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Various Artists | Performance #1 (Intercontinental)
Ignoring its compiler's press blurb (a track by track 'description' in pigeon English that demonstrates an enthusiasm matched only by a questionable sense of 'humour') this lo-budget French comp boasts a high percentage of quality amid some less-successful fodder. Opener From Hier to 4-eva by the dubiously named Berg Sans Nipple (actually renowned drummer Shane Aspergen - Songs:Ohia, LftWC - and Don Nino colleague Lori Sean Berg) is a brooding, slow-building post-rock instrumental pitching fastidious drumming against keyboard drones (and what sounds like a melodica). Next up is the album's low point, a nasty cut'n'paste mess of distorted percussion and bass with a scratched vocal line (the title) repeated ad naseum. Kungen is the culprit. The far more easy on the ear (and stomach) El Boy Die is up next, a world-weary 4-track ballad, and then the former Servant, now solicitor, David Westlake shows he's lost none of his Go-Between adulatory ways with Take Me To Your Heart. Herman Dune and Julie Doiron provide Have You Seen The Moon? recorded at the same session from which the last CWAS collection culled Dirty Feet. This track is biased towards the Dune, with Doiron providing harmony. Elsewhere Empress float dreamy voice, acoustic guitar and piano over programmed clutter to good effect, Nad Navillus provides the tasteful solo guitar Interlude by Benjamin Britten arranged by Dan Sullivan (sic), Li-Lund defies auto-tune technology on Street Cat. The very pretty, slurred A Warning Against Such Optimism from French folkie Philippe Laude (aka Sheeloves) and Clair's Escapism bring a little song-based weight to the second half, the latter a half sung (boy), half-spoken (girl) brooding ballad. Ireland's Joan of Arse provide Mother Eating Child's Placenta the song an only slightly more palatable proposition, like a stumbling drunk Songs:Ohia minus the talent, and Un Automne à Lob-Nor close proceedings with the stately instrumental Damaïwan. A mixed bag then, as we've come to expect from compilations, but a worthy attempt at assembling a predominantly Euro-flavoured set, embellished by an occasional guest from across the pond.

Matt Dornan
August 2002