A new addition to the label’s extended family, Tracey arrives on Dial with his debut LP, Biostar. Following previous releases on Aus Music, Voyage Direct, and Intergraded, Biostar pushes the technical and emotional craft of this vital young producer in exciting new directions, submerging listeners in thirteen tracks of sublime electro, ambient experimentation, and warm, tonal techno. Based in the Netherlands, Tracey’s music is undoubtedly indebted to a legacy of emotive electronic music, the sort whose stark futurist vision cannot be equaled. Instead he strives and succeeds to create something personal and charismatic from a perhaps familiar palette of sounds. Somewhere between experimentation and understated songwriting, Biostar is a worthy edition to Dial’s legacy of unique, artist-led albums. In the tradition of established Dial artists such as Lawrence, Roman Flügel, and Efdemin, Tracey’s immediately apparent strength is an almost supernatural ability to conjure affecting and memorable melodies with minimalist intent, often just utilizing the raw textures of his machines. From album-opener “THRRVL”, Tracey tracks the initially gentle undulations of his studio seemingly waking to life, plotting a neat melodic shuffle on “TRR” and then, by, “CCLRT”, something dense, trippy and yearning. From here on in, Biostar plots an intriguing course through hypnotic, clockwork crunch (“THWRD”), to Drexciyan submersion (“HDRCSTCS”) and rhythmic experimentation on “PHTCPHRK”. Some of the more affecting moments on Biostar emerge from its more obtuse sections; “DTFNK” deciphers a surprisingly catchy melody among waves of scrambled signals, while the initially skittish “DRMRBT” blossoms into an electro lullaby at 126bpm. By the arrival of wistful closing track “CLSTLBNG”, listeners are likely to emerge content from the deepest exploration yet of Tracey’s unique analog ecosystem.
John Thorp on Lawrence’s Illusion: “Lawrence makes a full-length return to his own Dial label with Illusion. Following two critically-acclaimed albums for Mule Musiq, the follow-up to 2016’s Yoyogi Park (MUSIQ 054CD/196LP) captures the Berlin-based artist, DJ, and label-owner at home in a suitably deep landscape of sound. Throughout, his involving and human approach to electronic music feels more inviting and more necessary than ever. Rather than the dancefloors across Europe that Lawrence has so fruitfully soundtracked over the past few decades, the sound of Illusion is inspired not only by his endless, constantly unfolding creative process, but a flurry of underground club gigs overseas including Japan and Mexico. In these close spaces, warmth and intimacy generate the atmosphere, and Illusion is naturally blessed with a typically delicate touch that might surprise even long-time devotees of the artist. On close listen, acoustic instruments and subtle field recordings provide a natural bedfellow to Lawrence’s typically warm, earthy machine sound. Another influence is the artist’s real-time live project, Sky Walking, and their shows in intimate venues such as Berlin’s Acud and the legendary Golden Pudel Club in Hamburg. After pulling back the stage curtain with the mellow and inviting ‘Crystal’, the bubbling Lawrence grooves are quickly established on ‘Treasure Box’, alongside a complex but seductive tapestry of both electronic and acoustic sound. Before long the buoyant synths that drive ‘Yu Yu’ melt sensitively into a rich wash of strings. The second half of Illusion conjures somewhat darker magic, tunneling more so into the darker, psychedelic impulse within Lawrence’s synthesis. ‘Transitions’ establishes an eerie atmosphere that’s complemented by ‘Dark Swirl’, in which a deep, bottom-heavy bass line dances around a dense, atmospheric forest of effects. The record concludes with perhaps it’s greatest moments of potential physical delight. Montreux divulges it’s details gradually yet beautifully, anchored by a powerful kick, while ‘Creepers’ finishes the show with a deeply resonant, melodic and altogether transcendent trip, a full-scale but understated soothing of the body and mind. Continuing his story as one of the most accomplished producers in electronic music, Illusion finds Lawrence reflecting inward, back where he began. Able to conjure quietly breathtaking moments out of thin air, the intriguing effect of Lawrence’s music continues to resonate.”
DJ Richard returns to Dial with his much-anticipated sophomore LP, Dies Iræ Xerox. Undoubtedly one of the most distinctive and fully-formed electronic producers in recent memory, DJ Richard imprinted the sound of a bubbling US underground with his label, White Material, founded in 2012 alongside Young Male. His first solo LP for Dial, 2015’s Grind (DIAL 033CD/LP), found DJ Richard delicately establishing a discipline between his East Coast noise heritage and a physical, emotive tradition of house music, mastered during an extended stay in Berlin. Now firmly settled once more in his hometown of Providence, Dies Iræ Xerox is a personal and uncompromising journey that finds the Rhode Island native in reflective form. In part adapting its title from the Latin hymn “Dies irae”, otherwise known as “Day of Wrath”, Dies Iræ Xerox melds the physical and psychological aspects of DJ Richard’s production ethos in sharper, more widescreen vision than before; the oceanic swells of ambience yet more powerful, and the rigid basslines sharper still. With the chaos of the Berlin club scene an increasingly distant memory, the album is enriched with a contemplative, even brittle tone, as informed by film soundtracks and literature as the pulse of city living. On Dies Iræ Xerox, the artist finds the space to write “the records I really want to play”, and each suggests a template for genuine dancefloor transcendence, beginning with the electrifying “Vanguard”. The sludgy yet sophisticated crawl of “Tunnel Stalker” sets the tone for the menacing yet somehow melancholy EBM of “In Broad Daylight”, while the record draws to a breathless close with the affecting, drum machine lethargy of “Gate Of Roses”. Drawing little distinction between his more physically rousing material and searching soundscapes, Dies Iræ Xerox instead finds a passage of catharsis throughout both. “Dissolving World”, the album’s breathtaking centerpiece, is a choral feature hypnotically overwhelmed by walls of electronic feedback, forging a dramatic link between old ways and new. On the bold and near-beatless “Ancestral Helm” and “Final Mercy”, DJ Richard seems to grant both music and raw emotion the ability to simply float in the air, brilliantly, poignantly unresolved. If Grind, inspired by the weathered coastlines of Rhode Island, was a record concerning “the border between civilization and the ocean”, then Dies Iræ Xerox is an unapologetic follow-up concerning that between macabre obsessions and fear of death.
Since the early aughts, Alan Abrahams, aka Portable, has been producing records for labels like Perlon, Live At Robert Johnson, K7, and Süd Electronic. With a new band project RANGEr, the South Africa born Alan Abrahams is an artist in-between genres. A Life Without Notifications is now here, marking his first release for Dial records.
Anthropologist Marc Augé calls hotels and airports “non-places,” where “people are always, and never, at home.” As a touring DJ, Roman Flügel probably spends as much time in non-places as clubs or his studio. The Frankfurt-based artist has said that his third album for Dial, All The Right Noises, is very much a product of those surroundings. In particular, it’s about the solitary time in hotel rooms between gigs, and that strange mixture of peace and isolation. Released in October 2016 on Dial Records.
Double LP version. In the midst of a busy year, full of wildly-varied accomplishments, David Lieske (aka Carsten Jost) presents Perishable Tactics, his first full-length album since 2001’s You Don’t Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows. Since his last full-length, he’s kept busy curating countless releases on Dial, the label he co-runs with Peter “Lawrence” Kersten, which celebrated a 15 year anniversary with an all-encompassing various artists compilation, he has released a gallery-edition album of his black ambient collaboration Misanthrope CA with Robert Kulisek, Deathbridge (DIAL 037LP, 2016), and he launched a new magazine project (also with Kulisek) named after the speed of light (i.e. 299792458m/s). Out of all of the Dial house and techno artists, Carsten Jost has always represented the most precise brand of exquisitely doom-laden house, laced with equally strong doses of melancholy and beauty
For almost two decades, German DJ/producer Roman Flügel has been travelling the globe to bring famed Berlin raves to the masses. Still, his name in this part of North America is largely unknown. You can see the slow shifting recognition on social media; mentions of the 2015 edition of BC’s Bass Coast usually accompanied by an attendee commenting with glee that they’ve had Flügel introduced to them via his standout set. His 2015 track “Sliced Africa” making year end lists aplenty, regular features on late-night BBC programming, and a recent signing to acclaimed label Dial all give the impression that the world may finally be ready for Flügel.
And yet, with All The Right Noises, his first album with Dial, Flügel shows of his brainier side, ditching rave aesthetics for more experimental tones and a sly subtlety that plays better in headphones than on a dance floor. Album opener “Fantasy,” is a beat-less ambient birdsong; the musical equivalent of a clear winter morning. Much of the album is blissful in this way, more akin to his track “9 Years” on this years DJ Koze Presents: Pampa, Vol. 1 compilation.
Not until halfway through the album does Flügel truly drop the hammer with “Warm and Dewy,” even still he holds back with little low-end, opting instead for restless, rolling hi-hats and euphoric melodic haze. The following track “Dust,” continues this trend; it’s an ascendant, afterhours-ready standout, all lightly-lfo’d chords and articulated arpeggiations. All The Right Noises may not be ready for the dancefloor, but rarely does music made with machines sound this lively.
Grind isn’t the debut album we might’ve expected from DJ Richard. The former noise-head’s previous releases, for his own White Material label, pointed in a more boisterous direction. But with his first solo release for Dial, Richard has turned his gaze from Berlin’s landlocked club scene towards the coastline of his native Rhode Island. Grind explores his interest in “the border between civilization and the ocean,” and features tracks like “Savage Coast,” whose subtle synth layers fold over one another like lapping waves. As with most of Grind, the track’s beauty isn’t in question, but its effect is ambiguous: sometimes relaxing, sometimes unsettling.
Richard’s new approach to house is to smooth it down and pare it back. On highlight “Nighthawk,” the synths wheel like mournful seabirds over crisp, carefully syncopated drums. Beneath it all is a single held chord, a placeholder for the album’s mood of steady perseverance. Richard’s forays into drone, on stately numbers like “No Balance” and “Ejected,” compound this feeling.
The risk of such restraint is boredom, and Grind does sometimes take on the more negative implications of its title. “Screes Of Grey Craig,” for instance, is a bit lacklustre, though its materials are only fractionally different from those of its better companions. A zoomed-in view of Grind often reveals flat, almost inert textures. It takes a broader perspective to see the album’s charms, and they’re ample. Grind gets more compelling as it runs, and more so still with each repeated play.
Some track titles reference the optical phenomenon of the “green flash,” in which a green light can be briefly seen at sunset on an unobstructed horizon (like, for instance, one observed over a body of water). “Waiting For The Green Flash” and “I-Mir” (meaninginferior mirage) find Richard at his most withdrawn. They prepare the album for its own green flashes—moments of surprising beauty that puncture the austere surface. There’s the sparkling arps of “Bane,” and, better still, closer “Vampire (Dub),” whose ambrosial chords provide a wash of light after 45 minutes of overcast skies. In keeping with Richard’s newfound style, both tracks loop serenely at length. In Grind‘s deeper sense of time, they feel like they’re over all too soon.