The concept of artists re-purposing existing music and other recorded sounds into an abstract collage or new composition has certainly been done before, and quite often. However, when it is done expertly, such as on Exploded View, it can be an amazing method of work. Colin Andrew Sheffield and James Eck Rippie approach the methodology from two technological extremes: analog turntables and digital samplers. The final product bears little resemblance to anything identifiable, resulting in a piece of music that is entirely their unique work and is captivating regardless of its construction
The single, 20-minute piece that makes up Exploded View is an astoundingly fast one, rushing by far too quickly due to the amount of variation and sounds Sheffield and Rippie use.Opening with tiny thuds and crackles (my guess would be via the abuse of a record stylus) an excellent sense of texture and space is quickly established.From there additional lo-fi sounds are added:insect swarm chirps, broken speaker static and distortion, etc.Chaotic, yes, but there is a noticeable sense of underlying structure throughout.The duo layers these parts together resulting in some pseudo-rhythmic loops seasoned with the occasionally dense, punishing blast of noise.The closest thing to discernible source material to be had is the occasional fragment of melody that weaves within the crackling and sputtering walls of sound.These mangled symphonies perfectly contrast the roaring noise and unsettling, bleeping electronics that otherwise dominates the recording.
One of the most notable facets of Exploded View is the overall production quality and sound design from Sheffield and Rippie.With all of this activity, harsh and otherwise, the entirety of the mix is enveloping and engaging.The depth of sound the two create is spectacular, making the more delicate moments clearer but the harsher ones as forceful as I would hope.The piece builds to a peak of digital mangling and some painfully piercing, sharp moments that simultaneously are balanced by some melodic, intensely treated sounds within a dense and swirling mix.Eventually layers are stripped away, with the stabbing, loud bits reigned in, and the mix pulled apart.During these more sparse moments the melodic elements shine through most and, by the conclusion of fragmented sounds and clicks, the piece concludes much like it began.
"Dizzying" may be the best adjective to describe Exploded View, because there is so much going on and so many shifts in dynamic and structure that there is very little breathing room to be had.If this was over the course of a full album or CD, it may be simply too much activity to endure, but limited to a tight 20 minutes, it is just perfect.The presentation is impressive too:the disc is in a beautifully designed colorful digipak featuring art by Bea Kwan Lim and on one of those partially transparent Minimax discs, which I am particularly fond of.With beautiful presentation and beautiful sound, Exploded View is another amazing work from Sheffield and Rippie that is just perfectly executed.