On 8th September 2008 at 08:01 Anonymous 7165 wrote...
By Various Artists
A compilation can be such an artificial exercise, in so much as a collection of songs - of any merit or standard - plucked out and forced together will make an interesting patchwork but won't necessarily give the impression of a considered and unified entity. All that can really be expected is a CD for dipping into and skipping through, containing a few likeable tracks to make a bee-line for.
Not so with the Brainwash Compilation. The mood is instantly established by an endearing, short spliced welcome message: this small touch is perhaps the clearest illustration of the compilation's undeniably cared-for feel. It is measured and nurtured in the spirit of a personal mix tape and yet the dynamic created between the songs and the winning interaction of styles tells more of a seasoned and intelligent approach to a sampler.
The almost uncomfortable amalgamation of genres and atmospheres throughout is something that, on paper, seems impossible to pull off successfully. Excitingly, it works undeniably well. The predominance of Leeds' biggest and brightest arguably creates a sonic theme of sorts, but it is a progressivity and sharp awareness of how to exploit and warp a style's given parameters that really unites these artists and awards the compilation its very individual ambience.
Opener, a short extract of Jonquil's "Lions", uses folk and acoustic's straight-forward attitude to instrumentation and simple homophonic textures and transforms the style through dense, emotive vocal harmonies. Similarly with Paul Marshall's unassuming contribution which, already committed to being a subtle and magical track given his delicacy of touch, builds on the expected mainstays of the genre to create a defined idiosyncrasy of sound. Even the basic carter picking technique is firmly marked with an individual, sprightly melody.
The three divergent but highly distinctive takes on prog from These Monsters, Vessels and Humanfly are another case in point. The latter's astounding, slow crescendo and heavy, chugging guitar and bass combined with Rose Kemp's quasi-operatic, almost sinister vocal stylings contrast enormously with the striking combination of techniques and timbres of These Monsters and the emphasis they place on their stunning melodic material on record. Vessels possess in turn a uniqueness of sound distinct from their genre peers; applying a more defined episodic structure and a softer musical lexis technically explain the difference, but a more generally understated approach is responsible for its glowing brilliance.
Each of the fourteen tracks show themselves to be wonderfully strong contributions and each provides enough fodder on its own for countless listens and analyses. Wintermute's beautifully organic demo of 'Shark Vs E-Boat", another whimsical indie wonder from Dinosaur Pile-up and the ethereal, shuddering electronica of Random Number are only a handful of the other sensations to be found in this treasure-trove of a compilation. Plunder this good has never been so reasonable or attainable.
Requested personally by Swedish post-rock wonders 'Jeniferever' to be thier tour support, expect lush finger picked melodies ghosting underneath fragile vocal lines that place him somewhere between Nick Drake, Iron and Wine and Red House Painters.
experimental alternative rock
"...bridges the chasm-divided demographics of indie-pop and post-punk excellently" www.drownedinsound.com