In 1998, Biosphere and Deathprod, Geir Jenssen and Helge Sten respectively, Nordheim Transformed, a split album where both artists transformed the original experimental music of (fellow Norwegian) Anne Nordheim’s “Electric” (1974) almost beyond recognition. It’s not completely clear whether Jenssen and Sten actually worked together on this album – it’s a split, where different tracks are each credited to one of the two artists – but from its coherence it’s clear that they at least influenced each other greatly in producing this album. Nordheim Transformed is a landmark album in both artists’ catalogs, as well as for the ambient music genre in general.
Seventeen years later (and quite a lot of releases), Jenssen and Sten return to this split-album formula to release Stator, built on the same principles: each delivering individual tracks (three tracks contributed by Biosphere, and four tracks by Deathprod). This project that was commissioned by Tape to Zero for their 2014 festival, “presenting both familiar and unfamiliar faces on the same stage, with fresh projects and a unique musical expression.”
stator (´stertɘ) n
1. (Electrical Engineering) The stationery part of a rotary machine or device, esp. of a motor or generator
2. (Aeronautics) A system of non-rotating radially arranged parts with within a rotating assembly: the fixed blades of an axial flow compressor in a gas turbine.
[C20: from Latin: one who stands (by), from stare, to stand].
It’s important to know the meaning of this title, because it is also the description of the music presented: there are stationary as well as rotating parts. It’s up to your fantasy to decide if you move along, or stand and stare… For Geir Jenssen and Helge Sten, it’s a return to classic electronic ambient form: no acoustic instruments are in sight. Both artists have a somewhat different musical approach so it’s quite easy to hear who contributed what track: Jenssen delivering the industrial rhythmic sounds (the kind of sound that brought him his immense popularity) of “Muses-C”, “Baud” and “Space is Fizzy”, while Sten, on the other hand, performs more abstract deep dronescapes in “Shimmer Flicker”, “Polychromatic”, “Disc” and “Optical”.
Though the difference between the tracks is obvious to hear, the album is still very well balanced: the tracks are complementary in such a way that is feels like a collaboration more than a split album. The excellent mastering job (done here by Helge Sten) adds a dimension of seemingly infinite depth to the sound. Released on the always reliable Touch. In the history of ambient electronic music both Biosphere and Deathprod have gained legendary status. Stator shows why.
Words by Peter van Cooten of Ambient Blog.
Additional editorial by HC