Label Spotlight: Denovali Records

What you see above may be an older logo, and if that is the case, well... so be it. It's not important.

What I do feel is important is that I pay some respect and admiration to the fine folks at Germany's Denovali Records. We should honestly be arrested for not having paid them enough attention over the years, at least not while I've been here. I've always known about them and the excellent job they do, especially with their vinyl releases, but for whatever reason have not featured them or any of their artists here. Only so much time in the day, I guess. But it's high time I rectify that.

I just recently started really delving into the label and it's catalogue of absolutely essential releases; I got the weekly email from Experimedia a while back and happened to click on an album called Rope for No-Hopers by a band called The Pirate Ship Quintet. The sample that Experimedia provided was brilliant, so I picked up the album, and upon receiving it, was blown away by the packaging and the music itself; the whole presentation was great, and it was clear that the band and label paid great attention to detail in putting the double LP (180 gram vinyl, in a heavy deluxe gatefold sleeve with heavy inner sleeves and free download code - standard for the label, if you can believe it) together. Upon remembering that Denovali had put out great records by Heaven in Her Arms, Celeste and Aun, I figured I'd best go digging and see what else I could find. And what I found was simply amazing.

What I really love about Denovali is the fact that they don't limit themselves to one genre or type of music. If I had to provide one word that describes just about all the music on the label, I would say experimental. That doesn't tell you much, but it is fitting nonetheless. There are drone releases, electronic releases, metal albums, post-rock albums... the list goes on and on, but the really amazing thing is that you can find aspects of so many different types of music on each album that Denovali puts out. In fact, I haven't heard a single album out on Denovali that can be easily classified.

For example, right now, as I write this, I'm listening to the album Heavy Weather by Terminal Sound System. This is a brilliant album from beginning to end, successfully bringing together sounds and ideas from metal, industrial, ambient music, drum n' bass, trip-hop, post-rock, and experimental electronic music. The album is loud and intense without being overbearing, and that is a hallmark of not only the band but just about every release that Denovali puts out. I've honestly never heard another band like this, and I can say the same for most Denovali artists.

Last night I played this self-titled album from Brother Sun, Sister Moon, which features Alicia Merz from Birds of Passage. I was so excited by the first spin that I played it three times in a row. Pure bliss. Sunny, psychedelic, minimalistic pop music that is just irresistible. I seriously can't get enough of this album (even though the girl on the cover of the album trips me the fuck out).

Other Denovali artists that I've been digging the hell out of include Sankt Otten, Subheim, Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones, worriedaboutsatan, Bersarin Quartett, Field Rotation, Blackfilm, the Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, and Her Name is Calla.

(Note: the above links will all give you samples and more info on the bands, but you should also know that all of those bands have Bandcamp pages and/or their own websites which will give you even more info and samples, and opportunities to stream and/or download full albums.)

What has me most excited now are the TWO new 2xLPs from Italian composer Eugenio Caria, also known as SaffronKeira. The album is called A New Life, and is available now on 2xCD, a double 2xLP, and digitally. Abstract, minimalist, classical electronic ambient music, if that makes any sense at all. If it doesn't... well, just listen, and I think you'll get what I'm going for. I haven't received the vinyls yet (they're on order and I'm hoping they show up any day now), but I've spent a lot of time with the album on my headphones, late at night, trying to understand this record. Admittedly, I'm not quite there yet, but I sure am enjoying the process, learning quite a lot as I go. The music is quite stirring.

It consists of two albums, sort of; the first is called The Old Life, which you see above, and The New Life, which is just to the left. They are obviously meant to be understood as a package, as they are conceptually linked, one being relevant and necessary to the other. I've gone into the process of trying to understand these records looking at them individually, and together as a whole, and I've seen and heard different things each way, from each perspective. Should this interest you (and it should), you can go about it however you see fit. There are obviously benefits and drawbacks to each way, but keep in mind this is really one album that is two. Yup, I said it. 2 = 1, 1 = 2. Take that to the bank, but don't call me when they throw you out.

Also, there are some pretty exciting pre-orders up now for amazing new releases by Oneirogen and Talvihorros.

As if I haven't said it enough, vinyl is the preferred format, and Denovali's vinyls are always top-notch deluxe packages. But if you can't or don't want to spend the extra money on vinyl, CDs and digital downloads are often available as well. You can order direct from the label here, but if you don't care to go through the currency conversion process or you don't want to wait for overseas shipping, you can get most Denovali releases from Jeremy Bible over at Experimedia.

And I almost forgot: Denovali is putting on an awesome festival soon, called the Denovali Swingfest. You can get all kinds of info and a free 30-track sampler here.


Inarguable Magazine said...

Well put, Harold. Denovali's been a great resource for quite some time. I need to buck up and buy all their Celeste stuff sometime soon.


Josh Amberger said...

Hey mahn, don't forget Omega Massif!