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STORIES FROM ELSEWHERE –By RHIAN SHEEHAN
File Under: Post-rock / Ambient, Experimental
A series of enchanting instrumental works, Stories From Elsewhere is Rhian Sheehan’s most evocative album to date - an excursion into a soundscape of tender ethereal textures, brooding cinematic string arrangements, and playful experimental lullabies. Sheehan has encapsulated a world of serenity and melancholia within this 12-track album. Stories From Elsewhere is a musical landscape to get lost in.
His first full-length album since Standing in Silence (2009), Sheehan transgresses Ambient and Post-Rock genres and moves deeper into a unique world of haunting atmospheres, reflective ambient electric guitar washes, childlike melodies, and stirring moments of elation.
Principally conceived by Sheehan in his Wellington, New Zealand based home studio; his strong sense of vision for the album’s live representation informed key collaborations, which are bound to extend to the performance of Stories From Elsewhere. Contributing artists included: Jeff Boyle (Jakob), Raashi Malik (Rhombus), Andy Hummel (Rosy Tin Teacaddy), Steve Bremner (The Adults), Ryan Prebble (The Nudge), and string players from the NZSO. Sheehan also enlisted the talents of Lee Prebble to help him put finishing touches on the album.
Sheehan describes how some of the music from the album came about:
“The album as a whole came about via experimentation. I’ve been moving further away from computer made electronica over the last few years and tinkering away in my home studio with old children’s musical toys and gadgets I’ve collected over the years, working out ways to make interesting and unusual sounds. I mixed half of the album with Lee Prebble, which was good fun. We ran the drums and strings through an old 60’s plate reverb to get a more nostalgic atmospheric tone. Most of the textures on this album were made with electric guitars and vocals run through various outboard effects. I wanted to make an album that sounded very natural and organic - a collection of sonic stories that hopefully will be listened to as one body of work.”
“’Little Sines’ was conceived on my baritone ukulele and an old 80’s toy sampler I use to record and playback sine waves on. I then physically created the main melody on a handmade DIY music-box I own, but didn’t really think it was a particularly interesting melody until my young son began singing it relentlessly. I then knew I had an idea worth pursuing. This melody pops up throughout the album in various forms.”
“’Creation Myths’ bizarrely came about via the main melody of ‘Little Sines’. One day I mistakenly placed the music-box piano roll melody from ‘Little Sines’ upside down. After some tinkering, I ended up with the finished track.“
“’The Upper Sky’ was a late night collaborative effort with my wife, Raashi and good friend, Jeff Boyle. I had a rough idea sketched out and they both helped guide the piece in the final direction.”
“’La Boîte à Musique’ was the piece that took the longest to complete. Again, the basic tune was conjured up via experimenting with old musical toy instruments. Essentially, it’s an experiment in the sonic manipulation of a simple melody. I had written a rough string arrangement for the outro section that I then passed on to collaborator, Ryan Youens, to put some finishing touches on.”
“’Nusquam’ I guess came about subliminally due to the soundtrack work I do. It’s a very filmic and emotive piece. I’m emotionally connected to it. The melody came very quickly, but I didn’t realise how affecting it could be until much later when I played a rough version to a friend.“
“’Nocturne 1985’ was predominately created using an old 8bit toy keyboard. The only other instrument on this piece was the drums played by Steve Bremner (that enter mid way through the track). This is the most ‘electronic’ piece on the album. It has kind of a reflective early 80’s game arcade sound to it”.
The imagery for Stories From Elsewhere is the result of a collaboration between Sheehan and artist, Kieran Rynhart. After discovering Rynhart’s work at a local art gallery and falling in love with a print (which now hangs on Sheehan’s living room wall), Sheehan approached Rynhart with some ideas he wished to explore for the album’s artwork. The beautiful results are displayed throughout the Stories From Elsewhere artwork.
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