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I found this album while going through a poll for best Estonian album released in 2017. While most of the stuff there was basically usual suspects and boring hipster pop, this double LP (running length 2x37 minutes) is to me personally a jaw dropping pearl and I was instantly hooked.
The concept is actually not a new one - trying to marry classical instruments and electronics, but it is really rare to see it executed so tastefully and dynamically as Taavi and Kristjan in this case have. There are step sequencers, but they are guided by the warm and loving hands of a human, so they do not force themselves nor do they attempt to dictate the mood in the same way that a repeating melody in a traditional house or techno track would. On the analog/classical yang, opposite of the electronics' ying, the woodwinds/brass/flutes/what have you do not stand alone, trying awkwardly to make friends with some metronome - instead somehow they manage to keep up a very dynamic and interesting dance, slowing down and speeding up.
I think this album achieves what many attempts to combine traditional instruments and modern electronics do not - the music sounds raw, alive and very dynamic, but at the same time avoids using too many tropes associated with either classical or electronic music.
In my opinion it's one of the most interesting and innovative albums I have heard in the past 4-5 years. This has probably a lot to do with my personal taste, but I felt the need to share this thing nevertheless. I hope there's people here who will enjoy it as much as I did!
In the merchandise section of the AE_STORE website, one of the items they had for sale (before it sold out) was a screen print based on the artwork for elseq. Here is the blurb, emphasis in boldface mine:
"AS PART OF TDR™'S 30 BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS THEY HAVE PRODUCED A VERY LIMITED EDITION TDR™ elseq 1 – 21 PRINT, WHICH COMPILES ALL OF THE TDR™ DESIGNED BUNDLE AND TRACK ARTWORK FOR THE DIGITAL RELEASES, UNAVAILABLE AS A COMPLETE SET ELSEWHERE."
This seems to suggest that there may be future installments of elseq ahead! Perhaps some of the sounds we've been hearing in the live sets of their one-six tour!
Format: 2LP, CD Release Date: 23 Sept, 2016 Preorder: Vinyl and CD Preview Track: https://soundcloud.com/smalltownsupersound/biosphere-sweet-dreams-form-a-shade Tracklisting 01. Out Of The Cradle 02. Well And Purpose 03. Down On Ropes 04. Free From The Bondage You Are In 05. With Their Paddles In A Puddle 06. Than Is The Mater 07. Sweet Dreams Form A Shade 08. Aura In The Kitchen With The Candlesticks 09. Departed Glories 10. Whole Forests Of Them Appearing 11. Invariable Cowhandler 12. Behind The Stove 13. You Want To See It Too 14. In Good Case And Rest 15. Tomorrow Then We Will Attend 16. With Precious Benefits To Both 17. Fall Asleep For Me Promo Text It’s easy to forget that Norway shares a short stretch of frontier with Russia, right at the northernmost tip of the country. That region is where Geir Jenssen, the Norwegian electronic producer behind Biosphere, comes from, and where he has been composing his austere, disturbing and deeply textured ambience since the early 1980s. Biosphere has released many albums to date including Substrata, voted the greatest ambient album of all time on the Hyperreal website, and has collaborated with Arne Nordheim, Higher Intelligence Agency, Deathprod, Pete Namlook and Bel Canto. His 12th album Departed Glories is his first in almost five years and marks a new deal with the Oslo independent label Smalltown Supersound. On the cover is a photo of the Russian landscape taken more than a hundred years ago. It’s part of an incredible cache of recently discovered images by the photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, who pioneered a form of colour photography using three sheets of glass, and left us with a collection of hauntingly beautiful pictures of a vanished world that could have been taken on an iPhone. These are one of the inspirations for Jenssen’s latest project, which he began working on this project around five years ago, while he was based temporarily in Krakow, Poland. Living near the Wolski forest, his daily walk took him past sites – beautiful and at the same time terrible – where Poles had been executed during the second world war. After researching the area he discovered that a Polish medieval queen Bronislawa, had hidden among the trees with some nuns in the 13th century to escape the invading Tartar hordes, and that a monument to her memory had been built and then destroyed by invading Austrians in the 19th. It made him speculate about what kind of music someone like Bronislawa might have heard while trembling among the trees? Not real music, surely, but something the fears in the mind might conjure up. He went in search of local folk music, from Poland and Ukraine, and began to work with that material to transform it into something reflecting psychological trauma. Around the same time he stumbled on Prokudin-Gorsky’s photographs and was immediately struck by the way they brought history, with its long departed souls, a little bit nearer. One image in particular, of an Armenian woman in a forest in what is now Turkey, especially got under his skin. ‘The crystal clear yet haunting atmosphere fascinated me,’ he says. All of these inspirational elements came together to provide the necessary propulsion to make Departed Glories, an album that sets the back of the neck hairs quivering in just the same way. It’s almost entirely constructed from hundreds of snippets of Eastern European And Russian folk music recordings, melted together to transform them into 17 unsettling and occasionally blindingly radiant beatless tracks. Each sample fragment is like a sliver of glass plate, and like the photos, it has left a music that is radiant, ghostly and unforgettable.