The German label No Man's Land has always made it its prerogative to release music that fits in no known category -- including avant-garde. Each album offers a very personal sound universe that often allies experimentation with potentially crowd-pleasing forms, especially the song. With the radicalization of avant-garde music that took place in the late '90s, you suddenly ended up hearing less and less from creative artists like Anna Homler, Non Credo, Ich Schwitze Nie, or the 13th Tribe. A Classic Guide to No Man's Land gathers previously unreleased tracks by these and 15 other artists onto two CDs. Some cuts are unearthed items from the sessions that produced an album released by No Man's Land anytime between 1983 and 2003, while others have been recorded for the project. Highlights are numerous and will depend on who your favorite acts on the label's roaster are. It is a pleasure to hear a new piece by 13th Tribe (taken from the sessions for Ping-Pong Anthropology, the group's sole album) and even more to find "Znatchok," Ne Zhdali's very last recorded song. Its leader, Leonid Soybelman, also contributes a fine solo song. The first disc, subtitled "Pieces," also presents tracks by David Weinstein, Guy Klucevsek (a delicate piano piece), Dawn, the 13th Tribe-related quartet Armchair Traveller, Motor Totemist Guild (the big-band lineup), and two pieces by Michael Lytle. Disc two (the "Songs" disc) also features singers Eva Schwabe, Viv Corringham (a beautiful addendum to her 2001 album Operet), and Anna Homler. No Man's Land's catalog is stretched thin over two decades, but if these are people you grew fond of, then A Classic Guide is like receiving a bunch of postcards from old friends.
AllMusic Review by François Couture