Various Artist: Tiny Mixtapes Vol. 1: Darfur

[9 July 2009]

By Christian Carey

Tiny Mixtapes has been in the online music criticism biz a long time. Their website may predate the blogosphere, but editor/publisher Marvin Lin waited until now to curate TMT’s first compilation recording. The impetus is a special cause: benefiting the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Responding to extraordinary demands, this is no ordinary filler-laden, mawkishly crowd-pleasing comp. The tracks here are connoisseur-worthy indie contributions of rarities or exclusives.

Jim O’Rourke provides delicate soundscaping on the atmospheric instrumental “Seven Stars”. Balroynigress is similarly experimental in arranging “Dress the Ship in Black”. Atop angst-laden electronics and loping guitars, portentous vocals seem to underscore the seriousness of the proceedings’ stated goal.

Frog Eyes presents “Bushels” in a yodeling acoustic rendition. Xiu Xiu’s “Farther On” also adopts a stripped down demeanor, taking on a campfire sing along quality by song’s end. Wooden Wand’s “No Stranger” is another roots-inflected number, an Appalachian-tinged ruminative ballad.

WHY?, on the other hand, presents a fleshed out “sock hop” version of “Eskimo Snow”, complete with soaring guitars and rock ‘n’ roll piano. Dan Deacon’s “I have so much to Donald” is another hit for the dance hall, although it’s more likely to entrance ravers rather than sock-hoppers.

The compilation comes in both CD and LP versions. 100% of the profits go toward humanitarian relief, benefiting the International Rescue Committee’s efforts on behalf of refugees. Both in terms of musical quality and mission, this is one that’s well worth plunking down the bucks.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/107466-various-artist-tiny-mixtapes-vol.-1-darfur/