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Biosphere - Cirque
CD Album
£12.99
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Biosphere

Cirque

Touch

Released: 5th February 2007 | 11 track ambient album
Following the successful release on Ash International, 'Cho Oyu 8201m' by Geir Jenssen, Touch is reissuing the classic 'Cirque' by Biosphere, originally issued in 2000. Here, the shifting world of 'Substrata' is fused with the liquid electronic rhythms of Biosphere's earlier work. The outcome is almost addictive - layers of detail revealing themselves as you listen and appreciate the convergences deep within the music, between classical and pop, the soundtrack and its voiceover. CIRQUE is inspired in part by the story of Chris McCandless, who in April 1992 hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness, only to be found dead four months later having made a tragic error with his food supply. CIRQUE reflects this idealism, but also the danger lurking in paradise. The music plays like a film, one scene dissolving into the next. Codas pinpoint the action like spotlights, and location recordings weave in and out of the sound giving it the dramatic tension of a great documentary. There is nothing old-fashioned, however, in the outcome. CIRQUE is future music. Cinema for the spirit.
"Here's a challenge: Try to keep your eyes open through to the end of this disc. It's impossible. From the opening strains of Nook & Cranny, with its distant synth refrains and soft fizzy beats, to the haunting last gasp of clipped flutes on Too Fragile to Walk On, Biosphere wraps the listener's ears in sound as lulling as that heard in the womb. To call this music techno does it a great injustice. Biopshere (a.k.a. Norway's Geir Jenssen) uses real instruments to flesh out his mostly beatless sound, such as guitar, piano, woodwinds and strings. Combine this with a skill for crafting drifting machine sounds not rivaled since Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, and what follows is warm and comforting, belying the album's glacial artwork. The information accompanying this disc warns of lurking in paradise for too long, but if there is danger awaiting listeners on the other side of Cirque, may they die blissfully ignorant."
Jason Olariu, Alternative Press
"Masterful - warming up otherwise icy climes with orchestral loops and multi-hued sunlight."
Philip Sherburne, XLR8R
"Geir Jenssen left his first band, late '80s group Bel Canto, to develop his own musical direction after releasing two albums. He went on to record two techno albums and four singles as Bleep. Adopting the name Biosphere from the sealed, domed experiment in self-sufficient living based in the Arizona desert, Jenssen released two increasingly successful ambient techno albums, Microgravity and Patashnik. After the single Novelty Waves from Patashnik was used in a Levi Jean's ad, rather than use the sound as formula for future works, Jenssen moved away from it, his music becoming increasingly less like techno. The last three Biosphere albums, Polar Sequences and Birmingham Frequencies with Higher Intelligence Agency, and Substrata, the last real Biosphere album some 3 years ago, are relatively minimal and spacious, not completely devoid of beats but more ambient than techno. It's hard to isolate any one given track to review as the music fits together wonderfully as a single piece, flowing naturally from tract to track. Jenssen's music is referred to in the press and on his website as having an arctic sound, and it is easy to appreciate why. The packaging of his albums commonly shows several images of iceflows and frozen landscapes and is printed in shades of blue, grey and white, reflecting the terrain he is familiar with and samples for his music, the word cirque itself is defined as a semicircular amphitheatre-shaped feature with steep walls carved by a glacier. This fascination or love of his surrounding terrain is reflected in Jenssen's music, conjuring up images of vast expanses of snow, ice and rock, the beauty such a sight is to witness and the inherent danger this can ultimately bring. The Cirque album itself is at least partly inspired by Chris McCandless, who in April 1992 hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness, only to be found dead 4 months later having made a tragic error with his food supply. 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."
Paul Lloyd, Grooves
"Geir Jensen's music has always been about remoteness and distance. Based in his home town of Tromso, situated in northern Norway, 200 miles above the Arctic Circle, surrounded by glaciers and imposing fjords, and plunged into total darkness for three months in winter, 'Cirque' is very much a product of this environment, its slowly enfolding polar ambience far removed from the supercharged techno of 'Novelty Waves' that brought him to the fringe of mainstream success. Biosphere is unusual in its instantly recognisable style, an ability to transport the listener to a totally different landscape and a deep sense of spatial awareness that puts you in no doubt why Jensen is in such demand for film soundtracks and art installation work. 'Cirque', literally an amphitheatre-shaped crevice cut by a glacier, is inspired in part by the story of Chris McCandless, an amateur explorer whose trek into the Alaskan wastes ended in tragedy. That's not to say the music itself is cold; unlike similarly inspired composer Thomas Koner whose Arctic-inspired 'Teimo' gripped like frostbite, Biosphere's is enveloped in mist with the Northern lights flashing wildly in the distance. From the moody rhythm gymnastics of 'Iberian Eterea' to the snowstorm flurry techno of 'Algae and Fungi', via 'Black Lamb & Grey Falcon''s ghost orchestra, 'Cirque''s windswept abandonment leaves you in no doubt of the benefit of Jensen's artistic hibernation. At one point a disembodied voice intones solemnly When I leave, you'll follow. Too true."
Neil Gardner, Rock Sound
"A perfectly constructed 47 minute sequence: cold clarity up against real depth of field, synth cycles dissolving into sudden moments of sonic revelation that sound like a waking dream. Cirque balances the tightrope between warmth and unease, resolving into a moon melody that leaves you at peace. What a good record!"
Jon Savage, Mojo
"Quite, quite beautiful. Deep and lush, this sounds warm and enveloping while occasionally hinting at the sub-zero temperatures of Geir Jensen's Arctic home in Tromso, Norway. But that's not all: there is flow, there is edge, there is tension. Immerse yourself, then float higher than the surface. Jenssen uses the proceeds of his recordings to finance mountaneering trips and he deserves a goody on the back of this disc."
Bizarre
"On 'Cirque' [Touch]*****, Biosphere's music quietly demands time and attention. No use looking to chalk up quick, hedonistic pleasure points here; your best approach is to slow down to its pace. It's best analysed not in terms of its separate tracks but as a totally immersive entity with the incidental details of spoken word, musical fragmentation and voice-over blending into the script. No escapist new age fantasy but a real life drama, the beauty is in the discomfort and the danger, as well as the moments of blissful freefall. A perfectly imperfect union of nature and technology for the summer."
Pete Lawrence, TOP
"As may have been apparent throughout this review I have enjoyed this release a great deal and view this as being another strong release from Geir Jenssen. In my opinion this album has no weak tracks to sully any feelings toward it but the need to listen to the whole album to get full enjoyment makes this a release that is not for everyone. In many ways though, this makes for an excellent introduction to the Biosphere sound for those new to the band as it stradles the sheer ambiences of recent time with a hint of the more upbeat sound of the early material."
Re:mote (website)
"Album of the year by a mile already. It's not pop music but chilled out instrumental grooves and sounds which reflect the space and climate of Biosphere's base in the Arctic, Tromso, Norway. It was inspired by the story of a man who hitchhiked to Alaska, walked alone into the wilderness, and was found dead after a tragic error with his food supply. Beautiful and intense."
Martin Lilleker, Sheffield Telegraph
"...a journey across unknown surfaces, some sheer, some sweet, all fierce and full of fight to guard their frailty."
Frans de Waard, VITAL