Auf Abwegen

A sonic explorer’s talent for evocation is closely associated with the capacity to elicit unorthodox acoustic imagery from instruments or media that, in the hands of anyone else, would simply remain what they are. Colin Andrew Sheffield has amassed considerable expertise in the use of sound for investigative purposes, including the psychological level, throughout the course of a now quite extended period. Beyond his role as a composer he’s also the manager of Elevator Bath, an imprint renowned for its idiosyncratic and plainly non-commercial choices in the realm of musical surrealism. That the most recent manifestations of Sheffield’s creative foresight are being disseminated by a label with a similarly open-minded philosophy, such as Auf Abwegen, shouldn’t be shocking.

While having identical length, the two sections of Don’t Ever Let Me Know cannot be referred to as “two sides of the same coin”, given the composition’s countless facets. Because of their constant shifting, an oto-holographic effect is produced that includes amorphous secretions, psycho-temporal upheavals, startling dynamic changes, suggestions of a chimerical nirvana. If, as this writer is led to assume, everything heard is the consequence of Sheffield’s manipulation and processing of pre-existing records and/or cassettes, one must laud a piece of art that, sometimes in a matter of mere minutes, combines the asphyxiating feel of an anthill suddenly overrun by mercury liquids with fleeting moments of openness toward a breathless, if somewhat oxidized, sense of hope. The traces of a harmony of the unknown, in which the minute details of non-figurative stand out as distinct aspects, are conveyed by Sheffield as he keeps in touch with an awkwardly throbbing concreteness. The preservation process of our short-term memories, however, is still a challenge. Notably, all of the above is transmitted to the listener with a substantial degree of professional finesse. You just can’t ask for more.

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