With 10 years in the ‘biz’ firmly under his belt, Jiah Wells is poised to release the first full-length LP of his Galtier project, Pulchra Es Elementis. Whilst Galtier is arguably one of the originators of the percussive style that would eventually fall under the Hard Drum label, the heightened theatrics of his recent output have seen him channel Blade Runner-styled sonics and move further away from absolute club functionality. Whilst Galtier’s output often seems to soundtrack hypothetical, off-planet words, Pulchra Es Elementis turns the focus inwards: towards Wells’ own emotional constellation, his evolving spirituality and his attempts to tap into planes of existence beyond the tangible. The album’s Latin title translates to ‘Elements are Beautiful’ and encapsulates the artist’s belief that there is grace in all of life’s aspects; pushing past what we deem as good or bad, minuscule or massive.
Pulchra Es Elementis begins with Crystalised Larva, a brooding opener of breathy pad synths and expansive kick drums which reverberate through the mix as if the hits originate from the bottom of a valley. There’s an indistinct sense of tension on this track, in part due to a central melody, which never resolves but only descends lower in pitch. This tension turns to explorative wonder on Wilfull Saviour, where a mirage of musical ideas come in and out of focus. Although the sonic worlds Galtier explores are internal to him, Wilfull Saviour still possesses that sense of a cosmic journey we’ve come to expect from Wells; an ardent fan of dystopian films and literature.
Continuing this emotional odyssey, Bruised, But Not Broken sees the artist push deeper into the psychological undergrowth; its murky tonality juxtaposes crisp, Reggaeton-inspired drum patterns with a heavily compressed one-note synth line that modulates wildly – cutting through the mix like a nagging thought that won’t leave your mind. Next up is U Were, U Are & What U Will Be, one of the more club-ready tracks of the LP, which gets us moving with a snarling bassline and layers upon layers of percussive hits and inflections.
At Pulchra Es Elementis’ mid-point is the LP’s title track, a drumless interlude where blissful, shimmering synths create a patchwork of intensities. Galtier’s approach to songwriting shines through here; ignoring musical pragmatics, he opts to feel his way through his compositions without knowing where they might end up. Following on from that weightless breather, Phantasiai turns up the freneticism with its head-spinning mix of drum programming and a glitched-out synth line that yo-yos up and down octaves. Things get even more furious on the Superficie-featuring Cavernam, a hollow Hard Drum banger inspired by Eskibeat sensibilities and designed to create a sense of self-implosion.
The album’s penultimate track, (U Are) Beautiful, is a tale of two halves: beginning with a moment of serenity as synthesizers swell like an ocean tide before evolving into a marching crescendo of raw energy. Rounding off the album, Shine Forth hurtles through pacey drum work and all manner of strange zaps and klaxons before giving way to a final dose of nebulous ambience.
A musical journey unlike any other ‘club music’ albums, Pulchra Es Elementis is an LP that demands to be consumed in one sitting. Reflecting on his place within the universe and the musical landscape, the album could be viewed as a musical exorcism which sees Galtier working through and shedding huge chunks of his ego that stuck to him out of fear of the unknown. Pulchra Es Elementis begins on an insecure, overwhelming or, even, existential note before rounding off with a related sense of vastness seen with new, more positive eyes. It’s a voyage we hope you will join him on.More Like Pulchra Es Elementis - Galtier