Various Artists

Anakin

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The 1998 edition of 4AD's annual release schedule preview CD contains tracks from 11 of the 12 artists who were recording for 4AD in 1998, the only group not contributing a track being the purgatorial Breeders. In a world full of tossed-off, regrettable label samplers, Anakin is a superlative, well-sequenced, and handsome specimen. Of course, a label is only as good as its artists, and 4AD has always managed to maintain an impressive stable. Strong LP tracks from Kristin Hersh, Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke, and Lisa Germano whet the appetite, and pretty good demo tracks by GusGus and Mojave 3 sound interesting in their putative, stripped forms. Tracks from the latest incarnation of the defunct label stalwarts This Mortal Coil -- The Hope Blister -- and Starry Smooth Hound (one of 4AD's uncommon missteps) are Anakin's only real disappointments. However, those two songs are forgivable and more than made up for by two songs that are exclusive to this disc. The first is His Name Is Alive's folky arrangement of the traditional "Ain't No Lie," with Dan Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell of Ida providing vocals. The second, which is also the disc's clear but surprising standout, is an acoustic rendition of Scheer's gorgeous "Say What You Came to Say." Finally, the blink-and-you-missed-'em group Cuba provides a coda of sorts with its forgettable and unidentifiable hidden track. Anakin is a must-have for fans of 4AD, but it may be difficult to find -- it has sadly but appropriately been deleted from the 4AD catalog.

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