Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Full Moon 153 - 03/11/09

Various Artists
Dark Was The Night
4AD / Playground

Dark Was The Night is massive (a triple vinyl release!), 31 song album. It's a compilation by the Red Hot Organization, a charity dedicated to raising funds/awareness for the HIV/AIDS problem. Serious stuff. And the bands/artists contributing are serious acts as well. The long list of participants is simply impressive. Brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner (of The National) have produced the album, and they're also contributing (in separate duets, as well as with their band). Dark Was The Night have collected the crème de la crème of the bigger alternative/indie pop/rock/electronica/experimental artists around (mainly) North America (with a few exceptions). Just check this out: Andrew Bird, Arcade Fire, Beach House, Beirut, Blonde Redhead, Bon Iver, The Books (feat. José González), Cat Power, The Decemberists, Spoon, Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie, Postal Service), Sufjan Stevens, Yeasayer, Grizzly Bear, Iron & Wine, Stuart Murdoch (of Belle & Sebastian), Yo La Tengo, Antony (without the Johnsons), My Morning Jacket, Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene), Riceboy Sleeps (Sigur Rós's singer Jón þór Birgisson and boyfriend Alex Somers), Conor Oberst & Gillian Welch. And, of the new wave old school, Mr. David Byrne.

This collection is so grande and overwhelming it takes a long, long time to consume everything. Sorry, consume is wrong. Savour. This is music to savour, to enjoy every rich and tiny detail. If you're slightly into some of the artists above, this is a safe buy. Well, it should be purchased simply because that it's a good cause buy. And, after you've bought it you'll have a truckload of very good music in your hands, in your ears. It's hard to pick only a few fave tracks, but I'd say Dirty Projectors + David Byrne's opener "Knotty Pine" is a bouncy and amusing, piano-playful song.; The National's "So Far Around The Bend" is a solid piece of work; Yo La Tengo (almost) never disappoints me, here's the gentle, trademark YLT-stylish "Gentle Hour"; The Books with José González do a very, very fine interpretation of Nick Drake's "Cello Song"; Bon Iver gives his song "Brackett, WI", which could easily have been included on his fine high-pitched, yet low-voiced debut last year; Grizzly Bear's take on the trad. folk ballad "Deep Blue Sea" is a moving, swaying song, and their "duet" with Feist on their "Service Bell" is also magic; Sufjan Stevens' cover of label mates The Castanets' "You Are The Blood" is rather curious, but it's interesting to hear from the man again; Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch's duet "Lua" (a Bright Eeys song off I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning) is a charming piece of country-pop. And, yes of course, Andrew Bird's "The Giant Of Illinois" is a beauty.

Well, there are some duller, greyer moments in-between, but it doesn't ruin the album's all over near XO quality. Buy it.

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