Biosphere – Autour de la Lune

As a child I truly enjoyed the magical adventure works of Jules Verne. And I’m sure that now I would still love 19th century novels like Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea when re-reading them. In 2004 Biosphere, the ambient project of Geir Jenssen, has created a soundtrack for Verne’s classic from 1870, Autour de la Lune (Round the Moon). He was commissioned to create this music for a broadcast by Radio France.

On this album you will find nine long tracks (‘movements’) of the most subtle electronic ambient music. Very silent and minimal, slowly uncovering what’s beneath the microscopic fragments of sound. Biosphere’s music seems to get more and more stripped down with every release. Autour de la Lune has a strong sense of mystery and discovery, and also makes you feel the solitude of being the first person to thread on unknown territories or to be floating in the air.

The tracks evolve very slowly, often they are dominated by only one or two extended droning sounds. Sometimes with a deep droning bass, at other times more high-end tones come to the foreground. Melodic elements are not very abundant on this album. Now and then bits of broken dialogue from an old radio performance of Jules Verne’s novel creep in. Jenssen has also used field recordings made at the MIR space station. The overall impression is rather austere and cold.

Though I will probably play his less minimal and more accessible albums like “Substrata” or “Patashnik” more frequently, “Autour de la Lune” is nevertheless very worthwhile. My favourite movements are the first and the last tracks, ‘Translation’ and ‘Tombant’, which seems to be organically connected and which are the most harmonic and warm tracks of the album.

Is it a coincidence that, just after listening to this album, I saw a colourful hot air balloon when I looked outside of my window? I want to get on board and experience dazzling adventures…

artist: Biosphere
label: Touch
details: 9 tracks, 74 min. 2004 [TO:62]