On March 25, Barge Recordings, a young Brooklyn label with roots in Boston, unveils the first in a series of split releases that will be available on vinyl and for MP3 download. “Volume I: MGR vs. Xela” offers two extended side-long pieces by two very different artists. Here’s a rundown of these new tracks, plus two earlier pieces by MGR and Xela that are also available for purchase on-line.
MGR, “Shipping Gold”
MGR (Mustard Gas and Roses, a Slaughterhouse Five reference) is the solo project of Isis guitarist Mike Gallagher. A dark, brooding piece of metal-inflected guitar minimalism, “Shipping Gold” is drenched in atmospheric reverb and dread.
A wave of surf-like static ushers in this track from Gallagher’s second MGR release, 2006’s Nova Lux, before the guitars emerge out of its wake. An almost jaunty number for Gallagher, “IV” in the end is a toothless bit of metal ambiance.
XELA, “Calling for Vanished Faces”
Over the past few years, the music of Xela (a/k/a John Twalls) has transformed from melodic, folk-inflected electronics into increasingly abstract psychedelic noise. At 23 minutes, this sprawling epic features the crashing percussion of drummer Jed Bindeman (of the New York noise band Heavy Winged), waves of feedback, and a wordless chorus of æthereal voices. Near-cacophony is rarely this transcendent.
XELA, “Quiet Night”
What a difference four years made! This delicate little piece from Xela’s second album, 2004’s Tangled Wool, could hardly be farther from the ferocious squall of his recent work. The mix of acoustic instruments, organ, and electronics is hushed, melodic, and gentle as a lamb. Not earth-shattering, but sometimes you need a little nighttime peace.
, Mike Gallagher