What's Your Favorite Box Set?

It's been awhile since I started a real music-related topic around here, so I thought I'd fire it up again this week and ask people what their favorite box set is.

Feel free to talk about anything else as well.

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I recommend to check out Little Lucid Moments by Motorpsycho, the latest release from Rune Grammofon. They have released about 15 albums before this one, most of them recorded and produced by Helge Sten aka Deathprod. It seems this label and other related bands like Jaga Jazzist, Supersilent and Deathprod are well regarded around here, so I thought you might like it.

also, the cure's "join the dots" is solid throughout.

nick drake "fruit tree"

Thanks for the Boogybytes review. I’ve been really starting to enjoy (even crave) good dance mixes again. I used to love them when I was into house music way back, but then went off them and started to find them insubstantial. But I’ve listened to so many great techno mixes recently that I’m now excited to track this Ellen Allien mix down. Sounds fabulous. You mentioned AGF, and I remember you really rating ‘Westernization Completed’ a while ago – just wondered if you’ve heard the new album?

Also, on the subject of mixes, you should really check out this British site (www.allez-allez.co.uk) run by promoters here in London. Each week they put up a guest mix for download and they’ve now got quite an archive, from people like Studio and Tobias Thomas. Definitely worth checking out!

Going to see Ricardo Villalobos tomorrow night – very excited as I can’t get enough of his unique style at the moment. His 18-minute remix of Shackleton’s ‘Blood on My Hands’ from last year is magnificent – a dark vortex of apocalyptic sound from which there is little escape!

In terms of Autechre, I honestly tend to prefer their earlier work (and my reviews bear this out, mostly), right up until LP7 or so. They lost me a bit after that, and for awhile all I could hear when listening to their albums was Reaktor fartery for sixty minutes or so (give or take). From clips I've heard, their new album might be a little more digestible for me, so I might have to give it a listen.

Box sets aren't necessarily compilations (although certainly that's the case for some), so I don't think you can just round them all up like that. In many cases, they're the only place you can actually hear certain music by artists (especially in the case of extended jazz packages by the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane).

Also, I have to admit that it's sometimes about the packaging. In a world of uniform plastic jewelcases, box sets often can do something unique that helps them really turn into a small art object (look no further than the Dust To Digital label for proof).

OK, I know I'm 'bout 7 yrs. behind the curve, but I just got around to hearing Autechre's Tri Repetae and, of course, love it. Any suggestions on other good release from them? Review websites seem to disagree wildly on this account.

And for the record, I don't own a single box set. In my opinion, compilations are like cutting out the best part of Van Gogh and gluing them together.

The new Mt. Zion is...well, I don't know. I think "blindblindblind" is one of the best things they've ever done, and if that's indicative of where they'll be going (still vocally driven and such, but maybe more focused? I don't know...) then I'm very much excited. I was also excited about the Mt. Elegies work they did when they played all the "war radio" stuff...pretty amazing really.

I don't know, I have really mixed feelings about this new release, obviously. An "audio equivalent of a guerrilla attack" is a very very accurate description I must admit. Well said!

And even if godspeed doesn't come back, though if they did I'd have one less personal fantasy to wish for, couldn't they *at least* do a studio recording of "albanian" and "gamelan"? Those songs are amazing...and since we're on the subject, for those who haven't heard them go here:


Amazing recording of "world police" too...makes me wish I would have been aware of them while they were still around and doing shows. Damn...

Only got one thing to say about the new silver mt zion cd - bring back Godspeed!

I tried searching for a zero but couldn't find one, then checked on your Merzbow and, sure enough, 'Rattus Rattus' got a zero. HMMMM...

Also, who was that guy on Record Collection who really sucks, who no one likes? Did you review him? Perhaps my memory is gone.

the new silver mt zion is amazing. and heavy almost. the bass playing is great. songwritting is top notch. may be my favorite.

I agree that Silver Mt Zion's latest disc isn't their best work ever, but '1000000 People Died...' and 'BlindBlindBlind' are among their best compositions, they really come alive when played live. The former especially is breathtaking

Potsie / Revolver
By far my fav box set is the Stiff Records box. Where else can you get Nick Lowe and Motorhead on the same disc?

i have 2 favourite box sets:

* "Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way"? by The Field Mice

* "Bitches Brew" by Miles Davis

the first, a 2-cd set is a big collection of tunes that shimmer without being "fey":lovely voice, catchy riffs, & lots of subtle layers that combine to make virtually every song a standout. they are one of the best groups to ever rise out of england but they were prolific during their short history. this box set has become a fav in a lot of my friends' collections -- the music transcends alot of different tastes. the songs & the bands story are haunting & poignant & will never leave you. at least a half dozen always makes it to compilations for friends with musical tastes of all types.

what can i say about bitches brew that probably hasn't already been written about thousands of times over its 40 year history? i remember when i purchased this set after reading a raving review about it, & was curious about the claims. after i played all 4 cds, i felt it was overwhelmingly... noisy & yet complex, i just wasn't ready for it. so back i went to my beloved pop & rock collections. a few years later, i put the cds back on & wham!!! i fell in love with the songs. it has become a staple, it's one of those things that, once you are ready for it, you wonder how you could ever live without in your life! the free jazz stylings are rich, exciting, pastoral, moody, everything you feel from living a life of quiet & passion. the music is so creative. i wasn't ready for the challenge a few years back but now, the songs speak to me. the music is not dated in the least!

buy both these sets at once!

I think the "Mute audio documents" is one of the best box sets ever. Essential, without a doubt.

There are actually a couple lower-rated, and a couple nearly the same level. You know you can search the site by rating, right? :)

I basically feel like a giant asshole any time I give something under a 6 or so. That probably makes me a bad reviewer.

ia Yip-Yip the lowest score ever? I think I remember a two at some point.

Great description, actually. I'm thinking about stealing that line and appending it to my review... :)

Hmm, Yip Yip sounds like a broken 8bit NES sound chip.

I have a couple box sets. I have the No Thanks! punk comp, it is ok. I don't really listen to it anymore, but it's interesting to learn where a lot of these sounds come from. I also have the John Lennon anthology, it is really good.

Is it me or does "Sweet Love for Planet Earth" completely and utterly perfect? It's almost depressing that the band would start their disc off with a transcendent song, because I can never really get past it. It's so immediate and beautiful!

wow i'd heard the name Fuck Buttons before but always somehow/somewhy dismissed it as another crappy indie-rock act,, but jesus christ i'm completely dumbstruck after visiting their myspace now, this might be even better than wonderful rainbow,,,
thanks Aaron for the illumination ;)

While we're on the recommendations, people must check out No Disco Future by Melchior Productions from last year - a long record of clipped minimal techno goodness.

Wow, Bubbachups - thanks for the tip. Just listened to their Myspace and that track Flocks III is monumental. Very Branca-esque, but quite beautiful. Will certainly track down their album.

Anyone heard the new album by "Collections of Colonies of Bees" yet? Just released by Table of the Elements and I must say, the preview on their myspace page sounds very good. I like how it borrows from minimalist guitarists like Rhys Chatham and turns it into a more modern sound.

I think people who appreciate post-rock will also like this. Anyway, here's the myspace link so maybe you can listen and decide for yourself:

I bought a Harvest Records boxset round about the tail end of 1999 for £40 and it is apparently worth several hundred pounds now.

I second the vote for the Arvo Part - Te Deum release below. Astounding music, beautiful set. And I love the Sufjan Christmas set too - Sister Winter is one of my favourite Christmas tracks of all time.

Off the subject, has anyone heard the Kronos Quartet /Gorecki String Quartet releases on Nonesuch? Wondered if they are worth checking out...

i'd have to go with the galaxie 500 box set. GORGEOUS packaging on that one, and the music? beautiful. a side note: "on fire" may be one of my favorite records ever.

the magnetic field's "69 love songs" is pretty fucking great, too.

I can't stand the power of the Merzbox either, but some guy at Stylus apparantly did force himself through it:


As for the topic, I'm not sure it counts as a box set, but I'm really happy I bought the 5CD Sufjan Stevens "Songs For Christmas". I come back to it every Christmas for some sing-along.

Likewise, I don't think I could stomach the Merzbox, but these are good:::

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE AND THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.  The Penultimate Galactic Bordello Also The World You Made (4xCDs);
LAURIE ANDERSON - United States Live (5xLPs);
COCTEAU TWINS - The Singles Collection (10xCD singles);
DEAD CAN DANCE - 1981-1998 (3xCDs & a DVD);
THE FALL - The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 (6xCDs);
FAUST - ...In Autumn (3xCDs & a DVD);
INVISIBLE - Endless (3xmini-CDs);
LOW - A Lifetime Of Temporary Relief (10 Years Of B-Sides & Rarities) (3xCDs & a DVD);
ADAM LYGO - The Ant Box (3xCDs);
ADAM LYGO - Hari Zigoku (4xCDs);
MAIN - Hz (a.k.a. Hertz) (6xCDs);
PAN SONIC - Kesto (234.48:4) (4xCDs);
STEREOLAB - Oscillons From The Anti-Sun (3xCDs & a DVD);
TORTOISE - A Lazarus Taxon (3xCDs & a DVD);
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Big Cat Records: Driftworks (4xCDs featuring Thomas Koner, Nijiumu, Pauline Oliveros/Randy Raine-Reusch, & Paul Schutze);
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Blast First Records: The Devil's Jukebox (10x7" singles).

Merzbow, schmerzbow. I get the same effect twice a year when I go to the dentist. I don't need 50 CDs to remind me of that experience.


Nobody owns the Merzbox? 50 CDs of brutal noise and chaos!

I love my Holy Ghost box set, compiling live recordings and other stuff from 62-70. Revenant knows how to do this, and I should have bought the Charley Patton box as well.

Speaking of Deathprod; I couldn't agree more. Superb! Same with Steve Reich.

Also love my John Coltrane boxes, specially the Village Vanguard and Atlantic Recordings. And I would like to see an Alice Coltrane box one day, collecting her known period in the late 60s/ early 70s AND her period in the late 70s and 80s when she only recorded music for her church.

...and William S Burrougs From Giornio Poetry Systems...

...and Velvet's Peel Slowly and See, I think that was my first. There are so many great boxes, and hopefully more to come!

My favourite would be the Fonotone box set by Dust-To-Digital. Great 5 disc collection of jug band, blues, and early country, originally released on 78 rpm discs from 1956-1969. It comes in a cigar box with a book, some postcards and other memorabilia and, strangely enough, a bottle opener.

Their recent Victrola Favorites 2 disc collection in 144-page clothbound book is equally impressive, but I’m not sure if it would qualify as a box set. Still though, if you like early 20th century roots and ethnic music then this is a must have. It has everything; folk, jazz, blues, rituals, chanting Chinese Buddhist nuns, etc from everywhere; US, Congo, China, Turkey, Egypt, Korea, etc.

Other than that, the Deathprod box set is a terrifying beauty too as it stands like a monolith between my other cds. Both musically and stylistically this is about as perfect as box sets can get. I also have the Rune Grammofon vinyl box set called “Until Human Voices Wake Us And We Drown” which is a great collection of their impressive catalogue, spread out over five 10” records and has stunning Kim Hiorthøy design, both on the box itself and the inner sleeves and 16 page catalogue.

The box set that is highest on my wanted-list is the Kazuki Tomokawa 13 cd box set on the Japanese PSF label.

Looking over my shelf, I have to give some special mention to a couple other sets, simply because I love them so much...

Steve Reich - Works - This 10CD set is full of amazing music. Nonesuch has put out several of these 10 disc sets (Kronos Quartet, John Adams as well) and they're always really nicely done, with fat booklets that have a lot of information about the recordings as well.

This Heat - Out Of Cold Storage - Cutting-edge music from 30 years ago that influenced probably thousands of bands after them. Amazing stuff, with great remastering and packaging.

Deathprod - Box - I wish that Helge Sten would go ahead and release some more work, because this box has some of the deepest, darkest ambient music I've ever heard.

Cocteau Twins - Lullabies for Violane - I got the limited-edition version of this release in a fancy package with paper that feels oddly like wet suede, and this set sounds great and collects their formerly out-of-print 10CD set onto a more manageable 4CDs.

I've been into Nuggets a lot as of late. I'm also trying to get my hands on Back in Mono (Phil Spector comp).

Hells yeah.

Yup, Gas as in Wolfgang Voigt. Kompakt is releasing his four CDs (formerly on Mille Plateaux) as a new box set called "Nah und Fern" sometime in May. There isn't a ton of information on it yet, but it's certainly something to be super excited about.

Risko - Gas as in Wolfgang Voigt? His works are being reissued?!

Boxset - the only one I own is "69 Love Songs" by the Magnetic Fields, so I guess that's it...

Sascha Funke review - spot on. He had me hooked on the title track, and it just kind of went odd ball after that.

Scorn - Ellipsis
Just packed with 10 great remixes. One per side!

Elwin Rijken
Arvo Pärt - Te Deum
It's a classic album to begin with, but my 'box' edition includes a booklet with very elegant pictures.
Lyrics, background information and texts.
It as thick as the cd holder itself.
Very recommendable!

i'm pretty obsessed with the the forecoming Gas reissue at the moment

This is an incredibly hard one for me to answer, but I'm going to have to go with the Talking Heads brick as my favorite. The packaging is awesome, and the music within is stuff that gets played a ton in my household.