Various Artists

Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991
Various Artists
Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991

Often Music From Memory’s impeccable taste is a little too Impeccable for us. Pyjama music, as it's known round here (and not without some affection). But with this double-LP comp of obscurist Balearica, they’ve delivered probably their most crucial and ice-melting offering since Gigi Masin’s extraordinary Talk To The Sea, with enough healing-power-of-relax to satisfy the pyjama set but also enough grit - ok maybe not grit, exactly, but GRAIN - to satisfy those of us who view global-chillage with exactly the right amount of suspicion. As far as its title goes, it perhaps lives up to the "uneven" perhaps more than it does the "deviant" - but honestly, anyone with a soft-spot for lush, drum-machine-driven, ambient-minded pop will find so much gold here. 

As you would expect, nearly everything mopped up here is rare, although several tunes will probably be familiar to you from red-eyed, slack-jawed YouTube trawls, which is the natural clearing-house for this sort of stuff. Speaking of which it’s great to have these glorious oneaways gathered on a comp, rather than having to search over-priced full-album reissues for that one nugget (respect to Jamie Tiller and Raphael Top-Secret, assembling something like this takes serious ADMIN as well as secret knowlege). 

Highlights for us? Tony Hyman’s bizarre spoken word / minimal funk paean to the airport experience 'Pictures of Departure’, Lou Blic’s Serge-esque, breakbeat-driven chanson ‘Mineralise’, and Steve Beresford’s deliciously uncomfortable-sounding MOR pop moment ‘Comfortable Gesture’. Towering above the whole thing is Pete Brandt Method’s extraordinary 'What You Are' which sounds like an unlikely, downbeat meshing of Felt and Marden Hill - a true, true classic. By the time you’re nearing Side D, the silkiness of the whole thing gets a little bit tiring: even with that badboy programmed bassline, I’m not sure I can put up with Patrick Forgas’s ‘Sexy Move’ (too Papa Bendi), and a tantalising shimmer of Durutti-ish guitar isn't enough to mitigate the lounge-y creaminess of Xavier JOuvelet’s ‘Ouef En Clock'.

This comp feels in some ways definitive, there's even a sense of finality to it... as if to say DONE. This seam has been well and truly mined. There are no '80s nuggets left to find. We can all move on now! Yes? No? 



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