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Various Artists

We Are The Works In Progress

[Asa Wa Kuru; 2012]

By ; February 23, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Compilations are an interesting lot. They exist, more often than not, to profit a worthwhile group, as is the case with We are the Works in Progress. But the half-assed nature of most of them make giving a donation to a good cause worth ignoring. These projects usually drag on for far too many tracks, riddled with songs that aren’t even good enough for a b-side on most singles. However, We are the Works in Progress manages to strike a balance between both the good and the bad traits of compilations.

Overall, the lineup for the project is pretty tightly knit, save for the addition of Interpol. The straight forward, vocal-driven indie rock of the New York band shares little in common with the rest of bill, a rather egregious but understandable portion of the album. It’s glaringly obvious mistakes like this which make compilations a tough sell to fans, the curators are far too eager to jump at the edition of any famous band that the integrity of the album has a whole falls apart. The band’s submission, “Song Seven,” while not entirely exclusive to We are the Works in Progress, is a solid Interpol track, recorded with their original lineup, but it just doesn’t fit with the ambient electronic feel which the rest of the album seems concerned with. But I understand, Interpol can still sell a record.

Aside from Interpol’s random appearance, the rest of We are the Works in Progress is a very well put together and interesting album. In some instances, it’s hard to disseminate the different in artist from one track to the next, a fact which maybe reflects poorly on the artists themselves but makes for a more enjoyable experience. Some of the highlights include John Muas’ “Castles in the Grave,” an upbeat and hypnotic pop mess which will immediately remind listeners of Maus’ relation to Ariel Pink. Nosaj Things’ “Nightcrawler” is a blissful, broken piece of music which eventually erupts into a barrage of synths and filter effects. Which is kind of how the rest of the album plays out. Ambient, brooding and aged. Pantha Du Prince, Broadcast and Four Tet add their own unique perspective to the album, contributing tracks that are worth hearing, although don’t necessarily reflect the artist’s best work. Which is to be expected on these compilations, which is why they are so difficult to judge in terms of quality. An artist is never going to hand over one of their best singles for a charity compilation, so how great can one of these ever be if all they are at best are mixtapes of band’s disregarded rarities? For collector’s sake it’s great, but for the average fan, usually worth passing on.

And although this review isn’t meant to be an indictment on the existence of these releases, it’s hard to know what to think when you hear Deerhunter’s “Curve.” At nearly seven minutes, the track hardly makes a peep. And this is hardly an exaggeration, most of the track consists of blank space and white noise, every so often filled with the oscillation of a key or tap of a drum. You can tell “Curve” was long-forgotten by the band, thrown on the We are the Works in Progress album because why not? Ultimately they’re leaving listeners with what is arguably the band’s worst track. These compilations are meant to support a great cause and give loyal fans a new or rare song, and although not always perfect, We are the Works in Progress does a better job than most.


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