Dalot: Loop Over Latitudes

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 electroacoustic 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.

October 2010