VA: A Weevil in a Biscuit

There appears to be little unifying the artists on the seventy-minute A Weevil in a Biscuit compilation aside from the fact that they're globally dispersed, are largely unsigned, and were found via MySpace. Sixteen tracks means a lot of music but the quality level is high in many cases with the set rich in variety—electropop, bedroom lullabies, and grungy folk-rock are just three of the styles on display—and sequenced judiciously. The opening tracks are robust and aggressive but the mood softens halfway through, almost as if night is falling, and the music grows progressively gentler and dreamier.

From Brazil , Anne King's “Unknown Us Apart” opens the collection auspiciously with hard-hitting, voice-distorted electropop, followed by Japan's Alone Together whose “Human Beings” rides a roller coaster of rollicking player piano melodies alongside a vocodered, synth-pop stampede. Also strong is the electroacoustic stomp “Pick Up Your Tears” by Pndc (aka Belgrade-based Predrag Nedic). Some artists' material evokes the work of others: Limbic Somnus's “A Candy Coated Slow Down” is a lovely cathedralesque ambient drone that could make Eluvium jealous; Sonicbrat's (Singapore 's Darren Ng) “That Little Something” is a wistful electroacoustic ballad of melodica and piano that recalls F.S. Blumm; and Spain's Pequena Fiera! Weighs in with “Do Re Mi Fa So I Love You,” a haunting lullaby whose mix of toy instruments; melodica and glockenspiel suggests a Sigur Rós and Lullatone collaboration. Arguably the set's most beautiful moment is “You Are Alive” by Linda Bjalla (aka Japan-based Izumi Suzuki) which was written for a friend who “sometimes says he wants to die”; the eight-minute piece begins as a ghostly requiem, but the gloom eventually lifts when pretty piano and glockenspiel melodies bring uplift.

The collection also includes decent contributions from James Ross, whose “Study No. 1 (Inharmonicity)” colours his meditative guitar-based setting with gamelan flavouring, and Hulk (Thomas Haugh from Dublin, Ireland), whose “In the Belly of the Hungry White Sea” is a creaky, string-based ode to the sea. A Weevil in a Biscuit is not the most stylistically uniform compilation necessarily but it does contain a healthy share of memorable moments.

February 2008