Compilations are great. You get a taste of so many different artists and so many different approaches all in one place. If you’re lucky someone new floats your boat and you can go and track down the rest of their discography.
Despite boasting Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly), Martin Jenkins (Pye Corner Audio), Keith Seatman, Robin Rimbaud (Scanner), Andrew Lagowski (S.E.T.I), Dan Hayhurst and Reuben Sutherland (Sculpture), Renaldo and The Loaf, Graham Dunning (Mechanical Techno), Rusty Sheriff, Simon Heartfield, Jack Packer (Psylons), and Geoff Cheesemaster (Lost Property), that cant happen here. Because they’re all in disguise.
The idea behind It’s Not What It Seems is best explained by the label who instigated it:
“Born out of the boredom of long journeys driving to festivals my wife and I created a list of fictitious band names which were carefully selected and matched to our friends. The submissions see some artists stepping away from their modular set-ups, synths and DAWs and getting back to basics; vocals, guitars and drums.”
Thus we’ve got Chemical Gary opening up proceedings with an upbeat post punk electro number, Subterranean Slugz with a bleak noisy dirge about life in the margins with ‘Bus Shelter Life’, and Pinchneedle’s ‘Gods Free Gift’ is an ominous electro funk that gets darker, bassier and noisier as things progress. If you want to know who these folks really are unfortunately I can’t help you. I don’t know, neither do the artists, outside of what they did the rest is a mystery.
In a way this removes all sense of expectation. The music is unencumbered by images, aesthetic, previous albums, even context. All we’re left with is music as music and nothing more. Which is quite refreshing. You would imagine that this is the notion that enticed some of the artists – to move outside of their comfort zones and just play in relative anonymity. The notion of fake bands with elaborate back stories is nothing new. It’s hard not to be reminded by the Vanishing Acts Almanac by Melbourne writer Olde Smiddy (you can read our review here), however It’s Not What It Seems takes things one step further and puts sounds to the concepts, and its great fun. It’s also fascinating to wonder who’s who. Definitely one for the trainspotters.