Everyone loves a compilation and, after ten years on the go, Armellodie Records, founded in 2007 by Al Nero and Scott Maple, most surely deserves one.
Somewhat overused used word but idiosyncratic perfectly encapsulates the label and its roster: across a generous helping of twenty tracks, there is a unifying aesthetic but it’s also an expansive enough selection that you’re almost bound to find something to love.
That aesthetic may perhaps be looked upon as, well, pretty much anything goes: as long as the band has an idea – an interesting and hopefully leftfield one – you get the feeling they’d at least get a sympathetic ear.
All that may sound a touch oxymoronic but, that strangely cohesive theme is there – outside of the immediate box, something new to say…. you’re in.
So you get shonky but sleazily effective ‘Mortise and Tenon’ by Bloke Music – discordantly funky with a barely held together tune: in the way some Captain Beefheart sounds like people playing on different records yet somehow coalescing into a quacking and impressive whole; in Scotland, Antique Pony have rather mastered that approach as well.
‘Mona Lisa’ by Trapped Mice is a rather gentler affair, pastoral, almost – reminds of ye olde English folk music when it started going all prog and occasionally somewhat alarming (it’s better than that sounds).
And so it goes: this is the sort of compilation that makes one cherish independent labels – not that most small labels wouldn’t love to have massive sales figures and stomp all over the charts given the chance, but, you can tell that having that unique, less catered for idea is the whole point, not a keen eye on the dollar.
There is even room for almost perfect pop tunes like ‘The Fathom Line’ by The Hazey Janes – with a following wind, that’s a deliciously breezy piece of songwriting not far from Aztec Camera.
The above is perhaps the greatest example of the value of this compilation: the label may be a labour of love and outlet for all sorts but there’s space for something that could easily trouble the charts along with more outre offerings.
Stick the record on and go along for the ride – if you don’t find something here to take your fancy, even fleetingly, you need to wax your ears.
Now seemingly run between Glasgow and China, after Nero’s relocation, you can but hope more talent is unearthed.
Bring forth the latest from the Guangdong scene: I have no idea if there is one but the breadth of music on show here suggests that, if there are musical rumblings of interest over there, Armellodie are pretty well equipped to unearth it.
Top stuff and a welcome and quixotic breath of fresh air.
Words: Vosne Malconsorts