Transgressive North, the Scottish arts community known for pulling together impressive collections for charitable causes, has compiled BOATS, 28 tracks from artists ranging from the atmospheric Lucky Dragons to the experimental indie-folk of Taken By Trees to the avant-garde noise-pop of Deerhoof for “Scottish Love in Action.” Proceeds will help feed, clothe, house and educate children in South India. While that is a noble cause, and anyone with a heart hopes they succeed in their endeavor, those children’s lives will not be improved upon by the music in this compilation.
The album begins promisingly, with some nice atmospheric sounds from Scottish DJ, Rustie, on “Boatsss.” The song chops itself apart as if sliced by a Slinky and becomes hard to listen to. Not to be outdone, Max Tundra’s “You the Living” is an unlistenable mess of voices in backwards loops, cacophonous enough to make Ayn Rand reconsider the virtue and necessity of individual expression. Keepaway’s “You’re Silk” is another argument against letting just anyone use a mixing board.
There are some saving graces, though. The aforementioned Taken By Trees contribute an interesting and accessible number that pushes the boundaries without alienating its listeners. Portland, Or. natives Ramona Falls offer a catchy driving number with “On the Line” that has enough effects and ambiance that it doesn’t feel out of place.
For the most part, however, these songs run together with no roadmap or direction. For those unfamiliar with modern electronic music, BOATS will not only be tedious, but will also not be listened to past the first track or two. Fans of this genre may find some additional gems that the general listener would miss. If true, BOATS can be remembered for bringing these artists, many of whom are up-and coming, together. Otherwise, let’s hope the children of South India don’t grow up with a distaste for Scotland.