Ash 7.1 - Geir Jenssen - Cho Oyu 8201m

Released: 2006

Special edition CD + full colour booklet in special wallet
12 Tracks - 47:23
Buy in the TouchShop

Track Listing:

1. Zhangmu: Crossing A Landslide Area
2. Tingri: The Last Truck
3. Jobo Rabzang
4. Chinese Basecamp: Near A Stone Shelter
5. Palung: A Yak Caravan Is Coming
6. Cho Oyu Basecamp: Morning
7. Nangpa La: Birds Feeding On Biscuits
8. Camp 1: Himalayan Nightflight
9. Camp 1.5: Mountain Upon Mountain
10. Camp 2: World Music On The Radio
11. Camp 3: Neighbours On Oxygen
12. Summit

These recordings were made by Geir Jenssen [aka 'Biosphere'] while climbing 'Cho Oyu' in Tibet in September and October 2001. Cho Oyu is the sixth highest mountain in the world at 8201m, situated in the Himalayas near Mount Everest, on the Tibetan/Nepalese border. This album may be regarded as the soundtrack to the film of this journey. This CD also contains some of the source material for his recent Biosphere album, Dropsonde [Touch 2006].

Geir Jenssen is better known as Biosphere, who has released five albums on Touch over the last ten years. His most recent, Dropsonde, has been called "mesmerizing" by Straight No Chaser [UK], "gorgeous" [Word, UK] and "sublime" [Urb, USA]. More information on Biosphere and Geir Jenssen's other work may be found on his website.

Ash International recently celebrated the label's 13th anniversary with a showcase in Stockholm featuring label stalwarts such as BJNilsen, CM von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren as the Kings of Elgaland-Vargaland, OCSID, with CMvH, Edvard Graham Lewis and Jean-Louis Huhta, and newcomers Alvars Orkester [Sweden] and Jana Winderen [Norway].


REVIEWS

dMute: (France):

Au moyen de fields recordings attrapés sur Minidisc, Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) nous transporte au sommet du Cho Oyu, mont himalayen situé à la frontière tibéto-népalaise, auquel il s'est attaqué à l’automne 2001.

Carnet de route sonore, Cho Oyo raconte 8201 m de transport. A terre (Zhangmu, Tingri), des bribes de conversations filtrant parmi clochettes et gongs, le bruit d’un moteur ou le chant d’un torrent. Et puis, après avoir mis en boucle un court passage de musique tibétaine retenue sur cassette (Jobo Rabzang), c’est l’ascension. A 5400 mètres de hauteur, Jenssen croise quelques bergers accompagnés de leurs troupeaux (Palung). Dernière présence animale, une nuée d’oiseaux (Cho Oyn Basecamp, Nangpa La).

Moins fréquentes, les rencontres se font aussi moins concrètes : voix d’un pilote d’avion survolant les parages (Camp 1) ou faible mélodie passant à la radio (Camp 15) captés par les appareils de Jenssen. Qui enfermeront aussi la rumeur d’une tempête de grêle (Camp 3) et celle de l’ambiance régnant au sommet (Summit).

Forcément insaisissable dans son intégralité, la portée de ces field recordings n’en est pas moins fascinante. Matériau ayant servi à la confection de Dropsonde – album de Biosphere sorti en 2005 -, Cho Oyo 8201 m expose concrètement la somme de souvenirs influents, et invente une cartographie d’enregistrements rares. [Grisli]

SWR2 NOWJazz (Germany):

Geir Jenssen ist ein norwegischer Name. Der Photograph lebt in Tromso, mehrere hundert Kilometer nördlich des Polarkreises. Motive findet er dort viele: Rentiere, Polarlicht und samische Kothen sind die klischeebeladensten, aber auch karge, felsige Berge und allerlei Pflanzen und Tiere, die der Kälte und der winterlichen Dunkelheit standhalten. Als Musiker ist Geir Jenssen eher bekannt unter seinem Pseudonym “Biosphere". Schon dieser Künstlername verrät, dass sich Jenssen nicht nur mit der Kamera, sondern auch mit dem Mikrophon in die Landschaft hinaus begibt. Feldaufnahmen fließen immer wieder in seine Musik ein. In dieser NOWJazz-Sendung werden musikalische Pfade des Musikers erwandert, damit die Hörerinnen und Hörer gedanklich dem Bergsteiger Jenssen und dessen Tonspuren auf einen der höchsten Berge des Himalaya folgen können. [Nina Polaschegg]

musiquemachine (UK):

Cho Oyu 8201m sees Geir Jenssen, of electronic ambient project Biosphere, collecting together, manipulation and editing sound recordings from his trip up Cho Oyu in Tibet- the sixth highest mountain in the world.

Each track follows a leg of the jouney with a few minutes of related sounds and music. Jenssen skilfully takes ethnic music, radio jingles and all manner of harmonic audio sounds as a back bone for most of the track, then adds on top all manner of environmental sound be it; wind,animals or people- in a effective and entertaining manner. Making each piece a musically sound work in it’s own right and not just purely unedited field records. So as a result this is replayable and enjoyable more than simple field recording cd. It all comes in a wonderful oversize cd wallet with a full colour 12 page booklet detailing his trip with both pictures & text . On the back of the wallet is a map of the area covered, giving the feeling that real thought has gone into the booklet and wallet, much like the sound and music.

A worthwhile mix of field recordings, ambience and interesting audio editing- that really acts as a audio dairy to Jenssen's trip and a enjoyble album to boot. Let’s hope he decides to present his future trips in a simlar manner. [Roger Batty]

Earlabs (The Netherlands):

Most people know Geir Jensen through his aka as Biosphere. Under this moniker he has released a range of cd’s in the ambient sector. In the 80’s he was part of a band called Bel Canto but he decided to work solo under the name Biosphere. The name being a reference to the Biosphere 2 Space Station Project.

Jensen lives in a secluded town called Tromsö in Norway, keeping a distance from the noisy and busy world. I think that is more and more becoming a very relative notion since the Internet pervades every part of the Earth and everyone is easily accessible. But, it’s true, physical contact with someone living there is a different matter. This does not lead to solo releases exclusively because in the past years he worked together with Higher Intelligence Agency, Deathprod. and Peter Namlook (of the famous Fax recordings).

Biosphere’s music varies but always circles around in the ambient area. Sometimes it’s more percussive than at other times when it features loops and droney harmonics. A few years ago he presented a new soundtrack to Dziga Vertov’s ’Man With A Movie Camera’ (1929) which I think was quite good. The atmosphere of the images is caught quite nicely.

Touch now releases a cd under his own name, Geir Jenssen. I guess this done in order not to confuse the audience with the Biosphere work and indeed because this work is much more personal than anything Jenssen has released so far. Cho Oyu 8201m contains, just like the subtitle says, field recordings from Tibet. The recordings have been made with a SonyMZ-R30 minidisc recorder and a Sony ECM-S959C microphone. It is quite different from the Biosphere stuff. Here, rhythm and melody are not the main characters but the recordings that are made while Jenssen climbed the Cho Oyu. Yes, we learn that Jenssen actually also is an experienced climber of high mountains.

The cd is an audiolog / narrative composition that follows the time line of his journey to the summit of the Cho Oyu. We start the audio near the Nepalese/Tibetan border and then go up with the composer in 12 audio works. The complete textual narration, which is also presented in the book that comes with the cd, can be read online (http://www.biosphere.no/cho_oyu). Actually the text greatly improves the experience of the audio. I had my first listening before reading the text and it is interesting to read the thoughts I jotted down while listening. I must say that before listening to this cd I heard BJ Nilsen/C.Watson's ‘Storm’. The latter, also is based on phonographic recordings. But whereas the Nilsen/Watson cd is more of a Turner-like depiction of a natural phenomenon, the Jenssen cd is much more narrative and almost cartoon-like. Jenssen’s compositions are layers and juxtapositions of recordings made during his trip at various stages. The scenery which he presents is like a Tin-Tin comic, with clear shapes and bright colors. In general there is little depth. The recordings are of good quality but the compositions are unable to take me along.

During my second listening session I also read the text. If you have read more climber’s stories like “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer then you know already a little about the climbing tourism. Krakauer wrote a wonderful book about this. Of course Jenssen’s report is much shorter, much more factual and closer to his own experiences. This, together with the audio on the cd, enhances the experience and actually while reading and listening I had a great time. As with all Touch releases this one is beautifully designed and carries a booklet with other climbing photographs that make the experience even better.

In conclusion I think that Jenssen experiments with phonography might lead to interesting results. In any case he can come up with recordings that are not made by many. It is the first time, as far as I know, that he lets go of the musical context (in the classical sense) which also opens up new possibilities. There are however two points for consideration: first is the concept of recording and second is the concept of the composition. There are excellent examples for inspiration inside the Touch catalogue. [Jos Smolders]

Nordische Musik (Germany):

Schon die Verpackung bricht mit Format und Aufmachung konventioneller CDs, und auch die Entstehungsgeschichte hört sich ungewöhnlich an. Doch was ist schon »normal« bei Geir Jenssen alias Biosphere? Die Aufnahmen entstanden bei Jenssens Besteigung des sechsthöchsten Berges Cho You an der tibetanischen/nepalesischen Grenze. Seine 45tägige Bergtour, die den Nordnorweger an den Rand seiner physischen Grenzen brachte, kann man im umfangreichen Booklet nachlesen und auf CD nachhören.

Er nahm vor allem Umgebungsgeräusche auf - Wind, die Glocken von Yaks, Tabla-Getrommel, feilschende Markthändler, Hagelstürme und den Kurzwellenfunk eines passierenden Flugzeugs oder der Titelmelodie von Radio Norway International. Als Instrumentarium fungierten demnetsprechend nur MiniDisc Recorder, Mikrofon und Weltempfänger, wobei er sich eine nachträgliche elektronische Ver- und Bearbeitung der Klänge nicht nehmen ließ. Packend! [PEB]

Ruis (Belgium):

Geir Jenssen, ofwel Biosphere, is bij ons bekend als de man die ons reeds meermaals de perfecte nachtelijke koptelefoonambient bezorgde uit het hoge noorden. Dat hoge noorden heeft hij voor deze opnames even ingeruild voor een zware klimtocht naar de Cho Oyu, de zesde grootste berg ter wereld die uitstrekt tot Nepal. Gewapend met een minidisk, een microfoon en een kortegolfradio-ontvanger vatte hij de dertig dagen grimmige klim aan. Het album is een vrij persoonlijk en poëtisch verslag geworden met zowel gevarieerde veldopnames als een mooi uitgegeven (dag)boekje. [DD]

Dusted (USA):

The ascent to the peak of a gigantic mountain is something that few humans are able to experience; even those who manage to make a serious attempt are often turned back by the mental and physical demands that such a task entails. And while it in no way substitutes for actually undertaking such a climb, Geir Jenssen’s Cho Oyu 8210m is, in a small way, a chance for the listener to make the trip, at least in their mind, and while it can’t compete with the bone-chilling visuals of a professionally shot documentary, there’s something quite affecting about Jenssen’s field recordings, and the accompanying short diary that details the notable events of his journey to the top of the world’s sixth-highest peak.

Jenssen, a Norwegian known to ambient techno fans as Biosphere, traveled to Kathmandu on the first leg of his expedition, and began a 45-day saga that led him to the top of Cho Oyu, part of the Himalayas, on the Tibetan/Nepalese border. Traveling with a minidisk recorder and a microphone, Jenssen recorded his aural environment throughout the trip, with the addition, at times, of the sounds pulled in via his transistor radio. Cho Oyu 8210m is a document of his trip, presented in stages, from the trip between the town of Zhagmu and the border, to the different basecamps along the trek, to the literal apex of Jenssen’s trip at the titular altitude of 8,201 meters. While much of the journey took place on the cold face of the mountain and in seemingly spartan camps along the way, Jenssen was able to collect a surprisingly diverse collection of sounds, from the bells, whistles, and grunts of herders directing a yak caravan at the Paling campsite, to passing airplanes, neighboring birds, and the rather ominous wheeze of some of his fellow (and less fortunate) climbers on oxygen. Jenssen’s recording of the summit, mainly the sound of wind on a microphone (before what seems like more transistor transmission makes an entrance) is what one might expect from the entire disc, but Jenssen’s ear is able to find subtle sounds worth hearing along the trip, like an airplane far overhead, and his use of the shortwave brings fittingly fragile bits of music into the mix, bringing the recording (and Jenssen) back to earth in a sense, as such reminders of humanity were likely comforting diversions in the cold of the camps, especially as Jenssen climbed higher and human companionship grew scarce.

The short diary entries that accompany the disc and summarize Jenssen’s journey are powerful bits of first-person narrative; we, with Jenssen, watch as previously confident climbers succumb to the grueling conditions, and even the author’s ascent is no given as the altitude climbs. Those looking for a wholly straightforward set of field recordings won’t find them; instead, Jenssen’s aural documents are fraught with his fingerprints, and one is able to hear not just the sounds of the climb up the world’s sixth-highest peak, but the more human side of things, those sounds by which one might retain their sanity amidst the whirling winds and bone-numbing cold. Jenssen seems intent on finding life at each step of his trip, even if such life comes in the form of static-ridden radio waves, or a plane passing far too high to register as anything more than a dark blip on a white plain. Were Jenssen to simply present the sounds of wind, ice, and snow, Cho Oyu 8210m would have been the story of a mountain, but, instead, it’s the story of a man. [Adam Strohm]

Touching Extremes (net):

In 2001, Geir Jenssen (aka Biosphere) travelled to Tibet with the aim of climbing the Cho Oyu mountain - sixth highest top of the world - armed with minidisc, microphone, shortwave radio and photographic equipment. Jenssen’s trip is now documented by the diary that he wrote during the climb - which is transcribed in the CD booklet and, with additional photos, in his website biosphere.no - and by the twelve tracks of this splendid CD, one of those items that, when received in a certain frame of mind, make me feel literally inadequate and - in this particular case - full with admiration for people like Jenssen, who endure huge efforts to fulfil their quest for something that no word can define correctly. The sounds of "Cho Oyu" are radiant in their simplicity, presenting us with lots of suggestive views of the Tibetan environment while working effectively as a spirit-heightening background. A herd of yaks is led by the shepherds with melodic whistling, eliciting a heartwarming sense of purity; shortwave interferences of an airplane's staff communicating with ground control, casually recorded at night by Jenssen while he was at 6400m, remind us how lonely we can be - wherever we are. The wind is omnipresent: one can feel the limbs freezing even while sitting on the couch. When the raw materials get treated, the magic springs out in large quantities, like in the fantastic loop of Tibetan music in "Jobo Rabzang", which is
as good as any Jon Hassell masterpiece. "Cho Oyu" is deeply significant in every aspect, uncovering our most hidden sense of non-belonging and subjecting it to the universal laws, to see if there is still a chance of avoiding everyday's useless gestures and comments. Jenssen's aural and written narrative are straight- forwardly efficient: I found myself reading the text, surrounded by these sounds and voices both at late night and very early morning, trying to adapt my imagination to a similar ordeal, something that I’m almost sure I won't be able to
experience in my life. Thanks to Geir Jenssen's profoundness, I can at least feel it a little nearer. It's not enough, though. [Massimo Ricci]

Wreck This Mess (France):

Voici peut-être l'ultime carnet de voyage… Avec des enregistrements à faire pâlir d'envie Chris Watson. On pense aussi à l'audiotourisme de Freeform au travers du Vietnam et de la Chine ou encore aux captations de Yannick Dauby dans les rues de Taipei… En effet, Geir Jenssen plus connu sous le nom de Biosphere nous donne à entendre l'environnement sonore dans lequel il s'est immergé pendant un mois et demi. Les échos d'un véritable périple puisqu'il s'agit d'une expédition au Tibet, en septembre 2001, avec ascension d'un sommet à 8201 mètres à la clef ! Avec les problèmes physiques et la logistique que cela suppose… Geir Jenssen raconte tout cela de manière concise dans le livret. On se retrouve donc en "prise direct" avec lui sur les routes du Népal, à la frontière de la Chine. On n'a même pas besoin de fermer les yeux pour imaginer le décor tant le son, les bruits sont "parlants" : les clochettes des chevaux tirant des carrioles, des éclats de voix et des bribes de conversations dans des langues qui nous sont inconnues, le mugissement des camions à la peine sur les routes escarpées, le hennissement des yacks et les sifflets des bergers, le grésillement de communications radios… Ensuite, une fois en haut, c'est le feulement du vent glacial et son souffle court, pour cause de manque d'oxygène, que Geir Jenssen a la force d'enregistrer pendant quelques minutes… [LD]

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