Anyone with even just a casual interest in history and politics may well note that when there is a rise in economic hardship, absorbed by the general population, then this can result in heightened tensions, often manifested in xenophobia and recorded instances of racism. The rise of Trump in the US has, of late, provided one catalyst for darker impulses within a society moving out of the shadows and basking unashamedly in the limelight. The Brexit campaign in the UK has provided another. When politics of this nature sinisterly sidles into the mainstream then it gives repugnant viewpoints more space to fester and more confidence on the part of those expressing such opinions that these views will be accepted, grudgingly or otherwise, on the part of the wider populace. In such a climate it is unsurprising then when we read statistics pertaining to racist hate crimes going up by more than 40%. Anecdotal evidence supports this also when we are told people that have lived in the UK for a long period of time, and have never experienced anything in the way of hostility, are suddenly being confronted by strangers on the street, simply for being “foreigners”.
It is easy to feel powerless at times like these, so what better moment for people to come together and express joint opposition to such concerning developments? Simon Tucker, a representative of the Carmarthen branch of HOPE not hate, hit upon the idea of using his knowledge and contacts from his role as a promoter of new music to an inspired positive end, in short, melding this with his laudable charitable aspirations. The response from artists to his project has proven incredible, with 95 tracks contributed overall. And the Brexit referendum making the pound worth significantly less notwithstanding, a fiver is a bargain not to be sniffed at. It’s beyond me to review all of the tracks right now, and I’m sure not even the most avid reader of music blogs wants to read that much of my waffle but let’s dip into it and give you a snapshot. Why not listen whilst you read?
Before getting started you might be wondering A) how you possibly have time to listen to this many tracks and B) do you really want to download an album this size onto your already close to full hard drive? To answer A) my advice would be to treat it like you’re listening to the radio. Do you refuse to listen to the radio because there’s far too many bands potentially you’ve never heard before? Of course not. You switch it on, have it on in the background, maybe whilst you’re getting on with other stuff and, intermittently, a track might well leap out which makes you want to hear more from that particular artist, so you then investigate further. That’s the best way to approach this compilation in my view. To answer B) if you download in MP3 format it’s actually not that much space BUT if you’re not even willing to make that commitment the great thing about Bandcamp is you can install the Bandcamp app on your smartphone, which gives you access to all the music you’ve ever bought on the site and you can stream it like you do with services like Spotify.Or just stream it on the device of your choosing and if you want to download at a later date, it’s there if you want it because you own it. The lovely thing also about buying music on Bandcamp is that it appears on a dedicated page, showcasing your online record stash.
People often complain that the days of the physical music purchase are disappearing and that means people will be gradually less inclined towards connecting with others through the perusing of record collections. Bandcamp addresses this by showing what you’ve purchased on your own personal page. No need to wait until there’s a party round your house to show off your records, it’s online already for others to have a nosey if you want them to. Just imagine how impressed fellow music lovers will be when they see you’ve lent your support to such an awesome and eclectic compilation. Ah yes. The compilation. Just how awesome actually is it?
To start things off we have some ambient electronica from Chris and Cosey, and then Ian Watson. This swings from welcomingly mellow in a Röyksopp meets John Wizards kind of a way to slightly unsettling on the part of Watson, but not in a bad sense. Then with Vukovar our first atmospheric indie earworm takes hold, dropping back down to a nice piano and string led ballad from Climbing Trees before the pulsing electro of Lippy Kid sets in. So far pretty bloody enjoyable. There’s plenty more electronic ambient material to keep things slowly simmering before this is broken up with some lovely silky vocals courtesy of HMS Morris. Fold give us something to tap our feet to, along with some welcome jazzy overtones. Musical proceedings keep on ticking along nicely before Kevin Pearce’s ‘Dynamite’ jumps out of the speakers, which might strike some listeners as a little bit Peter Gabriel. Nice. Next to really reel me in? ARGPH, evoking a more laid back British Sea Power on this particular track. Chick Quest are also one of my favourite discoveries thus far with a sound that makes me want to witness them live – frenetic instrumentation and welcome use of the horn on show here. An even shorter and straight to the point song comes from MELLT which reminds this reviewer of 60 Ft. Dolls, but also the Swedish group Bob Hund. We actually heard about this compilation via our very own Hangzhou-based songsmith William Gray and he gets an honorable mention now for his ballad ‘Music To Her Ears’, which gradually blossoms into something very special, complete with string arrangement and female backing vocals. Similarly pleasant is The Gentle Good with ‘Briwsion’, a swirling little ditty of acoustic loveliness. Perplexing in its psychedelic meanderings is Hotel De Salto’s ‘Bigger Than Elvis’, firing enough sonic treasure into my caffeine soaked brain to make me want to hear more, whilst the highly rated FFUG show just why they’re so highly rated with the hazy ‘Speedboat Dreaming’. Whilst the joyous thing about this compilation is it has introduced me to a massive amount of artists I’ve never heard of, one act I have already heard of is Bloodflower. They ably demonstrate why they’re a duo that has been receiving national airplay, with their proficiently produced track ‘Horizon’. Aled Rheon’s ‘Wrap Up Warm’ is nearly a nice, err, warm way to wrap things up if not for the fact this duty is left to Cpt Smith with ‘Llenyddiaeth’.
It will take me a long time to delve deeper into this compilation and I’m very much looking forward to doing so. To those acts I haven’t mentioned I’d say some artists may take longer to grab you than others but when they do they might very well take a firmer hold. To those reading, get this compilation bought pronto. Good music for a good cause. Can’t say fairer than that. I’m going to listen to it some more right now.
Check out the official website for more info.
Here’s the relevant YouTube Channel.