-Samsara entreprises has just released his first CD Howlings, and whose music is distinctively different from most of the other artists in this field.

Overall, Beeson's music has a haunting, meditational quality with episodic dramatic gestures; sometimes reminiscent of Eno's work, it comes closest to the ambient landscapes of American composer Jeff Greinke, expressing at times subtle feelings of dread, at others a tinge of melancholy, and even hints at a new form of aural beauty.

The first work on the CD, lupus angelus, captures all of the distinctive qualities in Beeson's music. It unfolds as a series of troughs and peaks in a general ambient tonal landscape, subtle (and some not-so-subtle) figures of light emerging from dark drones with ambivalent harmonic shadings between light and dark, and creating a meditation space in which to view perhaps one's personal inner landscape or meet one's guardian spirit.

Where lupus angelus ends, the second work soulscaping continues in a relatively even contemplative mood. Using electric guitar, reminiscent of some of Bill Nelson's ambient instrumentals, it shifts between gentle and mid-range guitar figurations that are enhanced through echo processing, the overall effect of the work being a study in foreground / background textures and harmonies.

The final work sud I-IV begins minimalistically with ambient drones creeping over technological figurations reminding one of clocks ticking or machine movements. Very slowly a soundscape emerges that alternates between very lovely, subtle, ambivalent sounds and more dramatic, urgent pulses and outbreaks. The entire sonic meditation resolves itself in a true choral flourish, a dramatic surge in which a chorus of human voices emerges and gradually leads the listener into silence.

Beeson is a careful and thoughtful craftsman, and he has provided his listener with a fully integrated musical programme in which all the works flow as if they were the movements of a symphony. His sonic palette is far richer than most of the techno/trance crowd, and has an emotional aura that can subtly creep up on a listener. Unlike many electroacoustic practitioners, Beeson is not obsessed with the technology he uses; rather, it is obvious in this CD that he favours artistic expression and perceives technology simply as a tool through which he can communicate both his feelings and visions.

Beeson's Howlings is one of the most accomplished and pleasurable electroacoustic CDs I have encountered, and I would advise those who enjoy adventures in music to search out this recording and enter into a sonic space that will enchant and mesmerize.

John Melmoth - MusicWorks Magazine, Spring 2003
- MusicWorks Magazine

"Mixed Media Musiker"

Most of us can only hope to excel at one specific area in our lives,<br>follow our passion to one heart's task and find our happiness there. <br>However, a few people are lucky to be blessed with a certain grace and<br>centrality of purpose which permeates all that they do, and often leads to<br>intricate and spontaneous activities over a wide range.  Nik Beeson,<br>Toronto's left-leaning minstrel-rogue of the interdisciplinary audio arts,<br>is never misunderstood; he brings a refreshing exploratory sentiment and<br>rigorous TNT barrel punk rock blasts to whatever stage he graces, be it<br>the local watering hole, respectable art-institution or a musical<br>gathering in a natural ambient setting.  Having generated interest and<br>support for thriving local experimental venues, Beeson and cohorts swam<br>through the warm waters of electronic and acoustical endeavour; he is<br>regarded as a staunch supporter of alternative forms of expression:  not<br>limited to folk evenings, beat poetry clashes, classical structures, jazz<br>forms, electronic indignants, rock explosions.  In a move so obvious, it<br>seemed impossible, Beeson has recently turned his rebellious songwriting<br>expression into the abstract realm of digital electroacoustics.  With<br>equal grace and persistence, Beeson is now confronting his publikum with<br>more and more challenging artistic output.  <br><br>Karl Mohr for<br><br> - Karl Mohr


2002 'Howlings' (ambient/electroacoustic LP)- solo composer/producer
2000 'Snakes & Ladders' (acoustic singer-songwriter EP) - writer/producer
2000 'Mouthfeel' (world groove LP) - spoken word, bass, co-production
1998 'Enantiodromia' (alt rock LP) - singer-songwriter, producer
1996 'NOD' (alt-rock LP) - singer-songwriter, producer
1996 'Paradigmalogos Sessions' (experimental LP) - conception, guitar, producer


Feeling a bit camera shy


Nik Beeson:
Minstrel, poet, composer of tall tales;
Songs, spoken words, and soundscapes;
Dark musical diviner;
Coal miner alchemist.

Songwritings' like Waits, Cohen, Drake.
Sound arts' like Eno, Greinke.
Poetry and lyrics like Rumi, Blake;
Skin is peeling off.

He has:
Composed, produced and performed improvisations exploring evolutionary theory, ambient/electroacoustic, alt-rock and solo acoustic;
Collaborated with world, punk, techno and pop musicians, performance artists, vertical and contemporary dancers;
Written, produced and performed ‘Sonic Theatre’ -
sound driven multimedia theatre events -
which have included dance, live and pre-recorded video, choral voice, theatre;
Written and produced four short books of poetry, prose, essays;
Performed as a spoken word artist;
Gone on tirades;
Frequently fallen.

He is now:
Composing ambient/electroacoustic music;
Writing and producing songs combing clear haunting melodies,
vivid, evocative soundscapes,
dark sublime lyrics;