Various Artists – Metaphysics for Beginners Compilation

Various Artists
Metaphysics for Beginners Compilation

Metaphysics for Beginners is much more than a label sampler for upstate New York label Redder Records. While featuring the label’s impressive roster, it also has rare or unreleased tracks by some of indie rock’s best bands. It’s an interesting blend, including some songs you might not expect to hear from these artists, and the ones you won’t get anywhere else make this the kind of compilation you want to seek out.

Detachment Kit and Gloria Record both are true to form, with the former’s brand of aggressive post-hardcore and the latter’s glorious, beautiful, melodic rock on the live “L’anniversaire Triste.” Yet there’s some unique offerings by bands that you might not expect, like the intriguing remix of Zykos’ “Kodiak,” Sufjan Stevens’ odd mix of folk and electronic bleeps and boops on “How Can the Stone Remain,” and The Ghost’s suitably named Midwest reprise – read countrified – “Red Slippers, Red Wheels.” Saturday Looks Good to Me offer a surprisingly retro pop offering with “Record Store,” and one of the first ever songs from Joan of Arc side-project Make Believe here portends wonderful stuff from this new band. Another unique track is “Anchor” by Satellite Grooves, a kind of post-new-wave track that is unique enough to be enjoyable in a New Order sort of way.

The album also has the post-rock instrumental “Sic” by Kalpana, the post-rock brilliance of From Monument to Masses’ “Conclusions That Don’t Conclude,” and the laid-back electro-pop remix of Figurine’s “Rewind.” Rockets and Bluelights is a new band to me, but I like the post-hardcore/post-rock “Forest Green and Autumn.” The folky Kind of Like Spitting offers “You Got Served,” another wonderful song from another of my favorite singer/songwriter projects. And the almost singer/songwriter Love of Everything close with one of the best songs I’ve heard from this project, the laid-back “Sky Falls Down.”

Snowglobe’s almost psychedelic-feeling “Comforted” is a favorite here, mixing unique effects with a very laid-back, almost folk vibe. Summer at Shatter Creek have a lovely track of repetitive but dreamy pop; “Everything” cements this project as one of my favorite new ones. In fact, there’s not a single bad track on this release, although I’m not a fan of Hockey Night’s silly “Tubin,” so much.

The packaging for Metaphysics is wonderful, designed by Chip Wass, illustrator for various magazines, and the compilation features an odd sort of rap introduction by poet Robert Creeley. Taken in whole, this is a wonderful release and a fine introduction to what is rapidly becoming one of my new favorite labels.