Various Artists – Il Programma Di Religione

Various Artists
Il Programma Di Religione

Some ideas that sound good when drunk and/or stoned and discussing them with your eagerly agreeable friends should be re-evaluated in the relative clarity of morning. Consider New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, and now the latest compilation mash from Boyarm. Seeing as how I have yet to make it through this compilation album from start to finish, I was loathe to review it. But recent events made it rather timely, and some might find it the kind of quirky and unique release that’s worth having – if not listening to.

Il Programma Di Religione (The Religion Program) is a massive compilation that attempts to include, in just over an hour, a song for every single pope in the 2000-year history of the Catholic church. That’s right: this compilation offers 265 songs, none more than 15 seconds, that attempt to chronicle the impressive line of papal history from Peter to Pope John Paul II. No word yet if a re-release is planned in a few weeks when the next pope is announced.

A quick scan of the artists here reveal merely one or two that spark some hint of memory in the back of my mind, and I imagine many of the band names were invented just for this compilation (see The Lolly Pope and High on Pope). Were this sprinkled with the occasional indie artist most people would recognize, it might make it even more of a curious keepsake, but as it is, you likely wouldn’t recognize the track by your band anyway.

Because what you have here are 256 tracks of noise. Sure, some may hint at metal or spoken word or classical, but frankly in 15 seconds or less, all that you really get a sense of is noise after noise after noise for far too long to actually listen. There’s blaring sonic blasts and subtle electronic washes, words spoken coherently and incoherently, little experimental flourishes and what may just be white noise.

In short, there’s nothing here you really want to listen to. So the ultimate question is whether this is supposed to be an homage to the popes or the aural equivalent of running a marathon: you do it just to see if you can. The only redeemable positive I can find here is that those who seek to fill mix CDs with little clips of sound or noise may want to explore this album’s depths. I, frankly, do not. No disrespect to the late pope intended.