This is a compilation of 32 tracks assembled by Post Tangent.
Let’s get this out of the way: It is a charity compilation in aid of Syrian refugees, so this has to be as objective a review as humanly possible. Here goes…
[Editor: WOAH THERE, COWBOY! To review any charity record could potentially wreck any credibility that you, the reviewer may have built up!]
[Phil: How so, Editor?]
[Editor: Well, picture these scenarios:
A record comes out to help a charity in which everyone passionately believes. Nothing controversial. Despite the well-meaning intent, the reviewer considers the tracks a poor choice or even just downright rubbish. Does (s)he say this and perhaps risk damaging sales – and consequently donations to the charity?
The glove may be on the other foot…. Every track might be a peach! Now the danger is that a positive review looks like ingratiating grovelling to any charity-fatigued potential buyer. Not really a win-win thing, reviewing charity records, I’m sure you’ll agree!]
[Phil: But Editor, proceeds will be donated to Calaid, a charity working to improve conditions for those living in the Calais refugee camps. If people are not interested in this charity, or they find the subject matter too controversial – or they even plain disagree with the cause – then they need not read any further. But consider this:
We are all happy to buy any media, be it DVD, iTunes, CD or Blu-ray from mainstream corporations and those proceeds are just profit orientated.]
[Editor: There is nothing wrong with profit. Consider how we passively accept that profit is exempt from appearing on our moral map, surely that proves that we accept profit as a vital inevitability of financial transactions without judging it?]
[Phil: Yes, Editor. Yet our compass needle becomes a pointer of interest when the proceeds go to charity. Then we all take a stance on the cause and it becomes a matter of principal. So, no matter the destination of the proceeds we could potentially open ourselves up to a new set of musical adventures!]
[Editor: Well, go for it if you want but don’t come crying to me when it all goes horribly wrong]
[Real Editor: I wish that was how the conversation actually went…]
I’m reminded of an incident some 10 years or so ago. A friend said I should give a free sampler a listen and on it was a band, new to me, called Porcupine Tree. It got me interested in other peoples’ music again. So my take on it is that there has to be at least one band worth following up on from a 32 track Various Artists album with about two and a half hours of music!
This album is quite a mixed bag of sounds. Some of it you may find heavy, some of it melodic, some of it was in my comfort zone, some outside. There are too many tracks to single out or to review them all. I’ll mention a few, selected randomly. Track 6, Svalbard’s Disparity, put me in mind of a personal favourite, Trojan Horse… until the screamo vocal starts, at which point I almost hit >> because I can’t do Screamo. Musically I liked it! This is probably a fine example of that style of music. This almost happened again with the rather cheeky track 8, BRITNEY’s Sneezefic – a bit like The Dead Kennedys meet Bring Me The Horizon. But the careful sound design on this short track allowed my sensitive ears to stay the distance.
You might be fooled into thinking this entire collection is heavy, complex and visceral. There are some beautiful sounds on the album and I would mention a couple of stand-out tracks in this regard, without prejudice to the others, notably track 1 (Cleft’s Gulch) and track 9 (Wide Open Spaces by Steve Strong) which I reckon would appeal to fans of Progressive Rock. By no means were these tracks isolated instances of excellence.
Listening to the tracks consecutively, track 13 by Exploder Than You jumps out as being radically different to all the preceding tracks. Female vocalist, weird shouty chants, simple production with 1980s World Music undercurrents, tempo changes, strangled vocal interjections… odd but well thought out and just a mixed bag of strange! Just when I thought we might be weaned off the earlier opening and distinctly heavier tracks in favour of music in a lighter mode, 100 Onces hit us with a Tool-esque, (mostly) instrumental with a pinging Bill Bruford snare sound and some fundamental life affirming, spoken word philosophy of alternative-metal math rock (I had to look up the genre… is that helpful?).
There’s also some good “Man-Bear” rock in the guise of The Fierce And The Dead’s Magnet In Your Face, my review of which you can find Here. You should still buy it even if you get this charity album because the rest of the tracks are just worth it!
I can’t describe every track. I’m already on the verge of “Too Long Didn’t Read” territory, but put this in perspective: TFATD are just about the half-way mark in terms of the sheer number of interesting tracks on this compilation. The variety is inspirational. If you like art-rock (I looked that up as well) with a hint of Avant-Garde you can have some Deerhoof. More conventional and blood pumping, adrenalin-fuelled rock is well represented as are more ambient pieces from Kepal Seshayee, complex and cinematic stuff from Juffage and dissonant and difficult pieces reminiscent of Pere Ubu with Salo and some jazzy licks from Patchwork Natives.
So the question you might ask me is: “Should I buy it”?
Yes. Because it features a band called He Was Eaten By Owls. If that isn’t good enough reason then, principles aside, consider this as a cleverly compiled album of tracks that are all different yet sit together well. Forget charity if you need to but don’t deny yourself this musical opportunity. This is a great compilation, whether your principles allow you to buy it or not.
[Editor: Well done Phil, you managed to get through the whole thing without using the word “eclectic”]
[Phil: Thanks, Editor. What about that last line? Will people find it provocative or controversial?]
[Editor: Probably. But then ‘people’, eh?! Were you trying to be provocative and controversial?]
[Phil: No, Editor]
[Editor: Then publish and be damned!]
[Phil: Isn’t that your job?]
[Editor: Not really. I am a fictionalised version of “The Editor” and I don’t really exist. This conversation is only taking place in your head]
[Real Editor: And mine too now. Note to self, be more like your fictionalised persona…In the meantime, the full collection is available to listen to below.]
01. Cleft – Gulch (Small Pond Session) (3:07)
02. Alpha Male Tea Party – God is Love (5:51)
03. Body Hound – Vector Approaching (4:02)
04. Polymath – Babel (7:05)
05. Pocket Apocalypse – Ice Nine (4:59)
06. Svalbard – Disparity (4:30)
07. Iran Iran – Michael Mannhunter (3:59)
08. BRITNEY – Sneezefic (1:43)
09. Steve Strong – Wide Open Spaces (4:32)
10. Wojtek – Nightjar (5:15)
11. Memory of Elephants – Staggs (7:03)
12. Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster – Consume (6:38)
13. Exploder Than You – Smart Lady (4:38)
14. SONANCE – Belgium Strings (4:16)
15. Lambhorn – Fugue (Dark & Doomy Version) (7:06)
16. 100 Onces – Etch-a-Sketch Orchestra (5:19)
17. The Fierce & The Dead – Magnet In Your Face (Live) (1:40)
18. Bellow Below – Peel (4:16)
19. Alright The Captain – Ben and Barbara (3:47)
20. Deerhoof – Kuma Kita (3:41)
21. Kapil Seshasayee – A Raining Animal Event (5:02)
22. Juffage – Drebin Inspired by Drebin (Three Trapped Tigers rehaul) (3:54)
23. Oh Captain! – The Noise (5:29)
24. Kusanagi – They Will Come Back For You (5:16)
25. Salo – Capgras (3:45)
26. Patchwork Natives – Bear (4:11)
27. Vasa – Fat Ronaldo (5:31)
28. USA Nails – Going On Holiday (2:40)
29. Seas, Starry – Newark (5:59)
30. Waking Aida – Blue Shelled (7:39)
31. Lost In The Riots – Halcyon Days Of Summer (5:19)
32. He Was Eaten By Owls – What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1:54)
Total Time – 146:59
Post Tangent – Bandcamp