100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #35

Biosphere – Substrata
Originally published 2009:

The moody sci-fi atmospheres of ‘Microgravity’ were interesting enough, but the all-consuming ‘Substrata’ probes deep into the human psyche. It’s eerie, but oddly emotional ambient which stimulates and rivets your imagination. Each track is made up of simple synth melodies which rise and fall beneath a misty haze with the odd guitar pluck or speech sample. Sound effects become music in themselves; crackling radio signals, distant bird calls and recorded recollections of paranormal experience all chip in until melody often takes a back-seat to sheer atmosphere – though the melodies never truly leave. This is when its simplicity reveals to be its greatest strength; it provides fragments for you to piece together yourself. This is the sound of slowly orbiting an earth since abandoned by humans; the sound of stumbling from a plane crash trying to remember your name or being underground full of bleeping machinery: lonely, desolate, but somehow chillingly beautiful. Each track on ‘Substrata’ paints a definite picture which is subjective to each listener and it totally inhabits the room it’s played in like a thick mist. Plus I do(n’t) recommend it when reading any particularly eerie book (such as Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road) because you may have to sleep with the light on. It’s full of this sighing grief, but there’s a lingering scent of hope and about it. ‘Substrata’ is a hypnotic masterpiece which is as enveloping and haunting as it is subtle.
Listen to: Kobresia

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