So! Much! Music! 34 songs, 3 hours and 47 minutes worth. There are many notable names as well: artists include Machinefabrik, Christina Vantzou, Leyland Kirby, Jan St. Werner, Black to Comm, Kreng and many more, remixing each other’s music for a good cause: a refuge center in the heart of Athens. City Plaza protects African and Asian refugees, many of whom have fled untold horrors back home. This generosity flies in the face of recent global xenophobia, which recently came to a head in the US as the president told four Congresswomen to “go back to where they came from” while declaring that anyone walking across two countries to reach help would be turned back. We need stories like the one presented by City Plaza, as much as we need the voices of these artists, many of whom are immigrants or descended from immigrants, and who “share a belief in a basic freedom of movement and stand in solidarity with those migrants and refugees who are struggling to make a better life for their families and themselves.”
In terms of the music, it’s fair to make a few statements upfront. First, this is music worth buying. Second, there’s so much of it that anyone reading this is going to get their money’s worth. Third, it’s not about the money. Fourth, it’s okay to start with the artists you already know and love and branch out from there. Everyone’s going to have their favorites, and there are many entry points.
Shelly Knotts x Jan St. Werner‘s “Raft” leads off the project with a surprisingly catchy dance cut. From the start, the template is set: the collection rests midway between electronic and experimental, with many cuts straddling the divide. Aaron Dilloway x Lucretia Dalt‘s “Labyrinths & Yachts” is one of these, its surprising accessibility melded to intricate processing. When we see that The Caretaker is going to be remixed, we suspect that we’re in for something special; Laura Luna Castillo x Leyland Kirby‘s “Stage 4 Confusion Flashback” offers an additional layer of intentional befuddlement. This is no longer hauntology, but neurons that fire against breaking waves: an aural reflection of a migrant’s journey by sea. Flipping the script, Leyland Kirby x Laura Luna Castillo‘s “Bliss and Loss” sounds like a tug of emotions, looking back on a beloved country with a feeling of hiraeth.
We’ve never thought of Celer as a scary artist, but when Kreng gets in on the action, everything changes. “MM Strings (Remix) is as dark as one might expect; but returning the favor, Celer makes Kreng sound benign. Another unusual pairing is Jerusalem in My Heart and Black to Comm. The former lends atmospheric magnificence to the latter, while the latter brings a new edge to the former. Pairings such as these make the album unique, because they might never have happened otherwise. The unspoken message: when cultures meet, they don’t always clash. Sometimes they make beautiful, unforeseen music together. Without lyrics, CRXSSINGS makes an incredible argument for the easing of border restrictions and the welcoming of the stranger. It’s less of an indictment than an invitation: open your hearts. (Richard Allen)