Fourteen months and countless folders of audio files later, Steinbrüchel and Cory Allen offer their first collaborative album entitled «Seam». An intensive and process driven work period resulted in an album that integrates the two artist's individual soundworlds. Each sound was processed and multiplied by both artists, forming a sound archive of individual threads. The compositions were then sewn and stitched together using the collection of the archive. Connecting each composition is an inbetween thread which weaves the album's tracks together.
The «- -- - --» audio process was extended into the design and production of the physical packaging. The cover design is based on a system which reflects the track order and the artists' contributions to the creation of the compositions. Each of the 400 limited edition CD packagings were offset printed and machine stitched in Switzerland.
Cover concept and design by ORDNER. Mastered by Cory Allen.
Fluid Radio, Brendan Moore
If “Smoke on the Water” weren’t taken as a song title it would be apropos for this album. That idea of a gas floating above a liquid, a hierarchy of shapeless forms, seems fitting for this sort of micro-processing. Nothing about the album ever feels solid; it is in a constant state of flux, and while it may be calming to listen to, there is something restless about the structure of these compositions. Every single fragment of sound used to create the album has an almost vibration-like quality, much like the hum of electricity. Sure, these are small sounds being micro-processed and they may be quiet, but they are never still. And the development of each individual piece always feels like the artists are letting the sounds guide them rather than the other way around.
The way Seam is designed is that it has a number of longer focus pieces with shorter pieces in between to weave the larger songs together to create a genuine album. The opener, surprisingly enough, is one of the “in-between threads” used to tie the larger compositions together. It’s an odd choice in a way. However, having this piece as the album opener really helps to draw attention to the minimal resources being shaped to create these sounds – it’s the equivalent to hearing an orchestra tune before a performance. That first song feels like a shapeless mass; it’s a continuous hiss, with no real rhythm to punctuate one moment from the next. You get the sense these melodies are found by sifting through the ebb and flow of the gaseous states created, almost trying to contain the mass, even if only momentarily, to shape it into something melodic.
If one were searching for an equivalent craft in visual media to what these two men do with sound, glass blowing would be a good place to look. Glass blowers turn raw materials into liquid, all to make them solid again. Yet, while the craftsman is in control of the process, there is a respect for the raw materials, as though its quirks are valued and even used to guide the process. The glassblowing process is almost coldly scientific and pragmatic, yet there is something completely visceral and mysterious about what glassblowers do. And they are no doubt patient people. Creating Seam most definitely took patience too. Not to mention that it was nurtured into existence by two craftsman at the top of their game.