The dear people of Opus Independents have made a compilation album choc-full of their fave artists (and poets) who have graced the stage at that cozy pub,The Riverside. Made up of mostly acoustic songs (with the odd electronic sea serpent popping up to say “hi-ya!”), it’s a pretty nifty compilation.
It starts with a café-friendly serving, with the acoustic track ‘Grooveyard’ by Thomas Leeb. It gets the mood relaxed, a feeling exacerbated with the groovy, easy-going tales spun by both Rozi Plain (‘Stolen Shark’), Rachael Dadd (‘Rice Triangle’) and the very enigmatic, dreamlike vision that is Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon‘s ‘As perceived by mice’.
So far, it’s so amiable it begs for some incense burning (I’d go for sandalwood, but that’s ‘cuz of my dad). Then it turns a little more bluesy, although less in the sense of playing up and down the fret with scale shenanigans and more about the feelings painted by the guest artists. Witness the atmospheric lamentation that is Dean McPhee‘s ‘Sky burial’ or the trance-inducing ‘Aerial Boundaries’ by Woolly Mammoth (who seriously need to get more stuff out).
A tradition of Opus Independents is also to push those inclined to partake on the vice of ink upon paper to spin their yarns. Three poems are included here (Joe Kriss, Gav Roberts and James Lock). It’s hard to grade poetry, so your enjoyment of these bits of the compilation will vary with each listener more dramatically than any of the musical offerings. I’m fond of the Gav Roberts one myself.
I’m on record stating that The Payroll Union‘s ‘Emily’ is fun but sad, so here’s the evidence. Cool track. After that slice of Americana, we get a trip down the folkier side, with Rik Warren welcoming us and Fallen Leaf offering a rather rich oolong tea in the form of ‘Gathering’.
Some say you keep your strongest tracks for the last stretch of the album and that certainly was a well carried practise in the 90s era of albums (see Siamese Dream, Under the table and dreaming and Recovering the Satellites). In this compilation, we’ve got one-man orchestra Sieben doing his violen looped with a guitar pedal stuff, classy as ever, and we have Louis Roumegoux being sombre, stark and on full theatrical mode. It’s a good rope-a-dope, which can only be countered with the haymaker that is the gypsy jazz of Belleville. I don’t know if such genre exists, but I saw the tag on Bandcamp and agreed. Don’t take my word for it, it’s a swaggery track for you jazz enthusiasts. Liz Green closes the album with a song from the underbelly of the beast; an unforgiving, nameless stranger that just fades in the grimy streets leading to the old industrial states that now hold nothing but dust and memories.
Listen to his one with some port and cheese (port salut and water crackers did the trick).
Words: Sam “Once got too drunk on Kraken and walked uphill without dying” Valdes Lopez