MYSTERY SEA 42| Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words | [A Line : Align]


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-"For what it's worth: I know I've built these walls myself. A Line: Align ends where it started. It's fall and the leaves of Keiller's Park are turning rust red again. There's a low frequency hum that's probably coming from the neighbours washing machine. Or perhaps it's all in my head. The greatest war is in my head."

- Thomas Ekelund , October 2007


Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words is the emanation of Thomas Ekelund's dim imaginary, a sensitive music box giving tangible outline to the ghost songs hummed by his immediate environment... Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words reproduces the in-between & shadowy sounds, moulding in each work, a journey of deep intimate emotional resonance, nurtured with a sharp conscience of a multitude of past & present aural forms... Thomas Ekelund has a lengthy Curriculum Vitae with music released under various guises since 1999 (Dead Violets with Jeff Surak - Winquist/Virtanen with R. Abrahamsson...)... Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words counts numerous releases either on Thomas Ekelund's own imprint WHEN THE SKIES ARE GREY, or on CONV, ZEROMOON, KALLIGRAMMOFON, and his main home IDEAL RECORDINGS... He's also a designer and used to be the curator of the specialized FUKK GOD LET'S CREATE netlabel...
From walks in Gothenburg (SWEDEN), his place of residence, he has collected a string of everyday fertile sounds, and mounted them for Mystery Sea into a flow of magnified details inducing an intense transformative experience...
Within lost recesses, in the folds of silence
hidden under dust & half-remembered memories
A faint heartbeat slowly pulses in your veins...
like an echo of broken days,
the amplified presence of invisible micro-energies
a view through a clouded glass...

You're on the trail of scintillations,
through the subliminal tales of rustles, clickings, & object world...

Erase yourself, fade a little bit, tune in,
And side murmurs will show unexpected tones...



01. At Keiller's Park (Summer 2006) 
02. Allt Jag Rör Vid Faller Sönder
03. At Keiller's Park (Fall 2007)




VITAL WEEKLY 603|Frans De Waard
Thomas Ekelund's project Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words has been around for some time, and has had numerous releases on MP3, CDR and CD, mostly knitting ambient and glitch music together. If I understand this right, this new release deals with on land sounds. Perhaps a first for Mystery Sea? So far much of their music had a sub-aquatic theme, with sounds that if not recorded under water surely sounded like that. For the three lengthy pieces on this released by Ekelund he uses the sounds of the park, of walking about, the sand, stones and glass under his feet. All of that goes into the holy computer to arrive strongly altered, smeared deep and low with rumbling sounds to the listener. Each track starts out relatively calm, but unfolds over time in mighty dark beasts - loud, perhaps even violent, dark rumble. Maybe that is a bit of a pity since it makes all three tracks a bit single minded, since they all sound alike, certainly the first two pieces. However the first and third piece are quite, over which I prefer the third. Here the dark rumble and field recording keep in perfect balance. Maybe the second piece is a bit redundant, and without it, things would have been a bit stronger.
vital weekly

EARLABS|Christopher McFall
Rated : 9,5/10
I've been a fan of Thomas Ekelund's moniker Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words for some time now and his latest release A Line : Align on Mystery Sea has generated a great deal of intererest for me. One of the more interesting things about Ekelund's approach to reductionist music composition is that there seems to be an inherent coupling of the cold and abstract nature of minimal machine-like sound structures to that of a particular darkened emotional content. Honestly, this is an interesting combination that I don't often come by. In fact, the track 'In Perfect and Imperfect Circles' from his 'Old Ghosts, New Ghosts, All Ghosts' release on Ideal Recordings is a perfect example of this, whereby it would seem the rich, almost symphonic, loops tend to portray themselves as the musical theme for a tragic play. By this regard, Ekelund's music reflects his ability to convey powerful musical themes, while at the same time maintaining the attention of ears more channeled to the sound based content, the likes of which is quite stunning.
'A Line: Align' is a bit of a different walk in the park than Ekelund's previous works and, by this respect, the release fits in extraordinarly well with Mystery Sea's 'Night-Ocean Drones' series. This particular grouping of works is a bit more minimal that what I've heard in the past. Interesting enough, the eerie ambience that Ekelund creates in these tracks comes with a bit of a psychological twist. Perhaps, this is best prefaced by Ekelund's own words, which we're provided as introductory words on the disc information page at Mystery Sea: "For what it's worth: I know I've built these walls myself. A Line: Align ends where it started. It's fall and the leaves of Keiller's Park are turning rust red again. There's a low frequency hum that's probably coming from the neighbours washing machine. Or perhaps it's all in my head. The greatest war is in my head." In review of Ekelund's description, I found that my curiosity was immediately conjured as to what sounds these compositions would reveal. The first track, 'At Keiller's Park (Summer 2006)' is around 22 minutes long. The initial sounds of the first track remind me of wind and twilight. Later, as the track progresses, it gradually builds into more subdued static structures and looped material forming the backbone of the composition. High-pitched sinewaves also begin to emerge. Midway through the track, the pace begins to pick up with the gradual introduction of prominent machine-like looped structures and beautifully constructed drones, which are more along the lines of what I've heard from Ekelund in the past. The second and third tracks progress in a similar fashion as the first with distinct build up's of sound followed by gradual tapering. The sound content for these tracks is wonderfully dynamic, ranging from what may be described as robust drones all the way to near silent interludes. All things said, I've found that this is yet another amazing release for Thomas Ekelund and I would think it would be a must have for any fan of experimental music composition.

AQUARIUS new arrivals #286  
This is the first time we've reviewed anything by Swedish dronescaper Thomas Ekelund, aka Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words, which is weird as folks around here are big fans. It's not for lack of releases, he's been pretty prolific, it just one of those things, so many releases, artists, records, so little time.
Well, we aim to change that all right now, with this, the latest from Ekelund, a limited cd-r released on night-ocean-drone label Mystery Sea, and Ekelund's sounds here sound right at home. Three looooong tracks, the first, ultra minimal, it takes minutes to get going, but once it does, it's a fantastic expanse of ultra minimalism, so minimal in fact that much of it borders on Francisco Lopez territory. But turn it up, and listen close, and Ekelund's soundworld will reveal itself to you. A washed out murmur, peppered part way through with footsteps, the sound of metal on metal, some sort of random field recording, of men working, the clang and clatter overshadowing the whispery sounds beneath, but by the end of the first track, those whispery sounds have built into growling swells, thick smears of muted melody, crumbling and almost industrial sounding when paired with the grind and creak of the workmen.
The second track starts off in a similar fashion, strange super close mic'd sounds, thumps and scrapes, crinkles and cracks, over a super busy microscopic dronescape, all hisses and whirs and little bits of almost invisible melody, but it doesn't take long for that track to also swell into something dense and thick, high end tones rest atop a pulsing sea swell like drone, the low end fading out leaving a strangely dreamy high end shimmer, eventually fading out and leaving just those strange clunks and scrapes and that whirling swirling whisper beneath.
The closing track is a continuation of track two, in fact, they all sort of fit together into one sprawling soundscape, but the closer remains murky and minimal, a subtle scraping floating on a thick, but soft and smeared low end rumble, it's only in the last minute or two that other sounds join in, strange twinkles and glimmers, like laying on the ocean floor and watching bits of sunlight slowly make their way through the swirling blue grey sea.
Amazing packaging too, full color tray card, numbered, the booklet a half booklet, leaving half of the cd face exposed. Very striking.
And as always LIMITED TO 100 COPIES.

A Line: Align builds densely stratified layers of high frequency oscillations, grim textual vibrations and electric turbulence, which blossom upon the tapestry of a macabre grey slab with deadly force and a violence that becomes curiously seductive.
This work is more restrained than Ekelund’s previous efforts, presenting these grim existential metaphors through elements and a series of changes that are more indiscriminate, and which tend to establish droning, trance-inducing environments, rather than simply splattering the field with meandering patterns that play as a theatre of turmoil and claustrophobia and horror. Owing to this the unsettling elements stand as slivers in the skin of these works and make them all the more successful for it - it’s not always easy to pierce the veil of mystery and ascertain what this is about or where it is headed and this combination of frustration and curiosity - itself encouraged by the wealth of well-organized details - adds an important layer to the proceedings.
The tracks thus succeed positively and negatively, both for what they are and for what they are not: the thick, steady drone of “At Keiller’s Park (Summer 2006)” acts as a vacuum that is eventually cracked by minor eruptions of aural ectoplasm spiraling forth, giving rise to a new segment of more jarring, chafing penumbras, while in yet other places Ekelund drops out certain key elements or even works in pockets of (near)silence, toying with expectations with considerable tact and thus doing much by doing very little. “Allt Jag Ror Vid Faller Sonder” perhaps best employs this strategy; a continuous convulsion of negative energy, it’s a blank monolith of cold black sounds that act like a phantom pregnancy: suggesting much, but giving birth to nothing. In relation to Ekelund’s strong back catalogue, A Line: Align holds up extremely well.

cyclic defrost

TOKAFI |Tobias Fischer  
A charmingly naive and playful train of thoughts: Astoundingly crafted aural sculptures carved from the solid rock of time and imagination.

The world is obviously a wondrous place to Thomas Ekelund. Let’s forget for a moment that this man has been an active part of the Swedish experimental scene for years, that he has released under various pseudonyms and noms de plume, become part of the roster of the respected “Ideal” label and was only recently asked to stand in for Stephen O’Malley at the “24 Hour Drone People” spectacular. Instead, try to merely take “A Line: Align” as a starting point into his oeuvre. Would you ever expect such a haunting visitation after reading that the album is the result of strolls through his hometown of Gottenburg?
Framed by two long trips through Keiller’s Park (one from Summer of 2006 and the latter as recently as Fall 2007), this record freezes physical time and follows Ekelund’s thoughts, as they meander associatively in the river beds of his brain. The opening Summer-track is a tripart 21-minute composition, which fluently moves from very quiet, completely concrete microtonal field recordings and silvery textures to a discreet and spookey drone piece, before culminating in an opaque slab of fragile industrial rhythms which sound as though Thomas had forgotten his taperecorder at some ominous pressing plant.
Things were equally intense in Fall. Ekelund allows things to drift on their own accord for minutes, contrasting an eery dronewind with unidentifiable, fine sounds (like someone playing with pebbles in the gravel), before humming his audience to sleep with a lullaby performed on gigantic singing bowls. Only in the rumbling and roaring dronescape of “Allt Jag Rör Vid Faller Sönder”, which amasses density and grows to majestic proportions, that things get more tangible. But even here, the last minutes are spent with observations of the surroundings, of traffic in the distance, a mysterious semblance in the air and soft noises of what could be someone turning a dial plate on an old black telephone.
On the outside, these three tracks are astoundingly crafted aural sculptures carved from the solid rock of time and imagination. Ekelund weighs the components of his compositions equally, refusing to prefer drones above field recordings or floating stasis above rhythm, and this atmospheric egalitarianism makes his music simultaneously frightening, unreal and weightlessly open. As daydreamy as they may sometimes appear, their arrangements have been pressed into a precisely measured corset which adheres to clear criteria of form and development.
On the inside, however, “A Line: Align” is the product of a charmingly naive and playful train of thoughts: What would happen, if that machine kept cranking out that noise in a loop? How about banging on a glockenspiel to accompany the rising storm? Could the wind howl in a minor key? What would those ants sound like if magnified a thousand times? Nature and man-made environments are the basis for these mindgames, which turn into surreal symphonies at the hand of Ekelund’s clever collage technique.
“Erase yourself, fade a little bit, tune in - and side murmurs will show unexpected tones”, he says, unveiling his secrets just a little bit. “A Line: Align” is about becoming one with your environment and about the world becoming music in an act of mutual sonic rapprochement. It is an album which inspires one to go out into the park to search for these moments oneself. It is also conveys the message that creativity is not the exclusive domain of artists: The world can be a wondrous place to anyone, if you listen close enough.

As it happens in projects dealing with dark ambient and esoteric galaxies, a single human entity is the mover of the big machine. In the case of DLSODW, his name is Thomas Ekelund, hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden. Cold Meat Industry, anybody? That could be the question for many after hearing the obsessive, repetitive, really "industrial" chug'n'clatter of the first track, sustained by drones whose power grows with any successive frame. This is anticipated - or complemented - by a series of environmental sounds that Ekelund recorded walking around the city; the same occurs in the remaining tracks. This alternance between something that feels natural (even if we hear cars, they do sound "natural" nowadays, don't they?) and the threat of cancerous growth by those mesmerizing lows is the winning feature of the album. In various instances, listeners receive notice of under-skin heartbeats amidst the damp, cloudy masses characterizing the general imagery, like a body whose life is slowly yet steadily fading away, the flesh consumed by acrid gaseous matters. Then again: noise of shoes on the terrain, electrostatics, maybe shortwave radios. Is all this any different from hundreds of similar albums in this genre? In part, yes. For starters, the overall architecture is more developed than the norm, showing no trace of that dilettantism-drenched presumptuousness that brings pseudo-artists to slap whatever lies behind a pitch-transposed bass note on CD and declare "I'm an alternative composer". This music is characterized instead by a positively cinematic quality and a fresh attitude, transmitting good energy in lieu of the customary head-scratching perplexity. And the electroacoustic obscurity defining "At Keiller's Park (Fall 2007)" is downright gorgeous. Translation: a must for the fanatics of these atmospheres - and if I myself deem it an interesting release, knowing how little love is left in my heart for the genre, you do the maths. Headphones recommended.
touching extremes

SIGNAL TO NOISE # 50|Darren Bergstein   
A Line: Align, Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words’ MS outing, marks time with a subtly teeming environment of barely discernible sounds so enigmatic in their detail a potentiometer is practically required for the duration. Minute, crisp noises like the chewing of woodchips by ants curdle across thickening event horizons; bottomless abyssal trenches reveal the power of ancient gods staring back across the gap—the devil’s truly in the details herein.
signal to noise

Swedish musician Thomas Ekelund is the man behind the enigmatic nom-de-plume and here produces a set of fragile and absorbing recordings.  Indeed, so fragile that often other unavoidable ambient noises (passing cars, local wildlife looking for a shag, an unexpected sneezing fit) can completely overwhelm and destroy the ambience that he is working to create.  As the album progresses Ekelund takes a more muscular approach allowing his drones to build until they begin to dominate the aural landscape rather than being subservient to it before once again retreating into it's more introspective ambient form.  I have to admit to a slight frustration with very quiet and sparse music simply because my lifestyle precludes the option of wearing headphones and so much of the time the music I am listening to has to compete with the myriad distractions of everyday life.  For music as delicate as this it is a daunting task and one that it often doesn't achieve.  Having said that however one should note that on the times where the distractions are few and the music is able to breath and expand to fill the space then it succeeds admirably. 
wonderful wooden reasons

Rated : 3 stars out of 5
Dead Letters Spell out dead words
make very stripped and quiet ambient collage music, but here they seem to strip their sound down even further than any of their other work I’ve heard in the past. These are sonics for silent rooms or late at night which even at high volume make little impact.
The sound here is built around a slow unfolding tapestry of shifting static, clock ticks, distant buzzers and taps, settling tones and general quiet field recording, with distant drone elements and slightly more louder noise and field recording elements breaking ever so often the very subtle sonic surface. Yet for all it’s subtlety it does manage to suck you into (if you’re in the right frame of mind) each track which maps out a surreal and micro landscape of it's own. In all the album offers up three pieces which together total just under 50 minutes running time. Opening up the album we have At Keller's Park(summer 2006) which begins barely slipping into sonic view with a pattern of static tone movement. Latter on scratching, bends and scuttles and settling tones are added with distant drone textures that threaten to suddenly bloom, but never do. Through towards it's end the track does move into a relatively more noisy collection of motor buzz, clicks and settles; feeling like micro industrial music. The other two tracks follow a similar pattern in the subtle yet effective sound painting tones with at times quite detailed and complex micro sonics being built up.
This is ambient/ collage music that needs a lot of patience, a quiet room and a fair bit of concentration on the listeners part. It’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy quiet, yet cleverly built and designed ambience you’ll enjoy this.
musique machine

IT'S A TRAP | Avi Roig
Rated : 7/10
Two steps forward, one step back? Fans of the elegant dronepop majesty of "Fall, fall falling" will see this CDR release as a disappointing regression, but those of us who are familiar and appreciative of earlier Dead Letters works will not be daunted. Consisting of three dark and dingy long-form pieces for a grand total of forty-nine minutes, "A line: align" is in fact a throwback to Thomas Ekelund's roots and it is not without its rewards as there are definitely moments of great beauty rising from within the filth. Opener "At Keiller's Park (Summer 2006)" is the weakest of the bunch in that takes far too long to get going, often abandoning themes just as soon as they begin to take hold. Patience is eventually rewarded, though not nearly as well as I'd like. The other two however, fare much better in comparison by adhering to a far more concise narrative arc, not to mention a vastly increased level of volume. As much as I appreciate the subtle crackle of processed field recordings, it's the dull, aching throb of pure noise that affects me most, both mentally and physically. When a melody emerges from the squall and I can feel it tingling all the way down to my toes, that's magic. Ultimately, "A line: align" doesn't compete with any of the "proper" Dead Letters full-lengths, but I don't think it intends to. As a way station to whatever comes next, it'll do just fine.
it's a trap

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