Norway’s Geir Jenssen is one of the great names in Ambient music. His album Substrata, released in ’97, is one of these motherfuckers on the top of every 100 best bla-dee-fucking-bla lists that riddle the internet like Hepatitis at a Baywatch reunion. Substrata is thematic. The theme? Cold as fuck. You’ll hear shit on it like glaciers, cold running water, snow, and wind. It’s transportive. Wanna feel like a penguin? Listen to Substrata. It also includes some samples from the series “Twin Peaks”. There’s a reason that this electronic album, released so long ago, still has top appeal now. It’s because it’s fucking good.
Fast forward 20 years, and an extra hop, Biosphere is still kicking it. Also? This motherfucker has kept the same format. Geir keeps digging into that transportative experience, discovering new themes and places. The theme? The exact same that’s on the fucking cover. See that field with that bright blue sky? That’s where this album wants to take you. That’s its goal.
This is Ambient music with elements of Field recording. Field recording is exactly what it sounds like. You record shit in the field, as in, outside the fucking studio. What Geir does, and has done, is take that concept to the extreme. The opening track here is 2 minutes of just sounds of the outdoors. You’ll hear a helicopter in the sky somewhere. Birds are chirping and singing their little fucking hearts out. Then, as some shepherd starts calling out to some sheep in Dutch, a synth gently rolls in on the scene. Well, guess where we fucking are? I’ll give you a hint: It rhymes with the Netherlands.
It’s the Netherlands.
Song 2, “Pipistrellus”, is a name of a fucking bat. As in that shit that makes Batman think of his dead parents (I can’t imagine what porn that guy must be into but I do know clowns are involved). On it you’ll hear clicks, like sonar clicks, as in the way bats navigate the world.
Song 4 is called “Strigiformes” otherwise known as Owls. On it, you’ll hear fucking owls. You starting to get it?
Song 5—Rovertse Heide = Nature Reserve in the Netherlands. On the track you hear sounds of the reserve.
Song 6— De Doornboom (The Thorn Tree) = The name of a windmill. On it? You hear a fucking windmill!
Not all the songs are that obvious. Some of the tracks are named after people, churches, and a bunch of other Netherlandic shit. The location where you’re supposed to be transported to is obvious. I didn’t think I’d be that into this album to be honest. The whole concept of it sounded fucking stupid. It’s only after I listened to it that I understood its value. It’s not the whole transport thing you’re supposed to focus on. It’s the headspace the album puts you in while, and after, you listen to it. It’s not about creating a facsimile of the Netherlands, it’s about creating a netherlandic space within your own mind. A place to escape. A place you go to access those other parts of yourself. Cause there are worlds and universes within everyone. It’s figuring out how to access that shit that’s a bitch. If you don’t have your own private Netherlands up in your dome, try this shit out. Fuck, by the end you might be tending sheep on some fucking farm saying, “Ik ben een gelukkige Nederlandse klootzak” (I’m a happy Dutch bastard).