TO:62 – Biosphere “Autour de la Lune”

9 tracks – 74:32

Widely regarded as one of Norwegian electronic music’s most important artists, Biosphere’s [Geir Jenssen] career spans nearly two decades, several albums, lots of remixes, various sound installations, commissions, soundtracks and even the odd Himalayan summit.

Says Jenssen on his latest commission: “Radio France Culture contacted me some time ago and proposed a commission that was to be premiered at the Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier. I was granted access to Radio France’s archives and given permission to use this vast source of audio material. I settled on this early 60s dramatisation of Jules Verne’s “De la Terre à la Lune” that totally captivated me. The story is quite amazing – Verne wrote it in the nineteenth century; still he managed to describe a manned space flight in such detail one is stunned. In “De la Terre à la Lune” Verne describes a space mission that sees the astronauts launched from Florida and returning from space to land in the Pacific Ocean – exactly the same procedure that the US space program would follow many, many years later. I have sampled bits and pieces of the dramatisation’s dialogue, coupled it with sounds recorded at the MIR space station and then incorporated it with my own compositions.”

Following the original broadcast, Jenssen continued to work on the recording which now sees the light of day as “Autour de la Lune”, a 74 minute symphony made up of nine ‘movements’. The propulsive opening sequence “translation” gives way to the crosstalk and scrambled communications of “rotation” and “modifié”, before the listener is enveloped in a dense and seemingly endless space (the sound of zero gravity?).
The circular flight of “Autour de la Lune” is Biosphere at his most expansive. Featuring a specially-commissioned painting by Tor-Magnus Lundeby, one of Norway’s most prominent visual artists, this new release is set to compete with Brian Eno’s “Apollo” recordings as the definitive homage to the space age.

Track list:

1. translation
2. rotation
3. modifié
4. vibratoire
5. déviation
6. circulaire
7. disparu
8. inverse
9. tombant


Touching Extremes (Italy):

The first of the nine movements forming the skeleton of “Autour de la lune” is somehow deceiving: a very long repetition of the same electronic ripple which had me thinking along the lines of “Geir Jenssen goes minimalist”, pretty disorientating in regard to the total purity of the largest part of the following aural beauties. But – having been Biosphere a class act for many years now – one doesn’t need to wait too much to find a way through a mass of frequencies that are sometimes scarily powerful and all times absolutely mesmerizing like in the fantastic “Deviation”, a vibrational kneading on the cerebrum to which anyone who listens will become addicted in a matter of seconds and that puts most of the sacred cows of the “inner spirit department” to a heavy shame. At least 50 of the 75 minutes of this disc could be successfully used to cure nerve-related disorders; listening without headphones will add the resonance of walls and objects to something which – more than music – should be defined as evolutional phenomenon. When “Autour” reaches its conclusion, you’ll notice your cochlea has suddenly become thirsty, for this is a milestone of contemporary electronica. [Massimo Ricci]

Record Collecter (UK):

Premier Norwegian space cadet
Space music? What’s that? You could argue for Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland as the first big move into space music. Then came Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and the late 1980s ambient house extravaganzas of The Orb, but all of them made music more akin to mental space excursions than the real thing. The first LP made to accompany space exploration was Eno’s 1983 opus Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. And now we have by far the truest instance of bona fide space music in the history of sound. Biosphere is Geir Jenssen, Norwegian sonic explorer, mountaineer and creator of six albums of Arctic chill since 1991. His speciality is the drone; stretching tones as far as they can go and dropping discrete samples into the mix.. he uses sound from MIR space-station recordings and Jules Verne radio dramatisations from France. Sustained over six movements with names like Vibration and Rotation this is heady stuff indeed. The 22-minute Translation gives you the genuine feeling of heavy mechanisms moving through the icy stillness of space. Glistening vestiges of sound and subsonic frequencies occur throughout, reminding us that in space the only sounds we will hear are our own. Tremendous. **** [Mark Prendergast]

Plan B (UK):

Jules Verne spoke of the Baltimore Gun Club being the first people to send men to the moon. Being as it was during the nineteenth century, and, more presciently, being as it was a fiction, we do not of course accept this as being in any way real. However, its prophetic view of a future now past lends it a degree of reality, a resonance that we still sense today. Or at least Biosphere feels so, what with his latest LP beginning life as a Radio France Culture commission based on a 1960s radio dramatisation of Verne’s De la Terre á la Lune. Hailing from Norway, Biosphere is known as Geir Jenssen within Earth nomenclature, and has an overriding obsession with all things related to space. Even his non-musical activities appear to reach for the stars: he is a keen mountaineer. Returning to his Jules Verne-inspired broadcast, he proceeded to further manipulate the recordings, tweaking and fine-tuning the sounds until they eventually became Autour de la Lune. Listening to the finished product is rather like tapping into some late night extraterrestrial radio station; found sounds spun light years beyond their source. Distance and time have led them here – into our very bodies – so that instead of being at an irreducible remove from our humanity, it becomes of such in an almost primal fashion, remaining nonetheless wholly unfamiliar. The journey to the moon, therefore, becomes metaphor with an inner bent: the path toward the self through the ages, that sepulchral globe as ancient talisman.

The crepuscular ‘Translation’ allows us a languid introduction to matters, its lingering nuances given breath within unfamiliar atmospherics. It is an extended organ exercise in which the organ, a man-made machine, transmutes into the organic, separating itself from the human world as if through constant manipulation a point is reached whereby the thing no longer is what it was; the sound takes on a life of its own. In forcing a cataclysm, the sounds may then breathe their own patterns, their singularly inherent idiosyncrasies. ‘Rotation’ then delivers a portentous consideration of inevitable horror; its low bass rumblings wouldn’t be out of place in the first diner scene of Mulholland Drive, a denouement before internal crisis. If, by late-seventies Hollywood logic, no one can hear you scream in space, then ‘Modifié’ proves that you may at least be heard emitting a series of groans. Distorted voices bubble away and project themselves into the eyes of what could be considered a cyclical, and psychical, Kansas storm.

It is “Déviation” that holds the real power. The track begins, and I think the LP has dipped into nothingness – all I can hear is the murmur of a plane overhead. But then it gradually manifests itself like too-near-orgasm-inducing foreplay as a destructively low drone, ripping at the air around the speakers; making gravity fucking bleed for its sins. It has that spazzed-out washing machine aura about it, and I fear that it’s going to go so low that it’ll send stacks of Belle And Sebastian and Pastels CDs flying off of the speaker, catapulting them into the naked space of the room at terrific speeds, gouging eyes and causing deaf panic.

‘Disparu’ is a then a thing of succinct beauty, looping minor keys signposting reflective impulses. The relief in the air is palpable, the sound waves nudging emotive molecules into balmy calm. But it was never going to be all about peace all of the time, and as if to rub the notion roughly into your face, ‘Inverse’ returns with a bass-heavy growl, microcosmic vistas of the insect world eating up the foreground. The end itself must subsequently return to the beginning, a reprise of themes, a circularity; that silver globe perched maddeningly still in the night sky. ‘Tombant’ concurs. Once more we encounter a sustained organ pulse, briefly recalling Jim O’Rourke’s ‘Happy Days’ before the sound cleans up, spreads out, disappears. Into nothing? Arguably. Into space and time? Obviously.

A journey to the moon is currently a two-way affair, a there and back again. So is this LP, since it sets you on a journey that ends at the beginning. But like lunar exploration itself, you will discover something in the process, however intangible it may be, and the beginning of things will therefore be changed upon your return, made new again. And that, through time and space, would surely please Jules Verne. [Stewart Gardiner]

BBCi (UK):

There was something deeply nocturnal and gorgeously luminescent about the remixes of Arne Nordheim pieces provided by Biosphere and Deathprod on 1998’s Nordheim Transformed (one of Rune Grammofon’s first and arguably most beautiful releases). Autour De La Lune sounds like the long-delayed successor to those pieces. There is a degree of commonality between that project and this new release insofar as Biosphere (aka Geir Jenssen) has again chosen to respond to external sonic stimuli. In response to a commission for La Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Jenssen samples dialogue from a dramatisation of Jules Verne’s “De La Terre a La Lune”, a nineteenth century story that accurately predicts aspects of space flight that would be unknown until NASA’s expeditions decades later. To these samples are added sounds captured by the MIR space station, which were then incorporated into Jenssen’s own compositions. The result is a breathtakingly beautiful, haunted work which is divided into nine movements over 71 minutes. What is most immediately noticeable is the spare and spectral nature of this music. One of these pieces might best be described as the sonic equivalent of the moon’s milky white light; another appears to record the infinitely heavy transit of that globe as it arcs gradually across the sky, and another might be a spectograph recording of the moon’s palest phase. Rather unsettlingly, these pieces in totality convey the impression that they are fragments of the moon, rather than songs to or about the moon. Pigeonholing Autour De La Lune as Ambient would be painfully simplistic. Although attention might be drawn to Brian Eno’s Apollo as a comparable endeavour, Eno devoted a significant portion of that recording to musical metaphors for the astronauts’ navigation of the moon, which took the form of country-tinged atmospheres. Biosphere does something very different by expressing something like a lunar essence in sound, one devoid of humankind. This is a subtle work of alchemical invocation which summons the moon into the listener’s presence, even at midday. [Colin Buttimer] (USA):

Geir Jenssen (better known as Biosphere) is one of the leading players in ambient/electronic/drone scene. The Norwegian’s work goes far beyond the three previous albums (this is his fourth full length); he has been involved with numerous sound installations and soundtracks. He has also been commissioned for his work. Autour de la Luna is actually the finished result of a piece Radio France Culture had asked Jenssen to do.

From the way it sounds, Radio France Culture left the door wide open for Jenssen. With the permission to dive into RFC’s large archives, Jenssen set his sights on an early 60’s dramatization of a space journey. Jules Verne originally wrote the program in the 19th century. Some of the original broadcast is actually used by Jenssen within the album. Bits of radio cross talk and the white noise of failed transmissions are blended in with the pulsating and swelling bass tones. The first few tracks are nothing more than an ebbing and flowing of lonely vibrations, sucking you in to the idea of an increasingly cold and dark space.

And to be fair, you are going to have to be ready to be engrossed into the music. You have to be prepared to don your headphones and sit back for 74 minutes. It’s a trip into aloneness and desolation. Only a few artists this gifted in minimalism could pull something like this off. One of them, Brian Eno, has already given us his space opus (1983’s Apollo), and now we have something to hold up next to it. The unending drone of Autour de la Luna will not appeal to a wide audience, but that has never stopped the best experimenters of our times. The drive to create something so primal is not found in every artist, but when someone pulls off such in engaging album with little more than a concept and some low frequencies tones… well, you just have to applaud that.

The Milk Factory (UK):

In a career spanning nearly two decades, seven solo albums and a number of collaborations, Geir Jenssen has gone from one third of a pop outfit to being one of the most respected names on the electronic scene. Having given up his archaeological studies to concentrate on music in the mid eighties, Jenssen was one of the founding members of Norwegian pop outfit Bel Canto, with whom he recorded two albums, White-Out Conditions (1987) and Birds Of Passage (1989), before leaving to concentrate on his solo work. His first post-Bel Canto album, The North Pole By Submarine, as Bleep, was heavily influenced by the late eighties house and acid movement, yet, it is with his second project, Biosphere, named after the Biosphere 2 scientific project, that Jenssen gained recognition across the board. If his first couple of albums under this moniker were still displaying traces of club culture, Jenssen was already moving away from straightforward dance music to explore more atmospheric grounds. In October 1995, following the international success of Novelty Waves (Patashnik, 1994), used a the soundtrack for a Levi’s advert, Jenssen was commissioned a new piece for the Polar Music Festival, held in his native town of Tromsø, situated 70 degrees north of the Arctic circle, on which he worked with British musician Bobby Bird, aka Higher Intelligence Agency. The commission was released two years later as Polar Sequences and was followed by a return collaboration, Birmingham Frequencies, recorded in Bird’s hometown. Around the same time, Jenssen released what remains his most accomplished record with Substrata. Autour De La Lune was originally commissioned by Radio France Culture’s Atelier De Creation Radiophonique and the French Ministry of Culture as a one-off performance to be premiered at Le Festival De Radio France in Montpellier, Southern France, at the end of July last year. For this, Jenssen was granted exceptional access to the radio’s vast archives, and eventually started work based on, and inspired by, a dramatisation of Jules Verne’s De La Terre A La Lune (From Earth To Moon). The original book, published in 1868, was a stunningly accurate tale of a manned space mission as would happened a hundred years later, and was followed by a second novel, Autour De La Lune, four years later. For his project, Jenssen originally used a series of sample taken for the 1960 radio broadcast together with sounds recorded on the MIR space station. The festival was eventually cancelled due to strikes, but the piece was broadcast on Radio France Culture on 21 September 2003 and made available for download for a while. Jenssen continued to work on this piece afterward, adapting it to release it as an album. Autour De La Lune, described as a ‘symphony in nine movements’, opens with an epic twenty-two-minute journey through sonic pulsations and chromatic alterations forming the core of a slow moving melody. Despite the bare sonic palette used, Translation is monumental and fascinating. From there on, Autour De La Lune sinks into darker territories, with the sparse Vibratoire, Déviation and Circulaire set at the heart of deep space. All three tracks are formed around a single infra bass drone, and appear almost static, as if frozen in time. Life returns on Disparu as Jenssen carves a repetitive melodic motif. Heard at close range (headphones), a faint beat structure is actually perceptible in the distance as it waxes and wanes with the melody. Rotation, Modifié and Inverse as set somewhere in between Translation’s riches and Déviation’s desolation. They are also manifestation of Jenssen growing interest in electro-acoustic, as resonances and radio signals interfere with tonal textures. Tombant, which closes the album, appears to return to the ambience of Translation, yet the mood is more subdued here as if the fuel level of Jenssen’s space ship, on its way back to Earth, was getting low. As Geir Jenssen matures with every album, he continues to surprise his audience, and Autour De La Lune is one of his most evocative and thrilling records to date. Despite the austerity of this album, Jenssen builds on a rich emotional palette to create a stunning and dense piece of work.

Dusted (USA):

Albums like this should come embossed with the warning, “Do not play on crummy little speakers.” Biosphere (a.k.a. Geir Jenssen) makes music that you feel as well as hear. A native of Tromso, Norway, Jenssen uses the Biosphere alias whenever he goes to work in the ambient music mines, and he dug up some especially heavy ore to mold Autour de la Lune. That may seem ironic given its title, which translates as “Around the moon.” But this is not weightless music; indeed, the central three-track sequence – “Vibratoire,” “Déviation,” and “Circulaire” – sit quite heavily on the chest; subsonic bass frequencies are like that. Why all the French, one asks? The album is a refinement of a piece that Jenssen composed for Radio France Culture which took its inspiration and some of its raw material from an early-’60s audio realization of Jules Verne’s story De la Terre à la Lune. The opener “Translation” lasts nearly 22 minutes; built from pulsing, looped organ tones, it develops a tension so absorbing it could stand perfectly fine on its own as an EP. But there’s more. The long, glassy resonations on “Rotation” evoke most overtly space’s vast emptiness. They also set up the record’s loveliest moment, “Modifié,” a masterpiece of shortwave manipulation. Its smudged voices and rusted metal beats materialize out of crackling fog as eerily as anything on The Conet Project. Then comes the album’s aforementioned center of gravity, the series of chest-compression exercises. Coherent, complete, and not a minute too long despite a running time of almost 75, Autour de la Lune is a deeply affecting and unabashedly lovely recording. [Bill Meyer]

Other Music (USA):

On first listen, you probably wouldn’t guess that the new album by electronic artist Geir Jenssen (a/k/a Biosphere) was composed entirely using source material from a 1960s French radio dramatization of Jules Verne’s From The Earth To The Moon. Like his fellow Norwegian Helge Sten (Deathprod, Supersilent), Biosphere makes droning ambient electronic music that is deep, dark, and huge. While you might not recognize more than a few snippets of the story’s dialogue buried behind the album’s thick and ominous soundscapes, the music definitely evokes the loss through tragedy of an age-old romantic fantasy of space flight. One can imagine the sustained roar of burning rockets, the rumbling of a spacecraft escaping from the Earth’s atmosphere, and the terrifying silence of outer space. Pretty intense stuff. [RH]

VITAL (Netherlands):

As a young man I had children versions of some of the Jules Verne books and one of them was the journey to the moon story. a beautiful hardcover book with original etchings as far as I remember. As a young man I liked learning about our solar system and the planets and so I liked this particular Verne story a lot, which is a true visionairy one (or maybe the later scientists were Verne readers and modelled the Apollo after Verne’s design?). In any case, Radio France Culture asked Geir Jenssen, aka Biosphere, to use their archival source material to compose a piece and Geir choose the Verne story to set to music. The travel starts with a twenty some minute intro, that lifts you up and then the journey starts. It might be no surprise that this deep ambient with capital ‘D’ and capital ‘A’. Very low end bass sounds and high end pitched sounds pushed to the back, this is the ideal music to listen on headphones at night, on you balcony, watching the stars. It’s both the sound of a spacecraft as well as the sound of weightless space. Ambient music is maybe not at a point anymore where really exciting new stuff happens, and in that respect the new Biosphere is no different, but Biosphere belongs to the very artists in the ambient music field who do a really good job throughout. [FdW]

Urban Magazine (Belgium):

Soms is het moeilijk te bepalen waarom je net dat ene album van een artiest ‘geniaal’ vindt en het andere dan weer niet. Het Londense platenlabel Touch brengt bijna tegelijkertijd een setje van drie albums uit van een stel artiesten, die in onze woordenschat zo goed als ‘incontournable’ zijn en toch hebben we het gevoel dat de albums niet opwegen tegen hun vorige werk. Wat doen we daaraan? De referentie voor het werk van de Noor Geir Jenssen of Biosphere blijft zijn ongeëvenaarde, glaciale meesterwerk ‘Substrata’, dat in 2001 in een geremasterde versie uitgebracht werd samen met de soundtrack ‘The Man With A Movie Camera’. Da’s sowieso een moeilijk te evenaren referentiepunt. De opvolger ‘Shenzhou’ uit 2002 was gebaseerd op klassieke composities van de uitvinder van de muzak Claude Debussy. Bijlange geen slecht album maar het kon nauwelijks tippen aan het ambient meesterwerk, dat eraan vooraf ging. De nieuwe cd ‘Autour de la Lune’ valt hetzelfde lot te beurt. Het album is de neerslag van een uitzending op Radio France en is gebaseerd op Jules Verne’s visionaire novelle ‘Autour de la Lune’. De functionele compositie van Biosphere is mooi opgedeeld in negen bewegingen. Er gebeurt vrij weinig opvallends op het album. Ladies & gentlemen, we are floating in space… Een rondje om de maan en dan terug. Jenssen zoekt het hier vooral in de lagere regionen van het klankenspectrum. Wat redt het album dan van de monotonie en de verveling? Het nogal Eno-achtige ‘Translation’ bijvoorbeeld, met zijn oneindige en immer wijzigende, elkaar overlappende loops. Het vervreemdende ‘Modifié’, waarin vervormde stemmen opduiken, en het gewichtloos rondzwevende ‘Tombant’. [Peter Wullen]

Stylus (USA):

In a move that calls to mind Rick Wakeman’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (in spirit only, thankfully), Biosphere (Norwegian Geir Jenssen) finds inspiration for his fourth Touch release in Jules Verne’s De la Terre à la Lune (Earth To The Moon). Written in the 1860s, Verne’s prescient novel describes a trip undertaken by astronauts who launch from Florida, journey into space, and land in the Pacific Ocean upon their return. Jenssen’s choice of subject matter emerged circuitously, as Radio France Culture first commissioned him to create a piece to be premiered at the Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier. Given access to Radio France’s audio archives, Jenssen then discovered an early 60s dramatization of Verne’s novel and, noting its potential, settled upon it as the basis for Autour de la Lune (Around The Moon), a seventy-four minute “symphony” of nine “movements”.

The mesmerizing epic “Translation” comes first. Above hypnotically looping cells that give the track a perpetual propulsiveness, Biosphere adds single elongated tones that modulate at a glacial pace and, consequently, a mood of mystery and portent gradually builds. Two-thirds of the way through, similarly stretched tones of high-pitched electronics appear, mirrored by deeper rumbles that are so soft they’re nearly subliminal. It’s a masterful exercise in controlled tension that Jenssen sustains over the full course of the track’s twenty-two minutes. At half its length, “Rotation” suggests the ship’s imminent plunge into deep space with distant rumbles, gentle bass throbs and glistening tones that gradually layer until they resemble dissonant string clusters. After these intense excursions, “Modifié”, a brief array of static-laden space ship transmissions, provides some welcome relief and contrast.

The conundrum posed by the work arrives with the fourth track “Vibratoire” and lasts for twenty minutes until the end of “Circulaire.” The material becomes increasingly skeletal and drone-like, suggesting that the ship is traveling through sonically desolate deep space. Quiet tones intermittently surface, just enough to retain some vestigial trace of life. An even deeper move into micro-sound transpires with “Déviation,” a ten-minute bass drone of subtle ebbs and flows. The softly vibrating hums and glacially panning treble whirrs of “Circulaire” announce the ship’s imminent exit from this cold expanse. Faint wisps of melody are then faintly audible in “Disparu,” perhaps suggesting the ship’s re-entry into earth’s atmosphere until “Tombant” ends the journey by reprising themes from “Translation.”

The conundrum in question concerns whether one’s assessment emphasizes the work’s conceptual or musical merits. On a conceptual level, Jenssen convincingly conveys the ship’s journey, but musically the trip into deep space is less enthralling. While he demonstrates admirable aural fidelity to the concept, ideally a more musically compelling evocation would have made a stronger impression. In short, the work’s core is one that invites intellectual appreciation but satisfies less on purely musical terms, as ideally the central section should deviate in style from the outer pieces yet remain as powerful. Having noted that weakness, Autour de la Lune is otherwise imaginative and original, a quintessential “headphones” work full of constantly mutating (if at times extremely subtle) streams of sound. [Ron Schepper]

Twoblock (USA):

Drone-based music is often not taken seriously, sometimes with the argument that it’s not even music. Autour de la Lune is the perfect counter to that argument. It’s the seventh album from Norwegian artist Biosphere, aka Geir Jenssen. Drawing samples from recordings made at the Mir space station and an early 1960’s radio performance of Jules Verne’s novel of the same name, Autour de la Lune was commissioned by Radio France Culture’s Atelier de Création Radiophonique and the French Ministry of Culture to be aired in September 2003. After its initial broadcast, Biosphere continued work on the recording — which is now a sprawling, ambitious, 74-minute ambient drone piece, divided into nine movements. “Translation,” the first of these movements, starts out with two interpolating chords which seem to be full of microtonal harmonics, recalling the start of Wendy Carlos’ Beauty in the Beast. As other higher pitched complementary drones appear over the initial one, you soon realize that what seems static is actually moving quite steadily. Things start pulsing by the four minute mark, each sound retelling, or ‘translating’ the last. Loops start making themselves known to stunning effect. As the track fades into the ether, sharp, cutting synth notes with otherworldly bleeps and bloops join in. Twenty-two minutes have passed quite quickly, and not once is it boring or irritating. Though not the grand statement of “Translation,” the second movement “Rotation” is characterized by bell-like tones and a thundering bass drone which pulls down the abundant upper-register noise like an undertow. As yet (32:51), the samples which inspired the work haven’t surfaced. The third track, “Modifié,” introduces them, albeit buried and distorted beyond intelligability. The aptly titled “Vibratoire” requires a powerful sub-woofer to appreciate the deep bass tones that comprise this track. The next few tracks, though no less beautiful, are not nearly as interesting. Moving forward through sub-harmonic swirling drones and dog-whistle pitches contrasted against a steady rumble, and approaching the 60-minute mark, you may find yourself less engaged (perhaps asleep). Variety returns in “Disparu,” which forgoes the incessant rolling thunder for an open, airy atmosphere, pleasantly spacey, even suggesting Tangerine Dream. “Inverse,” in contrast, is the sound of deep-space despair — weightless and alone in the black void, without any hope for rescue. The final track is a reprise of the first, bringing satisfying closure to an album which proves drone-based music can be composed and coherant, even if it does drag on too long.

Aquarius (USA):

This latest release from Norwegian sound artist Geir Jenssen is a much darker, and less rhythmic affair than past releases. Based on an early sixties’ dramatisation of Jules Verne’s De La Terre A La Lune, Jennsen has sampled bits of dialogue, sounds from the MIR space station, and assorted other atmospheric detritus, incorporating them into his original sounds, resulting in an expansive nine part, minimal soundscape, that is darker and creepier than the subject matter would suggest. The record starts off quite tranquil, dreamy and somnambulent, simple melodies smeared into washes of minimal shimmer, but the sound rapidly takes on a quite ominous hue, sinister and subtly nightmarish, with buzzing sinewaves and threatening rumbles. This ominous drone forms the basis of the entire record, occasionally shifting into fuzzy shortwave interference, mysterious transmissions from the ether, buried rhythms, and subtle variations on Biosphere’s glacially shifting low end. This actually sounds like it would be perfect horror movie music, haunting and tense, pregnant with the possibility of the sustained minor key drones erupting into something much more terrifying. But the fact that it never does only makes it that much more effective.

The Wire (UK):

Biosphere, aka Norwegian Geir Jenssen, was commissioned by Radio France Culture to create a piece for Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier. On acceptance, he was given duplicate keys to the station’s archive. Refusing to be driven insane by its riches, Jenssen instead homed in on an early 1960s dramatisation of Jules Verne’s De Al Terre A La Lune, a prescient tale of manned moon flight, arcing from Florida to a splashdown in the Pacific. As a starting point for his nine-part ‘symphony’, Jenssen spliced samples of its dialogue next to sounds from the MIR space station. Autour de la Lune is a continuation, building on and refining the original commission. The quaintly microbial, blue hued images of fellow Norwegian Tor-Magnus Lundeby’s cover painting hint at the music within. Jenssen clearly has a nostalgic glow for the 1950s and 60s electroacoustic palette, which could sound primitive and cosmic at once.

The corporeal presence of the opening “Translation” is subsequently echoed by its increasingly dispersed successors. A repeated fanfare makes its subtle point, shaped out of Gothic organ matter that undulates monotonously against a growing background hum. Its steady pulse acts as a lengthy scene setter, with “Rotation” beginning the tendency for ghostliness that dominates the middle section. Bass physicality mixes with a silvery treble chirruping, turning into oscillating radio interference during “Modifié”. Jenssen is working with the very essence of minimalism, his “Deviation” hanging heavy like humidity just before the storm. The thunder never breaks. “Circulaire” features a different hum, a click heralding its shift, leading to an almost imperceptible intensification.Another click and it draws back. Jenssen has created a field where and microscopic change has an exaggerated impact on the stasis. “Disparu” returns to the character of “Translation”, but with fainter emphasis. By its end, it’s almost not there. “Inverse” brings back the low shudder, then the closing “Tombant” reprises the earlier tonal contrast, but adds a third layer of trebly worming. Like a failing deathbed victim, these movements parade at the lowest point of awareness. Certain car or kitchen speakers will render this disc meaningless, but when heard clean, it’s a mesmerising experience. On Autour de la Lune, Biosphere successfully forces an unnatural interest in vestigial occurrences. [Martin Longley]

PitchFork Media (USA):

Biosphere’s Geir Jenssen knows hot from cold. Residing as he does near the Arctic Circle in Norway, Jenssen understands the psychological implications of a sun that, like a lamented deadbeat parent, routinely disappears for months at a time, and the absence of that essential lifeforce takes an inevitable emotional toll that informs Jenssen’s art. It’s tempting to say that Biosphere’s bleak music sounds as it does for the same reason countries of Norway’s approximate latitude make the world’s best Vodka. But then Jenssen’s other great passion is mountaineering (he has climbed the 26,906 foot Himalayan peak Cho Oyu without oxygen), suggesting a kernel of inspired humanity frozen in the tundra. The vacuum of space gets pretty close to absolute zero, cold’s recognized ideal, so it makes sense that the conceptually minded Jenssen sets albums there. His latest trip into the beyond started when French radio commissioned Jenssen to create a piece using their archives. He selected sounds from a radio dramatization of Jules Verne’s space travel story De la Terre à la Lune (“From the Earth to the Moon”) and pulled additional material from recordings made at the MIR space station, then combined the fragments with his own new music. The result is Autour de la Lune, a single 74-minute piece in nine movements.

The samples are used sparingly throughout Autour de la Lune, and the beat-driven side of Biosphere is completely absent. Mostly, the record is a showcase for long and impossibly deep drones. The 21-minute opener “Translation” is an exception here, as a cluster of midrange notes that braid to form a definite melody. Rather than referencing found sound or environmental recordings, “Translation” seems inspired by film music, with tense throbs and horn-like synth lines that suggest captured images of a spacecraft leisurely moving in front of stars. The scene is set. The following “Rotation” does away with the fanfare to send faint pings and bass swells into the blackness, but the exceptional “Modifié” is where the record starts to get creepy. Jenssen processes human voices – hard to tell if they’re from the radio broadcast or MIR cosmonauts – in a way that merges them completely with the electrical noise that carries them. They sound lost and unreachable, the last little whimpers of a doomed crew about to be swallowed by the event horizon. And yet, they’re singing, kind of. We follow them into darkness with the next few tracks, which consist of little more than the most punishing bass tones I’ve ever heard on a CD. On “Déviation”, sounds hover at the bottom end of human audibility, causing all but the heartiest subwoofers to sound like an open newspaper flapping in a strong wind. I’ve approached this bass from three different sources (two sets of headphones and my living room speakers), and I can only guess the genuine sound through triangulation. Strange things happen when I listen to “Circulaire” loud on headphones; the low end is total and all encompassing, but with the kind of throb that happens when you can hear your heart beating in your ears. The contrast means that the ambient sounds wherever I happen to be create “notes” in between the pulses. Because it seems so grounded in biology, I can’t help but imagine this middle section as a musical approximation of the ambience in a suit during a spacewalk, where you hear nothing but your own body. If that’s so, “Tombant” is accompaniment to the final drift back into the docking hatch, as it reprises the textures and symphonic swell of the opening “Translation”.

Autour de la Lune is an excellent record that is nearly victimized by its awesome conceptual success. It offers such a compelling and internally complete idea of interstellar space – moods, textures, samples, cover art, all of it – that it loses some flexibility when it comes to individual interpretation. Still, Jenssen gotten exactly where he wanted to go. Upon reaching the icy mountain peak, he kept climbing into the stars. [Mark Richardson]

Pro 7 (Germany):

Der Norweger Geir Jenssen zeichnet sich für unterkühlte aber alles andere als emotionslose Soundscapes verantwortlich. In der Electronica-Szene wurde er neben Künstlern wie Aphex Twin und Future Sound Of London groß. Von Kunst und Kommerz gefördert – er komponiert Soundtracks für Spielfilme und Werbeclips wie etwa von Levis – emanzipierte sich Biosphere von Anfang an von zu offensichtlichen Spielarten des Genres und konzentrierte sich auf tiefgründige Kompositionen, die Form und Stimmung gleichberechtigt behandeln. War sein letztes Album noch eine Hommage an Claude Debussy, so gilt sein aktuelles Augenmerk einem anderen Franzosen: Jules Vernes “Reise zum Mond” erfährt einen großartigen Soundtrack, der an Qualität und Inhalt an Brian Eno’s Klassiker “Apollo” gemahnt. Sphärische Klänge machen die imaginäre Mondreise zum intensiven Erlebnis!

Earplug (USA):

In the 19th century, Jules Verne penned the eerily prophetic De la Terre à la Lune, which described a manned space flight launching from Florida and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. Having been granted access to a ’60s audio dramatization of the piece from Radio France’s archives, Biosphere, aka Geir Jenssen, combined the material with his own productions and added samples sourced from the Mir space station. The result can most closely be compared to Brian Eno and Harold Budd’s homage to the space age, Apollo. Biosphere’s Autour de la Lune is a nine-movement symphony characterized by soft, expansive ambient tones and an occasionally menacing and otherworldly feel. Undoubtedly abstract by virtue of the subject matter and source material, the record conjures the vastness of space without resorting to cliche. [CJN]

VITAL (Netherlands):

As a young man I had children versions of some of the Jules Verne books and one of them was the journey to the moon story. a beautiful hardcover book with original etchings as far as I remember. As a young man I liked learning about our solar system and the planets and so I liked this particular Verne story a lot, which is a true visionairy one (or maybe the later scientists were Verne readers and modelled the Apollo after Verne’s design?). In any case, Radio France Culture asked Geir Jenssen, aka Biosphere, to use their archival source material to compose a piece and Geir choose the Verne story to set to music. The travel starts with a twenty some minute intro, that lifts you up and then the journey starts. It might be no surprise that this deep ambient with capital ‘D’ and capital ‘A’. Very low end bass sounds and high end pitched sounds pushed to the back, this is the ideal music to listen on headphones at night, on you balcony, watching the stars. It’s both the sound of a spacecraft aswell as the sound of weightless space. Ambient music is maybe not at a point anymore where really exciting new stuff happens, and in that respect the new Biosphere is no different, but Biosphere belongs to the very artists in the ambient music field who do a really good job – throughout. (FdW)

almostcool (USA):

Although I haven’t reviewed a Biosphere release since the long-ago Substrata (which has subsequently been re-released as well), I’ve kept tabs on Geir Jenssen and his output as Biosphere over the past several years. With his wide body of work, he’s worked his way up my list as one of the most consistent and creative artists working in the genre of ambient electronic music. He’s collaborated with both Deathprod (reworking Arne Nordheim) and HIA (on two separate releases), and has still managed to release albums at a fairly steady rate.

Autour De La Lune is the newest effort from Biosphere and it’s a release of massive proportions. 9 tracks clock in at almost 75 minutes and find Jenssen again moving in a different direction in terms of his sound. While some artists keep adding more layers to their palette, it seems that Biosphere is intent on slowly peeling back pieces of sound to reveal what’s underneath. His masterful Shenzou was a stripped-down reworking of classical music that wass subtle and beautiful (and probably my favorite work of his), while this newest effort finds him at an even more minimal level.

Originally developed for a Radio France broadcast, the album is a mixture of sampled dialogue from an old Jules Verne (De La Terre A La Lune) broadcast, sounds recorded on the MIR space station, and the incorporation of original compositions. The opening track of “Translation” sets the stage at nearly 22 minutes, a super slowly-evolving piece that ripples sheets of low-end under high-end tones that palpitate with a slowly-increasing intensity before edging off again. Bits of broken dialogue slowly creep into following tracks while the same sort of sound palette again dominates. “Rotation” finds ultra-deep bass throbbing in the background while pinging tones bounce like transmissions from another system.

Listening to the release, it’s hard not to imagine the exploration of space. It’s a bit stark and austere, and while there is a touch of human element (the fragmented spoken samples), Autour De La Lune feels more like something you’d hear as your malfunctioning spacecraft slowly drifted out of the range of communications and into a great unknown void. In places it’s downright creepy and in others it’s oddly soothing, but this is definitely a different release for Jenssen. With only a very few subtle melodies creeping in (most notibly on the beautiful “Disparu”), this is a heady release that could easily be the soundtrack for either stargazing or an isolation tank. Don’t listen to this one on crummy speakers, because you simply won’t get the full effect. Team it up with Eno’s Apollo and Into Forever by Manual & Icebreaker International for almost 3 hours of deep space listening.


August sees the release of the sixth album from veteran ambient explorer Geir Jenssen, better known as Biosphere. ‘Autour De La Lune’ is constructed from an adaptation of a Jules Verne story broadcast by Radio France in the 1960s and is, to paraphrase Jenssen’s earlier work, like listening to radio waves from space.

Brainwashed (USA):

Geir Jenssen lives in a different world. From his Artic Circle perch the man called Biosphere is building a body of work as iconoclastic as Aphex Twin, with as much eerie remove and accidental influence. Albums like Patashnik and Substrata are landmarks in ambient music not because they spawned a million rip-offs but because they work within a recognizable stylistic blueprint to create absolutely alien music, threatening total immersion to even the most cautious of “background” listeners. Jenssen’s last, 2002’s Shenzhou found him treading further towards alienating extremes, something like a pitch-black homage to Debussy, with orchestra samples stretched thin and opaque across an ocean of icy, crevice-filled ambience (in other words, what we all wished Drukqs had been). Autour, commissioned by French radio last year, not only rejects anything close to a wide “radio” audience, but it is by far the most trying Biosphere release thus far, with Jenssen moving past the beat-less transparencies begun with Substrata and into a harsh meditation on deep-space, a 74-minute confined drift that begins well into the air-less upper regions and does not conclude until positioned hopelessly within a dimensionless dump-off on the darker side of some heavenly body. Occupying a third of the disc’s length, the opening “Translation” acts like the final kiss-off to Earth and the earthen sounds that often find a place in Biosphere music. A rebus of plastic tones, entwined with enough care to erase all human touch, becomes a sky-like ceiling with which groaning engine sounds and whining drones struggle in a pitiless slipping, past the threshold and into the heart of Autour. Apart from a track or two based around a few distorted samples from a 60s radio dramatization of Jules Verne’s De la Terre à la Lune (the “focus” of the 2003 commission) and actual recordings of MIR astronauts, the majority of the disc develops a vacuous, unsettling atmosphere made up of seriously subsonic bass frequencies and shrill, synthetic tones dividing and encasing the deliberate arcs and hidden textures of each of the nine “movements.” By the sixth track, “Circulaire,” the trip has arrived at a false ending of sorts, an off-putting climax where the piece grounds out to two dissenting sounds, one a near-inaudible below-bass pulse and the other the sinister calm of a solid flatline. From this remote place, more Onkyo than Eno, Jenssen really has nowhere to drift except slowly back towards the beginning, to the lush plasticities of “Trombant,” almost coming full circle on the opening track but stopping short, allowing melody and lush texture enough footing only to remind us of what has been left behind. Melodies emerge, like the aimless cosmonaut voice samples, as if beamed from a great distance, light years into the black, like ghosts of a human presence long since abandoned. Autour is not easy listening, and if it doesn’t stand as the most returnable place in the Biosphere catalog, it’s only because Jenssen has never sounded so remote and thoroughly haunting. [Andrew Culler] (Netherlands):

De Noor Geir Jenssen heeft altijd al een eigen manier gehad om zijn muzikaal verhaal te vertellen. Zo’n 13 jaar geleden kwam hij met trance en zogenaamde “intelligent techno” op de proppen, later werd dat melodieuze ambient en nog later dromerige drones en soundscapes. Op zijn achtste volwaardige plaat (onder de naam Biosphere) lijkt deze trend zich verder te zetten. In opdracht van Radio France is de man met analoog geluidsmateriaal uit de jaren ’60 (gebaseerd op het visionaire schrijfwerk van Jules Verne) en opnamen uit het ruimtestation MIR aan de slag gegaan. De negen “mouvements” die op deze plaat worden voorgeschoteld, zijn minimalistische geluidsimpressies en klankschilderingen die wel toon, maar nauwelijks ritme bevatten. Eindeloze loops die geleidelijk aan vervormen, wegdraaien of van kleurpatroon wijzigen zijn zowat de muzikale basis van deze ultimate ambient plaat. Veelal aangevuld met geruis, gekraak of gepiep van oude, analoge elektronica zorgt Biosphere op deze manier voor een vrij monotoon en minimalistisch landschap dat vooral steunt op traagheid en soberheid. Bij momenten geeft een ver weggetrokken, hypnotiserende bastoon een haast onmerkbare cadans aan. Zo bevatten zowel het openingsnummer als de afsluiter een diep grollende en loodzware basloop die als een wentelende spoel de muziek op een machinale manier laat doordraven. Het lome, wederkerende aspect hiervan mist zeker zijn verdovend effect niet. Holle orgelklanken, een mysterieuze ruis of hoge pieptonen zorgen voor een erg gelaten gevoel. Zo zorgt Biosphere voor een ruimtelijke klankreis die negen verschillende facetten benadert, maar telkens eindeloos diep is uitgehold. Dromerige tonen monden uit in fluitende, nogal ongemakkelijke frequenties en de luisteraar moet leren leven met een beperking aan muzikale informatie. “Less is more”. Bevreemding en mysterie zijn de rode draad doorheen deze plaat. Aan de verbeelding wordt dus veel over gelaten. Deze cd blijft boeien met zijn subtiel wegdraaiende klanken of op- en neerdeinende geluidsgolven. Zo zijn in de verte van ‘Modifié’ zelfs vage, gezongen radiogolven te bespeuren (vanuit MIR?), terwijl ‘Circulaire’ zo’n staaltje is van uiterst holle, haast onbeschrijflijk ijle, openbloeiende en dichtklappende klanken. Een beetje een buitenbeentje is de verheerlijkte verademing van het echoënde ‘Disparu’ dat met 2 minuten aan hoge klanken een luchtige pauze verschaft tussen de soms diep grollende en gestoorde muziek op deze boeiende plaat. Homogeen, minimaal en afwisselend … laat dat de adjectieven zijn die dit geweldige eindresultaat kaderen. De opdracht voor deze plaat was nogal vreemd. Het resultaat is er naar. Biosphere heeft zichzelf, in zijn zoektocht naar muzikale, elektronische perfectie wederom overtroffen. Gelieve de hoofdtelefoon op te zetten en klaar te maken voor de reis … autour de la lune. [Johan Giglot]

His Voice (Czechia):

Poslech obou recenzovaných alb z britské stáje Touch vyžaduje schopnost oprostit se od každodenního shonu a zcela se zastavit, nebo? obsahují opravdu velice pozvolna vyvíjející se hudební nápl?, v níž hrají nemalou roli hranice slyšitelnosti i oby?ejné (ale pro mnohé také dosti vzácné) ticho. Pro oba hudebníky jsou tyto novinky jejich z?ejm? v?bec nejpoklidn?jšími pracemi (nutnost kvalitní zvukové aparatury a izolace od okolí), v charakteru zpracování a zvukovém rejst?íku již však mezi nimi mnoho sty?ných ploch nenajdeme.

V Sydney narozený Oren Ambarchi pokra?uje v experimentování se zvukem kytar – i když na desce hraje i na bicí, klavír nebo hammondky – a p?edevším pak v obsesi jednotlivými tóny. Ambarchi zcela upouští od ‚logické‘ snahy o tvorbu souvislých melodií a namísto toho se no?í do fascinujícího sv?ta barev, délek a intenzity tón?, tedy t?ch nejzákladn?jších stavebních kamen?. Každému brnknutí rád ponechává dostatek prostoru a ?asu a poslucha?i tak nabízí p?íležitost dosyta vnímat jejich chv?ní a r?zné tvá?e. Tóny se zvolna zaplétají do smy?ek a v duchu minimalistického p?ístupu jsou kladeny do n?kolika málo vrstev, díky ?emuž se jednak zachovává absolutní transparentnost struktury skladeb a jednak vznikají plnohodnotné hudební motivy – koneckonc? tento jasn? sledovatelný proces p?em?ny shluku tón? ve smysluplný celek pat?í k nejúchvatn?jším rys?m nahrávky. Minimum zvukových zdroj? s sebou nese riziko šlápnutí vedle, Ambarchi ovšem vybírá umn? a ke zm?nám – a? obvykle velmi jemným – p?istupuje d?íve než zavládne p?ílišná rozvlá?nost (snad jen s výjimkou záv?re?né dvacetiminutové Stars Aligned, Webs Spun, jejíž efekt se p?i nedostate?ném soust?ed?ní blíží prášku na spaní). Za nejzajímav?jší po?in asi m?žeme ozna?it zvukov? nejpln?jší a zárove? nejbarevn?jší, post-rockem zaván?jící kus Remedios The Beauty, v n?mž se úvodní milá cvakavá smy?ka zni?ehonic propadne, tempo se zpomalí a k základu se postupn? pomalu p?idají nejen dlouho zn?jící zvonky, ale posléze i smy?ce (Veren Grigorov a Peter Hollo), klavír a lehké jazzové bicí a perkuse.
Zatímco Ambarchiho desku provází d?myslná preciznost, d?raz na detail, akustické teplo a k?iš?álová ?istota zvuk?, zkušený norský bard Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) vše utápí v nejspodn?jších patrech. Po?átky Autour de la Lune nutno hledat v archivu Radio France, kde Geir objevil dramatizaci románu Julese Verna Cesta na m?síc ze 60. let. Uchvácen faktem, že skute?né lety Ameri?an? na náš p?irozený satelit se z velké ?ásti odehrály tak, jak o nich v 19. století fantazíroval Verne, se rozhodl toto album tentokrát nezam??it na jeho polární domovinu, ale tam nahoru, do vesmíru. Použil ?ásti zmín?né dramatizace a zvuky nahrané na orbitální stanici Mir a s p?ídavkem vlastního zvukového materiálu vytvo?il vskutku ‚vet?elecky‘ tajemný opus o devíti ?ástech. Naprostá v?tšina d?ní na desce, kterého popravd? není mnoho, se odehrává v tichých basových rovinách atakujících limity lidského ucha i b?žných reproduktorových sestav, p?i?emž za?átek a konec alba pat?í pro Biosphere typi?t?jším kus?m s výrazn?jšími zasmy?kovanými motivy. Jedná se o opravdu temnou ambientní procházku neznámem a podv?domý/pov?domý pocit neklidu, nervozity a strachu se dostavuje spolehliv?. Jenssen zde p?edstavuje svou nejexperimentáln?jší a prozatím nejmén? p?ístupnou tvá?, hladina p?esv?d?ivosti a smysluplnosti však místy kolísá. [Hynek Dedecius]
indiepoprock (France)

Touch est un label réputé pour la constante qualité de ses productions, et l’extrême finesse sonore de celles ci. Pas étonnant, donc, d’y retrouver le norvégien Geir Jenssen AKA Biosphère, dans le catalogue…

Véritable figure de proue de la scène électronique de son pays, Biosphère nous enchante les oreilles depuis maintenant presque deux décennies et six albums… Celui dont il est question ici, “Autour De La Lune”, fut réalisé suite à une commande pour Radio France, à l’occasion de laquelle l’artiste eut accès aux archives de la radio française.

Le choix de Biosphère s’est porté sur une version radiophonique du célèbre “De la Terre à la Lune”, de Jules Verne, datant du début des années soixante. Le disque que voici fut réalisé à partir de samples de l’émission en question ainsi que de sons enregistrés à bord de la station MIR (!!!), le tout étant ensuite incorporé aux compositions du norvégien.

Si tout cela peut sonner quelque peu élitiste, voire cliché (ie : le thème de l’espace), il serait à mon avis dommage de ne pas apporter à ce disque l’écoute attentive qu’il mérite. D’une précision sonore microscopique et d’une densité extrême, cet album pour le moins digne d’intérêt ne se laisse bien évidemment pas apprivoiser facilement…
Souvent amélodique et arythmique, la musique ambiant d'”Autour De La Lune” s’attarde principalement sur la texture sonore en elle-même. Par conséquent, les rythmes et mélodies de ce disques, aussi rares et effacés soient ils, n’en sont que plus remarquables, et, serai-je tenté de dire… appréciables.

Bref, voici un voyage hors du temps dont les amateurs de musique instrumentale et/ou minimaliste auraient tort de se priver… [Jul]

echoes (Germany):

“Das Schweigen des unendlichen Alls erfüllt mich mit Schrecken.” – Blaise Pascal
Bei ‚Autour de la Lune’ handelt es sich ursprünglich um eine Auftragsarbeit für Radio France, in deren Rahmen Geir Jensen, der seit zwölf Jahren unter dem Pseudonym Biosphere Musik macht, der Zugang zu den Archiven des besagten Rundfunksenders im Allgemeinen und zu einem in den sechziger Jahren nach dem Roman „De la Terre à la Lune“ (Von der Erde zum Mond), 1865 – mehr als hundert Jahre vor der ersten Mondlandung – visionär erdacht und niedergeschrieben von Jules Verne, produzierten Hörspiel im Speziellen ermöglicht wurde. Teile aus dieser Vertonung wurden extrahiert und dürften insbesondere im ersten Track, einem 22minütigen, episch angelegten Auftakt Verwendung gefunden haben. Und nach diesem Auftakt wird es dann sehr still.
Still nicht im Sinne einer Absenz von Tönen. Eher ist es ein Fehlen von Dynamik und (herkömmlicher) Dramaturgie, ein sich in Auflösung befindlicher Zeitbegriff. Die Stücke des Albums entwickeln in ihrem entrückten Minimalismus eine seltsame Geschlossenheit, Einsamkeit, Schwerelosigkeit. Die Musik, bar jeder greifbaren Struktur oder Melodie, wird selbst zum Raum, zum Bezugspunkt, zum Koordinatensystem, das sich letztlich in seiner puren Existenz selbst genügt.

Konstant schälen sich die dunklen, in Zeitlupe mäandernden Bassdrones aus den unhörbaren Tiefen des Infraschall, oft begleitet von glasklaren, atonal anmutenden Obertönen, Sprachfetzen (angeblich aus der Raumstation Mir) oder atmosphärisch-symphonischen Keyboardflächen. ‚Autour de la Lune’ lotet die Grenzen der Wahrnehmung aus, auch wenn angesichts der Perfektion und Schlüssigkeit der einzelnen Komponenten des Albums – Covergestaltung, Tracktitel, der allgegenwärtige Bezug zum Weltraum und natürlich die Musik selbst – Konnotationen vorweggenommen bleiben (können) und der Interpretationsspielraum eingeengt erscheint. [Tobias Bolt]

TIJD (Belgium):

Geir Jenssen of Biosphere is Noorwegens bekendste elektronische componist. In een carrière van haast twintig jaar maakte hij een boemerangbeweging van ambient over techno- en subgenres naar ambient. Soms verlaat Jenssen verlaat het zuivere auditieve terrein om zich aan installaties of soundtracks te wagen. Een tweetal jaar geleden vroeg Radio France Culture hem voor een compositie. Aan de oorsprong van zijn werk lag een grasduinen door de archieven van Radio France. Daar viel zijn oor op een radiodramatisering uit de vroege jaren zestig van Jules Vernes visionaire science-fictionklassieker ‘De la Terre à la Lune’. Jenssen samplede minuscule deeltjes van de dialogen en koppelde die aan opnames uit het ruimtestation MIR en aan zijn eigen materiaal. Biosphere’s 74 minuten durende ‘Autour de la lune’ ging vorige zomer in première op ‘Le Festival de Radio France’ in Montpellier en is voor cd-uitgave naar negen bewegingen herschreven. Het album beschrijft effectief een ruimtereis. De eerste tracks ‘Translation’ en ‘Rotation’ vangen aan met stijgende tonen die in ‘Vibratoire’ en ‘Déviation’ muteren tot een luchtledige gewichtsloosheid. En naar het einde van het stuk buigen de tonen weer naar beneden. Het karige palet van ‘Autour de la lune’ herinnert sterk aan Brian Eno. Biosphere verrast dan ook niet echt met deze plaat. Wel handhaaft hij zijn positie als belangrijke Noor. [Ive Stevenheydens]

musik.terror (Germany):

Die asiatischen Einflüsse, die man aus „Shenzhou“, BIOSPHEREs letzter Veröffentlichung, heraushören konnte, waren offensichtlich mehr als nur schnöde Klangquellen – da steckte eine ganze Philosophie dahinter. Es hat nämlich schon etwas von einer Zen-Übung, was Geir Jenssen hier versucht: Hörbar zu bleiben mit kaum Hörbarem, Bewegung zu erzeugen mit dem in sich Ruhenden.

Als Auftragsarbeit für das französische Radio und unter der Obhut eines Ministeriums entstanden, erwartet man selbstverständlich ohnehin nicht gerade das Proletenhaft-Banale, sogar wenn das Material auf einem Jules Verne-Hörspiel basiert. Trotzdem ist „Autour de la lune“ beinahe schon schockierend leise und statisch. Das einleitende „Translation“ zieht den Hörer mit einer zweitönigen Melodie über einem unstetem Rhythmusgeflecht gleich ganze zwanzig Minuten in seinen Bann und ist die einzige – aufregende – Ausnahme auf dem Album: Während auf dem Notenpapier schier gar nicht passiert, verdichtet sich die Atmosphäre zusehends, bis man zitternd den Hemdkragen lockert. Schillernd wie Polareis in der Wintersonne, flirrend wie ein Komet am klaren Nachthimmel. Bei „Modifie“ leuchtet ein altes Röhrenradio einsam im gräulich-schwarzen Hotelzimmer und erweisen sich die Sequenzen zwischen den Frequenzen abwechselnd als merkwürdig faszinierend und faszinierend merkwürdig. Ansonsten hat man gerade etwas zu oft das Gefühl, den Atem anhalten zu müssen. Das Material ähnelt regelmäßig den schwer schwebenden und majestätisch-monolithischen Soundteppichen der LEFTFIELD-Alben, ohne deren Auflösung, ohne die Befreiung durch den Beat. So gespenstisch schön so manche Stelle sein mag, so vage bleibt sie meistens auch – und das ist leider nicht immer ein Kompliment. „Vibratoire“ mit seinen schummrig schwingenden Flächen und „Disparu“ als auf den Zehen trapsende Miniatur verschwinden fast komplett unter der Aufmerksamkeitsschwelle des Ohrs.

Mit mehr als 70 Minuten ist die Angelegenheit ohnehin mal wieder zu viel des Ganzen und des Guten ohnehin – und beinahe unerträglich lang. In kleinen Dosen zu einem genommen wirkt „Autour de la lune“ allerdings sehr verlockend. So wird man sich wohl eher immer mal wieder eine Rosine aus diesem mysteriös flüsternden Kuchen picken, statt die köstliche Zuckermasse auf einmal zu verspeisen. [tocafi]