VA: Silverware

Seems every label's celebrating an anniversary with a compilation these days—Background Records, Hefty, Underground Resistance—so why shouldn't Audraglint? Reaching five years might not seem an event worth mentioning if you're Columbia but independent imprints deserve some sort of medal for surviving, given the myriad challenges that must be endured in order to stay alive. Silverware is a generous set to be sure, with twenty exclusive tracks from established figures (Tarwater, Kid606, Stars As Eyes, Strategy, Caural, Signaldrift) and lesser-knowns from the label's Portland , Oregon base. As one might expect, the tracks run the stylistic gamut, with psychedelic folk, creaky soundscaping, and lush pop rubbing shoulders with shoegaze and bleepy synth-funk.

Audraglint has many label friends (Tigerbeat6, Morr Music, etc.) but its especially simpatico connection to Chicago's kranky and Paul Dickow's Community Library is evidenced by the inclusion of tracks by Nudge and Strategy. But some of the most memorable moments come from unexpected places, like the whispered vocals and fuzz guitars that collide in Monston VCR's shoegaze vignette “A Sturdy %,” and the ‘60s-flavoured pop vibe that colours The Sems' “Nowhere Forever.” Keeping the lawyers in business, Caural plunders the tabla groove from On The Corner (among others) for the jazzy funk-hop pastiche “Lime Green Transfer” while Strategy drops oceanic dub-ambient breaks in “Paradisiac,” the tune's sweetest element the bass line that subliminally surfaces halfway through. One might be forgiven for mistaking “Night Without Thieves” as a Sigur Rós song rather than one by former Pulseprogrammer Marc Hellner, given how much the tune's stately melodies recall the Icelandic group, but it's a lovely piece, no matter who it sounds like. And either Signaldrift's music is changing or else his contribution (“31”) to this set is anomalous, because its flowing bass-driven funk is unlike anything on his recent Girl and Set Design albums. Still, the album's most striking moment is Grizzly Bear's drowsy choral makeover of Yes's “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Also featuring pieces by Valet, Magwheels, Orange and Allred, Mome Raths, Charles Atlas, One Human Minute, and Bugskull, Silverware ranges widely, offering a satisfyingly eclectic label portrait.

July 2006