Friday, October 20, 2006

Dummy Blog Album of the Week: 'The Dead Sea' by Xela

As soon as I heard The Dead Sea, I knew I was in trouble. The third album by Manchester producer (and Type Records founder) John Twells, it's a world away from the soft, glitch-splintered electronica of For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights or the secretive robot shoegaze of Tangled Wool. The Dead Sea is apparently about 'a doomed ocean voyage that meets an abrupt end amongst a swarm of malignant zombies', and it draws on all kinds of influences that I know nothing about, a small selection of which you can hear on Xela's excellent podcasts. Basically, I really like this album, but I don't have a clue what to say about it. If I were getting paid then naturally I'd just bluff my way through, but the wonderful thing about blogs is that there's no need to prop up the illusion of journalistic authority - so I thought the sensible thing to do would simply be to let Xela speak for himself.

How would you describe The Dead Sea?
A waterlogged horror-concept album with psychedelic and progressive rock leanings. On red vinyl.

What were you listening to while you were making it?
Now that's impossible to answer because I just listen to so much, from indie pop to black metal.. conscious influences on the sound were all the new psych folk stuff, italian film soundtracks, power electronics, noisy metal and of course prog rock. But yeah, I\'m constantly consuming music so I have to pick and choose what I plonk into my compositions when I want to make something coherent.

Each of your albums has sounded utterly unlike the previous one. Is it important to keep changing? Any idea where you're going next?
Yeah I think it's of the utmost importance to keep on changing... My mind and my reactions to music keeps on changing so I think my music should reflect that, it would be dishonest not to. I mean, my first record For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights was a reaction to the electronic music that I had just begun to hear after having played with indie/punk bands fora few years and Tangled Wool was an attempt at writing love songs. The Dead Sea was something I had in mind for a long time, but the style was a direct response to the music that excited me as I was writing it. I don't want to get into a position where I feel like I'm needlessly repeating myself as I don't respect that from other artists; I like to hear someone's mind at work, not someone coasting for the sake of it.

Do you think electronica, in the 90s sense, is a sinking ship?
It's already sunk! Hopefully someone will come along in the near future, James Cameron-style ,and raise it from it's watery doom. I'd love to see someone inject some new life into electronic music soon, but at the moment people seem to be giving it some space, and that's understandable: with the internet and the explosion of 'bedroom musicians', it was bound to become saturated very quickly.

Type Records releases thoughtful, experimental music with, potentially, quite a small audience, yet you seem to have got a big response (i.e. not just in The Wire!) What's your secret?
I don't know, all I can say is that I love the music I put out and I'm very tough on quality control. All the music I release is music I'd buy, and I think that's an important thing for me - I have to be really proud of a release, and being so involved with music on many levels it takes something special to get through to me. Hopefully people can see that.

Released on Type Records on 23/10

No comments: