In Bocca Al Lupo
This is the fourth full-length release from Manchester-based Xela (John Twells), and his second release on his own Type label imprint. In 2006, he released the horror-flecked epic The Dead Sea. Taking influence from the movies of Dario Argento and Umberto Lenzi and fusing them with a Lovecraftian concept, he created the perfect tribute to his obsession. Every good horror movie has a sequel, and for this full-length follow-up, John has used the dark corners of the Christian religion as his guide. Composed initially for a fear-themed Chicago art installation, the 60-minute piece gradually took shape as a celebration of desolate cellars and distant church bells, the things that truly scare him. Researching further took him to Spain and Italy as he explored basilicas, cathedrals and crumbling churches in search of inspiration. Ancient stories, whispered histories and sounds drifting through generations became the basis of the recording, which is split into four distinct parts. Beginning with metallic scrapes and haunting industrial soundscapes, we drift among fluidly dense drones, electrical hums and crumbling noise. Like a doom-laden take on the crunching assault of Hair Police or a noisy version of David Lynch's Eraserhead soundtrack, the music is stripped down to the bare bones of what is necessary. Before long, we hit the record's central piece, "In Deo Salutari Meo" which takes an almost funereal tone, using religious bells as the primary sound source. Eventually the album climaxes on the longest piece, "Beatae Immortalitatis," which features Heavy Winged's Jed Bindeman on drums. Bindeman was last seen lending his percussive skills to "Calling For Vanished Faces" which appeared on the Xela/MGR split earlier in 2008, and here his pummeling beats accompany John's icy oscillator tones. Like a freeform Pan Sonic, this takes heavy electronic music into a frightening new place, ending in a thick cloud of screams and crackle. One might even call it a religious experience.