Mixed-artist compilations were all the rage at the turn of the 21st century, but have lost some of their appeal in the digital age. Finnish label Tavern Eightieth has done two things to correct any misconceptions. First and foremost, this double-disc set is a benefit album to raise money for Alzheimer Research U.K. Second – and this is for potential consumers – these tracks are exclusive to the compilation, which is especially noteworthy as some of these artists (including Bibio, Glacis and Matthew Collings) have albums being released the same month and could just as easily have contributed older work.
As might be expected when 22 artists are involved, the timbres and overall quality are all over the map, and some of the tracks include vocals, so we’re going to zero in on a select few. On Disc One, we’re able to catch up with Makunouchi Bento, a group that’s been silent for a while. “Anpres dans tanbou” restores our confidence in their creativity, as water and wood blocks form only part of a diverse tapestry. Band Ane, another difficult-to-classify band, contributes “Kakkelovnsgrød”, which is graced by the sounds of cowbell, xylophone and percolation, building to a very strange breakdown. Everything you need to know about TLE‘s “Piece for Ice Cube, Silence and Trumpet” can be found in the title; Cage would be proud. And Yaporigami‘s “Higher Tentative” is a percussive jammer, packed with unusual, speaker-to-speaker sounds and a big club vibe.
Disc Two is more ambient in nature, although it still contains some rough edges. The standout cuts come from Docetism, whose sweet, stretched-out “Fading Away” is like a Yann Novak track with an elongated female vocal; and Glacis, whose patient, gorgeous, ten-minute “As long as water flows” is nearly long enough to be an EP of its own. Throughout the piece, it seems as if a bird is washing itself in an outdoor fountain; the track is so relaxing that the creature feels perfectly at home. With so many tracks to choose from, listeners will have different favorites, but that’s not the point: the point is that these artists and this label have donated their time and efforts to a worthy cause, and invited others to be a part while receiving something in return. Hats off to all involved. (Richard Allen)