A talk with Jane Penny, TOPS’s vocalist, at her home back in Montreal
photo by Felipe Pipi
Things get lost once in a while: bobby pins, sweaters, thoughts, a thing we once loved. There’s something about getting lost: it has the potential to be bad, yet it also enables the possibility of being found. In a world where we’re constantly overloaded with new music, it’s easy to forget the albums from the past that formed us the most. This month we’re asking Bert Cools one of the guys behind granvat (hoera, Book of Air vvolk & Fieldtone, AAN/EOP).
Which album do you want us to discover?
I had two names in mind, Robbie Basho and Biosphere. So I choose Shenzhou from Biosphere (released May 27th 2002). He’s an electronic producer from Norway mostly known as an ambient producer, but I’m not sure this describes him 100%. I thought I once read Biosphere makes most of his albums in nature far from human activity. I guess you can feel that.
When did you first listen to it?
My brother (and granvat mate) Stijn Cools gave it to me when I was 16. I was hooked immediately and used to listen to it on my Discman during long bike roads, late night in bed, while skateboarding.
Why did you want to recover this one?
My whole life I’ve been fascinated by loops, delays and samples. Loops have some kind of tribal feeling that reminds me of good African percussion ensembles; constant repeat but always something different to focus on.
This album is a work based on samples of Claude Debussy orchestral works. Amazing how he makes the album groove without any beat! It has a very particular sound and feeling. It’s something magical. It doesn’t have the best mix at all and still I love to listen to it over and over. That made me realize the mix is not the most important, kinda like old world music tapes. The mix is far from good, but the soul of the music always presents itself.
For fans of?
Oran Ambarchi, Debussy, Tim Hecker, Brain Eno and David Lynch.
What is your favorite song on the album?
It brings me into trance, sounds almost like an orchestra of Indian Shenai’s. Make sure to also check his album Autour de la Lune based on the book from Jules Vernes. This album is a deep bass/sub travel so you need a very good speaker system, otherwise you will miss half of it. Also his newest work Departed Glories where he samples old Russian folk tunes is very inspiring.