Biosphere (musician)

Biosphere is the main recording name of Geir Jenssen (born 30 May 1962),[1] a Norwegian musician who has released a catalogue of ambient electronic music. He is well known for his works on ambient techno and arctic themed pieces, his use of music loops, and peculiar samples from sci-fi sources. His 1997 album Substrata was voted by the users of the Hyperreal website in 2001 as the best all-time classic ambient album.[2]

Geir Jenssen at Sajeta 2011
Geir Jenssen performing at Creative Camp Sajeta 2011, Tolmin, Slovenia.
Background information
Birth nameGeir Jenssen
Also known asBleep, Cosmic Explorer, E-Man
Born30 May 1962 (age 56)
OriginTromsø, Norway
GenresAmbient techno, drone, ambient house, ambient
InstrumentsElectronic keyboard, synthesizer
Years active1983–present
LabelsBeatservice Records, Touch, Biophon Records, Apollo, Origo Sound, SSR Records, Rune Grammofon, Smalltown Supersound
Associated actsHigher Intelligence Agency
Bel Canto


Prior to Biosphere (1962–1991)

Jenssen was born on 30 May 1962 in Tromsø, a city within the Arctic Circle in the northernmost portion of Norway. He was inspired by the music of artists such as New Order, Depeche Mode, Wire, and Brian Eno, which he described as "like discovering a new universe—a universe which I wanted to be a part of".[1] In 1983, he bought his first synthesizer and composed his first piece of music, taking influence from his archaeological studies, later stating "Studying the Ice Age and Stone Age has definitely influenced my music."[1] In 1984 Jenssen issued his first album, Likvider, released on cassette only and credited to E-man.[1]

In 1985, Jenssen was part of the newly created Norwegian moody synth trio Bel Canto with Nils Johansen and singer Anneli Drecker.[1] The band signed with Belgian label Crammed Discs and to Nettwerk in North America, and relocated to Brussels.[1] Jenssen, however, soon returned to Tromsø, collaborating with the other band members by post, and continuing with his solo work.[1] Bel Canto released two albums while Jenssen was a member, White-Out Conditions and Birds of Passage. In 1990, he left the band in order to pursue a different music style altogether, and began using a sampler.[1]

Throughout the late 1980s, Jenssen used the moniker Bleep, under which he produced various 12" records, now releasing records via the Crammed Discs subsidiary SSR. His early influences were from acid house and New Beat music. Released in 1990, The North Pole by Submarine was the only album recorded as Bleep. Further singles followed in 1990 and 1991 before Jenssen abandoned the Bleep moniker and again changed musical direction.

As Biosphere (1991–present)

Following the release of The North Pole by Submarine, Jenssen began releasing his music as Biosphere on obscure Norwegian compilation albums. His first Biosphere releases were the 12-inch single "The Fairy Tale" and the album Microgravity, both of which were rejected by SSR as unmarketable.[1] Microgravity was released in 1991 on the Norwegian label Origo Sound, and saw wider release via the R&S Records subsidiary Apollo in 1992, to much critical acclaim. In 1992, Jenssen contributed "I'll Strangle You" to Hector Zazou's Sahara Blue project.[1]

In 1994, the second Biosphere album, Patashnik was released, through which 'Jenssen continued to explore his ambient-house stylings to an even greater extent. Patashnik contained the first hints of the reduction in beat-driven song structure that would mark later Biosphere releases. Unlike the first album, Patashnik was quickly picked up by a comparatively large international audience, which brought Biosphere greater recognition. Jenssen also recorded as Cosmic Explorer, scoring a hit in Belgium with the EP The Hubble.[1]

In 1995, Levi Strauss & Co. was searching for a new angle to add to their television advertisement campaign (which up to that point had never featured electronic music), and they decided to use the uptempo track "Novelty Waves" from Patashnik. Shortly thereafter, "Novelty Waves" was released as a single (featuring remixes by various other artists), and managed to chart in several countries, reaching #51 in the United Kingdom.[1] Although Jenssen never regretted his approval for use of the track, he also never sought this kind of fame and subsequently turned down various requests by his record company and peers to collaborate with well-known techno and drum 'n bass artists or to create a follow-up album in the same style. During that same year, Biosphere contributed the song "The Seal and the Hydrophone" exclusively to Apollo 2 – The Divine Compilation released by Apollo Records.

‘’Substrata’’ (1997) is a purely atmospheric ambient Biosphere album, released on All Saints Records. Substrata, which marked Jenssen's embarkation towards an intensely minimal style, is not only often considered to be Jenssen's best work to date, but is also seen as one of the all-time classic ambient albums.[2] Substrata contains samples from the American TV show Twin Peaks.

In 2000, Jenssen released Cirque on his new home Touch, an ambient album driven by muffled beats, samples, and minimal atmospherics. Though Cirque briefly revisited territory covered by earlier Biosphere releases, the rhythm section throughout the album remains an element of the background, unlike Jenssen's first two Biosphere releases, wherein the drums occupied a dominating proportion of the foreground.

In 2002, he released Shenzhou, the fifth full-length album under the name Biosphere. This album was a more abstract work, comparable to Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. The material on the album draws from elongated, pitch-shifted loops taken from Debussy's La Mer (The Sea),[3] and Jeux.

Released in 2004, Autour de la Lune stands as the most minimal and austere Biosphere album to date. The drones employed on this album are comparable to Coil's 1998 album Time Machines in their timbre and slow rate of change. The bulk of this work was originally commissioned and broadcast in September 2003 by Radio France Culture for a musical evocation of Jules Verne.

In 2006, Jenssen released Dropsonde, a half beatless, half rhythmic album composed of jazz rhythms evocative of Miles Davis' 1970s jazz fusion works. A partial vinyl sampler was released a few months earlier in 2005.

In 2009, Biosphere issued Wireless: Live at the Arnolfini, Bristol, his first live album, containing new tracks such as "Pneuma" and "Pneuma II".

Jenssen has scored a number of films, including Eternal Stars (1993) and Insomnia (1997).[1] He collaborated with German ambient composer Pete Namlook on Fires of Ork, and has also worked with Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart and with Bobby Bird of Higher Intelligence Agency.[1] In 2010, two soundtracks were announced on Biosphere's website, for German film "Im Schatten" and Norwegian "NOKAS".

On 27 June 2011, Geir Jenssen released the album N-Plants, inspired by the Japanese post-war economic miracle. The album theme is related to nuclear plants in Japan.[4]

In 2016, Jenssen released Departed Glories as Biosphere. The thematic focus of the album draws inspiration from the defence of Krakow from Nazi invasion during the Second World War. Jenssen conceived of the album while living in the city. [5]


Biosphere regularly performs live during electronic music festivals and in clubs throughout Europe and various other locales around the world. Live performances usually consist of Jenssen performing improvisations or variations on newer tracks on a laptop while video art is projected behind him; for example, full-screen video art was projected in his Picturehouse cinema tour in April 2006. Although these performances are rarely tied specifically to a recent album release, the uptempo material from the Bleep and Microgravity/Patashnik era is occasionally featured in Biosphere performances.

In May 2004, Biosphere's first United States performance took place in Detroit.

In 2008 Jenssen announced a year-long break from touring due to his reported hatred of "airports, security checks, unhealthy food, air conditioning, hotels, etc.". However he resumed concert activity in 2009[6] and 2011.[7]

Other interests

Jenssen is also an active climber and mountaineer. This hobby is an inspiration on his work, as well as a source of natural sound samples.[1] His highest feat was in 2001, climbing the Cho Oyu (Himalaya, 8201 meters) without oxygen; in 2006, he thus released Cho Oyu 8201m – Field Recordings from Tibet (as Geir Jenssen).


Solo discography

Albums as E-Man

  • E-Man (1984)

Albums as Bleep

Albums as Biosphere

Soundtracks and sounds

Collaboration discography

Usually as "Geir Jenssen" instead of "Biosphere":

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Thompson, Dave (2000) Alternative Rock, Miller Freeman, ISBN 0-87930-607-6, p.197-198
  2. ^ a b See "Classic Ambient Recordings: The 2001 Survey" at
  3. ^ Biosphere : Shenzhou Archived February 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Junkmedia. Retrieved on 2013-02-18.
  4. ^ "TO:84 - Biosphere "N-Plants" |". Retrieved 2012-05-03.
  5. ^ "Biosphere comes in from the cold: The ambient iceman on his new album Departed Glories". 17 September 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  6. ^ Unsound Festival 2009 website: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-06-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "PRESENCES electronique 2011 - INA - GRM". Retrieved 19 September 2016.

External links

Lyrics, quotes, samples
Preceded by
Lindstrøm and Christabelle
Recipient of the Elektronika/Dance Spellemannprisen
Succeeded by
Autour de la Lune

Autour de la Lune is an album by ambient musician Biosphere which was released on 17 May 2004. The album presents a striking difference from others in the Biosphere catalog due to its percussionless, minimalistic soundscapes consisting mostly of white noise and the sounds of the Mir space station, related to drone music. It featured cover art by the Norwegian contemporary artist Tor-Magnus Lundeby.

Biosphere (disambiguation)

A biosphere is the part of a planet's shell where all life occurs; a self-regulating, closed ecological system.

Biosphere may also refer to:

Biosphere (musician) (born 1962), recording name of Geir Jenssen, a Norwegian musician

"Biosphere", a song by In Flames on their Subterranean EP

Biosphere (album), an album by Loudness

Biosphere 2, an artificial closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona

Biosphere reserve, initiated by UNESCO

Montreal Biosphère, a geodesic dome in Montreal, Canada

BIOS-3, the first man made biosphere for sustaining humans in a closed ecology

The Biosphere, a book by Russian and Soviet geologist Vladimir Vernadsky

Sector 1/Biosphere, an area explored in the video game Metroid: Other M

Cho Oyu 8201m – Field Recordings from Tibet

Cho Oyu 8201m – Field Recordings From Tibet is an ambient album released by artist Biosphere under his real name Geir Jenssen. Recorded in 2001, it was released in 2006.

Cirque (album)

Cirque is an album by ambient musician Biosphere, which was released in 2000.

Miss Kittin used "Le Grand Dôme" on her mix album A Bugged Out Mix.Cirque is dedicated to the memory of Christopher McCandless.

Dropsonde (album)

Dropsonde is an ambient album by musician Biosphere (alias Geir Jenssen). Unlike his previous output, there is a notable jazz influence present on this album.

Insomnia (soundtrack)

Insomnia is the soundtrack album for the 1997 Norwegian film Insomnia, which was composed by ambient artist Biosphere. The tone of the album is much darker in places than Geir Jenssen's earlier work, such as in the tracks "Field" and "Quay".


Lovebytes is a digital arts organisation based in Sheffield, UK, established in 1994 and best known for the Lovebytes International Festival of Digital Art.

Founded by Jon Harrison and Janet Jennings who are the directors of the organisation.

Lovebytes explores the cultural and creative potential of digital technology. The festival is a platform for innovative and experimental new work in the fields of digital art, music, film, interactive media and creative software. The programme includes specially commissioned multimedia performances and interactive installations in public spaces supported by film screenings, talks, workshops and educational projects.

Lovebytes is a not-for-profit limited company supported by the Arts Council England.

Man with a Movie Camera (Biosphere album)

Man with a Movie Camera is an ambient soundtrack by Biosphere for Dziga Vertov's 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera, commissioned by the Tromsø International Film Festival in 1996. This soundtrack was released later in 2001 as a bonus disc of Substrata 2 with two bonus tracks ("The Eye of the Cyclone" and "Endurium") from the Japanese version of Substrata.

Microgravity (album)

Microgravity is the debut studio album by Norwegian electronic musician Geir Jenssen under the stage name Biosphere, released in 1991.

The album was at first rejected by SSR, the subsidiary of Nettwerk with whom Jenssen had previously released his music, as "unmarketable". The small Norwegian label Origo Sound picked it up, and the record scored on the club circuit in 1991.At the end of 2014, Geir Jenssen launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to re-release the album on vinyl.


N-Plants is an ambient album of Biosphere. For this album, Jenssen found inspiration in the Japanese post-war economic miracle. Each track title is named after a Japanese nuclear plant.

Geir Jenssen about N-Plants:

Early February 2011: Decided to make an album inspired by the Japanese post-war economic miracle. While searching for more information I found an old photo of the Mihama nuclear plant. The fact that this futuristic-looking plant was situated in such a beautiful spot so close to the sea made me curious. Are they safe when it comes to earthquakes and tsunamis? Further reading revealed that many of these plants are situated in earthquake-prone areas, some of them are even located next to shores that had been hit in the past by tsunamis. [sic]

A photo of Mihama made me narrow down my focus only to Japanese nuclear plants. I wanted to make a soundtrack to some of them, concentrating on the architecture, design and localizations, but also questioning the potential radiation danger (a cooling system being destroyed by a landslide or earthquake, etc). As the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said: "the plants were so well designed that 'such a situation is practically impossible'.

The album was finished on February 13th. On March 17th I received the following message from a Facebook friend: 'Geir, some time ago you asked people for a photo of a Japanese nuclear powerplant. Is this going to be the sleeve of your new coming album? But more importantly: how did you actually predict the future? Kind regards, David.'"


Patashnik (1994) is an ambient house album, the second release by musician Biosphere. It was released by Origo Sound in Norway and by Apollo in the rest of the world. Its track "Novelty Waves" was used for a 1995 Levi's ad campaign.

Robert Solheim

Robert Solheim is an electronic music composer from Norway. His styles are techno and deep/tech-house, downtempo and electronica with a strong emphasis on Nordic sound. Influenced by all kinds of electronic music, he has developed his characteristic style from his first ambient and ambient-techno releases in the 1990s, through down tempo and deep/tech-house and techno for clubs and home entertainment.

Shenzhou (album)

Shenzhou is an album by ambient musician Biosphere released on 3 June 2002. The structure and sound of this album are drastically minimalistic in comparison with Geir Jenssen's previous work, a concept that would be further elaborated upon in the next album. Samples are taken from several of Claude Debussy's orchestral works, particularly La Mer and Rondes de printemps (from Images pour orchestre). The album's name, "Shenzhou", aside from being the name of the Chinese manned-spaceflight vehicles, means magic vessel.

Substrata (album)

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.

Substrata 2

Substrata 2, also written as Substrata², is a double album by ambient musician Biosphere which was released on 6 June 2001.The first disc is a remastered version of Substrata, and the second disc is a soundtrack for Dziga Vertov's 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera, commissioned by the Tromsø International Film Festival in 1996, plus two bonus tracks from the Japanese version of Substrata (the last two tracks).

The cover image is a photograph of Taormina railway station, Sicily.

The North Pole by Submarine

The North Pole by Submarine is the first and only album released by ambient techno artist Bleep. Bleep was the one-time moniker of Geir Jenssen, who is more widely known as Biosphere. Shortly after North Pole was released, Jenssen moved in a far more ambient direction with his music, and changed the name under which he released his new music to avoid any comparison with "bleep house".

The album was released on SSR Records (sub-label of Crammed Discs) and Tokuma Japan Communications music labels.

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