Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words – No Words LP Cloister Recordings US 2016
With Trepaneringsritualen now being a widely recognized name within the industrial underground, prior to the launch of that project in 2008 sole member Thomas Martin Ekelund recorded under another style and moniker, namely Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words (‘Dead Letters’ for short). With Dead Letters being broadly bracketed under the genres of drone and dark ambient, the music is also more musical than those genre classifications might imply. As for ‘No Words’ it a re-release of a 2010 tape featuring 3 lengthy tracks, which span an album’s worth of material (43 minutes).
On the musical front although being sonically lighter than the rather imposing ritual death industrial works of Trepaneringsritualen, conversely Dead Letters can be considered as being emotionally heavier than Thomas’ current project. As such there is a real sense of melancholy and emotional desolation which weaves through the music, and which draws the listener deep within the confines of its depressive atmosphere.
The first side of the vinyl bring two separate 10 minute tracks under the same title of ‘No Words’. Based on their combined title, these pieces are obviously instrumental, where the first track features a spartan (clean) guitar tune, with plodding bass and sparse, tonally shimmering dark ambient undercurrent. With an almost ambient ‘post-rock’ edge, the sense of melancholy and desolation is far greater than typical music of that genre, but mid track the mood builds to a sort of doom addled synth based crescendo. The second track on Side A ebbs forward at a crawling pace as gradual drone layers are added, where later a layered drone guitars evoking a bittersweet melody of doom creeps into frame (…”crushingly uplifting” might be suitable oxymoron to use). Side B delivers the single LP sided track ‘Forgive/ Forget/ Regret’, which spans 23 minutes. Commencing very much as a sparse doom-drone track, of atonal bass thuds, it catatonically builds upon a sparse undercurrent of shifting ice like static. Well into the second half a miserably depressing guitar line emerges into frame, along with a slow cyclic rhythmic pulse, and melodic synths to give a greater sense of song structure and movement, which continues through to the conclusion of the piece. Desperately and depressively sublime….
Given that Dead Letters back catalogue has in some way been overshadowed by Trepaneringsritualen, Cloister Recordings US should be commended for digging this release for a vinyl reissue treatment. On the visual front the artwork visually articulates the emotional desolation found within, whilst the mastering courtesy of James Plotkin has perfectly polished the musical content for a new audience. Being almost needless to say, this is a great release.