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Substrata (Alternative Versions)
Biophon Records (Norway)
Catalogue Number
Release Date
October 14, 2022


The entrancing and radiant haze within the music of Norway’s Biosphere was a strong reflection of the project’s icily bright homebase. Ambient as a genre certainly skews elemental in approach, but Biosphere took that idea and ran wildly into the frozen tundra in search of the clearest viewpoint towards those Northern Lights. The Norwegian woods are both barren and beautiful in equal measure, a luminous blur cloaking a treacherous landscape beneath. His music played a similar game of light and shadow, breathtaking sections of modular synthesis made brittle and frantic by the suggestion of ice shelves cracking, radio signal misfires, and the panicked crunch of snow. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as cracks of light seemed to burst out of the ice at just the right moments to break up the mood.

Indeed it was Biosphere’s brief pop (or at least pop-adjacent) moments that set his work apart from the despondent scrawl of his contemporaries. This dichotomy was perhaps captured no better than on his 1997 “arctic ambient” masterpiece Substrata, a milestone for an artist who has continued to break ground through his career.

In celebration of Substrata’s 25th anniversary, Biophone Records has compiled previously unheard alternate versions of the album’s 10 tracks on vinyl for the very first time. These alt versions retain Biosphere’s signature solitude and desolation while adding a few new wrinkles in its suggestion of paths not taken. More of the landscape is fleshed out when these rarities are placed alongside their definitive versions, as if the lens is zoomed out further to reveal the full picture. It’s a welcomed perspective shift for an evocative and genre-defining collection that still sounds ahead of its time.

“Substrata is the best ambient album I've heard in an ice age, an album of terrifying, desolate and all-enveloping beauty” David Stubbs — Melody Maker

Written and produced by Geir Jenssen
Mastered by Stefan Betke
Artwork by Joanna John

Digital Tracklist

  1. 1 Poa Alpina (Allternative Version) 4:58 Buy

    Poa Alpina (Allternative Version)

  2. 2 Chukhung (Alternative Version) 8:38 Buy

    Chukhung (Alternative Version)

  3. 3 The Things I Tell You (Alternative Version) 11:45 Buy

    The Things I Tell You (Alternative Version)

  4. 4 Times When I know You´ll Be Sad (Alternative Version) 3:42 Buy

    Times When I know You´ll Be Sad (Alternative Version)

  5. 5 Hyperborea (Alternative Version) 3:43 Buy

    Hyperborea (Alternative Version)

  6. 6 Kobresia (Alternative Version) 3:45 Buy

    Kobresia (Alternative Version)

  7. 7 Antennaria (Alternative Version) 3:20 Buy

    Antennaria (Alternative Version)

  8. 8 Uva-Ursi (Alternative Version) 2:07 Buy

    Uva-Ursi (Alternative Version)

  9. 9 Sphere Of No-Form (Alternative Version) 8:23 Buy

    Sphere Of No-Form (Alternative Version)

  10. 10 Silene (Alternative Version) 5:19 Buy

    Silene (Alternative Version)


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Biophon Records (Norway)

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Ambient and Modern Classical

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