- Has any label been so impressively shadowy as Dial? I don't mean the label has hidden itself away; I mean light and shade are its metier, as everything from Lawrence to Pantha du Prince has demonstrated: luscious, lustrous greyscale, more matte than metallic but luminous anyway. But Paul Kominek is different. He's been recording as Pawel on and off for the label for years now, and his debut album is wide-open, bright, boldly colorful and weirdly sunny. Not just because it's on Dial, either; there's something tugging at the edges of the creamy, deceptively light tracks on this album. It's a breath of fresh air even as it fits perfectly with the mustier work it shares a catalog with.
That lightness of touch gives you the sense that Pawel is holding back a bit. The tracks build power in fairly traditional ways: "Alvin" sets things up with a bouncy gloss and a strange high drone in the background before wheezing fake-organ chords come in like blobby light, and on "Dawn," shifting, filtered layers of sound somehow feel spare. It's got a simple, playful keyboard hook that seems as if it's always changing; the string-pad stabs accompanying the da-da-da vocal make the sky seem very high and very blue. But the builds are gradual, and they never go into overdrive: a busy little contraption like "Laredo" parades by a mnemonic keyboard riff in a handful of sonic guises that raise steam but don't overdo it.
In disposition if not sound, I've got to admit: it reminds me a little of Kaito. There's that weirdly cuddly glassiness of tone, a reminder of the innocence of an earlier time. The simple, attractive tunes and sensible house tempos, and especially the hint of otherworldliness, has the kind of instant magnetism you associate with, say, early Orbital or 808 State, even if nothing on Pawel sounds particularly like them. But there's a similar, basic sensibility: very high and very low tones are often used for stark contrast, as when the snapping snares of "Muscles" are offset by notes so shivering and so high they seem to be beaming down from satellite, or the way the bass on "Crillion" exists pretty much exclusively in the subwoofers. It took skill to make that stuff work before, and it still does.
10. Wasting My Time