Boomkat Product Review:
First vinyl edition of Biosphere and Higher Intelligence Agency’s ‘Polar Sequences’ expedition - a dark ambient techno + electro-acoustic suite recorded in Tromsø, beyond the Arctic Circle in the northern extremes of Norway, during the depth of winter
Commissioned for the 1995 edition of the annual Polar Music Festival, Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) and Bobby Bird (HIA) made recordings of the local area’s industry and nature - cable lifts, ice and snow - and turned them into a towering black mass of an album that still holds its own more than 20 years later.
A perennial favourite of night owls and ‘90s ambient fiends since its initial release (on CD in 1996, 2003, 2018), ‘Polar Sequences’ marks an early high altitude pinnacle of the pair’s respective catalogues, with seven longer form works (each between 8 and 14 minutes long) that vividly evoke both their recording environment and the fertile period of electronica in which it was conceived.
The slow thrumming 13 minute expanse of ambient techno ‘Cimmerian Shaft’ is a perfect opener, widescreen, opiated and frighteningly eerie, while ‘White Lightning’ also impresses with prescient rhythm programming that could feasibly underline some Xanny rap joint nowadays, and Bobby Bird’s warm, Indian-derived drum trills still sound uncanny, replaced to the arctic circle in ‘Corona’. Suffice it to say that the ambient parts proper are everything you may hope for.
An overlooked gem, finally on the format it deserves, then!