- As far back as 2008, Peter "Lawrence" Kersten told RA that he and his Dial co-founders "never wanted to have a straight house label." It's a point David Lieske, AKA Carsten Jost, forcefully reiterated in a recent Label Of The Month feature: "It's not a house label, and it never was." That this remains surprising even to fans of the label may explain why All makes such an effort to lay bare the myriad and diffuse influences, from minimalism to '80s indie-rock, that feed into Dial's output. This is a label that puts the art in party and that has regularly released experimental material, even if, evidently, it's been overshadowed by its delicate deep house.
Admirable as that non-conformism is, it gives this 15th anniversary compilation an uneven quality. If you come to All looking for high-grade emo-house you will find it, but among various oddities that veer from the sublime (the shoegazing electronica of James K's "S Lush") to the ridiculous (Stefan Tcherepnin's lo-fi ballad "I Want To Be Art"). Yuri Manabe's vocal on the latter is less naïve and vulnerable and more confrontationally tune-free. Elsewhere, Dial detour into R&B (Dawn Mok's "Like Thoughts Or Moments We'll Fall"), dip into folktronica (Pawel's "All Nearness Pauses"), and showcase Queens' reverb-drenched guitar drones on "Earth Angel."
Diverting as some of that is, Dial remains most effective as a conduit for the wistful, jazz-tinged house of tracks like Carsten Jost's "My Confession" or Roman Flügel's "In Your Wardrobe." Lawrence's "Chez Dupoint" is a typically poignant shimmer of a track. After his turgid Bell Laboratory material, Pantha Du Prince's "Timeout On The Rocks" (as dense as a forest, yet celestially weightless) is a real return to form. On "Paloma," John Roberts outshines them all. As effervescent as it is melancholy, and full of the East Asian sounds and layers of hiss and grime that he used on Fences, this one seems to encapsulate the competing instincts that propel Dial forwards: a striving for pristine beauty and a deep distrust of it.
01. Christian Naujoks - For A While
02. Stefan Tcherepnin - I Want To Be Art
03. Roman Flügel - In Your Wardrobe
04. RNDM - Summer Smile
05. Carsten Jost - My Confession
06. Lawrence - Chez Dupont
07. John Roberts - Paloma
08. Pawel - All Nearness Pauses
09. Efdemin - No Exit
10. DJ Richard - Zero
11. Physical Therapy - Market Crash
12. Pantha Du Prince - Timeout On The Rocks
13. Queens - Earth Angel
14. James K - S Lush
15. Dawn Mok - Like Thoughts Or Moments We'll Fall