Various Artists

A Room Full of Tuneful

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American listeners may not recognize many of the bands featured on this mostly instrumental compilation from Britain's Melodic label, and they may therefore make the mistake of overlooking it. Take a quick dip into this fine album, though, and you find yourself encountering all kinds of unexpected delights: Topo Gigio's sweet and funky "Locked Out" (which seems to rely equally on music boxes and breakbeats), Empire State's melancholy but-propulsive "The Elements of a Wish," and Minotaur Shock's just-plain-melancholy "Lady Came From Baltic Wharf." And those are just from the bands that are actually signed to Melancholic. Other sterling entries, like Tex La Homa's moody "Feel Tied Down" and Bronze Age Fox's brief excursion into guitar multi-tracking, were unsolicited demos sent to the label over the course of the previous year. Not everything on this collection is spectacular, but all of it is at least very good. And quite a bit of it is spectacular.

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