Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words: Old Ghosts, New Ghosts, All Ghosts

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words / Ronnie Sundin: Fuglesang, Astronaut
Fang Bomb

In keeping with the morose moniker, Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words' style is as downcast as one might expect but Gothenburg, Sweden-based Thomas Ekelund's sophomore collection of brooding soundscapes, Old Ghosts, New Ghosts, All Ghosts, is far from dissatisfying. Split into two parts (Circles, Fucking Circles and No Ghosts), its nineteen pieces include nine untitled fragments and interludes—the opener only four seconds long—that add complementary atmosphere and ten industrial-sounding drones constructed from loops and outdoor field noises. At certain moments, you could imagine yourself standing outside a factory door, absorbing the churning rhythms of the machinery inside; at other times, you find yourself surrounded by loudly tolling bells, or at the seashore serenaded by creaking harbor sounds. There's an assured and unhurried flow to the material that's appealing, not to mention wonderful moments like “In Perfect and Imperfect Circles,” a somber dronescape that's equal to anything on Tim Hecker's Mirages or Harmony in Ultraviolet. Gloom never felt so good.

The Fang Bomb 7-inch disc offers a striking, even perverse, incongruity between the prototypical NASA cover portrait of Christer Fuglesang and the aural grotesquery of its two tracks by Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words and Ronnie Sundin—all the more reason to embrace it. The release pays tribute to Fuglesang, the 1000th person to leave earth on a space mission and Sweden's first astronaut, who in December 2006 as part of mission STS-116 docked with the International Space Station and performed two spacewalks to rewire it. Fang Bomb calls Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words' style ‘concrete drone pop' and “Born to Go,” a prolonged belch of grungy noise that suggests what you'd hear if your head were stuck inside an old muffler while a decrepit engine roars to life, makes good on the description. Sundin's “Space is the Place (In Space Nobody Can Hear Your Demons Mix)” slowly builds into a brutalizing monstrosity that pairs an insistently rumbling bass throb with the dissonant wail and squeal of a dental drill. Born to go straight to hell is more like it.

January 2007