Monday, July 14, 2008


Artist: Biosphere
Album: Insomnia (soundtrack)
Released in: 1997
Seen the Film?: Yup

Even though Insomnia was released around the same time as Substrata, it's not as enjoyable. The sound palette is much the same, but there are a few reasons why it doesn't measure up.

  1. The songs are shorter. Almost all are less than five minutes long and many are less than two. This timing works for pop and rock, but is not enough space for the thoughtful, reflective, ambient themes that Biosphere explores. In Substrata, the songs are good and long and provide ample room for the establishment of a motif, repetition, deviation, return. The short songs on Insomnia are like one-off, throwaway ideas.
  2. It is creepy, and we all know how I feel about creepy ambient/idm. Granted, this music has a better motivation for creepiness than, say, Aphex Twin just being his creepy self. The movie Insomnia is meant to be deeply unsettling, and the music meets this challenge well. It's just not as nice to listen to on its own.
  3. It's a soundtrack. This is not the same as Reason #2. Some soundtracks sound half-finished without their movie accompaniments (yes, counterexamples abound, see one of the first posts on this blog). Insomnia is like this.
I don't mean to criticize Biosphere too harshly, though. He has many other excellent later albums (although I don't own any of them... if necessary, I mooch off the significant other). On to new pastures tomorrow!

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