Eleh is the name of a project that utilizes vintage analog modular synthesizers to pay tribute to early minimalist composers and pioneers such as La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Pauline Oliveros. Beginning in 2006, Eleh began releasing records on vinyl in tiny editions, mostly for Important Records, with a few releases on Taiga. Typical titles like Homage to the Sine Wave or Floating Frequencies are literal descriptors of the abstract music contained within. Since the project’s inception, Eleh has been shrouded in mystery, and no name has ever been attached to the recordings. Rumors and speculation have been rampant, implicating everyone from Sunn0))) mastermind Stephen O’Malley to Boston-based experimental electronic musician Keith Fullerton Whitman (who released a collection of compositions for vintage synthesizers under the title Multiples in 2005, just prior to the first appearance of the Eleh project). Location Momentum marks the first digital release and the first widely available album by Eleh.
Opener “Heleneleh” is minimalism for minimalists, an unwavering 20-minute synth tone. “Linear to Circular/Vertical Axis” is the album’s shortest track and its most dynamic, with a lo-fi feel to the washes of ear-ringing synth tones. “Circle One: Summer Transience” showcases the deep bass sound Eleh is capable of and reinforces the point that this music is meant to be played loud. The track is as much a physical experience as it is an auditory one.“Observation Wheel” is the noisiest song here, a flimsily built cycle of beeps and static discharge that transforms into a simplistic bass oscillation lacking the internal momentum of the stronger material. “Rotational Change For Windmill” is the superlative final song, a masterful series of barely there synth gestures that shift with a subtle beauty. The track is a bit chirpy on the high end at first, recalling the fractured digital noise of Florian Hecker, but it rewards a patient and loud listen by receding into a warm bath of synth tone with occasional deep bass fluctuations.
To me, the focus and purity of Eleh’s music is an antidote to conventional popular music, and I enjoy the record as a palate cleanser and aid to meditation and focus. I realize that many people don’t seek out music for this purpose, but for those that do, I heartily recommend Location Momentum.