Secret Thirteen Mix 054 - Biosphere

Biosphere - Secret Thirteen Mix

Photo by Trine Falch

“Secret Thirteen Mix 054” is a conceptually selected, sentimental music compilation that gradually connects 16 original vinyl records by such influential musicians as Throbbing Gristle, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Bill Nelson, The Human League, Pyrolator and other unforgettable talents. In 1992 the author of this mix listened to the works of Pete Namlook (1960-2012) for the first time and it reminded him of some of the electronic music from around 1979-1981. This music was an inspiration for the author, so this is an attempt to create a similar atmosphere to the one in Namlook’s album.

The author of the mix - Biosphere - is Geir Jenssen (b. 1962), a Norwegian musician, sound recordist and active mountaineer who lives and works in Tromsø, 350 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. In over two decades Jenssen has released a veritable catalogue of ambient electronic music on such labels as Touch, Origo Sound, Apollo and his own imprint, Biophon Records. Jenssen doesn't need an extended introduction - everyone has already heard (of) his works (“Substrata” or “Patashnik”) and likely follows his musical path.

“Secret Thirteen Mix 054” is a coherently touching musical selection that shrouds the listener in a pleasant sense of nostalgia. An ably balanced mystery and emotional tension uncover high-quality, long-lasting oeuvres of exceptional inventiveness not only within the bounds of ambient, but also within industrial, and experimental music in general. The waving atmospheres, memorable resilient melodies and pronounced carefully created rhythms born from the mastery of hardware and composition, form the basis of the selection. Compelling, melancholic creations confirm that the fundamental concept in this recording is the sublimity of nature and its fight around harmony, death and paradoxes. The development of the selection is smooth and calm, selected works are played almost in full length. It becomes exposition-like, so there is enough time for absorption of every track and space for interpretation. Suddenly varying electric piano chords and occasionally emerging old synthesizer entries are woven together with professional, widely ranging melodies. These melodies are submerged in a sustained kaleidoscopic skillfully modulated sound space. All the elements bring about a cinematographic feeling and a strange vitality to this selection. Progressively sweeping pad layers and emphatic, sometimes meditative instrumentation arrangements evolve into a dramatic, penetrating three dimensional texture which is carefully balancing between light and heavy musical tones. The final richness is extracted from subtly artificial acoustics, repetitive variable musical fragments and diverse rustles that are drowned in a minimalistic sonic tension and lower, slightly distorted audio patterns. Light crackles from old priceless vinyls provide a subtle roomy effect, adding warmth to the experience.

“Secret Thirteen Mix 054” is like Robert Motherwell's modernist painting “Personage, with Yellow Ochre and White” where intuitively saturated and striking brushstrokes create a complex allusion to existentialism through the artist's deliberately constructive expression. This is a rare and exclusive mix, a masterpiece that fully demonstrates the author's philosophy on sensitivity, inner peace, his refined musical knowledge and ideology, as well as a complete feeling of music.

01. Pyrolator - Minimal Tape 1/8 [Ata Tak, 1979]
02. Dome - The Red Tent I [Dome Records, 1980]
03. Throbbing Gristle - Beachy Head [Industrial Records, 1979]
04. B.E.F. - The Old At Rest [Virgin, 1981]
05. Chris And Cosey - Moving Still [Rough Trade, 1981]
06. Colin Newman - Fish Four [4AD, 1981]
07. The Human League - Toyota City [Virgin, 1980]
08. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Progress/Once When I Was Six [Dindisc, 1980]
09. Throbbing Gristle - Distant Dreams (Part Two) [Industrial Records, 1980]
10. Thomas Leer & Robert Rental - Six A.M. [Industrial Records, 1979]
11. Throbbing Gristle - Walkabout [Industrial Records, 1979]
12. Thomas Leer & Robert Rental - The Hard Way In & The Easy Way Out [Industrial Records, 1979]
13. Yellow Magic Orchestra - Castalia [Alfa Records, 1979]
14. Thomas Leer & Robert Rental - Perpetual [Industrial Records, 1979]
15. Ryuichi Sakamoto - Thatness And Thereness [Alfa Records, Inc, 1980]
16. Bill Nelson - The Shadow Garden [Cocteau Records, 1981]

About Author

An interdisciplinary journal, offering eclectic mixes and smart interviews with original artists and label owners as well as contemporary art reviews.


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  10. An exceptional mix, for several reasons. About halfway through I realised the tracks were from a very narrow timeframe (80/81), and drawn from a similarly compressed selection of artists. I personally hold this era very dear – a cauldron of spikey, experimental and often serene electronica which spawned the genres the next generation came to know as techno, house and EDM. A revolution in music which passed largely unnoticed at the time, eclipsed by the energy of New Wave and Ska, or skewed by the 'New Romance' of synth pop, but this selection is 'the shiz', music made on analogue Wasp and Arp synths in basement studios of northern towns, looped on tape machines in music rooms at the Poly, or honed on a kitchen table using a Mk1 Tascam Portastudio. So thank you Secretthirteen, and many more thanks to Geir Jenssen for prompting some great memories. I'm gonna listen over again, right now... :)

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