[Reviewed by stark]
Although the name suggests that the music might be of a highly organic shade, on “Parallel Evolution” we get quite a synthetic thing, although far from glorifying technology, ultra-modern inventions or the nanotech arms race. I have a feeling that this album arose from a fascination with scientific processes in the atmosphere, both chemical and physical, as well as – at least partly – biological.
Shadow Biosphere has been born of the minds of two artists you’ve probably heard of before: Caroline Jago, responsible for the musical sphere, and Lesley Malone, who prepared the whole concept, created its visual aspect and also helps during live performances. Some of you surely associate these two ladies with their cooperation with Sol Invictus, but also from another joint project, Seventh Harmonic. And let’s not forget about the “No Red Seas” charity compilations, of which Lesley and Caroline are the curators.
In my second review in a row I am forced to refer to electronic soundtracks for great sci-fi movies from the seventies. “The Andromeda Strain” and “Phase IV” for example – there is a spiritual bridge between these productions and Shadow Biosphere’s proposal. In general, “Parallel Evolution” is a bit like a science fiction story, where the scientific factor is expanded so much that it even seems to dominate the “fiction”. Like Greg Egan novels.
The album is dominated by synths which create pleasant, melodic, sometimes quite dynamic soundscapes. More than once or twice one can notice echoes of passages created by Klaus Schulze a few decades ago. I think that the disc was made in a spirit of respect for the electronic tradition. There’s this feeling of nobility between the sounds, which in current musical trends is rather hard to come by.
“Interstellar Endoliths” is most likely my favorite composition, slightly dirty and irregular, as if reaching out from the other side of an aural false mirror, at the same emanating with a mystery lurking among the stars. The spatial “Magnetospheric” raises similar sentiments; I only wish that this composition wasn’t so short.
It’s nice that Caroline and Lesley don’t hide in neofolk (Sol Invictus) and neoclassical (Seventh Harmonic) ghettos, looking instead for other means of expression. It’s obvious that they live and breathe with music. “Parallel Evolution” is a good start for their new path, and I am very curious to see which galaxy they’ll take us to next time.