Compilations have been a vibrant part of music being spread for years. In terms of smaller, less recognised musicians, a compilation or mix-tape would be the perfect way for new listeners to reach and hear about them, think of the revered C86 Tape and what it did for a number of the groups on its cassette reels. It can also perfectly cover a vibrant scene or place, showcasing the amount of creative work that is coming out of a certain genre or location.
As obvious and unimaginative as those statements sound, it feels right to say due to the amount of independent labels that would agree and are still following this idea. A label releasing a tape of a varied amount of bands and artists is just like you being at home, burning a CD up of your favourite tracks and giving it to your friend, but on a marginally larger scale. Much like Art Is Hard and Reeks of Effort, Beech Coma are a perfect example.
An independent label (originally a music blog / radio show) based in Leeds, the name perfectly accompanies what you will hear within the thirteen tracks on this tape, in a variety of ways.
Filled with lo-fi pop ditties, Beech Coma Vol.1 draws in bands from around the UK to contribute to a record that could quite happily soundtrack your summer. Whether waking up in a tent, sweating it out at Primavera or sitting on the beach, ciders in hand, it’s the sort of sounds you would want to hear soundtrack your summer picture, the hijinks you get upto and the memories you make.
The ‘Echo Champ’ group (based around The Magic Gang and it’s members many other projects) fill the tape with tales over surf-pop fuzz. Home School are a particular highlight, very Mac DeMarco-esque in their production and instrumentation yet Jack Kaye‘s delivery feels like he is slacking less and packs more of an emotive punch. Bayy (featuring MG members Paeris Giles & Angus Taylor) provide psychedelic, almost surf-gaze trills covered with tales of adventure and friendship in an insouciant manner. Both members of the latter provide solo output, Taylor evoking what you’d expect a Martin Courtney solo album to sound like with the beautifully introspective ‘Tired‘ and Giles producing a slow-burning, reverb-drenched ‘Better‘ that only proves further the creative nous this group of musicians have.
What’s most enjoyable about this tape is the range on offer. Not every track is three minutes of fuzz-pop, it’s an eclectic menu. Where each track does connect is it’s authors’ naivety and desire to experience life, feelings all young people undergo and empathise with.
Scots Tuff Love provide sugar-sweet harmonies and a mix 90s alt-rock akin to The Breeders and C86 on ‘Seafoam‘, Teen Mom from Washington DC also channel the revered indie movement’s progressions, running them parallel with thick distortion as vocalist Chris Kelly takes the task of being the spokesman of every young teen’s dream at that age, wanting to be free, experience life and not wanting to feel stuck.
Something (The project of Oliver Catt) are slowly revealing some hauntingly beautiful pieces of music, ‘Mt.Batten‘ being no exception. The lo-fi recording technique and the contrasting sonics of clean, bright acoustics with squalling, untamed guitar lines expose a feeling of unease and inability to settle, Catt’s statement of “Regrettably, I have to concede, that their is no place that I can call home.” further exposing the tracks fragility.
This is where this compilation really expresses it’s true colours and emotional state, and excels in doing so. While a thoroughly enjoyable listen, filled with well-written and creatively infectious works that will happily accompany your lazy afternoon in the sun or the drive you take to adventure, dig a little further and this records true heart lies it’s youthful exuberance, each track conveying what any one will go through in their first forays into leaving home and starting your life. Beech Coma have prospered by giving this great compilation a soul and meaning, that is what will interest most.