Substrata (album)

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Biosphere substrata cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 1997
LabelAll Saints
ProducerGeir Jenssen
Biosphere chronology

Substrata is the third studio album by Norwegian electronic musician Geir Jenssen under the stage name Biosphere, released in 1997 by All Saints Records.

It is Biosphere's first truly ambient album, and has a theme of cold, of mountains and glaciers, and of running water. Sounds of howling wind and creaking wood, although infrequently employed, create a chilling soundscape interrupted by sonorous but quietly suspenseful music.

In 2001, the album was re-released in a digitally remastered format with a second disc featuring a soundtrack for Dziga Vertov's 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera, as Substrata 2.


Professional ratings
Review scores

Substrata is considered to be a classic ambient music album, consistently ranking in the top 5 in surveys on the Hyperreal ambient mailing list.[5][6][7]

In 2016, Pitchfork ranked it at number 38 on its list of the 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Geir Jenssen.

1."As the Sun Kissed the Horizon"1:47
2."Poa Alpina"4:10
4."The Things I Tell You"6:28
5."Times When I Know You'll Be Sad"3:44
10."Sphere of No-Form"5:47


Sorry to wake you. [...] I forgot to tell you something. [...] The things I tell you will not be wrong.

  • Track 5: "Times When I Know You'll Be Sad" - interpolates a line from the popular song We'll Be Together Again.
  • Track 6: "Hyperborea" – speech from Twin Peaks (same episode) from the scene where Major Briggs explains his vision to his son, Bobby:

This was a vision, fresh and clear as a mountain stream, the mind revealing itself to itself. In my vision, I was on the veranda of a vast estate, a palazzo of some fantastic proportion. There seemed to emanate from it a light from within, this gleaming, radiant marble. I'd known this place. I had in fact been born and raised there. This was my first return. A reunion with the deepest well-springs of my being. Wandering about, I noticed happily that the house had been immaculately maintained. There'd been added a number of additional rooms, but in a way that blended so seamlessly with the original construction, one would never detect any difference. Returning to the house's grand foyer, there came a knock at the door. My son was standing there. He was happy and carefree, clearly living a life of deep harmony and joy. We embraced, a warm and loving embrace, nothing withheld. We were, in this moment, one. My vision ended, and I awoke with a tremendous feeling of optimism and confidence in you and your future. That was my vision of you. I'm so glad to have had this opportunity to share it with you. I wish you nothing but the very best in all things.

  • Track 7: "Kobresia" – "Это либо металл, либо... Если металл, то крашенный... холодная поверхность..." Speech in Russian sampled from a documentary recording about Russian telepath Karl Nikolaev, who is sitting in a room trying to guess which item is lying on a table situated in a room two floors above him. This sample is taken from a Moscow radio broadcast translation. A near translation into English is:

This is either a metal or... If it is a metal, then it's painted... Cold surface... This is either a metal, painted, or could be a plastic... Colorful, there are... Bright... Seems like... Is this a toy? Probably. The surface is smooth, but... There are some bumps on it... Even the finger sticks in it... Probably it is... Some marks, or are these letters?... Or just bumps... Looks like a toy... Colorful metal, or a plastic... Painted metal... That's all... Stop.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

The track "Antennaria" was used in the 2009 video game Osmos.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cooper, Sean. "Substrata – Biosphere". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  2. ^ James, Martin (July 1997). "Biosphere: Substrata (All Saints Records)". Muzik (26): 122.
  3. ^ Schreiber, Ryan (October 1997). "Biosphere: Substrata". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 6 March 2006. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  4. ^ hyperion (27 February 2012). "Biosphere – Substrata". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  5. ^ zothboy. "Recommended Ambient List Fer May 1999". Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  6. ^ "CLASSIC AMBIENT RECORDINGS: The 2001 Survey". Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time". Pitchfork. 26 September 2016. p. 2. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Biosphere - Substrata". Discogs. Retrieved 4 December 2018.

External links[edit]