Biosphere - Shenzhou
This excellent triple LP set features a reissue of Shenzhou (originally released on CD by Touch in 2002) plus a bonus album, The Samphire Tower (previously unreleased). Shenzhou, aside from being the name of the Chinese manned-spaceflight vehicles, means 'magic vessel', and it's hard to imagine a more apt description of this wonderful, immersive album. Biosphere is Norwegian ambient electronic musician Geir Jenssen, and he has been releasing quality material since 1991. Of all the works I've heard by Biosphere, Shenzhou is the jewel in the crown.
Jenssen usually relies on found sound as source material for his work, and as such, how one relates to any given album is somewhat governed by how much one identifies with the core material. For Shenzhou the found sound is old vinyl recordings of the orchestral works of French Impressionist composer and ambient precursor, Claude Debussy. Fragments of these scratched records form the basis for 10 of the 12 tracks here, and they all begin as a barely audible hum out of which the dust-dappled loops of Debussy's woodwind, brass, and strings emerge, condense, and fade out into pink noise rustles. A wholly wonderful excursion into ambient deep listening.
For The Samphire Tower the source material is location recordings from the building of the same name. This album, though different, shares the same hypnotic aesthetic, and very much feels like a companion piece, flowing nicely after the 2 non-Debussy tracks that close Shenzhou. Overall, a magnificent marvel of ambient mastery. (Lee)
Check out a track here.