Biosphere - Departed Glories

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2016-09-30

Geir Jenssen, aka Biosphere, has been making music for a couple decades now, and falls into what I would consider the "pure" style of ambient music. Unlike, say, The Orb, who often spice things up with weird effects and prominent percussion, this is mostly long, drifting pads and sparse, mournful melodies, and nary a beat to be found. Though all his works are unique, there is a stream of continuity flowing through them that makes his songs recognizable as distinctly his.

Unlike early works like Cirque and the seminal Substrata, which come off as very cold, with a lot of glacial movement (and even an occasional sample of actual ice creaking and cracking), Departed Glories is more like a haunted forest, with glimpses of fairies in the dark. Opener 'Out of the Cradle' sounds like flutes blowing in a breeze at night. 'Free You from the Bondage You are In' and 'Sweet Dreams Form a Shade' with their thin melodies coming through a tin can, are reminiscent of the chanting of a witches' circle. 'With Their Paddles in a Puddle' sounds like a playground next to a ghost-infested mansion. 'Behind the Stove' is like a cloud of will-o-wisps drawing you deeper into the shadows. And closer 'Fall Asleep for Me' is legitimately unsettling, with a sense that there will be no waking up, like sinking into a mossy pool.

Some of the music does harken back to the chillier sounds of old, like 'Down on Ropes' and 'Than is the Mater', both of which have a deep, aquatic feeling, placing themselves somewhere at the bottom of the ocean. 'Aura in the Kitchen with Candlesticks', clearly a reference to some type of supernatural event, begins in the depths, then wanders into a séance. And 'Whole Forests of Them Appearing' doesn't live up to its name, missing the opportunity to stick with the boreal theme and instead dissipating into almost Steve Roach levels of ultra-ambience. 'With Precious Benefits to Both' goes there too, but has more creepy personality, such that you're not alone in the dark, but whatever else is out there, it's not necessarily friendly.

As usual with Biosphere, the songs in this set are extremely sparse, feeling like gauzy mists hanging in the air rather than having a lot of mass and impact. I do miss the slightly more varied instrumentation of songs like 'Times When I Know You'll Be Sad', which give the music a bit more depth. Still, there are some fascinating moments scattered throughout the mix, and this is a solid enough ambient set for fans of the genre.

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