Best Albums of 2019: Biosphere ‘Hilvarenbeek Recordings’ & ‘Senja Recordings’

The Hilvarenbeek Recordings (Biophon Records)
The Senja Recordings (Biophon Records)

Like the sun and the moon, these two albums from Norway’s greatest gift to ambient are inseparably locked in orbit around one another, but each casts a different light. Following his welcome return to form with the atypical but evocative ghostly nostalgia of Departed Glories (2016), composer Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere has recently embraced deep environmental ambient again, the subgenre in which he’s created most of his greatest music.

The Hilvarenbeek Recordings (which is actually from last year) blends field recordings – collected while wandering around a Dutch farm – with warm beatless tone poems, including some odd choral samples which give it an uplifting churchy ambience. The Senja Recordings is darker and starker – at times extremely so – recorded and produced during his stay among the chilly landscapes of the Norwegian island of the same name. Now in his 28th year as Biosphere, Jenssen’s brilliance and boldness has always been his world building, the way his highly minimalist approach draws you into these worlds in a deep and contemplative way. His use of vivid field recordings on these two particular albums is also unusual in that sometimes the sound effects form the entire content of a track, usually alternating with tracks that contain drones, squiggles or bleeps more recognisable as music. You need to trust this music, surrender to it on its own terms. And like all of Biosphere’s best work, give it the quiet listening space it deserves: a closed room or isolating head/earphones. Rewards will follow.

Best Albums of 2019 Reviews Index

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