Uh-oh! Sci-fi cliches ahoy! Back in the late 60’s/early 70’s people could do nothing but talk about space travel and when the subject invaded records, TV and film the results were rarely something to be proud of (notable exceptions include David Bowie’s Space Oddity and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Oddessey, not to be confused with each other). In the 90’s, space travel was no longer as exciting as it used to be, but it had become more mysterious, fascinating, maybe even a little eerie; characteristics shared with Biosphere’s first album. ‘Microgravity’ is an absorbing spacey soundscape, meandering between serene and anxious, while always carrying a strange, uncertain edge which reminds you that there’s something not quite safe about it. Consisting solely of synth-lines, drum patterns, and the occasional speech sample or sound effect. Opening with the beatless zero-gravity drift of the title track, ‘Microgravity’ consumes you right from the start. Despite being relatively simple, the melodies themselves achieve a strange hypnotic quality, even when the beats are at their most noticeable and harsh. The album works best as a whole; it sounds like a complete suite rather than a collection of songs. It’s very much a journey. Eventually it all closes with its most eerie and haunting moment. The final track – strangely titled ‘Biosphere’ – sounds like being sucked into a black hole; the pulsating non-human heart throbs, blinking background signals and edgy whirrs all become extremely claustrophobic and nervous until finally it all gives way to a strange wind sound effect making the whole record seem like a dream.
Ground control lost Major Tom and drifting alone through space, Major Tom would have done well to have a record like ‘Microgravity’ to hand. Despite its sparse instrumentation, the result is greater than the sum of its parts and it’s one of the most fascinating and rewarding records ever to carry the sadly overdone theme of space-travel. Altogether: “Take your protein pills and put your helmet on…”
Listen to this: on your back staring at stars
Key Track: Tranquilizer