Various Musics in the Margin

Aside from Irwin Chusid, who wrote and compiled the Songs in the Key of Z book and compilations, wide-eyed and innocent outsider music has no Harry Smith or Alan Lomax to document it like the folk music of early America did. This is a fact pointed out in the liner notes for Sub Rosa’s new outsider music compilation Musics in the Margin, and it rings as true as the sounds on this mesmerising disc. Selections here range from choice tracks by Wesley Willis ("Trama Hell Ride,” "Wesley Willis and the Dragnews”) and Daniel Johnston ("Premarital Sex”) to many downright strange and wonderfully obscure performances from some of Europe’s oddest releases. (It should be noted that most of the songs here are not sung in English). Especially moving are Anton et Quentin — wherein Anton strums a guitar while his handicapped brother Quentin responds in non-language kind; and MC Speedy, a Belgian improvising singer who skips styles like a broken record. EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) scientists, music therapy classes, radio wave experimentalists — Musics in the Margin explores a wide range of non-traditional sound artists, and adventurous listeners will be glad the Sub Rosa gang have gone so far out for this engaging compilation. (Sub Rosa)