While Quebec ex-pat John Sellekaers’ legacy at this point is probably more related to his several decades of work as a mastering engineer for his own Metarc Studios, his numerous industrial adjacent projects were a going concern for listeners around the turn of the millennium. The most well-known of these was probably Xingu Hill, which released several well-regarded LPs on rhythmic noise mainstay Ant-Zen and it’s Hymen sub-label. The sound of the project is what was broadly referred to at the time as technoid, an industrialized form of IDM.
While Sellekaers has remained busy with numerous other musical outlets in the years since that particular style’s heyday, the return of Xingu Hill with Grigri Pavilion is somewhat unexpected after so many years laying fallow. Interestingly many of the sounds that seem characteristic of the project now have become far more commonplace. The reverbed synth stabs and rubbery pings of “Electrographic Dreams” are vintage Xingu Hill, but they also bring to mind the celebrated soundtrack work of Haxan Cloak, via their intricate design and stereo placement. Similarly, the slightly arrhythmic shuffle that drives “Moving Mirrors” has more than a little in common with the dubbier end of hyperpop, and by extension the mainstream pop that has drawn influence from that style. You might even imagine hearing the playful twinkling melodies of “Conjectures” in a Youtube video of lo-fi beats, complete with studious anime girl.
While those commonalities are fun to trainspot, there’s still a distinctly old school vibe to the LP. Perhaps its the genre agnostic use of big emotional pads on bookend cuts “Byways & Tunnels” and “Nightcraft”, or the nods to 90s breaks on the rhythm programming of “Eye Contact”, but the record has an almost wistful nostalgia to its construction. Setting aside the pleasing digital clarity of the mix (an area that Selleakers has always excelled in), the record could just as easily have hailed from the early 2000s musically. The emotional by-product of that feeling comes through as a kind of vague melancholy, as heard in the ghostly drones that float through “Hi-Fi Stimulant” and “Ghost Satellite”.
Grigri Pavilion is low-key affair by design, as befits the style of the project’s original run of material. It’s easy on the ears and doesn’t overstay its welcome, both qualities that make it a pleasant if not especially essential listen. Its charms will find purchase with those who still visit the artist’s classic era, and can enjoy a further exploration of its nuances and ideas.