INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Songlines OCTOBER 2015 - by Tim Woodall
DAVID JOHN SHEPPARD: VERTICAL LAND
A road movie in album form
This album has a clear aim: to aurally conjure that feeling all thoughtful travellers experience, the sense of wonder at watching a landscape slowly unfold from a plane or car window. Multi-instrumentalist and composer David John Sheppard was inspired by mountainous landscapes in Europe and South Africa. He evokes this feeling uncannily with a set of layered, overdubbed instrumental tracks with electronic touches that are thematically static but richly varied in instrumentation. His pieces reference Minimalism, ambient music (Sheppard is the biographer of Brian Eno) and film scores. The music of Steve Reich, especially, looms large over Vertical Land, in the music's shifting rhythmic patterns and textural layers and the heavy use of mallet percussion and pianos.
Sheppard's sound-world is otherwise principally built around guitars, but strings and woodwinds also feature strongly, notably on the West Coast-cool of the brassy Seconds, Minutes, Hours. Each track has its own palette and rhythmic flow, from the deep grooves of Vortex On A String to the loose, meditative title-track, of which there are two versions. A sophisticated, exactly realised recording project.