Laaps Records is a new label launched by Mathias Van Eecloo on the heels of wrapping up his beloved Eilean Rec project. Though Van Eecloo still runs the innovative IIKKII Books project which launched a few years back, it is Laaps that is Eilean’s true successor as Van Eecloo once again maps out a concept and trajectory for a label that will guide its development from start to finish. Working once again with design partner Rémi Verdier, 100 remains the magic number. Instead of points on an imaginary map, however, with Laaps each release is part of a string of bridges with music from the last album used to begin the next – a patiently protracted ‘exquisite corpse’ process tied to each of the four seasons with a total of 100 bridges planned.
The first chance I’ve had to really dive into a Laaps release is Ocean Park by Danny Clay. This beguiling beauty picks up where We Were the Hum of Dreams by Offthesky and The Humble Bee leaves off, bridging that album’s closing track (“Hum in the Heart of a Dreaming”) into “Prologue” which start off Clay’s new opus.
Notably, Clay has appeared on all of Van Eecloo’s aforementioned projects beginning with Archive, one of the early Eilean releases in 2014, Stills with photographer Katrien De Blauwer on IIKII in 2016, and a collaboration with Stijn Hüwels called An Unintended Space in 2017, also on Eilean. Presciently echoing the bridge concept at play here, Clay also went on release his solo album Periphery on Slaapwel Records which Hüwels took up curating a couple of years prior. Musically, that is the work to which Ocean Park seems most connected as Clay takes long strands of beatific chamber music and binds the empyrean to the ephemeral by weaving in voice, music box, electronic treatments, and combs (you can even hear the stroking of the tines as the last track fades!). Each of his albums is highly unique in concept and sound and this one stands out for its sheer beauty and tranquility.
Ocean Park will be available beginning June 4, 2020 on limited CD edition (200 hand-numbered copies) and a limited colored blue vinyl LP edition (250 hand-numbered copies) as well as digital. The album was mastered by Ian Hawgood and features artwork by Finnish photographer Anni Leppälä.