Xela The Dead Sea

After a stretch of remarkable releases by a disparate group of artists, Type label boss John Twells turns out his own most recent recording as Xela, his third overall. Referencing Italian horror film soundtracks and with a distant kinship to current doom and noise-laden sound merchants, Twells’s work is more suggestive of dark corners and sharp knives, sustaining a low ebb of dread. The ramshackle clatter of percussion has a Tom Waits-in-Venice undertow, the perfect accompaniment for bobbing helpless as your ship disintegrates. Sounds and instruments often pull apart from set keys and times suggesting a band drifting apart on floating debris. The album’s narrative tension breaks for brief moments of light and hope like the acoustic jaunt of "Wet Bones” or the faux-heroic accordion parade of "Savage Rituals.” These sounds of salvation are soon drowned out by clanking chains, lonely buoy bells and "Sinking Cadavers.” Twells’s attention to detail verges on electro-acoustic constructivism without sacrificing the musical thread, like a film’s music and sound design sliding together seamlessly. Xela’s nautical horror show is best listened to while safely landlocked. (Type)