Search - Biosphere :: Substrata

Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

Debut Release for Japan to Contain Exclusive Bonus Tracks. No Additional Information Available at this Time.


Larger Image
Listen to Samples

CD Details

All Artists: Biosphere
Title: Substrata
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Thirsty Ear
Original Release Date: 10/21/1997
Release Date: 10/21/1997
Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Pop
Styles: Ambient, Electronica, Techno, Europe, Scandinavia, Dance Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 700436603324


Album Details
Debut Release for Japan to Contain Exclusive Bonus Tracks. No Additional Information Available at this Time.

Similar CDs

Similarly Requested CDs


CD Reviews

Wonderful Ambient Work of Art
M. D. MCGINLEY | United States | 05/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am a devout listener of ambient/electronic/new age music since 1987, when my first album of this genre was Steve Roach's "Dreamtime Return." I first heard Biosphere on channel 932 Comcast, Music Choice, when they played "the things I tell you" from substrata. At first, I couldn't believe what I was hearing, because I was so used to the mundane commercial tracks of mainstream artists. I tried to find this disc at my local music store, only to be disappointed that it was out of print. I found it on and put it in my shopping cart.

I received it today in the mail. I was like a little kid with a new train set. The pure genius of this album comes through with the first track, "As the sun kissed the horizon," where instantly I was teleported to the year 2341, or some time in the distant future. I actually felt like, finally, some music that was so far ahead of its time that I could become instantly attuned to the vibrant, melodic vibrations and flowing waveforms, and ereatheral pings that instilled the vastness of space, not unlike John Serrie's "And the stars go with you". By the time I got to track 8, "Atennaria" I forgot about the Suns/Spurs basketball game I was watching--20 minutes went by like it was ten seconds--where I reached the dark but haunting beauty of "Uva-Ursi." "Sphere of No-Form" and "Silene" have no sufficient words to describe the utter beauty and soundscape of the composition.

My album has the last track as "Silene" but the list above here has it as "Silence." Is this a typo on the production side, or does have it wrong and assume that it is "Silence" and not "Silene"?

There is just no way to measure the quality of this unsurpassed ambient sound recording. And it's no coincidence that my birthday is the release date. I am just so blown away by the technological proficiency of producer Geir Jenssen that I now have to bump Tangerine Dream, John Serrie and even my prior favorite Steve Roach down a notch, surpassed only by "76:14" by Dedicated. "Substrata" will probably be too hard to top, when your best work comes out first, so I will cherish it. The sheer brilliance emanating from my speakers right now is amazing to say the least.

A beautiful album, although not among my favorite Biosphere
The Pitiful Anonymous | the Acres of Skin | 05/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"So much has been said about Biosphere's "Substrata" that I've held off on reviewing it until now. It's by far Geir Jenssen's most well known work, and the perfect example of his "arctic ambient" style. I do find it to be less interesting than later, more original records like "Dropsonde" for this reason - the sound you'd expect, hearing the words "arctic ambient", is probably a lot like what's here, even if you've never listened to anything along these lines before. That said, it's hard to deny the flawless flow and listenability of this record, especially in the first 7 tracks.

And indeed, the latter is a lot of what Biosphere has had going for him all along - listenability, memorable tracks and melodies. These are not slow moving, formless or lengthy soundscapes... indeed, they are almost "songs". They have obvious melodies, created by guitar and shimmering synth. Sure, muffled, peaceful drones are a constant in the background, and everything's been given a thick coat of reverb, but really, nothing here feels alien, huge, deep or truly mysterious in that way only space ambient can. It's as `pop' as ambient gets. It's as if Jenssen simply wants to remind of us of a specific environment, rather than take us there and completely immerse us in it.

It's up to the listener whether or not that's a problem. Indeed, such an experience of immersion can be unpleasant or frightening, and yes, on "Substrata", the melodies and sounds themselves are gorgeous. For you, is ambient music about conventional elements, such as melody, used in an ambient context? Or will obvious melodic patterns just make the songs too easy to memorize and jar you out of whatever zen-like state you hope to achieve? Each listener will have different answers to these questions, but suffice to say, for me the latter is often true.

Biosphere's music seems incredibly calculated. The thematic consistency is sometimes forced rather than natural. It never allows itself to simply drift or hang in space, with the exception of some of the more adventurous final tracks, such as "Sphere of No-Form". It's here that the feel of the album is allowed to become a little more ambiguous, no longer so obviously comforting. A little darkness creeps in around the 8th track, "Antennaria" (it's actually a little jarring, but starts to make the sense with the following tracks), and lives there for the rest of the running time. Then, 40 minutes into the disk, Jenssen has nothing to prove. The loops are less catchy, the songs become worlds. We are immersed in "Substrata". Pity it took so long.

In conclusion, "Substrata" DOES relax me, and it's very pleasant to listen to. Does it take me somewhere? Sometimes. Does it take me to the arctic? Well, it certainly feels "cold". It's a great album, but I find myself wondering what about is supposed to blow me away. If you're new to ambient music, I recommend "Substrata" whole-heartedly. If you're already into some of the `deeper' stuff out there (Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Lustmord), "Substrata" may be a little bit of a letdown, what with all the hype. If you're already into Biosphere, you've probably heard it already. If you haven't, well, it's a solid release, but I'd pick "Dropsonde" over it any day. 4 stars.