The label welcomes a new member to its family with Maria Papadomanolaki first proper full length debut as Dalot, Loop over Latitudes. From sweeping pads to pulsating electronic beats, Dalot demonstrates her skill at “creating moments of lush ambience, emotion and texture by blending elements of phonography, electro-acoustic composition and minimal electronica with more traditional musical elements such as voice, guitar, glockenspiel and tablas.” Quoting Stars of the Lid, Colleen and Boards of Canada as her inspirations, Maria blends field recordings with glitchy percussion, meditative passages, and reverb drowned voice to create music as cerebral as it is contemplative – each piece presenting a story, “much like one of the novels she once studied in her native Greece”. The album collects three tracks from Dalot’s first EP, Flight Sessions, released by Coo Records in 2009. With this release, Dalot joins n5MD veterans such as Another Electronic Musician, SubtractiveLAD, and Near The Parenthesis to contribute another solid release to the label’s catalog of emotional experiments in music. Well done, milady, and welcome to the family!
If Loop Over Latitudes at times sounds similar to Maria Papadomanolaki's previous Dalot recording, the EP Flight Sessions, that's probably because three of the latter's tracks re-appear on the new release. That detail notwithstanding, the Grecian-born musician's debut outing for n5MD sounds very much like a significant artistic advance on its predecessor. Whereas the EP impressed as a strong effort, Loop Over Latitudes registers as a more refined and mature collection. Papadomanolaki brings an assured hand to the album's eight settings, whether they're electro-acoustic sound collages or beat-based experiments. Working with field recordings (sirens, bird chirps), voice, guitar, glockenspiel, tablas, and electronic elements, she creates multi-layered set-pieces that often change character multiple times during a single track; note, for example, the manner by which “Story of a City” morphs from a blurry drone into a tumultuous beehive swarm of guitars, beats, strings, and, at track's end, tablas. “Time to Be (Out of Time)” likewise begins placidly with the twang of electric guitar shadings but eventually grows into a towering slab of epic electronica powered by lashing beats. Even the brooding opener, “Solitary, Vacant,” sheds its downtrodden character by offsetting grainy washes and swirls with the delicate pluck of an acoustic guitar and angelic vocal swells. The Dalot sound also evades easy capture: whereas some tracks contain moments of pristine purity reminiscent of a Stars of the Lid piece (“Infinite Window”) and some rise to a level of aggression one more associates with noise artists (“View From a Hill”), others roar with the ghostly, widescreen intensity of shoegaze (“When”). Genre-defying Loop Over Latitudes may be, but it's also compelling enough to hold one's attention for the bulk of its forty-five-minute run.
I first encountered Dalot on her Flight Sessions EP. The Greek born, now Brighton based composer painted a studied, almost collegial soundscape. I earmarked her as a musician of real character and one to watch out for, so I was delighted to see a long player arrive.
No great departure (no pun intended) from Flight Sessions on Loop Over Latitudes. Indeed a handful of tracks here are the same. Maria Papadomanolaki considers herself a composer of sound rather than musician. I understand the distinction she is making but when it boils down to it, music is composed sound. Some pieces on Loop do tend towards collage rather than traditional song basis. Yet it really isn’t anything rare in IDM or electronica fields. Some of her composit tracks even tread familiar, post-rock ground. ‘Rewind’ is in the vibe of early Mogwai with its plaintive guitar scale and sampled Police sirens. It could have fit somewhere between 4 Satin and CODY. ‘When’ even recalls ‘Stasi’, a rare track port-royal put out on Chat Blanc, and one of my favourite things they ever did.
A masterwork of simplicity, ‘When’ is a standout here too, but isn’t wholely representative of this album or Dalot as a whole. If you need a peg upon which to hang your Dalot coat, then I wouldn’t pick port-royal or Mogwai as references. I’d pitch her somewhere between labelmate Last Days, and Stars Of The Lid. Loop feels similarly autobiographical to that of Last Days (although with wordless compositions we can never be sure of that). She is a tad less minimalist than SOTL, less drone, but where Dalot really speaks to me of those two wonderful acts is in the integrity of her music. This is a personal impression but it seems to me that Dalot’s music is brave and honest. The art doesn’t seem separated from the artist. Like the sonic equivalent of a life painting, we’re really focusing in on her.
Loop.. is a fine addition for any discerning electronica, IDM, ambient fan. Yet I still get the impression there is even more to come from this young lady. I don’t believe Loop will eventually prove to be Dalot’s masterpiece. Think I’m being pessimistic? I’m being optimistic. Imagine… an album even better than Loop Over Latitudes. This is an artist to nurture and allow to develop at her own pace. It could prove to be a journey well worth sharing.
the skeleton crew quarterly
It’s curious that n5MD, a label that initially dealt in the mini-disc as its format of choice, now regularly issues some of the most commanding, full-length-encompassing records of all the electronic imprints. This isn’t the case of a once micro-scaled label puffing out its chest; their reputation for quality albums that clock between seventy and eighty minutes in length renders each release day a massive one, each record a mini universe to carry home and discover. Loop Over Latitudes may break that reliable mould by registering well under the hour-mark but Maria Papadomanolaki, who records as Dalot, earns every second of n5MD’s aura by engineering compositions that stretch out ominously without ever blurring into drone’s seesaw dynamics.
As both a classically trained musician and a sound-collage artist, Papadomanolaki merges gentle ambient nuances with everything from crisp traditional instruments and field-recordings to carefully layered noise. Her breadth of knowledge quickly distinguishes ‘Solitary, Vacant’, a gauzy drone track peppered with glitches, by elevating its mood with pastoral guitar and wordless vocals. It’s but the first of many instances where Dalot shapes concrete and lucid structures out of something we’d be forgiven for assuming would remain a zone-out composition. ‘When’ has barely gathered its glum melody when a percolating rhythm rises in the mix, leading to a sumptuous swirl of bass, distorted synths and languid guitar. Even when thick beat-programming swells into ‘Time To Be (Out Of Time)’, these evolutions never sound flashy so much as integral to Papadomanolaki’s unspoken narrative, which unfurls at such a deceiving pace you hardly notice when she lets the ambience win (as on ‘View From a Hill’).
Loop Over Latitudes’ quieter moments unveil Dalot’s aptitude for sound-collages, a secondary ace-in-sleeve that gives her airier compositions a palpable place and time. The distant sirens that squeeze into ‘Rewind’ might’ve felt obvious in the hands of a lazier songwriter but here they contrast an initial seaside setting as though we’re sitting in Papadomanolaki’s passenger seat, drifting back into the traffic artery of a congested city. Loop Over Latitudes doesn’t deserve or plead for exclamation-ridden reactions; it’s a more inert listening experience, where the actual and imaginary aspects of Dalot’s songwriting play with your head.
Derrière Dalot se cache une artiste grecque : Maria Papadomanolaki. C’est dans le milieu de l’art sonore que la jeune femme se fait d’abord connaître par des performances scéniques ou radiophoniques. En 2007 et 2008 Maria propose une exhibition assez ambitieuse et originale : une pièce vocale interactive basée sur des lectures (par les visiteurs eux-mêmes) d’extraits de Samuel Beckett. Tout l’intérêt de la chose réside dans la réécoute de ces enregistrements en s’appuyant sur la musicalité de la voix et la décontextualisation : c’est le projet Stoma qui recevra de prestigieuses récompenses. En 2009, c’est avec Dalot que Maria goûte au plaisir de la création plus musicale avec la sortie d’un premier EP : Flight Sessions. Elle est alors accueillie au sein du chaleureux et combien délicat label n5MD, Loop Over Latitudes est ainsi le premier album de la jeune femme. Il reprend 3 pistes de l’EP et propose 6 morceaux originaux. Inspiré par 6 années d’errances à travers la planète, les premières mesures offrent un vagabondage sonore assez efficace. On retrouve quelques recettes classiques de l’ambient avec des nappes mélodiques, de la guitare épurée et des chants éthérés. Puis viennent se superposer des éléments sonores enrichissant et singularisant chaque morceau. Que ce soit dans la rythmique, dans les ajouts de bruits environnants , les pistes défilent les unes à la suite des autres sans aucun sentiment de lassitude avec même l’apparition de quelques pépites comme le bouleversant “When” magique et envoûtant.
Working with an organic range of source material – field recordings, minimal electronics, voice, guitar, and other instruments – Greek-born Maria Papadomanolaki constructs quite interesting ambient works on her first full-length. The pieces are always morphing, drifting, and wafting, giving way to new approaches all the time.
A worthy introduction, ‘Solitary, Vacant’ is calming and elongated but glitch-y around the edges, all while teasing out ethereal vocals and distant acoustic guitar. The softly textured ‘Above the Rooftops’ is defined by a prickly pulse, whereas the following ‘Time to Be (Out of Time)’ strikes away from these more standard ambient motifs to try several different things: while the field recording of a clanging bell is familiar enough, from there the track encompasses incidental guitar, a windy tug, and an unexpected drone foretelling a sudden flurry of scattered beats, all before retreating back to the bucolic peace of its beginning. The inclusion of programmed beats is somewhat questionable, but overall the piece works.
‘Rewind’ combines Flying Saucer Attack-style distortion-and-acoustic-guitar gentleness with seagulls, sirens, and half-buried conversation. More alien textures materialise later, and they’re more appealing and transporting than those we can immediately identify. The slowly expansive ‘View From a Hill’ is aimless in a good way, while ‘When’ pools with chill depths until it hits upon a run of slurping friction and then lullaby-worthy melodies. ‘Story of a City’ recalls a lunar landing scored by Tangerine Dream before thrilling hand drums enter for the final minute, another surprising twist. More in line with expectations is the closing ‘Infinite Window’, which intertwines resonating guitar with a downbeat piano melody amid surrounding warmth.
Papadomanolaki clearly has no shortage of ideas, and she generally executes them quite well. But some of this album’s best moments feel rushed or fleeting, as if she moves on to the next idea before fully exploring the one at hand. Then again, that approach leaves us wanting more of those there-and-gone textures, and backtracking to revisit them.
I reviewed Dalot’s (Maria Papadomanolaki) previous release for coo records at random5 and though flight sessions could be described as a collection of exercises in different styles (of the post rock, electronica idiom) this year’s loop over latitudes for n5md sounds cohesive. Even though 3 tracks of flight reappear in this release in a different context, loop meanders more fluidly and atmospherically. Guitars soaked in reverb are more present in the tracks and there is also a live approach to the recording process. Layers over layers of sounds wash in and out, emerge and sink revealing all the time different details under/in-between the structural patterns of the tracks. Rhythmic aspects exist mostly in the beginning of the album (solitary vacant, above the rooftops, story of a city) giving way to dreamy soundscapes (view from a hill, the excellent when) and as the album evolves it becomes better and better, more substantial and to the point of Maria’s sonic identity. If I should choose a track or two that could probably summarize Dalot’s new approach these would be the Fennesz-like (Venice era) when and story of a city which is the most structurally oriented of all.
Loop over latitudes is one of the best things I’ve listened to lately, Dalot is no-more just promising, the promise is actually here.
Attaché aux artistes qu’il suit depuis quelque temps (on a récemment évoqué les derniers travaux de Lights Out Asia ou Proem), n5MD est également constamment en quête de nouvelles signatures. Si celles-ci sont sélectionnées parmi un vivier d’artistes opérant toujours un peu dans le même genre (post-rock avec quelques relents shoegazing ou électroniques), l’ensemble s’avère généralement de qualité. Nouvel exemple avec ce premier album de Dalot, projet de Maria Papadomanolaki qui n’avait pour l’instant sorti qu’un EP l’an passé sur le label Coo Records.
Au début de Loop Over Altitudes, et fort notamment du titre du long-format, on s’attend plutôt à un disque ambient avec des nappes complexes desquelles ne perce qu’une simple guitare acoustique et quelques vocalises (Solitary, Vacant). Mais, bien vite, d’autres éléments sont intégrés, des petits tapotements rythmiques d’Above The Rooftops aux samples de sons urbains (cloches d’églises, klaxons, sirènes) de Rewind. De même, la guitare se fait plus présente, dans une veine d’abord mélancolique très classique mais assez prenante puis, dans le même morceau, elle se pare d’atours plus saturés quand des rythmiques font leur entrée pour un final moins convenu (Time To Be (Out Of Time). Avec un schéma assez identique, View From A Hill se fait un peu moins probant car présentant une rupture moins marquée en son sein.
À mesure que se déroule le disque, les différentes facettes du talent de la Grecque se font ainsi jour, elle qui peut aussi œuvrer à l’aide de textures triturées et torturées (When et le très riche Story Of A City), afin de composer un album dense et varié, symbole d’une belle révélation.
Viaje al Abismo
Qué gusto me provoca el comentar un buen disco de música Ambient hecho por una mujer. La verdad es que la mente detrás de Dalot es un auténtico agasajo visual, hehe, y lo mejor sin duda es que Maria Papadomanolaki tiene el talento necesario como para llamar mi atención, y la de muchos de ustedes, espero.
Ella comenzó su carrera en estos menesteres el año pasado cuando bajo el sello Coo Records lanzó Flight Sessions, un EP con una deliciosa fragancia ambiental que de hecho sería retomada para la creación de Loop over Latitudes. Tres tracks se tomaron de ahí y fueron incluidos en esta su más reciente producción, cobijada por el sello n5MD. Hay una gran gama de elementos de los cuales echa mano esta talentosa y atractiva mujer que nutren su música de contenido. El Ambient que ha logrado concretar en Loop over Latitudes es de un nivel sorprendente. Personalmente fue una sorpresa el haber encontrado un disco tan interesante como este.
11 comments so far (post your own)
Graham posted this comment on Saturday, 06.26.10 @ 08:26am
As I thought, these clips sound fantastic. I've got high expectations for this.
Sam posted this comment on Saturday, 06.26.10 @ 17:38pm
Well done clearly ... I m gonna buy that album whatever the latitudes I will be in September
ti posted this comment on Saturday, 06.26.10 @ 19:52pm
well done!very evocative sounds! I am really looking forward to this release!
kostas posted this comment on Saturday, 06.26.10 @ 19:54pm
great! I really love these tunes. I'll definitely be back in Sept.
Dimitrios posted this comment on Monday, 08.30.10 @ 13:46pm
Dimitrios posted this comment on Monday, 08.30.10 @ 13:46pm
James posted this comment on Thursday, 09.9.10 @ 11:29am
Sounds really great!!
chris (dergar) posted this comment on Saturday, 09.11.10 @ 12:16pm
What a fantastic work of art! An album to play in loop forever! Every time new beauties show up! The atmosphere is a dream! I am truly stunned! Bravo Maria and bravo n5 for releasing this beauty!
antonia posted this comment on Friday, 04.1.11 @ 01:38am
bravo Dalot!!! vraiment douee
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