Various Artists

Memento: The Scene, The Music

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This compilation CD has nothing to do with the cool film about the detective who can't remember anything and has to write notes about his investigations all over his legs and so forth. Only in the vaguest sense of atmosphere could the film Memento and the nightclub of the same name in Gothenburg, Sweden, be said to have any similarities. Memento, like any happening nightclub, evokes a strange sense of mystery and alienation, kind of like a good film noir. Memento also happens to be a nightclub that is aligned with a musicians' organization of the same name -- so besides other eternal quests of nightclub management such as attracting clientele and selling booze to them, this club exists as a performance forum, the organization a kind of booster and support group. This sincere affiliation with musicians, which not every nightclub has by any stretch of the imagination, comes across as the most important goal of the CD compilation. Samplings from a large number of players, some of whom appear more than once, are presented in a reasonably organized program without very much of an attempt to capture the actual atmosphere of the club. Some of the recordings even originate from other settings such as Swedish radio productions. Someone who has not actually visited the club will not come away from this CD with much of a detailed impression other than the idea that the place is good for musicians. The imaginative way the curators use every inch of the space to stage events is not something than can be presented on a sound recording, let alone dozens of other colorful details. The way the sounds from the club filter out on to the busy boulevard it sits on, for example. Gawkers are attracted to the front door of Memento from nearby pizza and kebab parlors, some of them joining the throng inside.

On one Thursday night at Memento, the triple-bill consisted of a hardcore punk band that played its entire set of 35 songs in 12 minutes, a Czech bluegrass cover trio and a Swedish hip hop duo. The first two bands set up on opposite sides of the large back room. The hip hop band opted to perform from the spiral staircase that leads up to the club's office, the audience massing below them. The 13 tracks on Memento: The Scene, the Music represent something of a bland listening experience in contrast, even taking into account the obvious difference in experienced excitement between a club night and a compilation CD. Rockers, jazzers and electronica folk have pretty much confiscated the welcome mat laid out by the producers of this CD. It is a quirky if not grating blend that, following strict rules of stylistic stereotyping, would not really appeal to the same person all the way through. That being a narrow-minded assumption, it is better to accept this as a document from an ongoing project of great interest and not worry about whether anyone will like it or not. Like all compilations, it may perhaps turn out to be of even greater value depending on what happens with the careers of the various participants. One band, Jason and the Argonauts, at least proves that the club isn't the only outfit clever enough to pluck a name from a great film. The Memento slice of the Gothenburg scene seems to be quite typical of what a listener might experience at the hands, mouths and feet of local musicians in many a burg. A lab assistant took the following glib notes before abandoning the project; she was inspired to go nightclubbing and couldn't wait for the last three tracks. Her incomplete notes are presented in order to fill in additional information about the music on Memento: The Scene, The Music: 1. Electronica. 2. Is it a saxophone that sounds like a harmonica? This is a fusion between the ECM|sound and a Sergio Leone soundtrack. 3. Butthole Surfers with a bridge that sounds like U2. 4. Late-period Miles Davis without the testicles. 5. Repeating tape loop or sample. 6. The saxophonist from before, Stefan Wistrand, playing more like John Coltrane, with a pianist, one of those things where they both play fast and try to hit the same note as each other every now and then. 7. Spacey drums. 8. Can't read this, something about "hard." There is a kind of harsh whistle sound effect that might normally be heard at a basketball game. 9. Softer jazz, with a good trombone player. 10. Noodly electric piano, one specific to a certain famous guitar company, like Chick Corea shortly after he discovered Scientology. That's all she wrote.