Various Artists – Music And Migration II

Various Artists - Music And Migration II

Whereas Second Language’s last compilation from earlier this year, Minute Papillon, went for grand conceptual ambition (featuring 60 artists contributing 60 second pieces), this latest compendium goes for a far more manageable 14-track thematic sequel to 2010’s acclaimed Music And Migration.  Whilst in lesser hands, another collection of pieces with an ornithological angle might have illustrated a chronic lack of imagination, in the 2L grip it translates into the most blissful and cohesive multi-artist round-up in the label’s short but illustrious story so far.

Although Music And Migration featured many choice bird-referencing moments, on reflection it was ultimately more of a showcase of the then nascent label’s discerning and distinctive tastes for multiple-streams of neo-classical experimentation, pan-global pastoralism and bedroom electronica. In contrast, Music And Migration II has a more self-defined and near-seamless collective character that pays tribute to the cycles of nature through the balm of some unrepentantly autumnal ambience.  It’s almost as if the 14 gathered artists recorded their pieces together in one tree leaf-covered studio location in one 2L super-session.  Meticulously sequenced to accommodate both instrumental and vocal tracks, Music And Migration II is the kind of album to sink all of your senses into, in order to soak up its immersive otherworldliness.

Many of the wordless cuts glide through with warm electro-acoustic arrangements that flow effortlessly through proceedings.  Highlights amongst the voice-free tracts come through Ellis Island Sound’s glorious bucolically-tilted Another Green World homage (“Snowdon Aviary”), The Home Current’s multi-movement ambient electro ghostliness (“Theme From Mizieb”), Sophie Hutchings’ charmingly mournful piano piece (“Between Two Hills”) and Chronomad’s middle-eastern sound collage (“Bolbol”).  Many of the vocal-led entries are just as effective at capturing the same subtle and restrained atmospheres as their instrumental siblings.  Whilst some go for ostensibly self-contained songs, others stretch out into multi-part suites.  In the former respect, Piano Magic deliver the magnificently bleak and baroque-shaped “The Way Of The Birds,” Marissa Nadler airs the forlorn acid-folk of “Dead Birds in Arkansaw,” Haruko unfurls the beatifically Ólöf Arnalds-like “We’ll Be Birds” and F.S. Blumm’s “Wandervogel” uncannily imagines an unplugged version of Brian McMahon’s The For Carnation.  In the latter regard, both Dollboy and The Cutty Wren string together wobbly psyche-folk, primitive synthscapes, shades of Robert Wyatt and ‘80s 4AD electronica into sprawling but well-crafted explorations.

Whilst detailed analysis of the 14 individual pieces does reveal a wealth of adaptable talents, undoubtedly it is the combination of each contribution into a massively satisfying – yet crucially not over-gorging – whole that makes Music And Migration II such a low-key triumph for unpretentious sophistication.

Second Language Records