It's been almost ten years since Slim Moon started Kill Rock Stars' eccentric sister label 5 Rue Christine, but they had yet to release a sampler album until 5RC Sur la Mer Samp-le-Mer, which, with 17 tracks, is long enough to include music from nearly all of their current artists (Nervous Cop and the Seconds were left off). Ten of the tracks are previously unreleased, which should make label diehards happy, and for those unfamiliar with 5RC and who wish to expand their stilted and antiquated ideas of what a song actually is, the sampler will assuredly aid in that discovery. The label strives to push the boundaries of traditional ideas of music, and their artists reflect that eclectic mix of sounds and highlight 5RC's love of ambient noise, fuzz, bleeps, and silence. Not that everything is so abstract that it's impossible to understand. A fair number of tracks here retain a more standard compositional structure (the Advantage's "Castlevania III -- Boss Music, Willow -- Village, Megaman II -- Bubble Man," which, as all the video game fans out there have already guessed, is a cover of Nintendo songs, and is actually very tight-sounding and even kind of fun, or Deerhoof's psychedelic pop-inspired "Running Thoughts"), but there are also just as many that make only very esoteric sense, if that (Need New Body's "Endless Sky in the Mind's Eye" or Metalux's "Shelldrum," to name two). Intelligible lyrics are hard to find, with the most obvious exception being spoken word artist BARR's "My List of Demands," but that doesn't matter much here. Because there's no obvious definition to what a 5 Rue Christine song is: it just has to be willing to experiment, to push boundaries, to not be afraid. 5RC Sur la Mer Samp-le-Mer shows, very clearly, what the label is, what it wants to do, where it wants to go, what it wants to say. It's not always understood, but at least there's a way to try to comprehend.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown