Our friends at Demon have compiled a keenly-priced ten year retrospective as an iTunes exclusive, featuring tracks from 12 of our artists…..
Here’s a nice review of the record:
A worthy notion this, by catalogue specialists Demon Records, to compile a quality retrospective showcasing the eclectic wares of high-end boutique indie Dharma Records. Born, if you will, out of its slightly bigger sister Instant Karma in 2003 the album features 12 tracks by some of the better artists from both labels (Dharma now carrying the highlights of the former Instant Karma catalogue). Notable absentees from this compilation include perhaps the best loved cellist/composer of our time Caroline Dale, whose only solo album is one of the most beautiful records in the label’s arsenal, as is OperaBabes’ “Renaissance”, and the debut album from welsh rap/rockers The Kennedy Soundtrack who matched the US bands such as Linkin Park every step of the way on record, if not in sales.
While there is a classy, at times perhaps nu-folk element to some of its luminous songwriters, and also a nod to the label’s love of the electronic pioneer, the album opens with something entirely different. “Mundian To Bach Ke” by Panjabi MC (and this remix by and featuring Jay Z) was the first and still best known Bhangra record ever to hit the charts. It remains Dharma’s biggest hit single, going top 5 in 2003. I Monster meanwhile are best known for the genre-defining top 20 hit “Daydream In Blue”, which remains as popular today as it always has. Demon however have elected, perhaps in the knowledge that you already have “Daydream In Blue” (you have, right?), to introduce a little levity with “The Blue Wrath”, the catchy opening theme to the movie Shaun of the Dead.
Lorien made one great album of “beguilingly beautiful anthems of love, loss, awe and excitement” (NME) but were somewhat eclipsed by the rather less edgy Keane. The band went their separate ways but the Icelandic genius Eberg recorded a fine electronic album for Dharma from which the song included here is taken. If you remember the original launch TV campaign for the iPhone, this was the music that soundtracked that auspicious event.
Ghostland are an ‘eclectic supergroup’ comprising producer/writer John Reynolds, Justin Adams (‘Britain’s answer to Ry Cooder’) and the aforementioned Caroline Dale along with guest vocalists such as Sinead O’Connor, Jane Siberry and Cara Dillon (one of whose tracks are included here). “One Day At A Time” is one of four hits The Alice Band achieved in the early noughties before Amy Belle went on to record her debut solo album for Dharma. Addis Black Widow enjoyed greater success in Scandinavia and Germany than the UK but their album endures. And enduring is a perfect adjective for Mercury Prize nominee Helicopter Girl whose second album for Dharma featured one of 2004’s biggest UK radio hits “Angel City”. “White Revolving Circles” is taken from that same album, Voodoo Chic. ‘La Helicopter’ worked on Voodoo Chic with The Past Present Organisation, from the Acid Jazz label. PPO went on to record an essential jazzy/lounge/chillout album for Dharma from which Beautyfull is taken.
Bringing the label right up to date are the beautiful paean to Elliott Smith by BBC Folk Award winner Megan Henwood and lauded songwriter/producer Alexander Wolfe whose two Dharma albums seem to grow in stature and gravitas with every listen.
A timely (10th anniversary) and beautifully intentioned release; perchance to shine a little light on the noble artistic endeavours of an independent record label and the artists of which it is justly proud.