Album Review

V/A – SMM: Context (Ghostly International, 2011)


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I’m not usually one to review compilations. They’re too fucking hard to talk about, there’s never any real defining thread worth discussing, and, my biggest reason, is they’re mostly used by labels to promote themselves. That’s not to say I don’t like compilations. I fuckin love ’em. They’re like professional mixes and that’s fine by me. But when it came to Ghostly’s new SMM: Context, I absolutely had to make an exception.

There’s no way I could let an album of this caliber slip by AGB without even a cursory mention. Look who’s on it: Goldmund, Leyland Kirby, Svarte Greiner, Christina Vantzou (1/2 of The Dead Texan), Jacaszek, The Fun Years, Manual, Aidan Baker, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Kyle Bobby Dunn, and Peter Broderick. That’s like a 100% hype rate and, wait for it, they’re all NEW SONGS. Nothing on here has been released on anything else (as far as I could tell). That goes for the most prolific dude ever, Aidan Baker, as well as for Christina Vantzou who’s only got one album under her belt.

There’s a couple of artists I hadn’t heard before this comp and I’m endlessly thankful for Ghostly introducing me to them. Specifically to Jacaszek. His piece is fucking STUNNING. The climax is like a warped symphony glitching out to the most tragic moment of your life. Heartwrenchingly beautiful. And Manual’s sweeping SOTL-style majesty is ensuring that I’m gonna do some more digging of his stuff.

Everyone on this comp is at the fucking top of their game and they’re all masters tackling ambient drone in their own unique way, The Fun Years’ turntable crackle, Kirby’s spacious guitar resonance, Baker’s densely foreboding circles of tense bliss, KBD’s delicate harmonies, Greiner’s textured midnight dreams. I could write pages on all of these guys but the tracklist is all you need to piss your pants and make sure this becomes a part of your life. I think Ghostly just won the compilation game.