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Biosphere - Substrata CD (album) cover

SUBSTRATA

Biosphere

 

Progressive Electronic

3.97 | 7 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Substrata is the first fully picturesque ambient album by Biosphere and is justifiably held in high regard in the ambient electronic musical community.

Following Pataschnik, which is basically ambient but features a lot of juvenile house bounciness and new age touches, this album opts for painting very quiet and well constructed soundscapes that evoke the coldness and whiteness of the arctic.

There tracks on Substrata are not so much for individual enjoyment as they are pieces to a whole that over time enhances the invoked mental imagery of the cold. In some ways the atmosphere created on this album is similar to a much more spacious and ambient interpretation of Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children minus the strong analog synthesizer sound and powerful hip-hop attitude.

Beyond the chilling synthesizers that drive the album's primary sound, there is also a respectable use of various field recordings such as creaking wood and running water, along with vocal samples that are short but contemplative in meaning -- another similarity to Boards of Canada.

Substrata also has a moment of slight weirdness; "Times When I Know You'll Be Sad" is a simple psychedelic clean-toned guitar driven track with disconnected vocals that remind me personally of Barrett-era Pink Floyd. It doesn't meld very well within the context that the album sets, but it's also not a terribly upsetting song. Just kind of odd, is all. This moment of weirdness is made up for later on the album by a song called "Kobresia", a rather progressive and lightly symphonic ambient soundscape that features everything from running water and beautiful swelling synths to radio static and nylon string guitar -- the overall tone of this composition is similar to Einojuhani Rautavaara's beautiful and otherworldly Cantus Arcticus.

For the most part, Substrata is an ambient album but includes various elements that make the music more compelling and engaging than is usually expected from the ambient genre, and definitely a lot more progressive. Its high status in the ambient electronic community is well deserved and is a chilling listen that makes great use of the tension-and- release dynamic throughout its duration that any adventurous listener with an ear for slow progression should be able to enjoy.

colorofmoney91 | 4/5 |

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