Various Artists: Womexizer 09

This is the collection you'd expect from a body whose aim is to put as many acts in one place as possible and present them as pleasingly as possible so that they will be written about.

Various Artists

Womexizer 09

Label: Womex
Internet: 2009-11
US Release Date: 2009-11
UK Release Date: 2009-11

Womexizer 09 is a sampler. Sampler is the word I think of here, not compilation, not really, because when I see compilation, I picture a compiler setting out with an idea in mind, oh, let's say, "I am going to find ten wonderful songs by 1970s rock bands from Lima," or "I am going to show everyone the myriad ways in which the accordion is being played around the world." Womexizer 09 is something more businesslike, the work of a person who has been handed a stack of albums and told to pick the tracks that seem most likely to appeal. "Are you doing anything important today?" this person might have been asked. "No? Just eating a sandwich? Good. Make yourself useful. Choose something nice from each of these. Put them in order. Thanks." The person goggles, startled, still swallowing bread and ham.

The common thread between the musicians on the Womexizer is this: they all appeared at this year's Womex expo. First held in 1994, running annually on the last weekend of October, Womex is a world music trade fair. The fair has moved through several different European cities during its lifetime, starting in Berlin, shifting from Brussels to Marseille to Stockholm, bouncing back and forth between Rotterdam, Essen, Newcastle upon Tyne, Seville, until this year, for the first time, it landed in Copenhagen. Now it's over until October '10.

The posthumous press release was chirpy:

With the recorded music industry crisis surpassed by the overall world economic crisis, we were indeed surprised -- and grateful -- to see our WOMEX 09 numbers: There were over 2700 delegates and 650 exhibiting companies from 92 countries in 280 Trade Fair Stand Units. And WOMEX presented 57 acts including 340 artists on 6 stages and 23 Conference Sessions, having inaugurated a new structure. Each Conference day highlighted a different key issue: Digital Myths, Markets and Mayhem; The Economy of Music …

The informal commentary less so:

There was some good music there [… ] but there were some acts who should never have left home. Having said that, it's a bit of a nonsense wandering from showcase to showcase expecting to be able to make sensible assessments over 4 days and nights.

Womexizer 09 is the collection you'd expect from a body whose aim is to put as many acts in one place as possible and present them as pleasingly as possible so that they will be mentioned in newspapers or invited on tours. There's variety in the styles, but the sound is kept overall light, not heavy, nothing challenging, threatening, controversial. Most of the 20 groups that appear here are European, with some Africans, Asians, and Americans. The person with the sandwich has done their best to arrange the tracks so that there's some sort of connection between them, maybe a guitar in one song leading to a guitar in the next, but they were never meant to go together, and a leap from gnawa to mento is a jarring thing. It's an album that was made to be broken up and skipped through. "Oh," says the listener, me, nodding to the absent sandwich person. "Kayhan Kalhor on the kamancheh -- good as usual, interesting partnership with Brooklyn Rider, whatever that is. I'll listen to that again. The Ale Möller Band -- a lot of things together but not sure it adds up to much. Listen again in case I'm judging them too harshly? I've liked Möller before … Mógil -- Icelandic chamber orchestra indie soprano doodad. What were they doing at a world music expo?" And so on.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.