The ever-productive Sub Rosa brings this compilation from artists who stray into the margins. There isn't a moment of hesitancy in these songs, which seem almost entirely unfettered and, despite their crooked smile and stained teeth, without a trace of shame.
A chaffed expression gleams off of the two selections from one of the album's better-known artists, Daniel Johnston. There's still a certain pervasive seriousness in the sensitive sculpting of spooling toy keyboards, warped loops and beatbox rhythms, maintaining a faint melody and rhythm through subliminal drones, strangled tunings, and abrupt tempo shifts. It would be a mistake to brand these tracks as amateur forays into the bizarre.
On Dagboek's track, penetrating keyboard flourishes and synthesized, spectral choral embellishments soar through holocaustic drum slams and screeching, mirthful noise. Martha Grunenwaldt's lazier, bluesier contributions playfully prod a few tonal clichés along the way. Jacques Brodier, a French innovator known for collecting radio waves, delivers one of the more accomplished and alluring pieces a long, invariant drone speckled by the controlled crackle of static and a series of smeared, warm tones that unfurl like magma.
If you knew nothing of their backgrounds, some pieces would indeed come
across as fairly dustbin that is to say, as a smattering of electronic
squiggles thumb-wrestling with roguish kick-drums and overeager hi-hats. The
notes lodged inside the lovely three-card digipack booklet compel a closer listen.
a capella "Zweden," for instance, is by Marcella Dumarey, a psychiatric patient
who, for most of her years, wrote songs for Jesus and Mary.
As the album title suggests, most of the tracks featured on this compilation come from people diagnosed with some psychiatric problem. But this album is about neither charity nor spectacle. To the contrary, it reveals a rich, heady mix of styles and sentiments, waiting more or less patiently for attention.