New album from highly-respected ambient electronic maestro Biosphere, his first in 5 years. Departed Glories has the gorgeously cloudy haze of Biosphere’s best work, but imbued with distant fragments of old Eastern European / Russian folk music recordings, inspired by the cover image. The effect is similar to some of The Caretaker’s work, but with more of a shimmer. On Smalltown Supersound.
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Just a warning, the office goons Phil and Ian are playing some soul thing in the main room, the wailing vocals of which are completely ruining any chance of me getting lost in this. Headphones are useless against the power of Motown. Or, at least, ambient music is. Unless you’re Tim Hecker.
Biosphere is not. He is but one quiet man, living out his romantic frosty daydreams in the form of sound that appears to have been frozen in an iceberg for a few centuries, only recently thawed for your listening pleasure. This is the bit where Ian would reel off the full history of the Biosphere sound from shaky beginnings to stadium tours, but he’s about to bugger off to the continent for a week so you’re stuck with me, someone who knows next to nothing about them.
Departed Glories is a mix of slight, haunting melodic pieces and even more slight dark tense slices. ‘Than Is the Mater’ is like the memory of a hymn being played to a dead world. ‘Down on Ropes’ rumbles ominously without a melody in sight; these are the better ones on here. There’s a strange voice trapped in the erroneously-titled ‘Free From the Bondage You Are In’ that never seems to escape. ‘Wyll and Purpose’ is boring, skip it. In fact, there are a few tracks on here that are a bit on the stale side, just drifting melodies like all those bloody Eno carbon copies.
I think the use of voices completely redeems this though; being totally bored by the 8-minute 2nd track doesn’t usually bode well for an album, but Departed Glories luckily drops in some interesting textures in most tracks. ‘Aura In the Kitchen With Candlesticks’ starts with yet another keyboard drone but is soon joined by some ghostly hovering vocal and steadily-plucked, sorrowful guitar. Fuck, this is sad. The chant-like feel to a lot of it, as well as the heavy use of processed vocal really reminds me of Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV’s incredible Sirens from last year, this being a lot more minimal. But why oh why didn’t you delete the useless bits like ‘Wyll and Purpose’, just look at that album length!
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- Departed Glories by Biosphere
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