Various Artists


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A compilation of recordings from artists who are fortunate enough to hail from the southwest of France, this collection of pieces is a bit like something a listener might hear after hours at a club, when most people are too exhausted to dance any longer and some sort of mad genius has taken over the turntable. Yet even this maestro's inspiration is a bit tired, so it is a fine choice to have a found a label that calls itself Relax-ay-voo; the music moves along in a relaxed manner, to be sure, even when it is getting really weird. These are some of the high points: literally, weird squeaks from the stratosphere that seem like bits of audible mist. Of course, there are tuneful moments as well, especially the creative versions of local folk material, complete with fiddle and accordion. Less successful are the kind of typical scratch/rap/electronic/hip-hop/industrial mood music blend in which some kind of vague vocal takes place over a machine-made drumbeat. Heard that before, or what? Despite the extreme contrast in the material, part of the fine sense of flow is established by hidden relations; perhaps not so hidden if one is familiar with the various musicians here, many of whom no doubt overlap into each other's groups. Some performers such as Gotcha Gotcha and the mysterious J.F.G. are represented with several tracks each. Spoken-word segments involving loops are good study material for the French students in the crowd. The packaging of this CD is exquisite, and sturdy, a potential source of ideas for homemade CD makers the world round. Strips of velcro are glued down in several spots to provide both security for the contents and textural noises that rival some of the material on the CD, some interesting printing is folded and attached inside, the printing of the actual package vivid, the packaging materials pleasing to the touch.