TS11 – Biosphere “Mysterier”

7″ vinyl only – 2 tracks – 10:04
Cut by Jason @ Transition
Cover by Jon Wozencroft

Track listing:
A: Fluvialmorfologi 4:24
B: Feber 5:50

TS11 – the next in the series of vinyl-only Touch Sevens – is Mysterier by Biosphere, featuring two tracks originally recorded for Hågogaland Teater, Tromsø, Norway in 2006 and remastered in 2011.

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TO:84 – Biosphere “N-Plants”

CD in digipak – 9 tracks – 49:50
Art Direction: Jon Wozencroft
Cover image: Yusuke Murakami
Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Skye

Track listing:

1. Sendai-1
2. Shika-1
3. Jōyō
4. Ikata-1
5. Monju-1
6. Genkai-1
7. Ōi-1
8. Monju-2
9. Fujiko

Geir Jenssen writes: “Early February 2011: Decided to make an album inspired by the Japanese post-war economic miracle. While searching for more information I found an old photo of the Mihama nuclear plant. The fact that this futuristic-looking plant was situated in such a beautiful spot so close to the sea made me curious. Are they safe when it comes to earthquakes and tsunamis? Further reading revealed that many of these plants are situated in earthquake-prone areas, some of them are even located next to shores that had been hit in the past by tsunamis.

A photo of Mihama made me narrow down my focus only to Japanese nuclear plants. I wanted to make a soundtrack to some of them, concentrating on the architecture, design and localizations, but also questioning the potential radiation danger (a cooling system being destroyed by a landslide or earthquake, etc). As the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said: “the plants were so well designed that ‘such a situation is practically impossible’.

The album was finished on February 13th. On March 17th I received the following message from a Facebook friend: ‘Geir, some time ago you asked people for a photo of a Japanese nuclear powerplant. Is this going to be the sleeve of your new coming album? But more importantly: how did you actually predict the future? Kind regards, David.'”

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T-Phone 1 – Biosphere “Outside By The Fjord”

1 track .m4v video, digital download for iPod/iPhone

Track listing:
1: Outside By The Fjord – 25m09s

From a field recording trip in Sørfjorden, near Tromsø, Norway.
Commissioned by Fondazione Musica per Roma, 2008.

Tone 38 – Biosphere “Wireless – Live at The Arnolfini, Bristol”

Touch # Tone 38
CD in Digipak – 62:12
Artwork & Design: Jon Wozencroft

Recorded live at The Arnolfini, Bristol, 27th October 2007 by the doyen of sound recordists, Chris Watson, using 2 x Sony ECM 77s with a Nagra P11 Ares flash card recorder, and from desk to hard drive. The recording was mixed, edited and mastered by Touch stalwart BJNilsen, in Berlin during March 2009.

This concert was part of Touch 25 Live, which also featured a performance of Storm [by Chris Watson & BJNilsen]. Biosphere is Norwegian composer and performer Geir Jenssen, and this is his sixth release for Touch. In the early 1990s he was a pioneer of so-called “ambient techno”, but since then, he has refined his sound into something more magnetic and enduring. His last album, Dropsonde, wasn’t a soundtrack like the interwoven Substrata, nor an episodic journey in the way that Autour de la Lune is. It pushed new directions towards the jazz colors of Miles Davis and Jon Hassell, while re-invigorating the pulse and projection of his signature sound: a hypnotic combination of pleasure and dread. Here Geir Jenssen takes this further, incorporating samples of field recordings by Jony Easterby and trumpet by Anders Karlskås, invoking a sparser, more arresting sound. A landmark release for Biosphere, his first live album, heralding new beginnings without jettisoning the past…

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TO:46 – Biosphere “Cirque”

CD – 11 tracks – 47:32

Track listing:

1. Nook & Cranny
2. Le Grand Dôme
3. Grandiflora
4. Black Lamb & Grey Falcon
5. Miniature Rock Dwellers
6. When I Leave
7. Iberia Eterea
8. Moistened & Dried
9. Algae & Fungi Part I
10. Algae & Fungi Part II
11. Too Fragile To Walk On

Artwork and photography by Jon Wozencroft.

Biosphere – Cirque:

The Drama of Discovery

“I work slowly”, Geir Jenssen said in 1994, when asked about the three-year gap between his first two releases under the name Biosphere. Visions of six-month-long nights in Northern Norway amongst (whatever the thermal equivalent of visions may be) of hibernating temperatures would seem to explain this quasi-confession. As if taking one’s time would be considered dangerously old-fashioned, as if long processes of creation were doomed to turn into artistic suicide.

Quite the opposite.

First clue: the name.

In 1990, having learned of the Biosphere 2 Space Station Project, a sealed, gigantic glass dome in the Arizona Desert, then in its early stages, Geir decides to adopt it as his new alias.

The sound. The meaning. A sound that describes what the word means.

The Biosphere 2 Research Project was meant to test the possibilities of building self-sufficient space colonies, and hosted entire families living in a completely detached environment for years.

Geir Jenssen’s Biosphere has likewise been steadily creating a self-contained aural universe. Once inside, we will experience the outside world through the spherical window. As if watching a movie where, despite the monumental scale, we still manage to feel we belong in the script.

Second clue: the distance.

Geir Jenssen has decided to base himself permanently in his birthplace of Tromso, Norway, 400 miles north of the Arctic circle, having briefly tried out Brussels and Oslo before retreating back in total disinterest from the frenzy of too many cultural offers.

What exactly goes on in Tromso? And why, then, does Biosphere resonate so strongly in your walkman at rush hour in some downtown metropolis of the Western World? Because it surgically extracts time out of urgency, because it opens up huge spaces right at the dead centre of your urban claustrophobia. The viewpoint of the astronaut who contemplates Planet Earth from outer space and reflects on the billions of little lives down there.

Someone called it ‘Arctic Sound’.


Third clue: the distance.

Geir’s musical history has always been one of progressive self-distillation. Of maximising one’s chosen few resources. Bel Canto, Geir’s band in the late eighties, had signed up with Crammed Discs in Brussels and, after two albums, looked poised for crossover marketability. This is precisely when Geir decides to leave Bel Canto and start working on his own.

The reasons? A growing need to move on. A growing need for growth.

Two years, four singles and one album followed under the alias Bleep. First symptoms of Geir’s Ambient Techno that, by 1995, had come full circle and become truly mainstream. History revisited: the use of “Novelty Waves” (a track from Patashnik, his second album as Biosphere) on a Levi’s advertisement proved to be the last techno straw for Geir. Rather than turning achievement into formula, we see him dropping whatever was left of the hard beats, moving once again into unnamed, undiscovered territories.

One could still call them Ambient Territories if not for their deeply emotional undercurrent.
Someone said ‘Less is more’…


Fourth clue: interchange.

Geir says that music that excites him never fails to trigger visions in his mind. And I personally dare you to find music which is more visual. Soundtracks, yes, Biosphere has released the score for Insomnia and Man With a Movie Camera, and been elsewhere extensively commissioned.

Background music…. not quite. This is synaesthetic music. Sound sculpture, music as photographic collage. Echoes as warning signs. Liquid beats, samples as snapshots, faraway speeches of open-ended meaning.

No, not the hungover Balearic beaches. No, not even the deeply catatonic Winter nights of Norway. Something deeper, warmer, so much more human, so much more visceral.
Contemplation. Remember that word?

Try it.

Fifth clue: the circles.

Substrata, Biosphere in 1997, displayed an impossible proximity to perfection and is now an insistent visitor to the lists of ‘best ambient album of all time’, thus establishing a new canon for contemporary classicism. What distinguishes this new classicism is its humility: its status was never a pre-requisite, but rather an ageing process that reminds one of the finest wines. Substrata’s status as the new canon of ambient happened as a consequence of the monumental existentialism it contains – ambient music is no longer simply ignorable or ‘interesting’.

Cirque followed up in 2000, a dark, saturated recording, quietly descending from wonderment to despair, inspired as it was by the true story of a young North American explorer who lived a brutal dream of ascetism but fatally lost himself in the dense forests of Alaska. Cirque’s dramatic tension is magistrally woven amongst the sounds of enclosure, existentialist, dangerous, alone.

Sixth clue: complexity.

Geir Jenssen finds himself at a complex and fascinating crossroads right now: the heritage of Ambient Techno resting on his shoulders, the masterpiece of ambient music resting on his shoulders – we can feel the proximity of a new quantum leap into unimaginable territories. And if those territories, yet without a name, are not yet inhabitable, Biosphere will map them out for us, and recount his processes of discovery. The sound palette is now becoming lower, more abstract, more patient, more complex.
Geir Jenssen has always proved to be a masterful sculptor of sound, but, most importantly, has always known how to sculpt the silence that surrounds sound. In our world immersed in excess, Biosphere becomes the certainty of a softness that hits harder.
Biosphere has always made you pay attention. It now demands you to be active in your listening.

Use it as a seed.

Do it.

Heitor Alvelos
March 2000 / December 2001

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TO:66 – Biosphere “Dropsonde”

11 tracks – 69:53

Artwork & Photography by Jon Wozencroft

so you might like to note that “In the shape of a flute” is exclusive to the vinyl format of the release, and tracks 1. 3. 4. 5. 6. 11. are exclusive to the CD version

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.

You may recognise his work without knowing it, so frequently does it crop up on TV trailers and idents. In the early 1990s he was a pioneer of so-called ‘Ambient Techno’, but since then, he has refined his sound into something more magnetic and enduring.

Dropsonde’ isn’t a soundtrack like the interwoven ‘Substrata’ nor an episodic journey in the way that ‘Autour de la Lune’ is. Here Geir Jenssen is pushing new directions towards the jazz colours of Miles Davis and Jon Hassell, whilst re-invigorating the pulse and projection of his signature sound: a hypnotic combination of pleasure and dread.

The spatial aspects some have dubbed “Arctic sound” but it summons strong feelings, or as Exclaim from Canada put it, “in order to climb higher, you must first go deeper”. Jon Savage adds: “As with all of the Biosphere albums, the music draws you in and makes you want to listen and feel. Jenssen’s work acts on a very emotional level, one that encourages you to drift away into a haze of images and scenes brought to you by the music, where spectacular beauty hides unseen danger. Intense and moving, but comforting and soothing at the same time.”

[A ‘dropsonde’ is a weather reconnaissance device designed to be dropped from an airplane or similar craft at altitude to take telemetry as it falls to the ground. It typically relays information to a computer in the dropping airplane by radio. The fall may be slowed by a parachute. Information collected by a typical dropsonde may include wind speed, temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure.]

This is Biosphere’s 5th release for Touch, after “Cirque” [Touch # TO:46, 2000], “Substrata 2” [Touch # TO:50, 2002], “Shenzhou” [Touch # TO:55], and “Autour de la Lune” [Touch # TO:62, 2004]. He has also contributed to various Touch compilations, including “Spire – Organ Music, Past, Present & Future” [Touch # Tone 20, 2004), and more recently to the Storr walk on Skye, Scotland, a guided tour through stunning landscape accompanied by illuminations and sound recordings.

Track list:

1. Dissolving Clouds
2. Birds Fly By Flapping their Wings
3. Warmed By the Drift
4. In Triple Time
5. From a Solid To a Liquid
6. Arafura
7. Fall In, Fall Out
8. Daphnis 26
9. Altostratus
10. Sherbrooke
11. People Are Friends

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TO:66LP – Biosphere “Dropsonde”

Track list:

A1 Birds Fly By Flapping Their Wing
A2 Fall In, Fall Out
A3 Daphnis 26
B1 Altostratus
B2 Sherbrooke
B3 In The Shape Of A Flute

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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

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TO:55 – Biosphere “Shenzhou”

CD – 56:38
12 tracks

Shenzhou draws more on Eastern and Asian influences. The album is loosely based on excerpts of various Debussy pieces [tracks 1-10]. Many long passages are minimalist and understated, still Jenssen manages to display a rich palette of sonic colours. It might be a cliché notion but perhaps Shenzhou’s understatement is a testament to a maturing performer who’s able to express more with less.

Track list:

1. Shenzhou
2. Spindrift
3. Ancient Campfire
4. Heat Leak
5. Houses on the Hill
6. Two Ocean Plateau
7. Thermal Motion
8. Path Leading to the High Grass
9. Fast Atoms Escape
10. Green Reflections
11. Bose-Einstein Condensation
12. Gravity Assist

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TO:50 – Biosphere “Substrata 2”

DCD – 55:20/53:32

Biosphere’s 2nd CD for Touch after Cirque [Touch # TO:46, 2000] is a double CD
in digipac designed by Jon Wozencroft.

CDOne – Substrata
Originally released in 1997 on All Saints Records, this remastered version of Substrata contains 11 tracks with a total length of 55:20. “…by many (the undersigned included) considered to be the finest ambient album of the 1990s” [Motion/State 51], and “Three years after its release, BIOSPHERE’s ‘Substrata’ is already being recognised as one of the all time greats of deep electronica.” [Top Magazine]

CDTwo – Man with a Movie Camera
contains 9 tracks, total length 53:32. The first 7 tracks consist of the soundtrack
to “Man with a Movie Camera” [Vertov, 1926, USSR], originally commissioned for the Tromsø International Film Festival in 1996, released here for the first time. The last 2 tracks, Endurium and The End of the Cyclone, were originally released on the limited edition Japanese version of Substrata in 1997 – they have never before been released outside Japan.

Track list:

CDOne – Substrata
1. As The Sun Kissed The Horizon
2. Poa Alpina
3. Chukhung
4. The Things I Tell You
5. Times When I Know You’ll Be Sad
6. Hyperborea
7. Kobresia
8. Antennaria
9. Uva-Ursi
10. Sphere of No-Form
11. Silene

CDTwo – A Man with a Movie Camera
1. Prologue
2. The Silent Orchestra
3. City Wakes Up
4. Freeze-Frames
5. Manicure
6. The Club
7. Ballerina

Bonus tracks:
8. The Eye of the Cyclone
9. Endurium

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TO:46 – Biosphere “Cirque”

Track list:

1. Nook & Cranny
2. Le Grand Dôme
3. Grandiflora
4. Black Lamb & Grey Falcon
5. Miniature Rock Dwellers
6. When I Leave
7. Iberia Eterea
8. Moistened & Dried
9. Algae & Fungi Part I
10. Algae & Fungi Part II
11. Too Fragile To Walk On


TO:46LP – Biosphere “Cirque”

Track list:

A1 Nook & Cranny
A2 Le Grand Dome
A3 Grandiflora
A4 Black Lamb & Grey Falcon
A5 Miniature Rock Dwellers
A6 When I Leave
B1 Iberia Eterea
B2 Moistened & Dried
B3 Algae & Fungi Part 1
B4 Algae & Fungi Part 2
B5 Too Fragile To Walk On