Expanded Edition

Latest release from the highly respected team of Colin Andrew Sheffield & James Eck Rippie, who were last heard with their double LP Essential Anomalies in 2017, and the cassette Polarities that same year. Today’s morsel of digital splicing and micro-bandaging is called Exploded View (ELEVATOR BATH eeaoa051), it’s pressed as a minimax CD and packaged in a digipak, and continues the preoccupations of this pair with their intricate sampling project, which I characterise as “miniaturism on a grand scale” …as far as I can grasp it, the plan is to work with very short and tiny fragments of sampled sound, sometimes using turntables to get the ball rolling, and reassembling these myriad jigsaw puzzle pieces into new formations and vistas, often aiming for something surprising and unexpected as they do so. Imagine a pictorial artist rendering images of the world around them in mosaic form, then blasting their own mosaic to pieces with hammers, only to piece it together again into a new configuration. As we like to say in the field of neural science, “today’s brains are tomorrow’s mashed potatoes”.

I find it interesting that the visual presentation of this release puts all the words in lower-case, and unless that’s now just a commonplace typographical tic, I assume it means that Sheffield and Rippie (and perhaps the label too) align their work with the “lower case” genre of quiet music and sound that might have begun at some point in the 1990s, with chaps like Brandon LaBelle and Steve Roden and Bernhard Gunter. I mention this as Exploded View is not exactly a “minimal” set, and it redounds with tiny explosions of colour, incident, and ideas – which is more than you can say for a lot of so-called minimo-types these days. The artistes also succeed at transcending their own process, which again is not as easy to do as you might think, and you leave with impressions of beauty and wonder, rather than the dissatisfied feeling that you’re being asked to admire the actions of a rotary engine or the gentle hum of a humidifier unit that’s just been plugged in.

If the aim has been to give us a new slant on things, a view of nature that is surprising and revealing, then Exploded View can be counted a success. Less keen, me, on the wishy-washy artworks on the covers, created by Bea Kwan Lin. From 23rd July 2019.

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