At this time of year compilations litter the shelves of music stores and the pages of their online counterparts and generally take the place of any full release album as stocking fillers. Over the coming weeks you will no doubt be harangued by re-re-re issues for Ministry of Sound (recycled) and Now That’s What I Call Music (is it really?). So the arrival of this compilation by indie label Rocket Girl to mark their 100th release couldn’t be better timed when considering that ever complicated gift for the discerning muso among your friends and family.
Obviously, only the best from each of the featured artists is included (along with some previously unreleased tracks from Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation and Anthony Reynolds), which makes it hard to gauge the critical worth of such a selection; it’s eclectic in its very nature so those unfamiliar with at least one of the acts will most likely steer clear. For the uninitiated that dare to dip a toe into this most leftfield of rosters, it is a great road into the back catalogue of some of the last couple of decades most innovative and forward-thinking artists.
Having made a name for themselves as pioneers from the fringe of popular trends, listening through the selection on offer here only consolidates the labels dedication to providing a platform for the non-radio friendly. British krautrock outfit Eat Lights Become Lights open the collection with the frenzied ‘Bound for Magic Mountain’, and when that whirl of electronica passes onto Jon DeRosa’s soft blues it’s becomes quickly apparent to those unfamiliar with their output that Rocket Girl owner Vinita Joshi is not one to trade in the de rigeur, nor establish any type of generic “Rocket Girl” signing criteria.
Sifting through the varied styles present and the polar opposites of acts, standouts include Fuxa’s ‘Shout Out Loud’ – which shares the same psychedelic landscape as Satan’s Circus-era Death in Vegas – and critical darlings God is an Astronauts live version of “Transmissions” that has been unreleased until now. It is as powerful, crisp and emotive here as it is on the live stage.
As an overview of where this label is situated in the music industry right now, this compilation perfectly demonstrates the keen ear Vinita Joshi has maintained over the years in recognizing unheard talent that deserved a louder voice. From Ireland’s Whipping Boy to the digital mastery of Ulrich Schnauss, Rocket Girl has consistently proven to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the leftfield of music and this is prime example of that foresight.