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  Say Nothing to No One: a Soundless Records Compilation  
  various Soundless Records recording artists  
  Soundless Records  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Mr Pharmacist  

Record company compilations are by nature a mixed bag. What else could they be? Not even the coolest, hippest label bats a thousand. What to make of the Chicago-based Soundless Records compilation, Say Nothing to No One? Well, as far as I can tell, it's from Chicago, which is a good sign. Lots of good sounds come from Chicago. Heck, the jazz alone could power the eastern seaboard. Since these are probably all new bands, you might look at this as a crystal ball, a snap shot of what the near future of the music landscape might look like. In the end, the individual artists are left to speak for the themselves.

Jessica Bechtold starts the thing with a lovely little tune, a sad number with a piano backbone and swirls of electronic beep and squiggle for background. Leaves this listener a bit melancholic, in a wistful way. A good start. Acomputer (I think I get it!) follow, with a chirpy electronic number. Reminds me a bit of Mouse on Mars, with its pop-oriented burp and gurgle. There's a music box melody that runs throughout, which does not reduce the song to novelty, but rather adds a self conscious sort of charm.

Nate Ruth hits next, bringing a mumbly, little grunge-flavored pop/folk tune to the proceedings. Mr. Ruth avoids falling into past flavors, but instead shows us the inner Syd Barrett that was always at the heart of Mr. Cobain. A crunchy and meaty math rock number via Mission of Bermuda follows. The ghost of that other fabled Mission of .... band can be faintly heard underneath the muscle and angle. Jonathan Heathcote next delivers a layered and thumping electronic piece, with vocals riding over a pummeling electronic beat. The song takes several unexpected turns that are almost Beatlesesque at one point. It's compositionally textured and somehow catchy.

Temp Sound Solutions deliver another electronic piece, or at least a guitar/electronic tune with a patina of Metal. Not industrial in the strict sense, the song is more of an instrumental version of Nine Inch Nails mating with Autechre. Millipede (good name for a band) cook up a dub electronic bit, a sort of stop and start tune, heavy on atmospherics and reflecting a post-rock vibe. Carolee moves us near the end with yet another electronic-tinged vocal exercise. Female vocals slightly buried over electronic noise and varied percussion make the meat of the song. Again, the varied textures make it memorable. Finally, a composition by one Mike Dooling closes the album. A stuttering, shifting collage of processed vocals create a sonic landscape that, unlike the other tracks from the album, falls far from pop or standard song structure. What it lacks in standard song narrative, the song makes up for in a layered, textured tension that never quite resolves.

Though varied in content and approach, the album gives a nice snapshot of Soundless Records. I'd hazard that, barring Nate Ruth's synth-free song, electronics and power tools are the dominant thread for the label. Each of the artists on display do a good job of enticing one to sample further. Stand-outs like Heathcote might do an interesting thing or three on a full album. I walk away from the sampler with assurance that there are still musicians and artists making sounds to be remembered in the future, sounds that point toward continued surprise.

Related Links:

The Soundless Records website.


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