Various Artists – For Syria (Linear Obsessional)

Made in reaction to the ongoing disaster in Syria and hoping to make a beneficial ripple in the misery, is this great compilation album from Linear Obsessional.  The artists all donated work for free; the sounds they created are never less than fascinating.

Bruce Hamilton’s ‘Mohika’ is a meditatively sparse piano rumination.
Iris Garrelfs adorns Viv Corringham’s wonderful vocal wanderings with weird echoing electronics.  ‘Five Faced Bishop’ by Pete Flood is a glitching judderwaltz on broken stilts around reverberant ballroom acoustics.  Kev Hopper’s contribution ‘Bevelled Edges’ has an absorbing lounge insouciance, a lovely night-time tired and slightly drunken sway across bright keys and glutinous guitar effects.  ‘Intervention’ by Duncan Goddard is filtered through a plastic sheen; helicopter bass synth-whips sparking up conversation with doomy classical chord structures.  ‘Violence for your Furs, a Rework’ is full of piercing sax flutterings; sharply metallic, striking sparks; Mark Browne’s playing both snaking and lithe.  ‘Dead Voices on Air’ by Coele-Syria is a glowing ambient duskscape; glassy tones, piano melodies dancing like insects in the air, beautiful, still and poignant.  A dubby bass line, clattering kitchen-sink percussion, and twitching electronics disperse into a haunted drift coda on Marsh and May’s ‘Down the Line’.  Richard Sanderson’s ‘ShiverTipple’ is a captivating sighing taut-wire wind-hymn, becoming increasingly insectoid and alien as it progresses.  On ‘A Suit of Tin’ by Solaris crashing guitar-like down-strokes of noise interrupt winding curls of what might be accordion and clarinet, like the crashing footsteps of iron giants in peaceful butterfly-strewn fields.  The album takes a menacing turn into buzz and surface scraping abrasion with ‘Cities Without Windows’ by Chris Whitehead.  A radio-frequency scanning investigation finds only fuzz for days before alighting upon a sweetly sad folkish piano-led instrumental that comes and goes in fugue-like fashion on ‘Farewell to Woolworths’, from The Original Beekeepers.  Sue Lynch and Adrian Northover’s ‘Two Figures in a Picnic Area’ sees the two creating an argumentative sax duo packed with whistle, spinning drills and shrill vibrations in a committed and lively engagement .  ‘Degenerating Meganucleus’ by Colin Webster and Graham Dunning is all aquatic plonk and quick-sand static while snatched voice clips are sliced, stamped and burnt.  A hiss-beat ode to the age-old fish-selling trade emerges on Jude Cowan Montague’s ‘Libya’, a ticking electro pop song skewed with weird booms and business analysis digressions into the Libyan oil economy.  Skitter’s ‘DISNAE (mix) 29042014’ is a hive-storm of confusion, a rapid flicker of hot noise and foundry scraping, fierce and violent. 
Final song ‘Masters of War / War Coda’ by Mike Cooper, combines guitar, smashed piano and arresting lyrics (“you put a gun in my hand and you hide from my eyes, and you turn and run first when the first bullets fly”) in an anti-war dark ballad, an indictment of desk-bound war-mongers with drawers full of blood.  The album and song closes with a fierce free-jazz attack, words no longer enough; a suitably heated and enraged closing-of-curtains on a thought provoking and sadly necessary project, an engagement between the abstraction of the experimental underground with the reality of a collapsing nation. 
A celebration of charitable artistic creation in support of a people facing division and destruction; as well as serving an excellent cause, ‘For Syria’ also acts as an effective sampler for Linear Obsessional’s multifarious interests.  Give them your time, ears, and money.

Available until June 1st, get a copy of ‘For Syria’ here.  All proceeds go to the Disasters Emergency Committee Syria Crisis Appeal.

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