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CD Feature/ V.A.: "OGX"

img  Tobias

Baxk in the time, when downloading a simple word document on the internet took a couple of minutes and CDs were still selling in bucketloads, mainstream record companies operated as big commercial cultural melting pots. In a bid to build a competitive model, the underground found salvation in uniformity. If costumers knew exactly what they would get, the reasoning went, a label would eventually turn into a similar brand as a band. The result: A slew of recognisable, profitable, but slightly boring and discouraged outfits, and a scene scattered into tiny niches and submarkets. Right from the its very start, “Old Gold” (hailing from Atlanta, Georgia) was a conscious effort to bring back a taste of imperfection and some rough edges to the fold, while displaying the full diversity of musical creativity. With this compilation, spread out over four sides of lovely vinyl, the label has invited over some of its favourite artists – and celebrated a tenth aniversary spectacular second to none.

Your normal reaction with samplers like this one would be to visit the Old Gold site on the web in order to check out the lineup and then decide whether or not this might be of interest. Yet nothing could be more besides the point. “OGX” is not about name-dropping, even though a few of the artists involved may ring a bell (albeit not a loud one, probably). On a more surprising note, it is not even primarily about “songs”. Almost exclusively a bundle of rare and previously unreleased material, some of these tracks are over, before you’ve been able to complete a full blink-of-the-eye-cycle (Yximalloo’s “We love you”, for example, takes just six seconds to get its point across), while others make four minutes seem like an eternity (the pandemonious free-jazz sounds of “Charlie Parker” certainly don’t make for ideal candle light dinner wallpaper). In stark contrast to the concept of the sampler as a well-adjusted collection of individual contributions, this is more of a quilt: Ragged at times, multicoloured and occasionaly scruffily patched, but at the same time warm, woozy and full of wonders. Take side C, for example, which starts with Danger Woman’s psychedelic karaoke-take on Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F”, switches to the robo-pneumatic lo-fi love finesse of L. Contra’s “When can we dance” and the 1,5 minute long bubbling and fizzling of “Artificial Stupidity” (by someone called “Dog”), a five-minute long cacophony inscened by Davey Williams and Eugene Chadbourne, before entering the hissing folk harmonies of Drue Langlois singing about “ARKANSAS” (capitals intended) and indie rockers Bon Vivants travelling the dusty “Highway”. If you’re looking for a high-quality, pop-philosophical explanation, then this is about re-contextualisation, about uncovering commong ground between disparate elements and about testing the change in effect of uprooted music. If you’re looking at it with the eyes of a novelist or action director, this is about building arcs of supense and about the human necessity of a bipolar world – after all, how will one be able to discover the beauty of “Die Spatzen”’s dainty field recording meets dreamy guitar scetch or David Daniell’s crackling miniature “Clepsydra” without wandering through the pitchblack horror visions of Tom Heasley’s stertorous Tuba and Ken Rossner’s hypnotic guitar pads?

On a more basic level, “OGX” merely emulates whar 90% of listeners are doing already: Mixing it up, breaking it down and shuffling their way through multifold playlists and across all style-barriers. If radio can no longer provide this sense of excitment, this adrenalin-filled moment of what could come next any and if record companies have decided to play it safe and “tasteful”,.then it is up to labels like Old Gold to fill the vacuum. Nothing comes closer to John Peel’s eclectic approach than this and the ambassador of “good music without borders” would certainly have liked quite a few of these tunes. And if you can see the wholeness in fractures, the aesthetics in ugliness, the coherence in incoherence and the pleasure of being shocked and shaken every time a new track begins, then you will too.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Old Gold

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