Electronic Music Vol. 1
Limited hand-stamped vinyl-only edition of 300 copies for the world. Much in the same vein as the 12th Chapel LP that introduced Type-offshoot Rite, this collector's vinyl finds label boss John Twells as Xela in collaborative mode, this time splitting a record with Digitalis founder Brad Rose (aka The North Sea). Each artist contributes a side's worth of new material inspired by the electronic music of the mid-20th century. Far from being a foray into fusty academic experimentation, this album brings together primordial oscillator drones and ancient-sounding effects, the sort of thing that ties together the soundscapes of Aaron Dilloway with Radiophonic Workshop-inspired sonic resourcefulness. From the introductory drones of Xela's opening piece, you're instantly transported to the timeline-blurring recesses of Sub Rosa's Anthology Of Noise compilations, or the mighty OHM boxset, slowly morphing from fogged-over, ambiguous tonalities to a more corrosive, distorted sound, thanks to some subtle use of prepared electric guitar. Next up, "Masculine Guilt" takes the formula a couple of steps further, encroaching upon a more timbrally-sophisticated blend of auditory decay. In keeping with the album's theme, the music sounds aged and somehow smeared, as if the various sound sources had seeped into one another over time, leaving only sporadic oscillations to cut through the air of obfuscation. That account might make it sound a little harsh on the ears, but it must be radio-friendly to some degree: BBC Radio One's Mary Anne Hobbs has already given this a spin on air. On the flipside, The North Sea takes over, unleashing a single, side-long composition held in place by a bedrock of undulating synthesis and Forbidden Planet-style stray signals, vaguely resembling Theremins. By its end, the piece only seems to accumulate greater density, becoming a solid, humming sound mass before dissipating reluctantly into nothing. The cover art features the artist name and tracklisting in Romanian.