Xeltrei: Litotes
Symbolic Interaction

For those who didn't think Library Tapes' sound could become any more hermetic and minimal, there's Xeltrei, a new side project established by David Wenngren (aka Library Tapes) and Erica, his 21-year-old Swedish collaborator. Litotes, the group's debut and the Japanese label Symbolic Interaction's fourth release, is true ‘headphones' music, a half-hour set of ten pieces that couples piano playing with atmospheric settings constructed using field recordings and computer. The piano itself is heard as a muffled blur that resembles, yes, decaying library tapes exhumed from a long-forgotten basement archive, and is typically presented sparsely, so much so that one can hear the chords vanish into the pregnant pauses separating them in the aptly-named “Frugal.” In this genre, field elements often are used as secondary enhancement but, in Litotes' case, they assume a sonic presence equal to the piano, and function as Xeltrei's second ‘instrument.' At various times, one hears the far-off clatter of a train, sounds of the seashore and harbour, rustling winds softly blowing, and the industrial clanks and knocks of machinery. Consequently, the becalmed ambiance produced by the delicate piano playing character induces contemplation, while the field elements provide evocation. Listen to Xeltrei's late-night music with the lights down low, or perhaps off altogether.

October 2007