These two albums from Seah, also known as multimedia artist and philosopher Chelsea Heikes, seemingly draw from different elemental categories, which ends up setting the foundation for the sounds contained within. The first, Conduits of the Hydrosphere, clearly draws from water while Clouds and Spectres is appropriately expansive, vapor-like, and ghostly at times. Released separately, they feel like complementary works that act as variations on sonic exploration.
All five pieces that make up Conduits feature either direct or indirect references to water, which is unsurprising given the title. Seah makes this immediately apparent from the opening "Asteroidal Origin of Water," with multiple layers of water recordings, filtered differently and stacked atop one another to create a wall of liquid sound. She utilizes space well, as echoing, warped noises and rattling shrieks all vie for the focus. Aquatic field recordings also obscure a subtle tone beneath on "Songs Stones Sing to the Sea," which remains understated amidst scraping noises and a deep, lo-fi digital rumble.
Water is more insinuated in the sound of "Ova1" via heavily processed deep sea-like pulsations, which almost coalesce into some semblance of rhythm via the frequent use of loops. The mix is open, but there is a greater sense of lurking creepiness throughout. She collects slithering noises and cinematic-esque sound bursts on the lengthy closer (and amazingly titled) "Dinosaur Piss Runs Through Our Veins." Here, she patiently builds an excellent tension, which becomes almost overwhelming as the piece builds, but gently drifts away at the end.
For Clouds and Spectres, the overall vibe is less aquatic and more ghostly, characterized by lighter drifting passages and sounds. "Unfurling" feels just like the title, as Heikes patiently expands the structure an ethereal series of melodic tones. On "Accumulation," she more densely packs the sound, incorporates what sounds like buzzy phased analong synths in the foreground. While still using a great deal of space, it feels as if the clouds have gotten darker, as she emphasizes lower frequencies and darker synth buzz on "Skillter." Individual sounds are more distinct among a more prominent white noise hiss throughout. Even though it is noisier than the two preceding pieces, it overall remains restrained and quiet.
Listening to these two records sequentially the liquid/vapor/gas elemental qualities of each is clearly apparent. However, both are distinct experiences. As Seah, Chelsea Heikes has created fascinating diverse studies of sound and processing while retaining obvious themes.