MYSTERY SEA 65 | colin andrew sheffield| [slowly]


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- "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
, Tide-borne, 1925

"If 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 2010


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...

attracted upstream,
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,
spiralling towards,
swirling round & round...

"Slowly" is like a wish to vanish
in some fundamental precipitate,
the display of an infinity of figures,
various reconfigurations,
and of so many ways to improve






VITAL WEEKLY 755|Frans De Waard   --- 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.
vital weekly

SCRAPYARD FORECAST|Adrian Dziewanski   --- NEW !
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.
scrapyard forecast

FURTHERNOISE|Alan Lockett   --- NEW !
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 on.

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

IGLOO MAG |Stephen Fruitman   --- NEW !
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.
igloo mag