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V/A - Primavera Sound 2003

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Artist: V/A

Album: Primavera Sound 2003

Label: Red Musical

Review date: Sep. 24, 2003

The days of compilations being filled with the obscure and unreleased seems to be riding into the twilight of nostalgia. Not that it’s anyone persons fault per se, and it’s not to fault Primavera Sound 2003, but on first thought it seems kind of half-assed to license previously released songs and compile then into a "Now That's What I Call Music!" type sampler.

Primavera Sound really comes down to a singular debatable argument – the quality of the music on it vs. the fact that much of that music is previously released.

The music itself for the most isn't the problem and Primavera does a nice job of showcasing a variety of artists and genres. The Go-Between's cowboy chord romp "Too Much Of One Thing", or the earnest bar room honesty of Arab Strap's "Act of War" can't be denied. A nice who's-who of artists including John Parish, RJD2, Grupo Salvaje and Migala also provide fine representative material from their latest respective releases. Unfortunately, Primavera Sound tastes like a sampling of artists' work that for the most part is already easily available.

The two CD scope of the project leads to some less memorable moments. Given that these songs aren't exclusive to this release and a argument can be made for an even higher level of quality control. One CD trimmed of the filler could have just as easily done the job of two. For example former Come mistress, Thalia Zedek has been recycling the same (all be it unique) vocal delivery and song structures for more than seven years and "No Fire" doesn't really stray much from the formula, save addition of violin and piano. Likewise, "Supermodel Inc", Larry Tee's ode to the world of models, basically retreads subject matter handled much better by Kim Gordon (Tee even uses the same model name-checking as "Swimsuit") or even Juliana Hatfield.

The main contention with Primavera Sound is why would someone want a collection of available songs that they could get from Kazaa or any number of file-sharing sites? The obvious knee-jerk, and valid, argument is that while one may have some of the material here, they’ll be exposed to artists who otherwise would have gone undetected. Primavera Sound does have its share of hidden gems, but it seems to be at the cost of having to listen to at least one-third of a double CD that you may own in one form or another.

To finish playing devil's advocate, on one hand, a compilation slot should give artists the opportunity to showcase unleashed material or a late-night studio jam (a la Sonic Youth on the DGC Rarities). Basically anything except the cop-out, already available, track from their latest album.

The over-riding (and after the fact) hope is that while the Flex Your Head, Cracks In the Sidewalk or the Process of Elimination compilations were filled with more ‘unheard’ music then Primavera Sound, the latter may still act as a gateway, like those collections did, to a world of worthwhile musicians.

By Paul Burress

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