Review

Various Artists - i don't think the dirt belongs to the grass

The Wire

The compact Rochester, New York label Carbon Records is not the normal unit-shifting operation. Judging by their Website, there seems as much music being given away as there is being sold, and the roster of artists is too wide and weird to form any sort of house style. Label boss Joe Tunis (Joe+N) carries so many collaborations in so many formats and forms that it's hard to believe just one man is behind the whole operation.

Carbon's tenth anniversary entailed another minor deluge of new material. Following a dedicated CD-R series for the occasion, this weighty triple CD set features artists from the last couple years of Carbon's life cycle, and feels impressively comprehensive. More importantly, it's never less than a lot of fun. Many of the names here -- Thurston Moore, Keith Fullerton Whitman -- can already boast of substantial oeuvres, but like all of the contributors, they keep it short, sweet and fresh. Moore's amusing \"Anal Cry\" sounds like it's made on a car alarm rather than a guitar. Taurpis Tula move outside Heather Leigh Murray's intimate vocals into the spacious textures and layers of The Dead C.

Despite the 'anything goes' experimentalism Carbon exudes, none of the artists sound like they're struggling through a momentous aesthetic dialectic. These tracks are as natural as breathing, and radiate an unpretentious joy in self-discovery. Andy Gilmore 's back-porch guitar strumming is as nimble and contented as Jerry's Garcia's soundtrack to the sand-covered lovers in Zabriske Point, and Carpentry's Loren Connors-style guitar lament is so loose and languorous it feels like you've stumbled in on a private doodle. Although I Don't Think The Dirt Belongs To The Grass spans a wide aesthetic terrain, from bedroom drone to cathartic free blowing to raga folk, Carbon's mission is not to document the state of art so much as to share their time and their world. The music resonates because, like those Website giveaways, it feels free and easy, and part of someone's everyday life in Rochester. It's the sort of compilation to live with and love.


  • Various Artists

    i don't think the dirt belongs to the grass

    3CD

    Carbon Records CR99


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