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xela - In Bocca Al Lupo
With a title translated as Into The Mouth Of The Wolf, John Xela's new album follows up the horrific soundsc(r)apes of The Dead Sea with an hour-long, four-part journey into the more sinister recesses of Christianity, traveling further and deeper than ever before into the dark heart of electronic sound. 'Ut Nos Vivicaret' embraces the distant, spectral sounds of church bells, submerged in a foggy environs, pumped full of Philip Jeck-style crackle and mustiness. Bowed strings entangle themselves with menacing, corrosive humming noises while nagging, primordial electronics rattle and pulsate in the mix. A direct continuation of all this, 'In Deo Salutari Meo' brings sounds from the far-off distance a little too close for comfort, with a range of rustily sonorous bell chimes shifting into the foreground, by now seeking accompaniment from the what sounds for all the world like the noise from the red generator in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This is what dark ambient music should always sound like: not just a combination of muffled, creepy chords, but a collection of genuinely unsettling timbres, all seemingly rising from shards of everyday background noises, transforming into something entirely nefarious when combined with one another. 'In Misericordia' is a little harder on the ears, lurching onto the territory of noise-drone you'd hear from Hototogisu or Yellow Swans at their most lurid. These acerbic tones turn out to be a mere warm up for the final act however, and the closing twenty-minute crescendo 'Beatae Immortalitatis'. For this final piece Xela is joined by Heavy Winged's Jed Bindeman, who previously provided percussion on the Xela/MGR split release from earlier on in the year. The drums build up in a measured, nicely poised fashion, mirroring the escalating ferocity of Xela's bank of oscillators. As this maelstrom of free-roaming noise-rock comes to a head, the duo propel themselves to Flower / Corsano levels of agonising post-skronk, with screams, howls - and very possibly the gnashing of teeth - all resounding horribly as part of the din. In Bocca Al Lupo takes the guiding principles of The Dead Sea to the next level, displacing the maritime-gothic drones from their briny locale and relocating them to the upturned altars abandoned vaults of ruined churches. He might find himself sharing a corner of hell with Dan Brown for his 'colourful' re-imagining of the Christian doctrine on that somewhat dubious sleeve, but he's made a tremendous record along the way - a definite highlight within the already estimable Type Records catalogue. A huge recommendation.