Monday, July 25, 2011

Biosphere- N-Plants REVIEW

The concept behind Biosphere aka Geir Jennsen’s new album, N-Plants, quickly runs the gamut from preachy to tragically ironic before settling in somewhere between poignant and haunting. Flustered by Japan’s stance on nuclear reliance, Jennsen constructed a nine-track LP with each song named in accordance to one of the country’s multiple power plants. N-Plants is designed to be both in awe of these structures and their powerful architecture as well as frustrated by the careless lack of geographical foresight and wanton disregard for safety regulations. If this all seems a little exploitative, keep in mind that Jennsen released this album just weeks before tsunamis ravaged Japan causing widespread nuclear disaster. Fact and fiction rarely blur quite so seamlessly.

Of course Biosphere consists mainly of ambient minimalism- so any form of protest is far from direct. For example, opening track “Sendai-1” is more or less business as usual only with a distant siren droning repetitively in the background. Furthermore, it is difficult to separate the borderline clairvoyant inspiration behind N-Lands from the creepiness of the music itself. Tracks like “Joyo-1” and “Monju-1” recall a mixture of Mark Snow’s score from The X-Files with early Boards of Canada. A distinct feeling of dread permeates through Biosphere’s fluttery drum machines and audio samples. Arriving at N-Lands' midpoint is album highlight “Genkai”- a mesmerizing track with a washed out synth preceding a faster-paced beat. But even the uptempo creepiness of “Genkai-1” pulls the listener deeper into an almost somber level of dark paranoia. And if the album never quite moves us emotionally, it is only because we often feel frozen in place while listening. Evaluated aside from current events, N-Lands holds up as a remarkable collection of foreboding ambience. However, removing it from this context is almost impossible.

- Fr. Jones

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