The 2010 compilation celebrates the 10th anniversary of Dial, the Hamburg imprint owned by David Lieske (who produces as Carsten Jost), Paul Kominek (who has released on the label as Turner and Pawel), and Peter Kersten (better known as Lawrence and Sten). Composed of 12 previously unreleased tracks, 2010 features work from steadfast Dial contributors, fellow musical travelers, and a few new faces. For the most part, the record does what countless Dial releases have done over the years, creatively merging American-rooted deep house sounds with more melodically inclined strands of German minimal techno. The majority of the tracks are propelled by enough four-four stomp to get bodies moving in the club and are endowed with lush atmospherics that make them engaging listening anywhere else as well.
Phantom Ghost gets things rolling with a sleepy piano-ballad, infused equally with humor and rumination, pleasurably occupying territory not unfamiliar to the likes of Harry Nilsson and Stephen Merritt (in his less barbed moments, to be sure). From there, we drop into the moody, gloaming core of the record. The label’s brightest rising star, American-born Berlin dweller John Roberts, turns in a drowsy, late-night piece of spectral house that sets the tone for what will come. Less startlingly inventive than his last couple of releases, “Lines” is nonetheless fascinating for the way it carves out a melancholic atmosphere and then travels deep into its calm but slightly unnerving depths.
Kerstin’s contribution as Lawrence, “Treacle Mine,” sidewinds over starkly repetitive percussion into a chord sequence that draws the listener into a severely tripped-out soundscape. Even headier, Isoleé’s “Black Lodge” (from the sound of it, very definitely a Twin Peaks reference) cobbles together a world of warped honks, clattering percussion, and mechanical detritus that very may leave even the staunchest listener walking away with something akin to sea legs. Christian Naujoks, whose 2009 album for Dial was a smattering of dreamy electronics and bedroom pop, drops a very Detroit-sounding tumbler of thick, rolling bass and evocative chords, while Pantha du Prince delivers a characteristically violet, whimsical track flooded with glistening bells and what sounds like tinkling, broken glass.
But perhaps the defining track of 2010 is Carsten Jost’s deeply melancholic, “Days Gone By,” a piece of music designed to make the listener conscious of time lost, of people, places, and situations that can never be recovered. Dial is not without its detractors, due mainly to the fact that unlike a lot of dance-music labels it is unwilling to change with the trends. But while its “cutting edge” days may be gone, 2010 makes absolutely clear that what was great about this label 10 years ago is still great about it today: It releases quality music that runs deep, music that cannot be boxed up and labeled away, music that retains the capacity to move people, body and soul.