Colin Andrew Sheffield (sampler) and James Eck Rippie (turntables) began playing music together in Dallas, Texas in 2000 and released their debut LP, Variations a year later. They separated soon afterwards, relocating to cities 2,600 miles apart; and though they continued with solo work, they remained inactive as a duo until recently. During this hiatus, Sheffield stayed busy dealing antiquarian books and running his Elevator Bath label; Rippie became an accomplished sound mixer for major motion pictures and television shows. And yet the collaboration between these two friends of a quarter century has always held a special significance (as Francois Couture of AllMusic stated: "The level of understanding between [these two artists] ... commands respect"). So, in 2015, when the two found themselves both living in Austin, a reactivation of their improvising duo was a happy inevitability.
Essential Anatomies is the fruit of the pair's renewed efforts. Comprising four pieces originally issued on limited edition cassettes and now widely available for the first time, the double LP is an experiment in audio collage and instant narrative composition. The main tools are sounds from the past: commercially available recordings manipulated and sculpted into a medium with inherent potential. Unlike their plunderphonic ancestors and contemporaries, however, Sheffield and Rippie place a heavy emphasis on atmosphere and a kind of musicality. Their work is surprising and challenging, but it is infused with their keen sense of structure and listenability.
Elements of sound art, drone, glitch, and noise emerge from their altered samples. These sounds have been stripped of any extraneous cumbrances, leaving just the crucial components. The parts that remain, the essential anatomies, form the basis for an ongoing abstract dialogue between two artists with a remarkably developed affinity. The results capture dual streams of consciousness, coursing with a description of nonrepresentational beauty.
Colin Andrew Sheffield (b. 1976, El Paso TX) is the founder of the Elevator Bath recording label. He has released a number of solo recordings on labels such as Invisible Birds, Mystery Sea, Quiet World, and 23five.
James Eck Rippie (b. 1977) is a visual/sound artist originally from outside Nashville TN. His recorded work has been as a turntablist, but he has also worked extensively with other instruments and mediums. He has released his work with the Crónica Electronica and Sirr labels, among others, and has collaborated with sound artists Simon Whetham, Paulo Raposo, and eRikm.
Sheffield and Rippie are both currently based in Austin, Texas. They will tour the US this summer.