Four long-form mixes of timeless dimensionless atmospheres, traverse the abyss of space, seeking – and finding – glimpses of other, distant worlds. Through a powerful imaginary “telescope” comprised of delicate harmonics, sublime electronic tonalities, and deep space atmospherics, trance-electronic composer Between Interval searches the skies, discovering beauty and darkness throughout, and revealing with real purpose the co-existence of the past, present, and the future.
Secret ObservatoryBetween Interval
Amazon.com Editor's Top Ten Best of Year Pick
Secret Observatory is the second album to come from Stefan Jonsson, aka Between Interval. He invites us to places of mystery with a somewhat oppressive atmosphere to contemplate visions of another existence. The four long form tracks (only one of which clocks in under ten minutes long) are great examples of deep ambient that mostly eschews melody and rhythm in preference for structureless forays into unoriented sonic realms.
Up first is the longest track ‘Garden of the Divine’ coming in at over eighteen minutes. Growing dark brooding drones and echoing plonky taps on the soundscape along with occasional wraith like voices make a heavy intro to this piece. Slowly the piece evolves as layers of different texture move around, some as slow washes while others are whoosh by. Further in the mood becomes a little lighter as some luminous textures scan past like glowing comet tails. And it's only when the track finishes that you realise how resonant the backdrop was.
By now we know roughly what to expect. The second track ‘Surreptitious Ritual’ also starts off in a eerie vein, it's as though we're seeing something not meant for our eyes. For a short while blankets of ocean waves subtly shimmering are pushed over then sucked back into the void. Later in and tubes of sound yaw past, drawing us into an inexorable journey punctuated by stretched out airy vocalisations.
The miasmic venture of ‘Forested Veins’ provides the sole departure from purely formless ambience. Billowing cosmic winds held in check by humming dark matter lead towards an industrio-organic heartbeat. Chaperoning this pulsating sign of life are a variety of astral refrains.
Play Secret Observatory in a darkened room and it's easy to swap quotidian concerns for nearly an hour of escape to who knows where. There's quite a lot of low frequencies which are noticed most when the music finishes, such is their surreptitiously visceral impact. A must have ambient recording in my opinion.- Dene Bebbington, Melliflua
This masterpiece of a spacemusic ‘soundtrack’ is a truly wonderful experience, not to be missed by any space music fan. It is a highly addictive CD full of mystery & passageways leading into many diffrent aspects of space.
All four songs on this disc floats into eatch other like the whole disc was made as a one-piece composition. And it is very rewarding what you will hear. The 4 compositions on this disc ranges with everything from deep, eerie & dark space music to the more brighter side of space. The journey starts very dark and slow, but things get brighter and eventually everything expands, and space will open up for you & your ears. And before you know it you are trapped far away out there into a world unknown, somewhere in cosmos. The best composition on this incredible release is ‘Forested Veins’ as it has all the elements that a really good space tune should have, and it expands in such a way that makes me wonder if I really am in space or if I’m still aware of the real world around me.
I would recommed this album by all means to all fellow space travellers who enjoy the works of Michael Stearns. It is definetely a must-have CD if you are serious about taking a trip to the outer limits of life!- Kristian Persson, Tangram's Music Blog
The Spotted Peccary label already proved to have a good nose for fine ambient music. But this time they really have done a great job by releasing an album by Between Interval, aka the Swedish musician Stefan Jönsson.
‘Secret Observatory’ is Jönsson’s second album, who also handles two other music projects in the techno/trance genre. This album features four extended tracks of abstract, pure ambient bliss, a real treat of beautiful deep space music.
All are freeform & non-rhythmic and spiced with space effects. His approach and style remind a bit of Michael Stearns, especially the applied drone textures.
So it won’t be a surprise when say this perfectly produced release gets my 100 % recommendation. This perfect blend of adventurous cosmic music makes me eagerly waiting for more.- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion
Between Interval is Stefan Jönsson and this is the first album of his music I've heard (he has one other out, Radio Silence). One need only look at the cover image and read the title to get a solid indication of what to expect: deep mysterious spacemusic. Jönsson does not disappoint in that regard. Comprised of four lengthy tracks (only the last one is under fourteen minutes, and it's still eight minutes long), Secret Observatory takes the listener on a voyage to the outer edges of our galaxy and beyond. This is as close to ideal cosmic music as you're gonna get. No rhythms occur until part way through the third track (’Forested Veins’) and then the beat comes from pulsing electronic tones, not percussion per se. Before that, ‘Garden of the Divine’ is a patient exploration of spacy electronic tonalities, choral washes and rumbling, yet captivating, drones that mingle and break apart over the eighteen-minutes of the track. It's not an overtly dark or scary piece of music, but it's decidedly not Jonn Serrie, either. While it's been a long time since I listened to Lightwave's Tycho Brahe, I think Jönsson's music both on this cut and others on the album compares favorably to that recording. ‘Garden of the Divine’ also contains some cool sounds which resemble reverberating water droplets. The juxtaposition between warm moments in the track and darker more mysterious passages is handled superbly by Jönsson. He completely held my attention which is quite a feat for music this minimal and drone-centered at times. The drones and flowing washes of synthesizers slowly changes nature and character over time, although it's all handled subtly with no dramatic shifts to disrupt the drifting pace of the album.
‘Surreptitious Ritual’ offers more of the same but more subdued and spacier than the first track. Here the drones have a ‘vaster’ dimension to them and the music itself feels like you've crossed a barrier of sorts and have entered a different realm of space altogether. The moodiness of the song is palpable as it progresses through its fourteen-plus minutes, featuring tones that have a certain shimmering quality to them, although in a darker aspect than that term usually conveys. The synth chorales are well-employed in adding a reverential element to the music. ‘Forested Veins’ is more of a departure, as the track is awash with flowing drones and synths as well as peppered here and there with buzzing cybernetic textures and effects, very spacy in nature and more than a little bit retro too. The music seems to come in slowly undulating waves - nicely done, that! ‘Entropy’ opens with a gentle drone that subtly ebbs and flows, as well as hushed chorales that paint the music with a sense of subdued grandeur. As the cut progresses, the title is evoked/suggested by skittering noises and distorted vocals that come and go in the background (they're not too pronounced, though). Towards the end, the drones/textures become quieter as if they're objects receding from your view, eventually fading away completely.
Secret Observatory is a superb spacemusic album, evocative of the farthest reaches of what we can see through telescopes. The CD should also appeal to fans of drone-style ambient music as well. The mixture of darker shadings with friendlier elements is among the best combinations of the two I've heard since Astoria (from the enigmatically-named pseudonym artist ‘when I know you will too’). While Secret Observatory is literally unlike Astoria, from a musical standpoint, both of the albums excel at introducing beauty and warmth into the traditionally cold and sterile atmosphere of shadowy dark ambient. I highly recommend the album. And, on a final note, it's worthy of mention that Stefan Jönsson is only 23 years old! Remarkable that such an assured and accomplished piece of music would come from someone so young.- Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire
I find it amazing that this young guy, Stephan Jönsson from Sweden has a track record of house and techno music. You don't expect him to give birth to not only a full blown ambient excursion, but a deep one as well. There are four pieces on it, the longest being over 18 minutes. Right from the start Jönsson takes the listener on a journey into deep space. When you close your eyes you get visions of an immense space space awe surrounding you. The music breathes an enormous intensity, it crawls into your deepest veins. The deep atmosphere he creates reminds of the awesome darkness of Roach's Stratus. Most important however, is that he knows exactly how to keep it fresh during the whole long way by using clever coloring and repeating of evoked themes. This album hits it right on the nail and holds a great promise for the near future.- Roel Steverink, Exposé Magazine
In the most perfect cosmic vein, this work will delight the lovers of this kind of music. The four long electronic pieces that integrate this CD are each one a journey towards the unknown. All of them possess a decidedly mysterious, enigmatic character, like soundtracks for interstellar voyages. If you pays an adequate attention, don't wonder if you feel the entire starry universe open up before your eyes.- Edgar Kolger, Amazing Sounds
Deep percussionless isolationist ambience. Secret Observatory features long drones; rumbling sub-sonic at the low end with cosmic winds and velvet synths at the top. Drifting, amorphous - dense in places thinning periodically or dropping to an abyssal thrum then swelling again into clearly perceptible chord patterns. At times the treble sounds come in waves like a distant sea with listing tones superimposed, other passages are smooth, panoramic, open. For much of the time there is a constant welling up and subsiding of drones - the overall texture shifting, thickening, dissipating. Tracks all run one into another in a continuous suite and not until part way through track three (Forested Veins) is there any rhythmic content at all - here a mechanical pulsing ushers in a repeating chordal motif, but still nothing percussive. Tracks progress in the manner of a journey, altering gradually along the way, digressing from their point of origin - meandering through the dimly lit expanses of the infinite.
Ponderous undulating beds of intense aural solitude. Dark and spacious, minimal, suggestive of universal vastness. Heavenly choral synth work lifts the sound into light in places, electronic swishes and sonic air currents provide occasional surface motion, slowly cycling structures suggest swirling currents and then like a stream entering a lake stillness pervades.
Setting the tone clearly an observatory bathed in light looks up at a purple-black night sky. As the eye follows the inevitable path of vision stars can be seen peppering the expanse. Another astronomical viewing station fills the rear jewel case image - again mauve hues and plenty of black. The two page booklet maintains this colour scheme with minimal text - simple credits, thanks and website details.
Between Interval is young musician Stefan Jönsson from Sweden. Released on the US Spotted Peccary label, Secret Observatory is Stefan's second ambient release containing as the artist says ‘the most deep and atmospheric space music I have ever composed.’ The four tracks here are long-form pieces, each between eighteen minutes fifteen seconds and eight minutes forty-one.
Atmospheric’ hardly seems adequate to describe the fascinating aural architecture revealed on Secret Observatory, the first recording on a U.S. label from Stefan Jönsson, the Swedish producer whose cryptic public ID is Between Interval. It's an unhurried, deeply reverberating, edge-of-the-universe opus that resides well beyond the gravitational pull of what we know as music or traditional composition. An absorbing work of slowly evolving sound design, it resembles what Tangerine Dream might have given us in their Phaedra era had 21st-century studio technology been within their reach. Jönsson's palette is wholly, splendidly electronic (not a note of percussion to be heard), and he sustains a nonjarring, deep-megahertz ambiance throughout the disc's 56 minutes as he transports listeners to the far fringes of deepest space. The result is an audio sojourn that is mysterious and wondrous, with a faint hint of tension that gradually translates into a state of cautious awe. Space winds, subsonic rumblings, distant pulsars, brief celestial voicings, eternal darkness pierced by gleaming shards of illumination--Jönsson treats all of these familiar space-music cues to sophisticated interpretations and judiciously weaves them into a floating, Voyager-like audio excursion for the mind. Not as caressing as most Jonn Serrie recordings; not as foreboding as some works by Steve Roach or Michael Stearns. Think of it as an audio documentary of how humans imagine deep space might actually sound. Worth a listen if you're a serious space-music fan.- Terry Wood, Amazon.com Editorial
I always wanted to put down few lines on this breathtaking beauty by Swedish Between Interval project of the sole creator, Stefan Strand. Recorded and released in 2005 on Spotted Peccary label, under his previous family name of Stefan Jönsson and at the age of 23 only!!! The flow of this enormously absorbing odyssey begins with "Garden Of The Divine", longer composition clocking over 18-minute mark. The listener is immediately transported into unexplored and infinite realms filled with drama and depth, where Stefan paints magnificently immersing textures with gradually rising, cascading or ever-changing intensity. The richness and power of these aural atmospheres is absolutely thrilling and immense. Outer space explorations have never sounded better!!! For me, "Garden Of The Divine" can be easily considered a milestone in the genre of deep space ambient. Ultra deep, monstrous drones invade "Surreptitious Ritual", a 15-minute piece, and graciously soar through many, carefully sculpted movements and levels to discover secrets of mysterious planets. This genius performance continues also on the next, again longer composition, "Forested Veins", dominated by unfathomable drones and circling humming sound, with additional sharp sonic eruptions and high-tech pulses precisely integrated into this highly spectacular cybernetic escapade. Stefan again masterfully succeeds in reaching harmony between dark and light images. Abyssal, slow-motion drones invade "Entropy", the shortest piece reaching nearly 9 minutes, and are gently enriched by distant alien breathings and mysterious voices. The closing 3 minutes slip into more peaceful, celestial mood, yet still gradually progressing and holding the attention to the very end. A truly grandiose finale!!! "Secret Observatory" is crafted with refined artistry, richly packed with both, darker and brighter sonic visions, which gracefully swirl around your ears and will surely mesmerize your imagination. For me, one of the most sophisticated masterworks in deep space journeying!!! Could be described as a magnum opus for Between Interval, but "Secret Observatory" was followed by another two phenomenal albums in 2006 and 2009. But that's a different story...- Richard Guertler, Relaxed Machinery
Stefan Jonsson’s Between Interval project releases its sophomore effort here with ‘Secret Observatory.’ This album is definitely a longform piece, with only one track dipping below the fourteen minute mark. At first glance, many would compare this album to something from Ultimae’s catalog, perhaps something by Carbon Based Lifeforms or Solar Fields. And as we enter the first track, the lengthy ‘Garden of the Divine,’ I can see why it was given such praise. The music is deep, dense and somewhat hinting at drone ambient, without being too noisy.
At times, the track branches out into a sort of space ambient feel, reminding me of Sharp / Laswell’s ‘Visitation’ album or even ‘Drift’ by Arthur Dent / Deeper Than Space. Before long, however, it drifts back into the hazy and lush atmosphere, picking up elements of Namlook and Carbon Based Lifeforms. Without a doubt, this sounds like it belongs on Hearts of Space.
Without a pause, we enter track two, ‘Surreptitious Ritual.’ It swooshes and roars loudly, with hushed background synth and I could go on another tangent of the comparisons as I did earlier but I think you get the picture. Of course, I’m not suggesting that this sounds exactly like that, but the similarities are there to give you a better idea of what this is like. Again, this is definitely a space ambient track and I’m loving every minute of it. The depth that synth gives this track is superb and endless; it could easily fit onto a sci-fi film’s score.
A very light choral effect gives this a beautiful, yet haunting edge to it. It’s a wonder why astrophysics or astronomy documentaries haven’t barrowed this track for their show yet. As we drift like stardust, we wind up in ‘Forested Veins.’ Either we’ve landed or we’re orbiting some new lively planet. Either way, the music takes a while to fade out from the previous track and morph into a newer path. I’m glad the mixing is seamless but it takes too long to make that transition, and when it comes, this piece still sounds a bit like the last track. After some time, the synth affects change and some newer and livelier pulses and sounds come into view. It’s more mechanical than organic, though I’m liking this stuff. It’s edgy, a little darker and quite captivating.
As we progress along, the track forms layers. Some acid gurgles form and other sonic effects ride like seagulls on waves, up and down, in and out of view. Some strings come and go and this track begins to sound like a more drone version of ‘Lifeforms.’ At this point, it definitely relates to its title and stops resembling a space ambient track. Still, it’s awesome; no criticisms here.
‘Entropy’ is our final track. It fades in gently, closing out the previous piece effortlessly. Right away, it becomes its own entity, not taking any time to ease into darker drones and synth groans. There are some odd noises that suggest we’re hearing voices, though none of them are clear (lovely effects and distortions, dude!), giving a very haunting, almost frightening vibe. The track then fades in from more quiet bits to louder bits, as if we’re catching and then losing sight of light waves from passing starts on our long interstellar voyage.
All in all, this is a fairly solid ambient album. It’s really thick and hazy, sliding back and forth between space ambient and something resembling a more organic / newly discovered world themed record. This flip flopping is not bad, I’d like to point out. It gives this album more depth than others of its kind tend to have. Some space albums struggle to make a single journey while this one seems to soar through space, find a planet, land on it, look around, then blast back off into the cosmos. Not often you get that feeling in a single disc.
Should you buy this? Some might find this album to be slow, unimpressive or redundant. Others may find this to be lush, diverse (for its kind), and oddly captivating for a drone-ish album. I like it, honestly. As I said before, it has depth and the journey actually takes us places. Fans of Namlook, most of Ultimae’s catalog, Arthur Dent/Deeper Than Space or Mystified might enjoy this. This album kind of mixes elements that these artists share, so it’s not a far-fetched juxtaposition.
4.6 out of 5.- The Music Hound, TuningIntoObscure.com
Between Internal is the pseudonym of Stefan Strand (formerly Stefan Jönsson), a Swedish musician and electronic music composer who made the leap from early efforts in club, house, and trance music to pure ambient soundscapes. Secret Observatory may be framed as a vantage point for the celestial, a sound engineer’s attempt to render something like ‘the music of the spheres,’ but it’s equally suited to more microcosmic explorations. A slowly ebbing and flowing collage of synthesized chimes, satellite feedback, heavenly choirs, and disembodied murmurings over a washed-out, wind-rushed background—it’s an ideal companion for many types of meditation.
The album’s subtly dynamic compositions variously inspire tranquility, menace, and awe. ‘Garden of the Divine’ begins by evoking an ancient cave with reverberate walls. Water drips from stalactites into a gently rippling pool. Visions are revealed, some beautiful and some frightening. By the end a lesson has been learned. ‘Surreptitious Ritual’ opens with rushing winds and progresses through a series of sustained chimes, varied in intensity, against a background of rising and falling rumbles, offering a long emotional arc.
‘Forested Veins’ is the most mercurial of the compositions on Secret Observatory. It starts with a sound that could be surf or an underwater hum. Long echoes slowly give way to chimes played over the electronic throb of a wavelength, reminiscent of a heartbeat. Lulls of calm give way to intense electric storms and rippling aftershocks that slowly fade into the distance or into memory. Secret Observatory ends with an understated and mysterious piece entitled ‘Entropy.’ The faintest of chimes builds in intensity with textures appearing and fading across their background, including the indistinct sounds of human voices, perhaps fragments of charged memories or dreams, or else stunted attempts to communicate from across some ethereal divide.- Daily Om