Bargain Bin #2


I like to think of compilation CDs as an archaic relic of times gone by. The successor to the original mix-tape hours of meditative thought, cassette synchronisation and ruthless check-listing to create the perfect maelstrom of musical gems.

Dime a dozen CDs and simple five minute burning software transformed what could have been described as something of a connoisseurs art form into a thoughtless, robotic process. Pick some tracks at will, drag, drop, click wham bam, thank you maam, youve got yourself a compilation.

As such, you can imagine my instant (and pretentious, yes) disdain at prising HMVs playlist August 03 from a cardboard Pandoras box of pre-owned evils.  I have trouble acknowledging the existence of a year as far-gone as 2003, let alone that the antiquated people of the time had music. But here it is, in my hands, disk like proof. Itd be rude not to play it.

Straight off the bat Im hit with the acoustic/electric collaboration of The Bees cover of A Minha Menina (originally by Brazilian psych rockers Os Mutantes). For those of you who can recall the television adverts of a decade ago, merely a few notes of this distorted melody will have you gripped with lust for a Mars bar (or a Citron ).

Second track in and I feel like Ive been kicked in the audible testicles. My main issue with compilations, a quibble I share with one Rob Gordon (watch/read High Fidelity if you havent), is that of poor structure. Kicking things off with an upbeat Bees track is acceptable. Directly following on from it with four soul-sundering melancholy successors is not.

N.B. Bell X1, Broadcast, Elbow and Emma Holland are the culprits.

Track number nine employs a strange mysticism, however. For the first time in my inconsequential existence, I feel a distanced connection to a kindred spirit with an unknown someone who worked in HMVs Playlist Creation Hive Mind (real title) in August of 2003. For track number nine is none other than Asteroid by authoritative industrial, post-punk, electronic, dance, anything else, group Killing Joke.  

Since my early teenage days, Asteroid has held first place for my favourite track detailing the imminent destruction of civilization as a consequence of planetary collisions. In seriousness, the song is a powerhouse of thunderous rhythm, and a very welcome change of pace on the CDs otherwise drab first half.

Admittedly, its a little high and mighty of me to label anything as drab in the midst of this very grey article, but eliciting any endearing thoughts from a strangers musical anthology is no mean feat.

The truth is that any assemblage of a number of artists and tracks is never going to be successful to an exterior audience. While this particular effort featured some noteworthy collaborators: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Rain Band, Serafin, Thea Gilmore to name a few, it will still succumb to my own form of amnesia within a few days time.

HMVs Playlist August 03 managed to evade my scathing criticisms by being just too boring to criticise.

I think Ill reward myself with a Mars bar now (or a Citron ).