Who among us can resist the draw of various artists? A good compilation album is a magnificent thing. Let’s face it, most of us have very little drive (let alone the means) to jet around the globe and conduct exhaustive archival projects for every little musical niche. Compilations allow for the convenient distribution of recorded music, sufficing as an overview of a particular musical moment, and more often than not sparking the listener’s interest which can lead to further exploration. Compilations encourage the flow of recorded sounds through history.
More than that, the structure and progression of compilations can be appreciated for its own sake. Like a museum exhibition, we can enjoy the curation of a compilation. (Come to think of it, it’s a lot like a good mix-tape or radio show.)
Instruction Vinilyque Générale vol. 1: Futur Antérieur, France 75/85 /// Born Bad Records, 2008
Bippp: French Synth Wave 1979-1985 /// Phantom Music & Sound, 2006 (2008 US)
Who knew France had such an active and bizarre new wave scene?
IVG vol. 1 and Bippp are two comps — both appearing on WVKR’s New Music Playlist in the last year or so — that illustrate the remarkable variety of French new wave. The French (a singularly melancholy people) make stark frenetic music here, at its best when tinged with drama. Your heart will break and you will dance it away. With only one artist overlapping on the two CDs, the bredth is astounding.
Top Track: Ruth “Polaroïd/Roman/Photo” (On Bippp)
Obey the New Wave (1980 and all that, UK, DIY, etc) /// released on WFMU’s Beware of the Blog
For those of you who are avid free-form radio blog readers (which I assume you) you might already know about this. Sticking with our whole foreign New Wave theme: Obey the New Wave is a compilation to behold. Blurt (whose LP is pictured above) will make you want to run like a maniac and split your face in two (in a good way). Fish Turned Human sings of the joys of vending machines or a 7-11 (There might be some Anglo-American miscommunication here). And Hermine! Hermine! Sweet London-via-Loire Valley princess of art-damaged pop-love. Did I mention Michael Nyman does ecstatic punk minimalism here? Seriously… this is a comp for the ages.
Top Track: Hermine “Torture”
Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Musics /// Dust-to-Digital, 2008
Famed archivist and former co-owner of Baltimore’s True Vine Records Ian Nagoski put out this compilation last year and it shot immediately to our New Music Playlist. Coming from Cameroun, Laos, England, you name it, there is nothing obvious or intuitive that holds these tracks together. They run from fun to solemn to haunting. They defy almost every logic of comilations. But it works, and oh Lord does it work. Ian Nagoski manages to put together a mosaic of cultures that will leave you short of breath.
(To you Liberal Arts students out there: Nota Bene on the inclusion of the s (Musics) in the title. +++You will love the tracks from Europe. [A Handel composition no less!] Can anyone say the destruction of ethnocentric Othering through universal analysis? I hope you can. Otherwise you’re failing Anthro.)
Top Track: Cyganska Orchestra Stefana “Cyganske Vesilia, Part 4 (Lekmo-Poland)”
Cock Rock Disco 2006 Free Compilation /// Cock Rock Disco, 2006
One word: blistering. On a good day I want my mind pummelled, on a bad day: bombed out. But blistered. Never before had I felt that…. Cock Rock Disco, DJ Donna Summer’s imprint, puts out a pretty wide mix of tunes very loosely described as break-core. Staccato/stigmata beats. Mindflaying noise. And, on occasion, pretty melodies.
Funny story: in High School I had a party that got out of hand. Someone had cued my iTunes in the default alphabetic sorting way. When the Cops eventually busted it up, the Assdroids’ version of “Rite of Spring” was blasting full volume, making for an unexpected awkward moment when the cop looked at me all “What is happening to your computer?” Needless to say I sheepishly turned it down and waited quietly to learn my civic lesson.
Top Track: Don Augusto “The House Denominator Factor”