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 Biosphere - Shenzhou   

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Release Date:12/15/2017;Notes:Triple LP version. Biophon present a reissue of Biosphere's Shenzhou, originally released by Touch in 2002. This expanded reissue includes a bonus album The Samphire Tower. Paul Cooper, of Pitchfork, on the album: "Shenzhou, aside from being the name of the Chinese manned-spaceflight vehicles, means 'magic vessel', and I can't imagine a more apt description for Geir Jenssen's latest excursion into ambient deep listening.... Jenssen again relies on found sound as source material for Shenzhou, but this time, the found sound is old vinyl recordings of the orchestral works of French Impressionist composer and ambient precursor, Claude Debussy. Jenssen lifts fragments of these scratched records in a similar manner as he did for Cirque's 'Black Lamb Grey Falcon' and 'Iberia Eterea'. The ten tracks (out of the dozen on the album) that follow this model all begin as a barely audible hum, like a small electrical transformer, out of which the dust-dappled loops of Debussy's woodwind, brass, and strings emerge, condense, and fade out into pink noise rustles. Unlike Steve Reich's phase pieces or Brian Eno's Discreet Music, though, Jenssen doesn't set his loops against each other to produce juxtapositions and piquant dissonance he uses them to describe imagined terrain, at first glance monotonously flat and barren, but on concentration, replete with minute detailing. The overall effect of these pieces is a sense of immensity. The orchestral loops sound distant, abandoned in a vast wilderness, and strenuously battling against Arctic winds. Jenssen sets the listener down in this wilderness as an aloof observer, a witness to the music's futile struggles against entropic forces. The two tracks not derived from Debussy share the same hypnotic aesthetic. The brief interlude 'Bose-Einstein Condension' is a loop of piano chords lolloping in search of coherence, while 'Gravity Assist' is a longer voyage into woofer-quaking low-frequency manipulation, bell-like drones, and contrails of subdued noise. I can't help but feel that these tracks fit awkwardly and break up the conceptual flow of the album. This, however, is a minor quibble given the power of this music. Shenzhou is unquestionably a magic vessel, but one that reveals it's enchantment only to those who pay close attention."


 
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