Various Artists

Music for Gracious Living, Vol. 2 [Normal/Q.D.K.]

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To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Q.D.K. Media, this compilation draws from nearly 20 Q.D.K./Shadoks releases. As to what exactly the Q.D.K. aesthetic is, that's hard to pin down. But generally, it's reissues of obscure and often pretty strange music, more often late-'60s and early-'70s rock than anything else, but not always confined to that genre. The disc leads off, for instance, with some pretty cool exotica/lounge music from compilations inspired by '50s pin-up girl Betty Page, as well as a couple of weird, corny tunes associated with director Russ Meyer, and a female vocal from an Indian film soundtrack. Then it's into the label's bread-and-butter: obscure psychedelia from around the globe, taken from their Love, Peace and Poetry compilations, as well as their single-artist reissues of folk-rocker Maitreya Kali and their compilation of early-'70s Indian rock. In between, there's silly electronic music by Bruce Haack, and excerpts from compilations of lightweight electronic ditties of the early '70s. There is, it should be noted, some very cool music here: Maitreya Kali's "Country Girl" isn't far from a Buffalo Springfield outtake, Cambodian Rocks' "A2" is a neat fusion of Asian music and psychedelia, the Confusions' "Voice from the Inner Soul" (misidentified as the Fentones' "Simla Beat Theme" on the cover) is crunchy garage punk that's from India but could have been from the U.S., and even much of the exotica and synthesizer music has cheesy fascination. Put it on a party and you'll get complimented for your extraordinary eclectic taste and the deep record collection from which you assembled the tape (don't let on that it's actually a CD that did all the work for you). The vexing question, not uncommon when evaluating label samplers, is: who's going to want to buy it, as opposed to play it? If you're deeply into some or most of this, you'll want the full CDs from which these are excerpted. This is too zanily piecemeal and stylistically erratic to compel a purchase, unless you take as strange an approach to building your record library as Q.D.K. does to planning the scope of its catalog.

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