In 1998, Biosphere and Deathprod – Geir Jenssen and Helge Sten, respectively – released Nordheim Transformed: a split album where both artists transformed the original experimental music of (fellow Norwegian) Anne Nordheim’s Electric (1974) almost beyond recognition. It’s not completely clear whether Geir and Helge actually worked together on this album – it’s a split, where different tracks are each credited to one of the two artists – but from its coherence it’s clear that they at least influenced each other greatly in producing this album. Nordheim Transformed is a landmark album in both artists’ catalogue – as well as for the ambient music genre in general.
Seventeen years – and quite a lot of releases – later, Geir and Helge return to this split-album formula to release Stator, built on the same principles: each delivering individual tracks (three tracks contributed by Biosphere, and four tracks by Deathprod). A project that was commissioned by Tape to Zero for their 2014 festival, “presenting both familiar and unfamiliar faces on the same stage, with fresh projects and a unique musical expression.”
Nordheim Transformed was based on another artist’s work, but Stator presents original compositions, sonic images that partly get meaning from the album title:
1. (Electrical Engineering) The stationary part of a rotary machine or device, esp. of a motor or generator.
2. (Aeronautics) A system of non-rotating radially arranged parts with within a rotating assembly: the fixed blades of an axial flow compressor in a gas turbine.
[C20: from Latin: one who stands (by), from stare, to stand].
It’s important to know the meaning of this title, because it is also the description of the music presented: there are stationary as well as rotating parts. It’s up to your fantasy to decide if you move along – or stand and stare..
For Geir Jenssen and Helge Sten, it’s a return to classic electronic ambient form: no acoustic instruments are in sight. Both artist have a somewhat different musical approach so it’s quite easy to hear who contributed what track: Biosphere delivering the industrial rhythmic sounds while Deathprod performs more abstract deep dronescapes.
Though the difference between the tracks are obvious to hear, the album is still very well balanced: the tracks are complementary in such a way that is feels like a collaboration more than a split album. The excellent mastering job (done by Helge Sten) adds a dimension of seemingly infinite depth to the sound.
In the history of ambient electronic music both Biosphere and Deathprod have gained legendary status. Stator shows why.
Peter van Cooten | ambientblog