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Various Artists

Living Bridge

(Rare Book Room; US: 26 Feb 2008; UK: Available as import)

Rare Book Room Records take an interesting angle on the compilation with Living Bridge. The songs all melt into each other here, and come together to create a moody sonic palate on which the whole two-disc collection rests. There are waves of drone and rumble that run behind most of these songs, and the overall sound it creates is the compilations biggest draw. This cohesive sound, however, also reveals a sameness to some of the tracks. With the format stripping away their ability to distinguish themselves, some of these tracks—ironically from bands that thrive on atmosphere—get lost in the shuffle. Some of the highlights here, like the frenetic turns by Blood on the Wall, Avey Tare, and Deerhunter, are unsurprising. But some of the more singer-songwriter tracks, mainly the Silver Jews, John Wolfington, and Guv’ner’s Charles Ganza, are highlights not only because they are strong on their own, but because their fit into the overall mix is an off-kilter one, and their incongruity manages to strengthen the compilation’s sound rather than poking holes in it.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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