2017 was another strong year for both Eilean records and it’s sister imprint Iikki. As per previous years, Eilean ends the year with a compilation featuring artists from the year’s catalogue. Despite drawing from a host of diverse artists, Eilean 58 is a particularly consistent album that works as a whole as much as it does a series of individual pieces.
There’s an expansive quality to many of the pieces on Eilean 58, including the contributions from Ben Rath, Sonmi451, Francesco Giannico + Giulio Aldinucci, Sound Meccano, Jacek Doroszenko, Daniel W J Mackenzie – to name a few. As different as many of the pieces are in their construction, even their instrumentation, and to some extent their tonality, a common thread is that many are built around these very large sounds that drive the compositions and give them their droning/repetitive quality. But the finer details are etched in small print as if sitting at the epicenter of each piece, giving each its heart beat. And it is frequently in those smaller melodies that the artists contain subtle movements.
Cicely Irvine, who delivered a stellar album this year, gets things started with a piece that feels like an orchestra tuning up before settling into some lilting harmonium (“Intro”). Stijn Huwels & Danny Clay get together for some gentle tape-hiss and piano melodies (“2017.10.18”). Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci create a piece of drone that feels like a snowstorm with piano melodies punctuating the air as if to represent eventual snowflakes that are discernible amongst the mass (“Pangea”). Jacek Doroszenko gives some fragmented melodies that feel like they verge on some destroyed techno variation, before building things to an almost orchestral swell (“Ignorance”). Daniel W J Mackenzie gives one of the most ominous and cinematic pieces on the compilation (“Untitled”). And Monty Adkins is followed by Tatsuro Kojima to provide the closing, Adkins with a quiet piano driven piece and Kojima following it up with some gentle electronics and found sounds.
Eilean 58 brings together a group of artists who draw from different palettes to create their individual sounds. However, despite being a compilation, it feels cohesive and carries an undercurrent of quiet optimism that co-exists along the dense layers of drone. It’s a solid album in its own right despite the diverse creators and also serves as a strong showcase of many of the artists that helped the label have a great 2017.
Last copies available to buy here…