Rhian Sheehan: Stories from Elsewhere (Loop)

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Rhian Sheehan: La Boite a Musique
Rhian Sheehan: Stories from Elsewhere (Loop)

Given its title -- and that I wrote a travel collection called Postcards From Elsewhere -- how could we not be interested in this textured, electronica-cum-ambient outing from New Zealand's Sheehan? And here he brings a real human warmth and some fascinating musical references from a wide palette to this, his first full length album since Standing in Silence about four years ago.

This is very different from Standing in Silence in that here he works with real instruments and musician  who include Jeff Boyle from Jakob, Andy Hummel (Rosy Tin Teacaddy), Steve Bremner (The Adults), Raashi Malik (Rhombus) and Ryan Prebble (The Nudge).

Most tellingly too are members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra string section who must have felt right at home when their contribution erred towards the late Romantics and the evocative soundscapes of Delius and Vaughan Williams. Not that these are direct influences, but their ethos of naturalism is certainly evoked in some glorious passages here where you can imagine William Turner clouds above a vast landscape (La Boite a Musique).

There's also a playful quality at work too: the surface noise and use of a child's instrument on the cheerful Little Sines and the cheap computer sound of Nocture 1985 where old school electronics finds its place within a piece which tickles along on repeated figures and astral blips and swathes.

Kieran_Rynhart_crop.1Creation Myths seems to invite in Asian elements (sounding like some $2 electronic version of the sound of a Japanese koto which gets increasingly distorted) and at times you sense a refreshing child-like wonder at the sounds possible from low-rent or lo-fi equipment (an impression enhanced by the cover art by Kieran Ryhart who clearly has a career in childrens' book illustration).

So here are gentle floating pieces (A Thimble of Sorrow) morphing into evocative pieces which seem to have origins in wide-screen soundtracks (Nusquam is a cinematice string piece with melancholy undertones). And Fripp-Eno ambience co-exists easily with free-from-gravity passages of subtle beauty (Somnus floats in space but takes you perilously close to the capsule-melting sun at the end).

All these elements ease together into a rich, headphones-on whole and with subtle elelctrobleeps, this manage that rare feat of canny welcome-to-my-world humour while taking you on a long trip with many, various and often sublime digressions.

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Your Comments

Kyle - Mar 25, 2013

Gee that video is beautifully done. Stunningly well illustrated. Is that Kieran Ryhart as well?

sharina - Mar 26, 2013

Hi Kyle,

Yes that is Kieran Rynhart's work - Matt Pitt brought to life his beautiful illustrations!

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