Track: Dau – ‘Zed Zed’: the warm purity of string-driven ambient drone, new on Spirituals


Phil Self, aka Dau

A MEMBER of rather fine instrumental quartet yndi halda alongside James Vella, whose album Sleep Through The Storm under his A Lily persona we received rapturously last October, Phil Self has emerged with a forthcoming mini-album of corresponding beauty and bliss under the moniker Dau, due out next month.

Whereas A Lily played with contemplative drone and Japanoiserie in immersive analogue electronica, Dau approach a similar meditative space from the angle of well-recorded acoustic instrumentation and real-time ensemble performances, bringing forth a modern compositional beauty that slows the heart rate and gets the synapses firing.

If in doubt, please refer to the bottom of this page forthwith, therein to delight in the title track of that album, “Zed Zed”, which has all the paused breath of a new dawn or a setting sun, the simplicity of creation ringing in strings.

Surprisingly in our age of digital interfacing Zed Zed is actually entirely acoustic; no snipping, no post-processing, no after-the-fact transposition. This is an entirely human music, every note as played and captured.

Elsewhere on the release you’ll find those strings and bowed guitars wrapped in water bowls, the sounds of falling rain and of Phil’s kitchen; and the roomsound of the recording space, emphasising the real-world quality of what you’re listening to.

“Phil is one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever come across and it’s a real joy to witness his debut solo project slowly develop,” says Phantom Limb label boss and collaborator elsewhere, James Vella.

“It doesn’t harm that he is one of life’s kindest, sweetest, most generous people, too.

Zed Zed is his first release under the name, and reminds me in a way of music like Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Wim Mertens, but slowed down to quarter speed. It has a sense of orchestral chamber composition, but with a heart of ambient music.”

Named after a German-language acronym roughly translating to a portmanteau combination of “loser” and “user”, Dau joins acclaimed cellist Francsesca Ter-Berg (read our review of her In Eynem EP here) on Phantom Limb’s Spirituals imprint, a new salon for high-grade, emotive ambience.

Dau’s Zed Zed will be released by Spirituals digitally on June 11th, and is available to pre-save now over at Phantom Limb’s Bandcamp page.

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