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Biosphere - The Senja Recordings CD (album) cover

THE SENJA RECORDINGS

Biosphere

 

Progressive Electronic

4.02 | 4 ratings

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TCat
4 stars "Biosphere" is an alias used by Progressive Electronic artist Geir Jenssen, which represents his solo work. Jenssen was born in Norway in 1962 and has had ffiliations with several musical acts, including the dance oriented "Bel Canto" in 1987, and trance oriented "Bleep" in 1990. As Biosphere, he has released 26 full length studio albums since 1992.

"The Senja Recordings" were released in June of 2019. This album consists of a 17-track collection of natural outdoor recordings and in-studio improvisations done on the island of Senja, Arctic Norway, between 2015 ? 2018. All of the tracks were written, performed and recorded by Jenssen.

"Skalbrekka" consists of sounds manipulated and processed into interesting electronic soundscapes. The source material is a recording of ice being thrown out on a frozen lake and a dog named Tara. This is an example of the soundscapes that are created here, but without knowing what the original sound was, you would never be able to figure it out. The mood is ambient and sparse, cold and barren as the Arctic Circle, where these field recordings were done. "Strandby" is an improvised passage recorded from a Roland System 100 synthesizer. The music-box sounding tones are simple and unaccompanied and seem to be based on a pattern. "Bergsbotn 1" uses a field recording of a military, concrete snow shed that has a ventilation pipe that the wind blows through creating a sound like a giant flute. Sparse and haunting, there are barely discernable tones hidden under the already quiet sounds and this brings on a feeling of solidarity. "Bjorvika" is based around a field recording of rain and thunder as heard from inside a storage container and some soft tones.

"Berg" is an 8 minute electronic composition that is commissioned work for an exhibition in Oslo. The tones are based on a repeated pattern with slow and subtle changes and various other tones, usually in a low register also come through. The music shimmers and echoes as the notes are sustained, giving a feeling of depth in the lower tones and a sense of reflective light shooting out from ice crystals. "Kyle" is the sound of a vuvuzela (a 2 ft. long, plastic horn) echoing off of a mountain wall in Litjedalen. The sound is soft with a windy drone and echoing caws from birds. This short track segues into "Fjolhogget" which is an electronic recording using a Yamaha FB-01 and an OSCar synthesizer. There are steady low tones with high melodic and short tones playing on top. "Stordjupta" also uses the OSCar synth and the sound of a VHF distress call. This has a steady low drone and ominous throbbing tones.

"Bergsbotn II" utilizes the snow shed again as in the first part, but this time it is joined by high pitched tones from a Cambodian bamboo flute and a Argeiphontes lyre. The sounds are cold, metallic and piercing. "Bergsbotn III" continues from the previous track with the addition of a Vietnamese hand drum producing some interesting effects. A intermittent drone is produced that stops and starts creating a glitchy sound. "Lysbotn" also continues from the previous track. This time a field recording of finger tapping on a hydroelectric pipe and the use of contact microphones are used to create the source material. A low, soft drone vibrates under occasional percussive sounds. "Straumen" is a short field recording of a transmitter station, pretty much just a variant drone. "Steinfjord" is another short track using a field recording of wind through wires in a restricted area. The vibration of the wires create a tonal quality but the track is also drone-like. "Gilberg" continues with the drone from the previous track and uses electronic sounds created by the MetaSynth and the ARP Odyssey. A far off tonal sound creates the sensation of music carried over a distance, almost flute-like in tone, while low tones sound like the wind through hollow pipes. The source material for "Alteret" is a field recording in Mefjordavaer of reindeer high on a mountain and a military plane flying overhead. "Geatkejavri" is a field recording of thunder at Fjeilfrosvatnet. "Ha" is the last track and is another 8 minute track. It uses a Hydraphone, an unusual instrument invented by Max Eastley who used to record on Brian Eno's Obscure label, and a Waldorf Blofeld synthesizer. The tones are sparse and mostly low frequency creating a random melodic sound.

This album is definitely ambient all the way through, the sound is quite minimal. You could call it "The World Unplugged" as these are sounds created by the world when there is nothing around. It answers the question of "If nothing was around to hear it, would it still make a noise?" This study in ambience is definitely experimental, yet it is intriguing and peaceful. Think of "Bass Communion" in a more condensed, yet unstructured format. The tracks are mostly quite short with a few longer ones, but the sound hardly ever surpasses the "pianissimo" dynamic other than a few random thunder claps or windy gusts. This is not music in any traditional sense as much as it is soundscapes. But, when you are in the right mood, it is very engaging and captivating.

TCat | 4/5 |

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