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grouper / xela - Tsuki No Seika: Volume One
*STRICTLY LIMITED COPIES ONLY AVAILABLE OF THIS SUBSCRIPTION SERIES 7" - SLEEP AND WEEP* Strictly speaking, this split 7" from Grouper and Xela is a subscription-only release, and so shouldn't really be available to shops, but we've managed to grab a handful from the super generous Root Strata label (bearing in mind that it is actually limited to 300 copies for the world). This record marks the very first installment of Root Strata's 'Tsuki No Seika' series, a sequence of four 7"s that will go on to include contributions from Christina Carter, Richard Youngs, Islaja, Zelienople, Hisato Higuchi and Valet. The common theme running throughout is a restriction to acappella compositions, and the overall air of autonomy and self-sufficiency is even carried over into the artwork: each artist illustrates their own side of the sleeve. Grouper's musical contribution has something faintly festive about it, sounding like the warm-up hum of undead Christmas carollers. The piece acquires the seamless, fog-caked, drone-like quality that characterised Liz Harris' earliest output, momentarily abandoning her more songwriterly instincts for a return to the brilliantly intangible and esoteric qualities of 'Way Their Crept'. The Xela side is more discernible as a vocals-only piece, and avoiding droned-out abstraction he layers darkly reverberant falsetto recordings that tap into the almost Arvo Part-like streak recurrent in his work of late. The tone encroaches on something that's at least similar to ecclesiastical music, taking on the improbable aesthetic of a one-man church choir from the fourteenth century. Only the song's title upsets that logic: it's called 'I Drowned Her In A Dreamless Sleep'. This all makes for an exceptional start to the series, and with the likes of Carter and Youngs - both seasoned purveyors of unaccompanied vocal recordings - waiting in the wings, this bears all the hallmarks of an absolutely classic collectors edition. Grab one while you can.