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V/A - You Don't Need Darkness To Do What You Think Is Right

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Artist: V/A

Album: You Don't Need Darkness To Do What You Think Is Right

Label: Geographic

Review date: May. 22, 2002

Stephen McRobbie has a knack for coaxing shy and beautiful sounds out of quiet corners. His band, The Pastels, has been kicking out soft and sweet post-Velvet jams since 1982 and his legendary 53rd and 3rd record label introduced the international music community to the highly influential indie-rock stylings of The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Vaselines. Presently, he and the Pastels run Geographic, a Glasgow based affiliate of Domino records. You Don’t Need Darkness To Do What You Think Is Right is the label’s first compilation, and along with two new songs from The Pastels, it features new music from International Airport, Future Pilot AKA, The Bill Wells Octet, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Nagisa Ni te, Sister Vanilla, Pedro, Barbara Morgenstern, Empress, Appendix Out, Telstar Ponies, Directorsound, National Park, Plinth, and Kevin Shields.

Geographic began as a platform for reissuing the music of Maher Shalal Hash Baz, a mysterious Japanese psyche-folk collective that specializes in what David Keenan of The WIRE calls, “the most unimpeachably outside set of humanly-breathed joy this side of Trout Mask Replica”. Equal parts Shaggs and Syd Barrett, Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s songs ache the same way that Brian Wilson’s voice aches and jag in the same way that Gertrude Stein’s prose jags. Toss in a bit of home-made free-jazz cosmology and minimalist Japanese folk and you are halfway there. Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s contribution to the compilation is the song “Stone In The Water”, the first to be recorded explicitly for Geographic. It alone is worth the price of admission.

Other highlights from the compilation include two songs by The Pastels from their upcoming soundtrack to the David Mackenzie’s film The Last Great Wilderness. The first, an intro to You Don’t Need Darkness To Do What You Think Is Right is an instrumental ambient wash of overdubbed pop melodies and repetitions that hovers somewhere between Brian Wilson, Brian Eno, and My Bloody Valentine’s favorite places to nap. Kevin Shields remixes the same track for the outro to the album, enlightening and mouthwatering event due to it’s digital trickery, subtle bettering, and of course, it’s status as a taste of things to come. Sister Vanilla, the new project featuring Jim and William Reid from The Jesus and Mary Chain, provide a track that sounds like The Velvet Underground’s “After Hours” put through an echo chamber and a Keith Jarrett fluttering piano treatment. Empress and Appendix Out represent their dark corners of Scottish folk with quieter tracks that seep and etch their way into the wooden parts of the brain. There is room in here for everybody. Do what you think is right.

By Daniel Dineen

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