The Colour of Entropy (In Three Stages) is a collaboration between Belgium’s Sleeperhold Publications and multi-instrumentalist / composer Daniel O’Sullivan (DOS) with imagery by French artist Felicia Atkinson. The title of this upcoming release might not unreasonably suggest decay and decomposition. The first few bars of Entropy instantly dispel any such forebodings. You find yourself, instead, transported to some ineffably gorgeous but nevertheless very earthly paradise. Entropy is over fourteen-minutes long, staged in three parts and, as anyone who knows and loves Daniel O’Sullivan will tell you, he is nothing if not mercurial.
Daniel O’Sullivan has achieved international acclaim writing, recording and performing with Grumbling Fur, Ulver, Sunn O))), Guapo, Miracle, Æthenor and the recent reincarnation of This Heat in the form of This Is Not This Heat. As for his solo work, DOS seems to mature with every recording he puts out. The Colour of Entropy (In Three Stages) features one lengthy suite broken down into three parts which meticulously melt into one other. Every section has its own character, taking us on a voyage of majestic beauty and uniquely ornamented melancholy. With an all-star cast of musicians DOS creates a auditive spectacle with an enduring lyrical poise and an elegant palette of sounds.
Colour and its subjective meaning are highly referenced on this release. They appear to DOS as guiding spirits for his compositional process. The opening track, “Blue Music: Angelic Architecture”, eases the listener into a warm and sumptuous world. Lush instrumentation accompanied by closely harmonised voices, speak of endless landscapes, alchemy and the secret inhabitants of our anatomy. Sonically, one is reminded of the pocket symphonies of Brian Wilson, although the innate Englishness of it all recalls the village-green playfulness of Penguin Cafe Orchestra or the filmography of Peter Greenaway. The joyful swing of this first movement dovetails into a more melancholic sequence. In “Yellow Music: Chemical Wedding” the light seems to dilate even further. Warm and intimate, yet fragile and unresolved. The piece features a swathe of acoustic textures, harmonic clusters and a pianistic touch akin to some of Bill Evans’ more spaced out repertoire. As the Chemical Wedding reaches it’s zenith, we are thrust into a new realm of gargantuan proportions. “Red Music: Fire In The Breath”: A pressing polyrhythmic momentum soundtracks our ascent. DOS’ voice, understated, gracefully channels his colour mythology. This final section belies a mystical inclination which resonates throughout O’Sullivan’s work. The words afloat, dreamlike in peripheral vision, like abstracts from a dream journal, like the mescaline automatics of Henri Michaux, The Thought Forms of Annie Besant or the surrealist anagrams of Unica Zurn. The feeling is paradoxical: visceral and intoxicated yet meticulously guided and comforting in the same instance. DOS’ music speaks in an archetypal tongue; love, the human condition, devotion. A transfiguration of familiar forms. As O’Sullivan himself has stated of his process… “I want to make the unexpected sound inevitable”.
Felicia Atkinson’s colourful drawings adorn Entropy’s sleeve and one side of the wax. (All three tracks are featured on the record’s A-side.) The experimental French musician, poet, and visual artist reacted in beautiful contrast to the musical output of DOS. Scrawls of colour, not quite figurative but highly suggestive messages of inner space. DOS’ music and Atkinson’s artworks, share a common ground. Views of the natural world through a lens that invokes almost alien qualities. Raising their little families while investigating a series of landscapes, both internal and external.
1. Blue Music: Angelic Architecture (5:29)
2. Yellow Music: Chemical Wedding (2:57)
3. Red Music: Fire In The Breath (5:39)
***** Description of physical packaging:
— Vinyl only, 350 pressed copies.
— One-sided 180 gram LP format. A-side contains music, B-side contains an artist etching (done by Félicia Atkinson). Cardboard sleeve.
Release date: April 2nd, 2020
Written recorded and mixed by DOS. Additional engineering by Frank Byng Martin McDougal & Bassel Abu Fakher.
DOS (Vocals Piano Guitars Bass), Peter Broderick (Violin and Vocals), Frank Byng (Drums and Percussion), Christos Fanaras (Synthesizers), Chloe Herington (Bassoon and Saxophone), Margaret Hermant (Harp), Astrud Steehouder (Vocals)
Mastering and lacquer cut by Matt Colton at Metropolis London, 2019