Have you ever dropped a box of glitter on the floor, or confetti, or buttons, or nails, and then had to sweep it all up and sort it out? Imagine doing that with sound. This is the genesis of exploded view, constructed with “shards and samples” of microsound. While listening, one forgets that these bits came from turntables and samplers, and that some are “found sounds” while others are musical. That is, until a shaker grabs the tempo (the early minutes); a stray note surfaces and repeats like a stuttered chord on a CD; or the sound of vinyl static breaks through (in the ninth minute). More often, these groupings seem like flotsam, which creates its own patterns on the shore: some haphazard, others organized by the tide, some thick and convoluted, others thin and reedy.
Bea Kwan Lim’s cover art is a perfect reflection of the music inside: seemingly random, yet balanced in both color and texture. Watercolor streams run across strange scratches on their way to an unknown destination. The pleasure is in the impact more than the dissection. Did the artist intend to make the tributaries look like blood or the lower left like moving ripples? We’ll never know. Did Colin Andrew Sheffield & James Eck Rippie intend the composition to breathe like a church organ (multiple points) or to make their music sound like a laptop dying the rain (the concluding quarter)? Is this music more accidental or incidental? Is the appearance of a human voice ~ for a single second only at 19:19, two seconds before the end ~ meant as contrast or as a tag, akin to a hidden signature in visual art? The impressionistic piece is a Rorschach test, inviting incomplete answers.
This is the very definition of musique concrète, as this microsonic collage sounds like concrete (water, sand and cement) being mixed. In its densest portions, exploded view rumbles like an abundance of shards being fed into a machine barely able to handle its load. Add the shifting stereo effects, such as plucking and beeping in one speaker, echoes in the other, drones in the background, and the piece has incredible depth as well. No song has the opportunity to break through, but not for want of trying; the end of the ninth minute contributes a tentative rhythm before meeting the machine. Fans of beautiful abrasion will have plenty to love; shaped noise, rough edges intentionally intact. (Richard Allen)