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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Song of the Silent Land CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

4.00 | 2 ratings

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4 stars 'Song of the Silent Land' is a compilation featuring mostly unreleased (at least as of 2004) tracks from artists signed by the label Constellation Records. The aritists on this label are made up of post rock/math rock and experimental artists and the label is based out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Some of the bands featured on this compilation are 'Godspeed You! Black Emperor', 'A Silver Mt. Zion', 'Fly Pan Am', 'Do Make Say Think' and 'Black Ox Orkestar'. Thirteen out of the 14 tracks were previously unreleased. The release was originally released to commemorate the Spring 2004 Constellation Roadshow Tour in Europe.

The first track is 'The Sky Lay Still' (6:21) by Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, who is a singer and guitarist from Montreal. Her style is dark, sparse and ethereal. This is quite apparent in this track, which originally came from her album 'Stand with the Stillness of this Day', however, this is a very stripped-down version of that song. The song is a slow moving, quiet track made up of her pensive electric guitar and her vocals. 'Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn' by 'Do Make Say Think' (4:54) is a heavy track with a lot of noisy static effects surrounding the distorted guitar chords. The track is a remix of the album 'Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn' to a 5 minute track. The track goes through a variety of harsh sounds, styles and rhythm, but overall it is quite dark and noisy, and has a crazy ending. 'Wool Fever Dub' (3:05) by 'Exhaust' is a rare track that comes from their self-released cassette and was recorded to a 4-track reel-to-reel machine in 1996. Starting off with a screeching guitar drone, drums come in establishing a rhythm while the feedback heavy guitar plays a harsh melody that emerges from the feedback. Yes, the track is noisy, yet it is quite an interesting study in melodic noise and distortion, not really annoying, somewhat avant-garde and metallic.

'(Re)view from the Ground (Remix)' (4:30) by HangedUp is a remix of a track originally released on their album 'Kicker in Tow'. The band is an experimental duo that uses heavy percussion and often self-made instruments. The music again is quite noisy and harsh, with layers of noisy percussion with a moderately fast beat and screaming drones to give a very industrial post rock sound. The duo has worked with the band 'Sackville' and 'Silver Mt. Zion'. 'Toyte Goyes in Shinein' (3:44) by Black Ox Orkestar' plays a style of post rock Jewish traditional sounding music. The lyrics are in Yiddish and is a moderately slow, acoustic piece, that has a nice lush sound later when wind instruments are added. The track comes from their album 'Ver Tanzt?' released in 2003. 'This Machine' (4:56) by 'Sackville' follows this. Sackville is now a mostly defunct band as the members have gone on to work with other bands, mostly from the same label. The music was said to be a mix of country and rock, but it is more of a folk style than country. This track was previously unreleased in any form. The music is acoustic, the vocals are quite bassy, a lot like the vocals of 'The Magnetic Fields' lead singer Stephin Merritt.

'Iron Bridge to Thunder Bay' (8:12) by 'A Silver Mt. Zion' is a previously unreleased track taken from the sessions from the 'Thee Rusted Satellites' album. The track builds as a layered drone increases in volume and strength, and then a percussive beat underlies the drone and various instruments screech and squeal from the drone. Violin and guitar emerge from the din of the drone, but create a dissonant texture with the repeating percussion and bass line. It's all very noisy, as this was their style during these sessions. It is easy to see why this track was left off of those sessions however, as it never really develops past that thick wall of noise. This is definitely their loudest track I've heard from them. 'String of Lights' (5:33) by 'Sofa' is a rare track from the band's self-released cassette called 'Record' which was recorded direct to 2-track in 1996. The music is a dark, yet somewhat acoustic affair with light percussion, guitar and vocals. The band is known as the first band to record on the Constellation label and was a critically acclaimed band, though they have now disbanded.

'Dreaming ('.Again)' (4:49) by 'Polmo Polpo' is a track built up of recordings from the sessions that produced their album 'Like Hearts Swelling'. The Polmo Polpo project is actually a one person project from Sandro Perri who has a very intriguing style of post-rock instrumentalism that utilizes electronics and folk instrumentation. This track is a nice, moderate track that is quite melodic, and it utilizes some interesting electronic effects to create a smooth sounding track which even has some whistling thrown in there. 'Slippage' (3:25) is by the band 'Re:' and is an unreleased track from their 'Mnant' sessions. The project is made up of duo Aden Evens and Ian Ilavsky who also worked together as 'Sackville'. This music has a very organic sound with a lot of percussion, effects and an interesting sounding instrument playing sustained notes that ring out quite nicely. Even though they use electronics quite a lot, they sound very organic. 'Tres Tres Avant' (5:10) from 'Fly Pan Am' is from an improvisation done in 2003. It consists of a repeating synth and percussion loop with layers of airy noise and guitar with added vocal effects thrown in. It's not their best track as it is quite repetitive, but then it is mostly just improvised effects over a loop sequence.

'Fair Warning' (5:03) by '1-Speed Bike' is actually a remix of a track called 'New Blue Monday' from 'HangedUp'. The project is the moniker for the solo work of artist Aidan Girt, who is a drummer that has worked with GY!BE and Exhaust. The track is a combination of a noise, rave-style music with spoken word vocals. The track is repetitive and way too long. 'See My Film' (3:57) by Frankie Sparo is from a previously unreleased song from the 'Welcome Crummy Mystics' sessions. Frankie Sparo was the moniker for Chad Jones, a singer/songwriter from British Columbia. This one is a bit avant-garde sounding with gruff vocals and an off-beat loop. The melody is interesting enough, and so is some of the string instrumentation, but it doesn't necessarily match the loop very well. It's okay, but a little strange in sections. The last track is 'Outro' (7:33) from 'Godspeed You! Black Emperor'. This track is a previously unreleased live performance of a concert finale in France recorded on May 14, 2003. It starts out with simple chimes playing a melody softly. A violin and cello soon join in shadowing the melody. The track continues to work off of the post rock formula of development through a long crescendo, adding other instruments and building intensity as it goes on. The sound is a bit low-fi in quality, but the music itself is quite good, and the quality seems to improve as it goes on, so it is part of the music itself. As is typical with GY!BE, the music is emotional and beautiful.

This is really a decent compilation, and the tracks on it are mostly now unavailable anywhere else. It is a good sample of some of the very innovative and talented artists on the label, many of whom are not around anymore. There are a few weak spots on the album however. The biggest disappointment is the contribution of A Silver Mt. Zion as they are one of my favorite post rock bands, but the track here is way too noisy and far from their best efforts. There are a few others that are too repetitive, such as the Fly Pan Am track and the 1-Speed Bike track. However, overall, it is a great compilation with a lot of variety that ranges from the minimal to the extremely noisy, yet quality runs through the musicianship here. Though the tracks are not always the best of some of the bands and not always representative, the entire collection makes quite a cohesive statement in the end. This is definitely a good find if you can locate it, or still order it, as I did several years ago when I started first discovering some of the bands on the collection.

TCat | 4/5 |


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