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Rhian Sheehan

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Alternative, Indie

Country of Origin:

New Zealand

The world of Rhian Sheehan is one where acoustic melancholy meets synthesised soundscapes in an electronic mind meld, taking the listener on a rich and rewarding musical journey. “Organic instruments are married to a computer-based bed of lush layered sounds. Intangible emotion is summoned from synthesised sounds. Sampled soundbites and snippets of dialogue are contextually redefined. No more than an assembly of simple sonic elements, no less than an ultimately unique and personal musical vision” - this is how Rhian’s debut album, the Paradigm Shift (2001) was described.

A talented, traditionally trained acoustic guitar player, Rhian Sheehan was introduced to the limitless possibilities of computer-based music making whilst studying composition at Canterbury University. At his Christchurch home, Rhian began recording towards this debut album - Paradigm Shift. Initial tracks focussed on acoustic guitar playing, both solo and duo. Soon, however, the added expressiveness and emotional impact of the instrument when coupled with electronically generated beats and soundscapes became the basis for a new sound. A shift to Wellington early in 2000 opened new opportunities for Rhian - the public were introduced to his music through the inclusion of two songs ("She Walks Into Mine" and "Garden Children") on Loop Magazine's cover CD, and received them favourably. The relationship with Loop was solidified with the offer of an album deal.

The finished album offers an all-encompassing overview of Rhian's broad musical vision. The opening sheen of "She Walks Into Mine" is overlayed with radio coverage of the fall to Earth of the Russian Mir space station over the Pacific Ocean. A rich foundation of guitars, synthesisers and crisp beats kicks into life with a gasp. Although Rhian employs drum & bass in some of his works, his music’s gentler moments strip the sonics back to lay bare Rhian's acoustic roots.

"We need to appreciate that we are intimately connected to the universe. That we are made of the same materials, just assembled in a different way. Everything around us, including yourself and the vast universe, appears to have been born together as one, some 15 billion years ago, in a colossal explosion caused by a fluctuation in nothingness. The paradigm shift in human comprehension is the newfound knowledge that we are all one in the same, but all individually unique." - Rhian Sheehan

To accompany Rhian’s latest album ‘Standing in Silence” (2009), he undertook a nationwide tour presenting an audio-visual performance. Emotive photographic and moving images were interwoven throughout the live performance, portraying the lives and environments of individual people living in megacities throughout Asia, via state of the art projection techniques by Nektar films.

The music encapsulates Rhian Sheehan’s beautiful original instrumental compositions incorporating sonic experiments with the sounds of found objects not usually heard in music, like wine glasses, bowed & plucked piano strings, tailor made musicbox’s, tongue drums, body percussion, and the sound of bustling crowds and children at play. He will also present some newly written music that is yet to be heard by any audience.

Paradigm Shift (2001)
Tiny Blue Biosphere (2004)
Music for Nature Documentaries – remix album (2004)
New Zealand Landscapes – Book/CD (2008)
Standing in Silence (2009)

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