The Three Best Compilations of 2008 (You Haven’t Heard)
Sometimes, it’s not what you say–it’s what you don’t say. Right now, though, it’s not what you listen to–it’s what you didn’t. I, Professor Elmer Honeydew, your humble musical servant, have sifted through thousands of hours of compiled tracks in order to bring you the Three Best Compilations of 2008 You Haven’t Heard…
Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump – Original Heavyweight Afrobeat, Highlife & Afro-Funk
Most Americans fail to understand exactly how far their culture’s reach extends and nowhere is that contagion more evident than in global music. During the 1960s and ’70s, the decidedly American tentacles of soul music and funk began to wend their way across continents and oceans, permeating the musical climate of countries far and wide. Nigeria 70 is a chronicle of how these strands of our culture took root and blossomed in the Nigerian airwaves of the pre-disco era.
From the Booker T and the MGs rave-up of The Immortals’ “Hot Tears” to the highlife fusion of “Ezuku Buzo” by Bola Johnson and His Easy Life (yes!), this collection is spirited and as much art as artefact. What Nigeria lacked in recording technology during this era it compensated for with a raw love of musical creation. Listening to genres bleed into one another here is like witnessing the evolution of a species, glorious and unparalleled.
Des Jeunes Gens Modernes
It’s only natural to conceive of post-punk as an utterly British phenomenon, with nearly every significant, seminal act calling someplace in the U.K. its home. However, as Cabaret Voltaire and P.i.L. were busy doing their thing, young acts across the English Channel were creating their own scene in France, cranking out songs just as potent (if not as historical) as their neighbors. Des Jeunes Gens Moderns curates two discs’ worth of these forgotten tracks, the quality of which is consistently remarkable.
Lizzy Mercier Descloux, one of the only French post-punks to gain any recognition outside her native country, is proffered here, but the surprises are what make this a worthwhile purchase. Personal favorites include the tracks by Taxi Girl (whose “Sur Mes Souvenirs” could have been a hit for I.R.S. Records in its infancy), Martin Dupont, Ruth, Les Fils de Joie, and Perspective Nevski. If you enjoy this, you should also investigate the excellent 2006 release BIPPP: French Synth-Wave 1979-85 and blow your mind with the Plastic Bertrand-ish “Touche Pas Mon Sexe” by Comix and the Human League flavored “Game and Performance” by Deux.
Cosmic Balearic Beats, Vol. 1
I’ve written about this Eskimo Records compilation at length, but the nutshell version is that this is perhaps the best document of current electronic music given to us in 2008. The emphasis here is on Prins Thomas-style space disco, with hypnotic, capacious songs that have as much to do with the late ’70s dancefloor as they do with the micro-house-whatever scene. Amazing contributions by Phoreski, In Flagranti, Homerun, and other artists you’ve never heard of make this an essential release, not to mention the winner of my award for Best Album to Play in the Background While You Get Surprising Amounts of Work Done. It’s trippy in the best possible way, as in it feels like a journey, and makes the listener hungry for the implied promise of Volume 2.