Various Artists
Proud To Swim Home: A Backporch Revolution Compilation for New Orleans

Proud To Swim Home - Terrascope Review

by Simon Lewis, Terrascope
Dec 2006

There are three very good reasons to buy this compilation. Firstly it is released on an independent label that really cares for the music they put out. Secondly, 100% of the proceeds go to help organisations rebuilding New Orleans after the chaos caused by Katrina and the failure of the Bush administration. Thirdly, it’s bloody excellent, highlighting many of the experimental musicians that live and work in that ravaged city.

    After the brief but intense noise of “Nola EKG” by The Bastard Sons Of Morton Subotnick, the listener is treated to the dream-laden synth washes of Liteworks whose “Bermuda Conference” is a small slice of bliss that leads nicely into the electronic groove of “Aquavitae” a track that is beautifully constructed by Chef Menteur, with some glorious sax playing really pulling the piece together.

    After this fine opening trio of songs King Ghidorah slowly deconstruct the mood with a crumbling wall of dense noise that sucks you into its mysterious presence, before potpie brings you back into focus with the gentle ramble of “Blues for the Lower 9”, its quiet elegance soothing shredded nerves.

   After some more of Liteworks’ brief synth conjuring, Murmur really hit the spot with the deep drone (recorded in a commercial fermentation tank) soundscape, that is “Secondary Fermentation”, the sounds flowing and converging like the muddy waters of a storm heavy river. Following on the hypnotic and minimalist electronic clicks and flutters of “Downed Powerline Blues” by B.Killingsworth, add some dynamic tension to the proceedings as they worm their way through your speaker wires.

    Doing a great impression of a warped and lysergic Kraftwerk, The Buttons bring some new wave synth musings to the party on “Universal Breadboard”, a very catchy number that gets your toes tapping with happiness (be warned, you may get the phrase “Fade To Grey” popping into your head afterwards). After all this jauntiness Chef Menteur return with “Charlie Don’t Surf” a slab of heavy guitar mangling that is driven along by pounding drums and flashes of electronic sound, the band fighting their way through the chaos in search of shelter.

    By far the longest track on the album is “The Earth Moves Five Ways” by Archipelago, a startling, drone led, electronic feast of the senses that is both terrifying and uplifting, featuring elements of jazz, free-noise and electronica within its 11 minutes of heavenly noise. A different mood is created by Time Promises Power, whose “Fish and Chips” is a wonderful mix of chattering electronic percussion and a dub bassline, filled out with twinkling piano and feedback to create a refreshingly light moment on the album. Of course, this being an experimental compilation that feeling of lightness is soon overshadowed by the brooding clouds of synth created by Liteworks on the short but excellent “Looking Glass” the best of the 3 pieces on the album. This mood is further enhanced by Anton .v. Nature as they record a live outdoor version of “Phase Change”, the sinister synth rumblings mixing with the sounds of crickets and tree frogs creating a deep space drone that crackles with life. Finally, The Uptown Cajun All-stars drive away the demons with a squall of deafening noise guaranteed to scare off unwanted guests, and if that doesn’t do the job then the hidden track will, as it consists of a short spoken phrase endlessly looped and echoed until it drives you completely insane over eight minutes later.

    So there you go — a fine compilation that deserves to be bought, especially in the over commercialised hype-fest that is the Christmas holiday. Remember if you buy just a little less food, then you could help someone more deserving and have a quality collection of music as well, worth thinking about!!