Global Jam / Various
Twenty members of Stumbleupon.com have joined forces to produce this epic, eclectic two-disc set. The seed of this project came from a forum group started by Anibal Miranda (aka Nibito).... Anibal writes: "It all started on the 15th October. I was in bed thinking... 'why not get all the Stumbleupon musicians in one group and exchange ideas, stories and even tunes!!?'... So I put in the request for a Group to SU and when I was least expecting it, the approval came through. I then got in touch with the musicians I knew of in SU, i.e. Dragonhead/Andy, Guitar Girl Jeanie, Migrant-Picker Gary and the ball started rolling. After all, there had been vague attempts to get collaborative SU projects ACTUALLY going and NOTHING ever happened. I knew as well that everyone needed a push and I felt really frustrated that we were sort of waiting in vain.. So when Andy came up with the idea that we make an compilation album, everybody felt there was something actually in the making. Musicians from all spheres and walks of life started queuing up to be a part of it. In other words: If I hadn't had the idea of the Group and Andy hadn't the balls to go ahead and get people moving nothing would've happened." And so to the songs themselves: Track reviews by Andy Jones, Anibal Miranda and Gareth Llewellyn Armstrong. Opening the first CD is the wonderful acoustic tones of Jeanie Flowers. Light and breezy, her voice soars over the guitar, and really aids the image of clement shores with the sound of the sea the first and last things you hear on the track. It's very pretty.(GLA) Jeanie is amazing. Such a beautiful voice singing a beautiful tune. I'll tell you what it makes me think of - Karen Carpenter and Low's Mimi Parker. The song itself is reminiscent of the All About Eve classic "Martha's Harbour". (AJ) This leads us on to Tobi Hang's pop-cum-breakbeat dance track. This song just builds and builds and it's got a great fractured rhythm that suggests in my mind artists like Lemon Jelly and maybe even Radiohead. I really like the idea that should vocals be added to this track it could be as easily sung by a good pop act, like say, Sugababes, as Thom Yorke. (GLA) Tobi's track builds and builds. Think Zero 7 or William Orbit and you're there (AJ) Gareth is, of course, far too modest a chap to review his own track, "Paper Dragons". So I'll do it for him. The guy is amazing. With just an acoustic guitar and his voice, he can make women swoon and grown men weep. Think Tim Buckley, think Jeff Buckley, think Thom Yorke, think Jose Gonzales. There's also the fact that he's based in Manchester - which immediately adds a few extra cool points! In fact, I've got to take a break from writing reviews and go and listen to it again. (AJ) Track four gives us the ultra-relaxed almost spoken word vocals of Anibal Miranda. His song Just Now perfectly balances the richness of his vocal style with strings that could have come straight out of a Penguin Café Orchestra classic. This is quickly becoming my favourite track on this disc. Truly superb.(GLA) Anibal Miranda is our Portuguese superstar. I absolutely adore this song with all it's swelling strings and his laid-back delivery. He's like an Iberian Tom Waits backed by the Walker Brothers. Brilliant.(AJ) Next is Open Season Records' founder Dragonhead with Year Without A Summer. You can instantly hear the 80's influences spilling out on this track - especially The Cure and Brian Eno. His voice is a velvety tenor reminiscent of Anthony And The Johnsons, but with more inventive lyrics. The music even with the 80's influences makes me think Godspeed You Black Emperor! The delay and reverb give this track a dreamlike atmosphere which I really like.(GLA) I think I'm pretty safe in saying that my track is the only one on the CD that's about volcanic eruptions and Mary Shelley. (AJ) Track six and Contraption with Wet Dream. I really like this song. Extremely tight overdrive and great rock harmonies - For me it sounds as if REM and Rage Against The Machine teamed up to make a slick hard rock anthem. And Contraption have really pulled it off. The only hard rock song on disk one? why would we need another?(GLA) Contraption - yet another great rock band comes out of Georgia! This song sounds like heartbreak. Serious rock with a melodic edge - Chili Peppers, Tool, REM - really, really fantastic.(AJ) Next is a thumping psi-trance track from Vate. Diablo (en vivo) sounds as if it's come straight out of Sunrise in Manchester, atmosphere and superb samples abound.(GLA) Vate comes from Mexico. And it shows. His track is a live version of Diablo that sounds like The Orb at their peak with a added dash of Latin sensuality. It'll engage your brain, move your heart and shake your hips.(AJ) Burton Richardson's Freedom Fighters is next in the lineup, and it has so much going on it's difficult to describe concisely. A lot of eastern influences with sitar and Indian pipes the main themes. It is reminiscent of Chemical Brothers' track Galvanise, with it's western funk and fractured beats and the atonal pipes pushing the melody. The track then breaks up in to overlapping segments with flamenco guitar mixing with strings and pipes. Finally a dramatic twist and we are taken to more of a New York rap sound mixed with the original theme. It's definitely a swerving roller-coaster of a track.(GLA) Freedom Fighters is a Global Jam all by itself. Wah guitars, Qawwali vocals, rampaging grooves, tablas, sweeping violins, massive power chords, breakbeats and fat basslines. It never let's up.(AJ) To cap off the first disk's musical offerings, we have Steve Blomerth's gentle rock and roll song So Smart, which blends Bolanesque vocals with a funky rock and roll backdrop.(GLA) How to describe Steve Blomerth? The only thing I can think of is if the Beach Boys had been a country band led by Wayne Coyne. (AJ) Finally we have Trevor Joyce's working of an Irish poem of anonymous origin called Ní bhfág mise bás duit. Can't say I'm much of a poetry critic, but I really liked this.(GLA) Trevor Joyce is a professional poet based in Cork, Ireland. He collaborated with me on a couple of tracks for my last album, Films Without Pictures and his voice and his delivery blew me away so much that I had to get him to contribute to Global Jam.(AJ) And so to disc two. We kick off the second half with Ariel X's Sunship. A rumbling, sliding beast of a track. Pure 21st century techno-pop. Divas across the planet would kill for the chance to put vocals to this. A stormer. (AJ) Very galactic. The hook sticks in your memory at the first listen. Brilliantly mixed.(AM) Axydlbaaxr is Laura Crichton from Wisconsin, a prolific and brilliant electronic musician. When her friend Eric passed away, Laura took some tapes he had made and manipulated them - creating this track, Resurrection. A deeply haunting track with equal parts hope and despair. It cascades down on you while ferocious wah guitar (I did that bit!) assaults your ears and Eric's messages stop you in your tracks - "Take care, but don't be too careful", "turn heads, then turn stomachs". This track made me cry like a child the first time I heard it. (AJ) A very personal track and what a tribute to an unfinished work. Does it more than justice. Brilliant guitar.(AM) Project Bluebird's song, Rose Colored War is the only politically explicit track on the CD. An almost percussive banjo line accompanies Nancy Pontius' acoustic guitar and Joan Baez-like voice. "I will walk this land with my eyes sewn shut - stumbling through this rose colored war". Wonderful stuff. (AJ) One of my favourite tunes on disc 2. Nancy's down-to-earth approach to music is just beautiful.(AM) Jordana Kocher (USA) and Ian Woods (Australia) have teamed up on Jordana's song, Don't Let Go. This collaboration has proved so successful that they've now teamed up on a more permanent basis as the band "Pheonix Rising". This song combines Jordana's piano-led songwriting, reminiscent of Tori Amos, Kate Bush or Enya with Ian's bluesy guitar playing. An absolute cracker.(AJ) A good tune with a haunting intro (AM) The only way to describe Sunny Summer Smile by From Rusholme With Love is as "Proper British Pop". Think Beautiful South, Aztec Camera, The Colourfield and The Smiths (well, if Morrissey was a really cheerful bloke). This is a jazzy celebration of life. It'll have you dancing round the kitchen while you're washing the dishes.(AJ) A pure 'Pop' tune. Fantastic all the way. The composition, the instrumentation and a perfect vocal Impossible to touch it. Perfect. A sure hit all the way.(AM) RL Hargis weighs in with a stripped-down, raw, acoustic rock number. Simple but highly effective guitar playing combines with his classic rock voice to produce a memorable song with a great chorus. It'll hook itself into your head and not let go.(AJ) What a tenacious song and delivery. No messing about. His voice comes straight at you and won't leave you.Love it.(AM) Migrant Pickers come across like Tom Waits in a thoughtful mood. A slow, almost minimal acoustic guitar backing and a great vocal delivery. A song to engage the brain.(AJ) Gary Adler 'suffers' throughout this 'blues'. Love the lyrics. Another one of my favourites. (AM) The Cold is a deeply personal song for Ian Woods, and it shows. The guitars echo Stevie Ray Vaughan and the song itself has a brilliant structure. Great verses, great chorus. The blistering guitar solos really make it.(AJ) This song is really well constructed. The solo comes out of Ian naturally, this is where he's home and you can feel it.(AM) Third Track Conspiracy is a collaboration between Dragonhead and Axydlbaaxr. Laura wrote the music and Andy wrote the lyrics and sang it. There's a Middle-Eastern feel to the whole thing. There's a political message in there somewhere, but it's hidden beneath layers of sound and metaphor.(AJ) Andy's vocal contribution to this song is a match made in heaven. After one hearing I can't disassociate the two. Brilliant tune.(AM) Trevor Joyce caps off the whole thing with another reading of his poetry. Saws will stop you short. You will listen to every word. You will find yourself halting every syllable and absorbing it completely. A brilliant piece.(AJ) Trevor's way of delivering poetry is fantastic. He makes makes you sit and listen.(AM) As for the cover art - we ran a challenge in one of the photo manipulation groups to find a cover. The "winner" was David Earle, a professional artist, who blew us all away with his off-the-beaten-path design. Thanks to all the other SU'ers who had a go - we've included some of their designs in the booklet. We're all deliriously happy about the outcome of this little experiment - Volume 2 will follow!