Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
on 23 June 2006
After four ambient albums that have become increasingly experimental, Geir Jenson has evidently decided to take a new direction with Dropsonde. The key difference with this album to previous ones the use of some dense percussion in certain tracks. It seems like a move away from ambient into a different sub-genre of electronica.
It is not a radical transition. There are a old-style ambient style tracks, minimal and without drums, such as 'Dissolving Clouds' and 'Warmed by the Drift' which conjure images of a cloudy or rainy day like the artwork on the cd (it is a shame the artwork tells us what to think). Many of these are as good as previous works, but despite the different theme, it is indeed time for a change because he has done much of this before.
The new-style tracks have varying degrees of success. Some of the tracks have jazzy drum loops. They work well on 'In Triple Time' because there is a strong melody played over the top, but not as well in 'Birds Fly...'; I feel the synths and effects here are more subtle and the drums distract your attention from them. In this track, as well as others, I think he is stuck between two styles. On the one hand, the subtle ambient sounds are undermimed by drums but on the other, the drums cry out for a stronger melody to be played over the top to stop it being boring. The elements do not quite work together. It would be interesting to see him make some stronger melodies in his music if he is to continue to focus more on percussion.
Among some of the average tracks are a couple of highlights. 'Daphnis 26' is a glowing experimental piece with a beat that becomes increasingly catchy; you are tapping your foot by the end of it. You can almost class this as dance, though it is still nothing like tracks like 'Novelty Waves' in the days before Substrata. This is an impressive effort. The final track 'People are Friends' is a break from his new styles of music and is an excellent piece of ambient that would not sound too out of place on Subtrata.
It is great to see Biosphere continually changing his music, and once again he has produced a pretty good album. With Dropsonde though, he is less successful at creating interesting atmospheres, and at times I think Geir needed to be more melodic in his new approach.