Ela Orleans and Skitter - De FléchettesDe Fléchettes reunites Ela Orleans and Skitter on their first full length album. Way back in 2007 they released a joint CD-R in a short run of 100 copies, while Skitter went on to remix Ela Orleans on her remix album Ela And Thee Prophets. Since then Ela Orleans has been awarded the inaugural Dead Albatross Music Prize - an alternate take on the saccharine industry Mercury Prize, this one voted for by writers, shops and radio hosts for her stunning Tumult In Clouds album - which we can't rate highly enough. Hell, I've bought three copies for myself and friends. Like the Polish born Ela, Skitter aka Liam Stefani is another Glasgow based artist. Aside from his own numerous releases, Skitter has collaborated with many artists most recently manipulating the vocal shriek of ex-Stretchhead/ De Salvo noisenik P6 on both vinyl and cassette, and as the Library Assistants, with Richard Youngs, he's released something of a noise release.
De Fléchettes features Ela's haunting ghost-pop but here it is disembodied and immersed in dark experimental textures, with an inclination towards electronic and industrial sounds. Each side features lengthy experimental excursions around the title track, bookended by other shorter experimental pieces. De Fléchettes opens with 'Inter Alia' where a scratchy drone is sucked up into a noise roar from which springs Ela Orleans' 60s influenced ghost pop: all fragmented haunted vocals, clipped guitar riffs and strident drum rhythms shot through with textured noise and obliterated radio broadcasts. It's quite misleading as the rest of De Fléchettes although less structured is much more experimental in nature, especially on the two expansive takes of the title track which appear as 'De Fléchettes (One)' and 'De Fléchettes (Two)'. The first part sees Ela's wordless harmonies float above radio static and swirling violin melodies which manage to sound lifted from old records, amidst Skitter's evocative creation of deep wavering tones, radio frequency jolts and computer generated sounds. Where 'De Fléchettes (One)' offers shadowy atmospherics, 'De Fléchettes (Two)' is much more ominous and more akin to dark ambient soundscaping with its channel shifting drones punctuated by dripping and grainy textures. Haunting airy harmonies fade in and fade out over scattered bursts of noise texture and chopped-up effects. The twilight hues of these two tracks might conjure up comparisons with the likes of Lustmord and Nurse With Wound, but here as on other tracks on De Fléchettes, Ela Orleans and Skitter litter the sound with elements that all of their own.
De Fléchettes is peppered with shorter tracks that are no less effective. The loose improvisation of rubbery stabs and keyboard chime that comprise 'She May Not Leave' is played against a concurrent layer of wavering distortion, strewn with keys and beats. 'Sub Umbra' which seems to offer a comment on war with its rolling drums and whooshing almost air raid siren, set amongst chiming keyboards, low bass tones and wooden rhythm. The analogue electronic experimentalism of 'Beaked Burin', with its tinkering electronic rhythms underpinning a clash of wavering drones and deep dub tones, laced with more than a dash of noise and effects sounds like the kind of thing Blackest Ever Black would wet themselves over.
De Fléchettes takes both collaborators into new areas. A rich vein of experimentalism runs throughout De Fléchettes, with more than a touch of dark ambience and industrial drift but there's an alluring quality and understated beauty to be found partly due to Ela Orleans' haunting tones. Those seeking more of Ela Orleans ghost-pop might feel short-changed, as will those expecting a full-on noise onslaught from Skitter but if you can take in the more abstract sounds and dark soundscaping that both go for here then De Fléchettes is definitely another winner. Limited to a mere 250 copies on vinyl I'm surprised that copies are still available. You know how to rectify that though. Buy from Ela Orleans or Skitter or from the label Clan Destine