Xela :: For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights (Type)

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(08.06.08) John Twells’ project Xela’s debut release was back in 2003 on Lee Norris’ much respected but Neo Ouija imprint (which will be making a comeback in 2008). Norris had received Twells’ demos and encouraged him to put together an album which he then released as For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights. Four years after its original release, UK label Type Recordings decided it was time Twells’ debut album was reissued and fully remastered it, gave it new artwork and added two bonus tracks – “A Glance” and “Danse Macabre” – that were recorded just after the album was completed.

Hailed as a classic when it appeared on Neo Ouija, For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights is full of lush uplifting melodies and snappy beats, with a hint of hip-hop influence here and there. Distinctly electronic in nature, this album harks back to the days when melodic electronic music was leading the way and labels like Neo Ouija et al were at the forefront of the movement. At times quite experimental, the chopped up jittery vocal samples and subtle hip-hop influences on “Japanese Whispers” or the deep reverberating tones of “An Abandoned Robot” for example, whilst still maintaining its melodic roots, For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights is at times as experimental as it is melodic. Sometimes based around snapping glitchy beats (“The Long Walk Home at Midnight”) and at others on melodic ambient texture (“Bobble Hats in Summer”), Twells’ music maintains a consistent air of restrained serenity even when the mood darkens and becomes slightly more melancholic. His music has a certain fluid quality that floats along with a languid sense of calm whilst at the same time expressing a level of emotional intimacy that aches with feeling, not necessarily melancholic but often considerate and expressive in nature. Combined with the smoother aspects of his music are deep elastic bass tones and crisp beats that add a sharper more urgent quality to the warmer more relaxed tones. The result is an ideal balance, the calming lushness of the gentler emotive undercurrents contrasted beautifully with clinical experimental aspects. By the time the original album closer “Last Breath” comes around, the combination of all these aspects are combined to create a gently rhythmic track with sampled breathing used as instruments, subtle melodies and an underlying layer of drifting texture to close things in style. Added to this remastered release are two bonus tracks recorded just after the original album was completed; “A Glance” follows the glitch/melody/tone structure seen on “Last Breath” while “Danse Macabre” is a little more poignant with steady stabbing beats, light melodies and an air of lament.

Type re-master and re-release this classic Neo Ouija album, adding two welcomed bonus tracks that compliment the original release nicely. Although it is now several years old, For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights provides a look back at a genre of experimental electronic music that, although it may have decreased in popularity since this album was released, was prolific at the time. Neo Ouija was at the forefront of that movement at the time and For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights is an excellent example of the consistent quality releases the label produced. Credit to Type for recognizing this and giving the album a welcome overhaul and re-release.

For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights is out now on Type. [Purchase]

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