"It was just a faintly glinting speck of orange light that crept
erratically along the margin of the stream. It was moving very
slowly, for the tide was nearly at slack water."
- John Metcalfe,
an end may be achieved here, it is perhaps the evocation of certain
images - evolving, in turn, at the speed by which steam becomes ice."
colin andrew sheffield, September
Colin Andrew Sheffield is mostly a
sound re-contextualizer & re-interpreter, and also a self-taught
musician... now Seattle based, after initial first exercises in Texas
with various combos, he quickly veered to electronic music...
Starting with the sole manipulation of digital fragments, he went over
to a rather unique use of recombined selected tiny excerpts of commercially
available recordings... the aim of this method is to reach the essence
of the source & retranslate it into new forms of finely-shaded soundscapes...
an art of supreme polished audio-collage & recycling...
Colin Andrew Sheffield is the curator of the always
excellent Elevator Bath label, through which he has besides released
some of his own solo works... he has also been published by Invisible
Birds, Bee Eater Recordings, and Compost And Height...
along a terraced progress...
seeking through elevation,
sensing a vibrant pulse,
the blazing light rays...
declining & reliving...
Reaching another improbable
place to float in,
where things are ever lingering,
never mute or lacklustre,
but always in motion,
swirling round & round...
is like a wish to vanish
in some fundamental precipitate,
the display of an infinity of figures,
and of so many ways to improve...
VITAL WEEKLY 755|Frans
--- NEW !
Best known as the owner of the excellent Elevator Bath label, Colin
Andrew Sheffield also produced a fair amount of releases, mainly
on his own label, exploring microtonal drone music. This is what he
does here too, via four lengthy excursions. Its hard to say what goes
into the machines (which machines? synthesizers? computers?), but no
doubt, seeing this released on Mystery Sea, there is some aquatic, nautical
origin to the material. But its not to be heard. The outcome is however
like slow, tidal waves banging on nocturnal shores. Highly atmospheric,
in various shades of grey and black, but mostly grey. In the first part
its all gentle, but it seems to me that towards the fourth piece, things
get a bit more louder and chillier. Maybe we hit upon an ice-berg or
we sunk down into the vast, depths of the Atlantic? Here a metallic
ringing appears in the sound, admits a deep wash of nautical drones.
Maybe I just hear things that are not there, really. Maybe I am just
interpreting the music towards the labels' aesthetic. I am not entirely
sure either. But these slow pieces are indeed great. Suitable relax
music for a grey winter's day.
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The oceans keep droning as a new batch of material cometh my way from
the unrelenting Mystery Sea label, whose late 2010 was marked by an
impressive output of releases (one per month from September through
to November if I'm not mistaken), including Banks Bailey's sub-bass
nether-world (review forthcoming) and Colin Andrew Sheffield's
poignant, yet effervescent minimalist excursions.
A couple of weeks ago I was stuck in a bit of
a music enthusiast's rut. In attempting to glean a sense of purpose
from a handful of small-run phonography and noise albums, I found myself
instead shrugging my shoulders and spending countless minutes per day
staring apathetically out windows. Not surprisingly, my distress was
soon answered by Colin Andrew Sheffield's Slowly, which
propelled me out of that hole by acting as the perfect aural cleanser
to my undeniably bored ears. What did surprise me though was just how
far it was able to propel me out of that hole and back into the realm
of music appreciation, such that every one of my records looked as if
they were gold plated and resembled small portals into an eternal paradise
where existence is nothing less than pure and infinite pleasure for
all of the body's senses. I guess you could call it good timing.
As the liner notes proclaim, the four untitled tracks that occupy Slowly
were all derived from various commercially available recordings, although
their ambiguity upon first listen means they could easily be mistaken
for anything from synths and guitars to augmented field recordings.
Upon second or third listen, however, the musical process (I would imagine
similar to that used by Belong on their Colorless Record 12", only
less obvious) that Sheffield most likely applied in
the rendering of these tracks becomes clearer. The shape and form of
the original music is there, though the material was obviously fed through
an array of processing, likely by certain techniques that have become
unique to Sheffield's musical assemblage.
The nearly 20 minute opening track is also the
album's finest, registering an amorphous haze of sonic rippling that
is ever dynamic. The entirety of the sound spectrum is forced to capitulate
to the track's overpowering mass, affectively generating a tug-o-war
amongst crystal-sharp tones and out-of-focus resonances. The Industrial
overtones and sprawling hiss of the second track continue to encapsulate
Sheffield's abilities to adeptly collide the bleary with the
lucid, while the third track sees Sheffield slip into
a tireless arrangement of heavy-toned minimalism, resembling a more
tranquil reprise of the opening track. The closer, with its swaying
sawtooth arpeggios, steps on the heels of noise though quickly pulls
back before retreating into the meditative abyss that is the album's
lifeline. A fine work.
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Best known as owner of the Elevator
Bath label, Seattle-based Colin Andrew Sheffield has
produced a number of releases exploring microtonal drone. A self-styled
sound re-interpreter, he uses methods akin to the plunderphonic, focusing
on re-contextualization of selected slivers sliced from commercially
available recordings which are contracted, expanded, layered and/or
otherwise pulled and prodded with soundtools till they offer up something
other in the form of soundscapes of eerie haunted beauty. Slowly
is a document of time-shifted tidal waves breaking on nocturnal shores,
gradually shifting and unfolding, a work of nuance and restraint, suspended
between ambient and audio-collage, leaning toward the former.
Sheffield's sounds collude and collide in four poignant,
yet effervescent tracts of tonal ambiguity and uncertain provenance.
Synths? Guitars? Mutated field recordings? All of the above and more,
probably. Not notably concrète, but certainly acousmatic, the
form of the original music rendered errant, and, in a sense, irrelevant,
by Sheffield's obliterative and revelatory techniques.
In the first part a relatively gentle tenor prevails, when set against
the louder and chillier final section. Using tiny, even microscopic
sounds as source material, he arranges glassine tones into resplendent
cathedrals of sound. A cloud-like swirl courses through these long-form
pieces, by turns glowering and glimmering, shimmering and pulsating.
The near 20-minute "Untitled 1" registers an amorphous haze
of sonic rippling while "Untitled 4" closes with swaying sawtooth
arpeggios, verging on out and out noise though quickly pulling back
before retreating to the meditative edge of the abyss the album teeters
Colin Andrew Sheffield
is the mind behind fantastic US label Elevator Bath who have provided
some moments of exquisite listening over the last couple of years.
As if that wasn't enough he also makes music of his own which is equally
lovely and this set on Daniel Crokaert's incomparable Mystery Sea label
is just wonderful.
The album opens with big, bold, beautiful rolling drones and synth tones
that swell and break over a stuttering shale bedrock before giving way
to the second tracks fiery sibilance. The third track is an altogether
more grandiose affair filled with hazily stately tonal clusters until
the album closes in a joyous cacophony of grinding machine noise.
Releases on Mystery Sea (and Elevator Bath) are always worth checking
out and this one is not only no exception but an absolute must have.
wonderful wooden reasons
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Mystery Sea is an imprint for those
who don’t see the world in black and white but shades of grey.
Its entire, impressive catalogue lists heavily toward the murky depths,
under a cloudy sky, awaiting the impending storm. Its artists, nearly
each and every one either already enjoying or gaining repute and approbation
for quality experimental ambient, eagerly embrace the concept of immersive
music the label champions but comprise a pod of fiercy independent minds.
Colin Andrew Sheffield is a pointillist among ambient
musicians, arranging variously sourced molecules of sound apparently
pinched from commercially available recordings into drone mosaics. Slowly
heaves into sight until it towers, but the gigantic shadow it casts
is caused by the light toward which it reaches, a discreet and exquisite
melody which gradually emerges over the course of its eighteen-minute,
untitled opening track. The second roars in uneven sandblasts but floats
away like soap bubbles. The third pulses rapidly with an energy just
verging on nervous, and the fourth is its brutish, shorter twin. Common
to all are the many, painstakingly overlain levels of sound through
which a ghost orchestra moves.
Another singular volume in the congenial discography of Mystery Sea,
the tiny, perfect Belgian label that lovingly packages each of its CDRs
in intriguing abstract artwork complementing poetic liner notes.