Among the musical highlights of 2015 was a collaborative project between two distinctive ’boutique’ labels – Dauw, curated by Pieter Dudal with a specialization in handmade cassette releases, and Eilean Records curated by Mathias van Eecloo, a limited edition CD imprint based on a concept of mapping out an imagined place. Located in Belgium and France respectively, they are European neighbors as well as kindred spirits. The joint project called Dialog Tapes comprised two albums released in parallel wherein every track was a collaboration between a different pairing of artists selected from each label (read more about the first volume here). It turned out to be nothing less than treasure trove for listeners who appreciate electroacoustic ambient music steeped in eclecticism, minimalism, and filigree while at the same time blending diverse artistic styles in new & creative ways.
Needless to say, it was very gratifying news indeed to see a second iteration of the project on offer this year. Once again, the quality of the music across the two volumes is exquisite and the thoughtful pairings yield utterly captivating results full of subtle sonic surprises in their many permutations and juxtapositions.
“In its essence, Dialog Tapes is an ambitious attempt to connect a musical field through its own creative forces. It’s about connectivity and making new unexpected musical ties between individual actors…Four years later, both labels now express a distinctive sound and found their place within the field of minimal ambient and electro-acoustic music. Hence, Dudal and Eecloo found that the time was ripe to initiate the follow-up of the first Dialog Tapes output. After a long process of carefully selecting the artists and curating the collaborations, a wonderful group of musicians started to explore musical overlap, looked for new approaches to make music and ultimately went in a dialog with another artist. ” – Dauw/Eilean
On the Dauw tape, one could not hope for a better introduction to the proceedings than the warm, diaphanous drones of Benoît Pioulard wrapped around the nostalgic modern classical loops of Toàn (“Blight in Violet’) followed by a trio of time-stopping delicate constructions by The Humble Bee + Josh Mason (“Hope Corner”), Stijn Huwels + Yadayn (“Pale Hills”), and Steve Pacheco + Emmanuel Witzthum (“Dawn Light Whispers”). Pieter and Mathias collaborate themselves under their respective monikers Dudal and Monolyth & Cobalt on the pastoral “Laaps” before the volume veers into a set of immersive, wide-screen abstractions created by Machinefabriek + Offthesky (“Endins”), r beny + øjeRum (“Seventh Lasting”), and Olan Mill + Omar El Abd (“Sonorous”).
The journey continues on the Eilean disc with the sonic pointillism of Autistici + Olan Mill (“Our Dissociated Presence”) leading into an absolutely gorgeous string of tracks by øjeRum + The Humble Bee (“And Once – Only Once – I Caught The Authentic Shimmer Of Her Wings”), Toàn + Stijn Huwels (“Camera Oscura”), and Offthesky + Benoît Pioulard (“À L’Aise À L’Heure”). Josh Mason and Machinefabriek’s “Siltbell” provides a hauntingly evocative interlude before the final segment opens out into the transportive, verdant beauty of Emmanuel Witzhum and r beny‘s “Long Forgotten Coasts” and a pair of meditative, crepuscular soundscapes crafted by Monolyth & Cobalt + Dudal (“Moor”) and Omar El Abd + Steve Pacheco (“The Tempest”).
As with the first edition, Dialog Tapes II was released with one volume on cassette from Dauw and one on CD from Eilean featuring artwork by Femke Strijbol.. Alas, the physical editions sold out almost immediately (the rule rather than the exception for both labels!), but digital copies can still be obtained.