Dropsonde
Biosphere - Dropsonde
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Biosphere
Dropsonde

Geir Jenssen has been creating ambient music under the name Biosphere for over fifteen years now. He's released nearly twenty albums worth of material in that time, both on his own and in collaborations with everyone from the Higher Intelligence Agency (on the great Polar Frequencies) to Deathprod. In that time, his work has plumbed such a signature sound that he's been coined as having originated the "Arctic Sound." Over the course of the past couple years (especially on his releases for the Touch label), his work has reached a very high level of maturation and development.

Maturation isn't probably quite the right word for someone who has been creating music for so long, but his past several releases have burst forth with such singular, refined (yet unique) visions that although the variety of his early work like Substrata is made to sound like sketches in places. His Shenzou is an all-enveloping soup of strings and murky nocturnal pulses while his most recent effort Autour De La Lune pushed off into deep space with icy tones and much less of a focus on melody. In that same way, Dropsonde finds Jenssen moving in another singular direction for the course of an entire album, and the result is again highly refined and enjoyable.

Jan Jelinek and other artists have been dipping their toes into jazz music for some time now, but you haven't heard anyone melt the pieces of the genre down to their base elements and reconstruct them in the way that Jenssen has here. After the short opening track of "Dissolving Clouds," the album moves forth with warm resonated melodies and shuffling snares in "Birds Fly By Flapping Their Wings." "In Triple Time" again finds some jazz percussion loops shuffling while filtered and bent horns moan like whale calls in a bay.

I mentioned Jelinek above, and in places on Dropsonde, there's definitely a resemblance. "Fall In Fall Out" is all stuttering upright bass loops and hissy vinyl static while a martial snare keeps time. Most of the other times, though, the album reaches for those deep, dark places that Biosphere seems to know how to massage best. "Warmed By The Drift" calls to mind the title as layer upon layer of dense washes cover your ear like blowing snow while "Daphnis 26" chugs along with deep, rumbling beats and multiple layers of stuttering loops. As with his other excursions into different styles, Jenssen still maintains an almost signature sound on most of the tracks, and because of that very reason, you will definitely enjoy this album if you like his other work. I'll admit that I'm a sucker for this type of all-enveloping ambient music, and Jenssen seems to know just which buttons of mine to push.

rating: 7.7510
Aaron Coleman 2006-02-22 20:55:36