Dalot - Minutestatic
By: Brett Spaceman
She balances grace with mystery, strength with fragility and honesty with beauty. Don’t worry, I haven’t fallen in love again. Unless you count albums as objects of desire and affection in which case I go head over heels fairly regularly here at [sic] towers. The “she” in question is of course Maria Papadomanolaki, otherwise known as Dalot, and Maria is rather amazing.
Minutestatic is Dalots second full-length and deals with some rather personal issues in Marias life. The ten pieces here are described as late night improvisations which are, naturally enough, emotionally charged by the events previously alluded to. The first thing to make clear is that these tracks don’t really sound improvised at all. That description, to my thinking, implies a lack of quality whereas these arrangements are skilful and lovingly rendered.
The title track (which closes out this album) brings to mind weather patterns. This may be just my own personal interpretation, not only because it sounds rumbling, ominous yet staggeringly beautiful, but possibly also because it reminds me of Harold Budd’s Lovely Thunder. But before we reach that beautiful troposphere, we’ll travel through a variety of sonic ‘climates’. We kick things off in vaguely Durruti Column territory. The ghost of Vini Reilly (thankfully not dead) offers up a plaintive, Iberian, guitar meditation which is pulled further into a whirlpool of drone chaos as the track progresses. ‘Missing Pieces’ alters the mood somewhat with more urgency and an almost pop structure to what is still ambient IDM, for want of a nicer peg. Actually there are some soaring, angelic vocals on this and following track ‘The Blue Car’ which is even more accessible and very pretty indeed. ‘In Silence’ is very much Bark Psychosis territory and ‘Canyon’ could be something by Robin Guthrie.
At the heart of this recording a songtitle like ‘Breath Your Soul In and Say Goodbye (For him)’ leaves us in little doubt as to its underlying ‘theme’. It isn’t as heart wrenching is you might imagine, more a contemplative refrain. But it shows us that the real skill of Dalot lies in understatement. There are no great bells or whistles on Minutestatic but plenty of subtlety and courage.
One of the most touching releases of the year.