Review: Colin Andrew Sheffield & James Eck Rippie – Exploded View (Elevator Bath, Aug 2)

As is oftentimes the case, the description of Exploded View provided on the release page already paints a clear, concise picture of the music. The 19-minute piece is the latest entry in the increasingly impressive discography of Elevator Bath founder Colin Andrew Sheffield and sound artist James Eck Rippie, and aims to explore “the intricacies of manipulated micro-samples.” Assimilating an arsenal of turntables, samplers, and found sound, the two musicians’s active improvisations conjure an immersive environment of claustrophobic tactility, piercing tones, buried sampling, and jagged pieces of heavily processed sound objects that cut like sharp-edged glass shards. Overall, there’s a unique feeling of zooming in, like the duo is simply making audible a minuscule sound-world with its own set of rules. What begins as a restless but reticent orchestra of shifting clicks, clacks, and rattles evolves into something much more once the lens of focus dilates and the once-isolated miniatures start to interact and combine with a formidable array of macroscopics. Though the atmosphere often seems synthetic or removed, a welcome touch of humanity is introduced via the appearance of various musical samples throughout, a familiar basis amidst the maelstrom of abstract textures.

But I doubt any of my musing puts it better than this: “Exploded View showcases the duo’s focus on fragments of audio—the shards of samples broken apart and re-shuffled, like the cut-up words and letters of concrete poetry. The new forms which emerge from these re-joined particles may be both jarring and confounding. But the delicate details found at every turn of this circuitous path are gratifyingly immersive.”