Monday, March 9, 2009

VA - Dark Was The Night Comp

As a rabid music fan, I am by nature severely allergic to compilation albums, and subscribe to the belief that the number of "Best Ofs" you own is inversely related to how interesting and engaging of a person you are. For example, if the only Bob Marley album you own is "Legend" or the only Jimi album you've listened to is "The Ultimate Experience", chances are we'll disagree on a lot of other topics and our approach to life in general. And honestly, the "Best Ofs" aren't even the worst kind of compilation album. Think of all the Radiohead cover comps, the Christmas comps, the Now That's What I Call Musics of the world...they are everything that is bad and cheap and ignorant conveniently condensed onto one disc.

"Dark Was The Night" is the best comp ever made because it breaks all of the dumb rules that make compilations suck. There's no theme or tribute behind it, no artificial structure to prop up bad songs or bad bands. The Red Hot Organization (the AIDS fund behind this) assembled a bunch of the most progressive bands playing right now and just let them be themselves. Sometimes the result is unlikely collaboration (Dirty Projectors + David Byrne), sometimes its a great cover song (The Books and Jose Gonzalez on Nick Drake's Cello Song), and sometimes it is a really big weird idea that couldn't live anywhere else (Sufjan's 10 minute ridicu-symphony). Regardless, the results over the course of this 31 track double-disc are always totally untethered and fascinating - Bon Iver goes electric, The National goes Beck, My Morning Jacket goes 80's saxpop...the whole thing is an absolute blast. Granted, Disc 1 is far better than Disc 2, and as albums they don't really hold together at all...but being children of the internet it's not like we've ever cared about that kind of thing. The key is that Dark Was The Night doesn't try to be any kind of capital-S Statement, so it gives these bands the freedom to shoot off into any and all directions. What we're given is a well of awesomeness you can keep coming back to again and again.

Since this is an AIDS benefit album and I really don't feel like stealing from people with AIDS, buy from Beggars here or ITunes here - it's worth it

1 comment:

brynna said...

Wow. Those two you threw up are impressive, so impressive that I might (gasp) pay for music.