# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Various - Alice Will Never Surrender

  by Andrew Carver

published: 2 / 9 / 2002

Various - Alice Will Never Surrender
Label: Alice In Wonder
Format: CD


Disappointing compilation consisting entirely of previously unreleased material on the well-regarded French label, Alice in Wonder

French label Alice in Wonder have released a compilation of their artists which alternates between morose folk and math-rocking instrumentals; Nick Drake, Sea & Cake, shoegazing and Flying Saucer Attack are touch points, with some electronica thrown in. On the plus side, it’s a completist’s delight, since every track is unreleased, and it was a nifty idea to demonstrate the label's versatile tastes by alternating the folky tracks with the soundscapes. Well, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time .... Unfortunately, most of the songs leave the impression that they were left unreleased for a good reason. There’s nothing terrible here, but only one track made me want to investigate the artists in question further: Kemialliset Ystavat’s (that’s 'Chemical Friends' to all you non-Finns) 'Varmaan Helposti Murtuu Mun Luut' is an enticing bit of warped lo-fi psychedelic drone-pop. As for the rest: On the folky side, you have Last Harbour kicking things off, with 'These Poles are not Crosses' — slowly arpeggiated guitar, piano plinking and quiet voice uttering oblique, melancholy lyrics; a pair of violins join in later. Birddog’s 'The Play'is gloom'n'guitar, ably abetted by a cello and some nice echoing “aahs” in the background, plus a few strategic drum rolls.Chuzzlewit’s 'Side by Side' spices things up with dual male and female vocals and some syncopated drumming. Wow and Flutter weigh in with their polished sulk-pop on 'Bluer Than the Painted Skin', Pick of the folk litter are Greg Weeks’ melancholy and lovelorn vocals over some thumb-and-finger pinched guitar on'“Remove the Need'  and Retsin’s 'Your Own Bar' is a bouncy alt-folk number with the guitar interplay between mainstays Tara Jane O’Neil and Cynthia Nelson — but neither have contributed an advertisement that comes close to the talent they’ve demonstrated on their full-length efforts, particularly their latest, 'Cabin in the Wood'. Tinsel’s 'Random Books Floating' has a foot in both camps: A simple piano is juxtaposed  with a collage of backward sounds, electronic drones and unobtrusive rattling percussion and provides an effective backdrop to the languid singing of one-man band Michael Hopkins. On the instrumental side you have Room 204 (well-syncopated percussion builds up to nice fuzzy guitar and out of step electronic noise, with a delay adding layers of noise until the climax); Below the Sea’s 'Customer' hits chords on the beat and sticks some clicking percussion in the background — some My Bloody Valentine influence here, which breaks off halfway for a more distant, echoing ambient approach. Portal’s 'Breathe Version' is a robust  mix of wordless female vocals, electronic beats and stately guitar riff; unfortunately it blows a strong start with too much repetition. Only the least jaded of listeners will find anything new. Tank’s 'C’est Un Joli Matin Part IV' has a very slow build in volume (and an equally slow fade) by synth-tones over some electronic squiggles. As with the folk tracks, the few good ideas on what might be (very) loosely dubbed the electronica side don't prompt further investigation. In the artists’ defence, they are mostly purveyors of mood music: You really need more than the four-minute bursts a comp demands to get in its grip. Alice in Wonder has made me want to check out at least one of their artists, but 'Alice Will Never Surrender'disappoints far more often than it intrigues.

Track Listing:-
1 Last Harbour– These Poles Are Not Crosses
2 Room 204– My Silent Crimes
3 Greg Weeks– Remove The Need
4 Below The Sea– Customer
5 Birddog– The Play
6 Tinsel– Random Books Floating
7 Portal– Breathe Version
8 Chuzzlewit– Side By Side
9 Tank (2)– C'est Un Joli Matin Part IV
10 Retsin– Your Own Bar
11 Kemialisset Ystävät*– Vaarman Helposti Murtuu Mun Luut
12 Wow & Flutter– Bluer Than The Painted Skin

Band Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

digital downloads

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors