Easily one of the finest ambient releases of the season, this inspired partnership brings together two labels and fifteen artists for a series of collaborative ventures. Artists from Dauw and Eilean Records were matched up, as if on musical dates. Preview mixes and videos were created to spark awareness and excitement. The labels then released the project in both separate and twinned forms, on CD and cassette: a brilliant idea, executed beautifully. The proof: the initial batch sold out in only 90 minutes. The pleasure: as lovely as the physical packages seem to be, the music is still the selling point (and digital is forever).
The two labels came into being over a year ago, and only a month apart. We’ve reviewed a few from France’s Eilean Records, but this is the first time that we’re covering Belgium’s Dauw. This Ghent-based label was founded “to combine the graphic work of Femke Strijbol and some music we like.” The label has released limited edition tapes from artists including Dag Rosenqvist, Ruhe and The Humble Bee, and all of their releases have sold out. (Make more we say!) The first track on their half of Dialog Tapes is also the source of the first video (directed by Eilean Records’ Mathias van Eecloo), and pairs Dauw’s Stijn Hüwels with Eilean’s Danny Clay. The slowness (but not stillness) of the track and corresponding visuals is a perfect reflection of the label’s sonic tone.
Sokkyō + Masaya Ozaki‘s “Madoromi” tumbles slowly like a sonic kaleidoscope, notes falling like colors from the sky. Wil Bolton + Leigh Toro‘s “Mindemoya” is thick and dronelike, fading into a soft cascade of bells. But the highlight is The Humble Bee + Aaron Martin‘s patient closer, “Bloom and Fold”. As soon as Martin’s cello begins to play, the listener’s soul begins to ascend.
Eilean Records has been incredibly impressive over the past year. It took us a little while to understand the numbering of the releases, each of which corresponds to a point on a map. Once we got that sorted, we were able to enjoy the music, and such music ~ our own Nayt Keane was virtually overwhelmed as he prepared a site feature, because every time the feature seemed finished, another pair of releases became available! With artists including Wil Bolton, twincities, Spheruleus, Sublamp and yes, Dag Rosenqvist (who technically could have collaborated with himself on this project), the label has never been at a loss for talent. The first video (and second song) from Eilean Records’ half of Dialog Tapes comes from Ruhe + The Humble Bee. These gorgeous excerpts from nature documentaries are a sweet match for the pristine piano and gentle guitar of “Blue Moon.”
Again, there’s plenty more where that came from. The meditative chimes of Leigh Toro + Miguel Isaza‘s “Phase Serendipity” provide an early highlight. Martin again impresses, this time with David Andree on “Collapse in Undergrowth.” Monolyth & Cobalt + Dudal offer a contrast of dark and light on the moody, slow-simmering “Der Herbst”. But the highlight of this set is the aching centerpiece, “Of Rainforests and Glaciers”, from Masaya Ozaki + Stijn Hüwels. Once again, it’s the strings that do the trick, shy at first yet ultimately confident, so sweet that the birds start to sing.
We’ve only mentioned half of the individual tracks, but the entire set is effective. On this project, it seems that the collaborations inspired not only music, but friendship. We’d love to hear more projects of this nature; congratulations to all of the artists and both of the labels involved. (Richard Allen)