The debut solo album from composer David John Sheppard allows him to step out into the light with his polyrhythmic minimalist compositions. By hitting guitars with vibraphone mallets, Sheppard has created an album with distinct comparisons to Liverpool’s Ex-Easter Island Head. Vertical Land is perfect for fans of the minimalism of Reich and Glass. Out on CD and vinyl LP from Village Green. Vertical Land.
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 12 June 2015
Massive changes are afoot in the world of former State River Widening sound sorcerer David Sheppard. In a fit of mid career bluster a ‘John’ has been added to his name. It might help google, it might not. Musically we are on the same tip as previous records under the name Snow Palms and as part of Ellis Island Sound. He plinks, he plonks, he plinks and plonks. He creates lushly melodic instrumental music that uses Phiip Glass/Steve Reich style staccato’s as rhythmic melodies whether it be xylophone, mallet, marimba, glockenspiel or a keyboard pretending to be one of those things.
The opener ‘Thumbnail Sketch of Infinity’ gives a good indication of what to expect. It thrums along on a barrage of percussion and carefully plucked acoustic guitars. Flutes and woodwingd flutter in and out to create a breezy soundscape. ‘Horizon Climbs’ is more of a soundtrack piece with soothing notes and rustling percussion. In fact there is more of an eerie soundtrack vibe to a lot of this record. You can’t help but think about Tortoise at times especially on the polyrhythmic bliss of ‘Mountain Time’.
The lack of aching string parts means this may not touch your soul in the way his unsurpassable 'Harps Old Master' collaboration with Kieron Phelan as Phelan/Sheppard did way back when but this is still impressive and clever modern day composition.
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- Vertical Land by David John Sheppard
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