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Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words - 11 Instances of Dead Letters+Words

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Artist: Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words

Album: 11 Instances of Dead Letters+Words

Label: iDEAL

Review date: Jan. 21, 2004

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words is a Gothenburg, Sweden-based combo determined to explore the full scope of drone, minimalism, dark ambient, and glitch as well as lowercase - a loose movement that emphasizes very quiet sounds and the long, empty silences between them. At first, that sounds like a bit too many aesthetics to handle at once, but on the contrary 11 Instances of Dead Letters+Words proves more than capable to merge these different musical directions into one unified stream of sounds.

The whole thing starts as a beautiful underwater ceremony of sorts, but it doesn’t take long before we can sense the impending polluted bays nearby. Layers of corrosive sound dust are added to the translucency and the further we get, the more exciting the blend between the sparkling and contaminated tends to get. The aptly titled “The Hills Are Alive” focuses on the hazy side of things with dark, repetitive sound waves moving in and out of your psyche with uncomforting ease and the results are not only beautiful, but powerful in a way that no words ever accurately could describe.

It’s a piece that works particularly well as a locomotive companion. I tried this out the other day and couldn’t help but imagine the train riding the wall of sound seeping from my headphones. The rapidly shifting landscape outside seemed to exist solely as a backdrop to Dead Letters’ creation. Given the majestic beauty and generally surreal feeling of staring at a forest at 200 km/h, that’s quite a compliment.

Other tracks jump the rails for a few minutes to investigate the creaking sound fragments that fill the midnight air around abandoned railroad terminals. What I am basically is trying to say is that 11 Instances of Dead Letters+Words manages to sound incredibly rural and urban at the same time, mixing warmth and frost in a remarkably precise way. And as if all this wasn’t enough, it works in accordance with just about any background noise you can imagine. Add the distant sound of church bells or angry voices from the apartment next door to “Wires of Oh Dots” and you’ll be surprised to see that every tone finds its little secret vista in the minimal proceedings. This might very well be the best Swedish album I’ll hear all year and it’s only January.

By Mats Gustafsson

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