Various Artists ~ You Are Welcome Here

You Are Welcome HereThe international refugee crisis has exposed veins of both kindness and fear, challenging assumptions of nation and immigration.  This new compilation (which features all unreleased tracks) is a humble attempt to draw attention and much needed hope to a seemingly overwhelming situation.

As Fabrica Records’ Joao Da Silva writes, “Both of my parents fled their native countries (Brazil for my father, Chile for my mom) in the midst of military regimes after experiencing persecution, torture, and the loss of friends, colleagues and family members. I was born in exile, in Sweden to be exact, and because said nation welcomed my parents and provided them with a safe and welcoming place: I exist today.”  Reading these words, I cannot help but think of two other famous situations: those seeking refuge from the Nazis, and Emma Lazarus’ words on the Statue of Liberty:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

What is our responsibility to our fellow man and woman?  Is there a moral imperative that goes beyond religion and politics?  And if so, could this be humanity’s pass-or-fail test?  It’s a sobering thought.  But however big the situation may be, and however small it may make us feel, there is a way to help ~ by supporting the work of the International Rescue Committee, whose primary concerns are the lives and health of those affected.  All proceeds from this compilation go to this cause.  There are many other ways to help, but this one comes with 28 pieces of unreleased music, so everyone benefits.

The bonus here is that although the artists were simply asked to contribute unreleased tracks, many recorded new ones specifically for this release.  This results in the music being particularly relevant.  There are many standout cuts, including the two openers: Matt Brislawn‘s “Night Crossing”, which includes the sounds of crickets, footsteps, fences and a police dog; and Public Speaking + Valerie Kuehne‘s stark, cello-heavy “Cell Three”.  These tracks set the tone, and the rest follows.  Some other highlights are a trio of specifically ethnic tracks (The Skull Mask‘s “Kurdish Flowers”, Luciernaga‘s “Mediterranean Suite” and La Mancha del Pecado‘s “Ayn al-Arab”); The Remnants‘ foreboding “Autumnal”; and Sterile Garden‘s soundscape “Labor/Factory”.  But in this case, the music resists criticism.  It’s enough to know that so many artists care.  The challenge is, do we?  (Richard Allen)

One comment

  1. Pingback: ACL 2015: The Year’s Best Album Covers | a closer listen

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