Cosmo Sheldrake Shares A Whimsical World Of Sound At The 7th Street Entry


The New York based quartet, altopalo, took to the stage and took everyone on a sonic trip. The warping sounds of the Rahm Silverglade’s voice as it was pitch shifted above and below the normal range. This initial greeting did garner some mutual laughter from the band and crowd. However, this method of altering the voice did play a factor in their overall sound and was a integral to the vibe they set out to create. The disjointed vocal effect brought out an extra layer of emotion during the songs when done in a heartfelt manner and soulful delivery.

Their music has real depth and in between songs this  comic relief was welcomed. Rahm spoke of all the tragedies and horrible terrors of this world. The things we’ve seen that can’t be unseen. Like the incident just as they headed out on tour where his mom came running after the van because they left the goat cheese behind. This humorous anecdote brought on a call and response chant of “I love my mom” between the signer and the crowd.

The warmth of the guitars juxtaposed with the cold harsh electronic sounds is one that I’ve often admired. The dynamic shift in tone as the song (Head in a) Cloche played out was intriguing. The intense drumming and synth work at the end was a soothing experience, especially in a live setting. The standard drum kit with a electronic drum pads provided a fuller soundscape to dabble in. Despite the complexity and sincerity of the music they all would smile and play off each other’s groove. and genuinely came across like a tight knit group.

The songs of Cosmo Sheldrake are full of surprises and you wouldn’t know what sounds lurk in the mix until each sample is broken down and its origins are explained. The sounds of nature are prevalent in his works, from the depths of the oceans, the high mountain ranges of Bulgaria or to the ionosphere and beyond far out to the sun. The sounds of solar activity was sped up 6,000 times to create a noisy whooshing sound that provided some warmth.

The explanation of sounds came immediately and it was very intriguing.  Numerous times through out the evening Cosmo would play a sample and explain where it came from. Who knew that the sounds of a pig would make a great bass tone. Or that Welsh slate being smashed and crumbling to pieces  is a wonderful sound to create a beat with. From the sounds of fish chomping on coral to the sounds of a swim bladder of a fish.

Other sources included a raven’s caw with a faint howling wolf towards the end of the sample. He has been working with soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause to track down recordings of extinct animals for some of these sonic textures that lay hidden in the songs. This was followed up with the comment that the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way.

The vibe did take a lighter note as he began a song only to pause for technical difficulties caused by one of his machines that had stopped working and had to restart it. It happens all the time he said. But he provided some downtime music to fill the gap and keep our attention as the unit rebooted and all was back to normal. It was also comical to hear the guy in the crowd enthusiastically yell “yeah, whooo!” as Cosmo started to live loop some vocal tones. This caused a smirk on Cosmo’s face as he kept on tracking the live loop recording. Some of his songs when done live take a little bit of time to come together as portions of them are built on the spot with the live looping.

The song Solar incorporated the sounds of changes in earth’s ionosphere during dawn. Sheep on a mountain in Bulgaria and those same mountains provided sources for a beat. There is a rabid dog in there too if you listen carefully. Lastly there was a chopped up sample of Ecuadorian flute music that was pieced back together.

Pelicans We got an eager cheer as it was announced to be played next. He shared the story of his plan for this song. He rang up the London Zoo to ask what the pelicans feeding time was. They replied that it was in 25 minutes. He scurried off with gear to record as he had a 15 minute bike ride to arrive from home. Upon his arrival he was greeted by fat happy and fast asleep pelicans. In the end, no actual sounds of pelicans made it on to this track. 

The fairly tightly packed Entry was full of people dancing and laughing as the music lead them with a carefree spirit through out the evening. In a fitting closure to his nearly 90 minute set, Wriggle brought out the last of the joyous dancing for the night.