Various Artists - Song Of The Silent Land
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Various Artists
Song Of The Silent Land

It's hard to believe that Constellation Records have been around for 7 years now. I remember back to the day that I was fresh out of college and ran across the band name of Godspeed You Black Emperor! on a mailing list. I was intrigued and hunted down their debut release and was utterly blown away. Throughout the years, I've watched and followed the label closely as they've also put out work by what has become one of my favorite bands (Do Make Say Think) and released intriguing and great work by many others (Silver Mt. Zion, Fly Pan Am, and Frankie Sparo to name a few).

While their first label-wide compilation mainly consisted of already-released tracks, Constellation has given listeners some serious added bonus with Song Of The Silent Land in making nearly all the tracks on the release exclusive in some way or another. While many of the tracks are remixes or alternative versions of already-released tracks, there are definitely some true gems on here that will make the price of admission easy enough on those who are fans of the label. With 14 tracks and over 70 minutes of music, it's not only a nice label-starter, but lots of bang for your buck.

Leading off the disc is a stripped-down version of "The Sky Lay Still" by Elizabeth Anka Vajagic and I have to admit that I like it much better than the version that made her debut Stand With The Stillness Of This Day. Not only does the natural reverb of the guitar stand out more, but the vocals are able to retain more of their raw power. Although I hate to say it, the Do Make Say Think contribution to the compilation isn't much of a standout (members of the group distilled pieces of their last album Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn into one track), while Exhaust's "Wool Fever Dub" is basically a more lo-fi version of the track that turned up on their debut release.

There are some killer standouts, though, and they include the blistering "Iron Bridge To Thunder Bay" by Silver Mt. Zion, which was an unreleased track from the This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather And Sing sessions. It's an absolutely scorching track, and if I didn't know who it was beforehand, I never would have been able to guess. Polmo Polpo contributes "Dreaming Again," a lovely original track constructed from different elements that went into his Like Hearts Swelling release.

As if that weren't enough, Fly Pan Am (with help from Tim Hecker and Christof Migone) drop "Tres Tres 'Avant,'" a deconstructed workout from the recent (and excellent) N'Ecoutez Pas. Of course, most people will probably be intrigued/speculating the most about the closing track on the disc, simply entitled "Outro," by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Fittingly titled, the track is a slightly mournful, slightly hopeful piece that is the group at their subdued best. Recorded last year in France at "Concert Finale," will it be the last piece of officially released music from the influencial ensemble? While I hope that's not the case, it's a lovely close to not only their saga but this label compilation (which includes work from everyone on the label) as well. Although it's slightly inconsistent, it's a must-have if you're a fan of the label or several of the bands on it.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2004-09-16 00:00:00