xabec | Seelenschiff
published on http://www.remoteinduction.co.uk
Seelenschiff is the first full length CD to be released by Xabec, coming on Hands after a previous vinyl release. While Xabec have appeared on various Hands compilations it was their life performance at Maschinenfest 2001 which really caught my attention. With that Seelenschiff does not disappoint, coming in a sand coloured "hands sleeve", which includes a booklet with notes on each of the tracks and their ideas in German and English.
Rising as a combination of low bass drones and the light washes of initial melody, comes the start of Liquid Journeys, Packed In Jars, Ready To Consume. Flickering through this are the hesitant extractions of a computerised voice, backed by a decelerating field of distortion, plipping into a sequence of electronic signal. Which resolves into an analogue chatter within the gentle layers. Buried inside there is the play of a dialogue in English, a reporting commentary. Agitation increases, a certain crackle to the programming, carried as the liquid wells up. Continuing with the second part of these Liquid Journeys, we have a drift, which is more chromatic, imbued with a shining edge. Flitting, clipped rhythms play, an almost organic suggestion the way these rough brushes play.
Wallowing bass motions offer an impression of vibration in Sonar, lightening in tone as the wave rises by degrees. A low rumbling pulse works with a high frequency, backed by stark strokes amongst the growing smooth washes. For the most part an easy going mellowness, the crackled brushes offering a bare contrast, and the periodic pulsations providing a certain accentuation. As this drift continues the beat impressions become a clearer rhythmic presence, slow dunt and skip within the ongoing process of blossoming rays of light. The layers give way to a picking detail, little catching sounds pushed to the fore till conclusion. Bass pulse rises in the low oscillation of Pumpen Wasser. A form which is punctuated by drips and the attendant splash. These plip and reverberate on a skin surface. Electric twinges and effects are added to the body of these sounds, giving odd moments to the understated body.
A dull rasp brushes along a string in Der Riss, vibrant twang peaking the coarse strokes. As this form is played there is a balance between drone and abrasion being played out, punctuated by silences and excesses, which tip the balance too far. Vinyl skip mixes with a taut twang for a moment, before the string is drawn out in a risk filled extension. Der Riss continues to, by turns, experiment with the string then with the resulting material as source sound mix with other elements. This allows for a mix of abrasion and micro detail, progressing to a more combinative form. To the fore we have a kinetic twitching form, which caries hints of drones and wind instrument, while in the background there is a low rotary bass ambiance at work. With the low bass percolating to the fore as a distant wave, triggering a blipping signal in turn. Volcanic fluids rumble and pop with the slow and slight agitation of the brief Hulle.
Oneiros carries on with overlapping bass drones, slowly layering as they continue to form. Deepening with the toll of a periodic bell, swirling in thicker layers that allow for the introduction of further elements. Strange, near random electronic sounds come, to punctuate the lightly repeating strokes of mild percussion. Streaks and strokes and other additions offer periodic presences, but it is the flow which provides the piece with continuity. Rougher edges offer a percussion, a distorted crackle, a clockwork repetition - all integrated into the total. There is a distinct abstractness to this piece, which leaves the listener, to a degree, curious of it's composers intent. But with it's length there is scope for enough themes to be explored, as demonstrated by the rise of a phase with trundling metal strokes and pulsed drones (smooth to diffuse and back). An openness forms, with a tight spatial confinement in which the shift of an engine sounds muffled, Connected following the vehicles progression from distant to near. The effects of the sounds are exaggerated, ranging from a muffled groan to an overdriven proximity, layered in an echoing fashion, dipped peaks within the accelerated oscillation. Which leads to periodic chicken clucks against a background environment. Pixellated electronics creep into the edges of this portrait, an increasingly clear signal that gives rise to a lightly looped pulse. Rising in a waspish buzz, amongst streaking passages. Taut droning strings play sliding note work, carefully vibrant and far more deliberate than the sense Connected has carried to this point.