London's Cosmo Sheldrake is many things. His roles encompass but are not limited to being a multi-instrumentalist, a producer, a singer, a songwriter, and even a composer. If you combine all of these roles, along with the experiences and lessons learned along the way, you'll find that Sheldrake's true nature lies in simply being an artist. To understand the depths of his talents and eclectic personality, it is best to skimp on the introductions and listen to his 2018 debut album, The Much Much How How and I.
Theatrically organic, Sheldrake's debut is an ever-changing canvas of nature-inspired soundscapes and instrumental exploration. Completely uninhibited and unconcerned with the genre confines of its modern industry, this album redefines the idea of musical success. Sheldrake quickly found himself launched into the spotlight after "Come Along" was featured in an Apple iPhone XR commercial, reaching the top of Spotify's Viral Chart and accumulating more than four million YouTube views. Rolling Stones Magazine even did a feature on its Apple-driven fame, penning it "unsettling, but catchy; psychedelic and kinetic."
Quirky and beautifully weird, "Come Along" is a startling introduction to Cosmo Sheldrake. The orchestral percussion and whimsical flutes dance together in a lilting melody that makes you feel like you are watching a play, rather than simply listening to a song. An unsurprising effect, as he's composed scores for films and various Samuel Beckett plays at London's Young Vic. When asked about how he distinguishes between the two practices (solo recordings and theatrical scores), he explains that "it’s a very different process. Rather than just making music for its own sake, with theatre and film the music is there to serve the narrative or the visuals or create a mood or atmosphere. I don’t really prefer one over the other, it's nice to do both. They both bring different creative challenges."
The Much Much How How and I's compositional mastery isn't just limited to the actual instruments. Many of the themes explored on this album started out as simple field recordings. "I often find that starting with a field recording or a sound or sample of some kind very helpful. For me, the hardest thing about writing is starting something. Once I have a starting place it's much easier to hear what needs to come next." This organic approach to songwriting is reflected in everything surrounding the album, even the artwork itself, as Sheldrake explains. "I was trying to find some imagery of something that represented both observation and imagination. I was looking through medieval bestiaries and other early botanical illustrations and things for inspiration and then a friend sent me a link to the book that contained these fish illustrations by Louis Renard published in 1719." He adds, "It felt perfect, as some of the fish were clearly representative of fish he had actually seen and some were clearly entirely fictional with little smiley faces and suns and moons on them. They felt appropriate as for me 'The Much Much How How and I' brings together figments of the imagination and sounds from more the human world."
To Sheldrake's music, imagery is everything. It is profoundly impossible to listen to any of his songs without some form of coloured images swirling through your mind. It's a particular effect that he has managed to perfect over the years of composing and producing, finding all the unchartered artistic paths along the way. His newest video for "Eggs and Soldiers" was recently premiered via FLOOD magazine, and features a jarringly stylistic animation that could only suit a Sheldrake song.
Sheldrake's love for the unconventional and otherworldly comes from a multitude of influences, perhaps none as strong as his father's- a parapsychologist. "I adopt many of his beliefs," he shares. "If anything, it has left me with a sense of wonder and amazement at the beauty, complexity and vitality of the more than human world." It's easy to imagine, then, that for Sheldrake, music isn't just another creative outlet. It's a form of speech, a way to view that which we cannot see, and communicate with that which we cannot hear.
With his border-crossing success and newfound fanbase, Sheldrake is currently on his first U.S tour this month. His recently added fall dates start in September, to which you can purchase tickets here.