Elizabeth Joan Kelly
– Music For The DMV DL Out Now American classical
and ambient/industrial electronic artist releases her new album. Originally released
in August 2018, Music For The DMV is slowly but surely receiving more and more
recognition as time goes by.Utilising
Found Sound and MIDI, Elizabeth Joan Kelly has created something of a milestone
in underground electronic music with the Brian Eno inspired title - Music For
The DMV (America’s Department of Motor Vehicles). Taking its title influence
from Music For Airports, fifteen tracks see Kelly delve into the extraordinary
masses of online found sounds which she treats, manipulates and regurgitates.A simple task on the face of things but what
she does here is nothing short of extraordinary and inspiring. With Bachelors and Master’s
degrees in music composition from both New Orleans’ Loyola University and the
Cleveland Institute of Music, the Louisiana born artist certainly has a high
pedigree when it comes to writing and recording.With past music performed by the Cleveland
Chamber Symphony, Vox Novus and So Percussion, Kelly now finds herself experimenting
with instrumental electronic music exploring the links between technology,
industrialisation and consumerism. Album opener, Industrial
Ambient Prelude welcomes the listener to a sombre dystopian atmosphere before
the following track, Club Clanger combines chaos with dance and experimentation
with more than a hint of the intro to Depeche Mode’s Shout as it skilfully knits
everything together. Twilight Moving
Meditation is a gorgeous ambient piece with a gentle percussive loop and Bouncyland
brings immense fun to the party proving that Kelly isn’t just a one-trick pony
and Ghost In The Machine succeeds with the shrillest of movietronic screams
added for good measure. With final track,
Call My Number comes one of the most beautiful tracks you could hope to
hear.Sometimes disturbing, sometimes
enlightening, it features Elizabeth on haunting angelic vocals akin to Julee
Cruise with the most restrained of instrumental backing. With the promise of
a new album for 2019, Elizabeth Joan Kelly could well be a name to look out for.
Simple but expertly assembled music with
more than a few surprises along the way.
By his own admission, Xqui emerged into a ‘no
underground’ electronica scene in April 2018 with little to no coverage or
listeners. However, with a persistent social media strategy and a highly
prolific (and quality) output, Xqui has managed to amass over fifty released
tracks, which include the EPs (Britannia, Kindness, Nocturne, Wyrmling,
Heterogeneous, Dragonette, November) and various one off singles and remixes.
Capitulate is the second full length release from Xqui after the critically
acclaimed 2017 LP Dragon.
In the true sense of the D.I.Y. artist, Xqui uses a
mobile phone to capture field recordings which are then manipulated via apps
and combined with found sound clips to assemble his staggering array of
tracks. This, combined with his highly productive work ethic has attracted
attention from Louder than War, Fortitude Magazine, Bulletproof Socks and Neil
Anyway, onto the latest full length release from Xqui
and non of the experimentation and quality of past releases is lost across
these new eleven tracks.
Opener, ‘Impotus’ is a collaboration between
Xqui and West Walian electronic outfit Radio Europa.It has an all encompassing sound with
immediate immersion and a machine gun drumming midway through that soon drifts
away. Disconcerting muffled vocals and what sounds like the heavy breathing of
an entity battles with a throbbing beat. It’s discombobulating at best!
‘0208e’is a disturbing and unsettling electronica mix with the sampled
voice of Ronald Reagan repeatedly quoting from the ‘High Flight’ poem by John
Gillespie Magee Jr.
‘Cypriot (reverse logic #1)’ is the second collaboration seen on this
release with slide guitarist Geiger von Müller. The pair use a snippet of
acoustic guitar that is repeated until disperate sounds merge to produce
another unsettling sound collage. The sample guitar comes and goes in the mix
to produce a track that is as infectious as it’s jarring.
The Eno esque piece ‘Alienate‘ feels
like it’s soundtracking a free fall through the thin blue line and borders on
harsh noise as we enter the earth’s atmosphere. This is the LPs first standout
track. Follow up ‘Epiphany’ has a mechanical industrial beat accompanied by
choral singing and a guttural unearthly noise. It is metaphysical and primal in
its execution and one can’t help wondering whether this is a celebration of
clarity, or a crisis of faith. Either way, it’s deceptively catchy and yet
another stand out track.
‘Bedtime’ has a monstrous, backwards running voice lurking in the
background as spectral sounds and effects bring unease to what is essentially
the aural accompaniment to a hideous nightmare. Bedtime?I’d rather take my chances and stay awake.
Haunting, and again, unsettling to the point of disturbing. This is Xqui
fucking with our worst fears and damn well succeeding.
Follow up ‘Deathbed’ is surprisingly a lot easier on the ear with its
tribal drumming and sampled vocals from Fifi Rong interspersed with the ambient and
haunting sound work that Xqui does so well. And this melds perfectly into ‘Kismat’
which incorporates field music recordings (from an indian restaurant?) run
backwards, combined with snatches of a telephone conversation and layers of
texture and sound collage to produce one of Xqui’s more abstract pieces.
‘Tich is a full on glitchy soup from which disarray and confusion
emerges. It has echoes of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, yet feels a lot more
accessible, less abstract? THE standout track on the LP. Penultimate track ‘Zeiglerville’
has more disturbing sounds with disembodied recordings of children talking,
alongside a demonic monolith. This has to be one of the most disturbing tracks
on this LP. It makes for uneasy listening, yet it shows Xqui’s ability to move
the listener emotionally and let them inhabit spaces that he has created. And
however much the listener may not want to be in (some of) these places, you
have to hand it to Xqui for this disconcerting talent!
Final track ‘Valley’ is full of disorder, chaos, stabbing blasts of
noise and sound collages all set to a minimalist throbbing beat reminiscent of
Throbbing Gristles’ ‘Hot on the Heels of Love’. It is a conceptually fitting
finale to an audacious sounding LP.
Capitulate is a set of eleven tracks that hang together by a thread and
have very little commonality or theme. But this is what I love about this album,
and Xqui’s output so far. There are ideas that are fully rounded and seen
through to the bitter end. Yet, there are other ideas that a thrown at the
listener in a barrage of soundscapes, that may or may not make sense. But life
rarely does, so who cares?
Nitzsche said “one must face chaos to give birth to a star”. I think
this perfectly describes Xqui’s output so far. It is prolific, perturbing, anarchic,
yet never predictable. Xqui paves his own chaotic way with originality and an
output that has to be envied and admired. And this latest release is not an
exception. The CD version of this LP is now sold out, but it is currently
available as a run of limited edition cassettes. Download or buy it today.