Biosphere
Angel's Flight


3.0
good

Review

by hel9000 CONTRIBUTOR (22 Reviews)
January 29th, 2021 | 45 replies


Release Date: 01/22/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dialogue with the dead

On 2016’s Departed Glories, Biosphere (Geir Jenssen) wrung hundreds of traditional Russian and Eastern European folk music recordings into haunting textures that coiled around dark synths and drones; with themes of mortality, tradition, and remembrance, it was a surprisingly emotional work from the usually stoic Norwegian ambient producer. Angel’s Flight continues this sample-heavy approach, using Ludwig Van Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 14, Opus 131—one of the final pieces composed in his lifetime—as its foundation, with Jenssen turning the frequently joyful and life-affirming piece and into a dark, solemn meditation. More than an album, Angel’s Flight feels like something of a musical séance.

The opening run of tracks are primarily made up of subtly shifting drones, frigid synth pads, and strings from Opus 131 that have been so washed out that they seamlessly fold into Jenssen’s atmospheres; they probably won’t even register as Beethoven samples to all but those very familiar with the piece. There are moments that stick out after repeated listens—particularly the woozy “In the Ballroom”, and the unsettling “As Weird as the Elfin Lights”—but the first run of tracks are all so similarly ethereal that they tend to blur together into a dreary and indistinct whole. With the flittering string sample of the title track comes along at the album’s halfway point, the spirit of Beethoven starts to speak more clearly, slightly distorted by centuries of dirt and decay. On “Unclouded Splendour” and the stunning “Remote & Distant”, Jenssen turns the strings into chilly, whirling gusts that conjure a bleak noir atmosphere, while “Faith & Reverence” and penultimate track “Scan of Waves” are the closest to the source material, featuring jaunty string loops that are grimly smothered under dust. After an almost aggressively minimal opening, the record is back-loaded with its most captivating and rewarding moments.

In its day, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14, Opus 131 was notable for having a finale that returned to musical themes from its beginning; Angel’s Flight follows suit and closes out with the unsettling drones of “The Clock and the Dial”, a track virtually identical to opener “The Sudden Rush”. Both works feel cyclical, returning to their original points at their ends—perhaps an affront to death, like sampling a long-deceased person's music. Indeed, Angel’s Flight is a highly compelling and emotional work of art on a conceptual level. It’s frustrating, then, that the music itself is often too restrained and distant to make too much of an impact—frequently pretty or moody, but rarely much more.



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user ratings (11)
2.8
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2021


1177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A shorty to get back into the swing of things. Album is pretty nice but many will be very bored I'm sure.

Digging: Joseph Shabason - The Fellowship

Gyromania
January 29th 2021


32396 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

disappointed to see that rating =[

Gyromania
January 29th 2021


32396 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

okay yeah the sudden rush was great but i'm starting to get bored now

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2021


1177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol yeah. it's definitely not a bad album but it's a little hard to get excited about.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 29th 2021


66861 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Would be hard to follow up that dropsonde reissue tbh

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2021


1177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I hadn’t gotten around to that until this past week, so so good.

Gyromania
January 30th 2021


32396 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah this is a nothing album compared to the dropsonde reissue. it's kind of nice and has some decent tracks, but overall pretty meh

Kompys2000
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2021


5853 Comments


Is this worth checking out if I don't really vibe with Substrata

Digging: Chad VanGaalen - World's Most Stressed Out Gardener

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2021


1177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Probably not tbh

ResidentNihilist
January 30th 2021


2114 Comments


What's the best place to start with this project as I didn't vibe with substrata?

Sharenge
January 30th 2021


1583 Comments


Microgravity and Patashnik have a way more accessible spacey electronica style... I don't know if you would call it ambient techno or some kind of house or what but check them, very different from Substrata

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 30th 2021


66861 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Dropsonde reissue or bust

Sharenge
January 30th 2021


1583 Comments


I feel like if he didn't like Substrata he's even less likely to like that

Gyromania
January 30th 2021


32396 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Idk how anyone could dislike dropsonde

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 30th 2021


66861 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Dropsonde is an outlier in that it is jazzy and he likes some jazz so id say its literally his best bet rather than just going for any of the other straight foreward ambient shit

Sharenge
January 30th 2021


1583 Comments


it sounds like you should check the ones I rec'd as well

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 30th 2021


66861 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Maybe but as someone who is extremely particular about ambient dropsonde is not run of the mill and not liking substrata 1000% does not indicate he won't like dropsonde

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 30th 2021


66861 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

and I don't see any house or techno in his 4 ratings on a cursory glance

Sharenge
January 30th 2021


1583 Comments


tempting as it is, I'm not going to argue further... we're just gonna have to do like they did at the end of Air Bud

Sharenge
January 30th 2021


1583 Comments


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roRq22vXi5s



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