Label: Root Strata
This record marks the very first installment of Root Strata's 'Tsuki No Seika' series, a sequence of four 7"s that will go on to include contributions from Christina Carter, Richard Youngs, Islaja, Zelienople, Hisato Higuchi and Valet. The common theme running throughout is a restriction to acappella compositions, and the overall air of autonomy and self-sufficiency is even carried over into the artwork: each artist illustrates their own side of the sleeve. Grouper's musical contribution has something faintly festive about it, sounding like the warm-up hum of undead Christmas carollers. The piece acquires the seamless, fog-caked, drone-like quality that characterised Liz Harris' earliest output, momentarily abandoning her more songwriterly instincts for a return to the brilliantly intangible and esoteric qualities of 'Way Their Crept'. The Xela side is more discernible as a vocals-only piece, and avoiding droned-out abstraction he layers darkly reverberant falsetto recordings that tap into the almost Arvo Part-like streak recurrent in his work of late. The tone encroaches on something that's at least similar to ecclesiastical music, taking on the improbable aesthetic of a one-man church choir from the fourteenth century. Only the song's title upsets that logic: it's called 'I Drowned Her In A Dreamless Sleep'. This all makes for an exceptional start to the series, and with the likes of Carter and Youngs - both seasoned purveyors of unaccompanied vocal recordings - waiting in the wings, this bears all the hallmarks of an absolutely classic collectors edition.