Various Live-Silent Records — Compilation One: Contact

An ambitious compilation of six Western Canadian bands — a self-proclaimed "hors d’oeuvres tray.” It achieves what it sets out to do and introduces us to a handful of acts ranging from electronica to instrumental jazz with a dark pop twist. The dark electronic feeling of "Ultra”-era Depeche Mode is felt in and out of the 22 songs, but the variance that’d be expected from a label’s compilation is what keeps this one new at every turn. That hollow, early ’80s vocal popularised by Ian Curtis et al. (and a penchant for minor key melodies) make Inevitable Decline top dog her for me. But if it’s R&R you’re seeking, the jazzy/classical/pop styling of Slobartist manage to create a sense of ease without getting all new age-y on us. Kudos primarily to label Live-Silent for diversifying their roster to promote acts that are so unique to each other. The disc closes with the dreamscape ethereality of Irricana, whose gentle guitars and flowing instrumentals are punctuated only briefly by some very odd spoken vocals — an appropriately surprising ending to this collection. Bonus points for thorough explanatory liner notes making it far too easy to find out what each band is all about quickly. (Live-Silent)