Various Not Alone

It’s a testament to the devastating significance of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa that such a grand list of artists appear on this sprawling benefit box set. Not Alone is the brainchild of Mark Logan, owner of Kitchener, ON’s Encore Records and local music booster. Together with Current 93’s David Tibet, Logan has curated a remarkable five-CD collection of unreleased, eclectic music. The sequence steadily builds from quiet to upbeat with twists and turns a long the way. Howie B’s "Yesterday I Was a Cow” is a dreamy dub track, while Matmos’ "A Song for the Appeal” is dark pop. Devendra Banhart’s "A Sight to Behold” is minimalist folk, but its soulful delivery makes it distinct. Ever the dark hangdog, Richard Buckner’s gentle "Do You Want to Go Somewhere” suggests that he really doesn’t. Luke Doucet’s airy blues are infectious on "Unbelievable,” while Lynn Jackson contributes the hauntingly rural, "Waiting for the Sky to Fall.” Jad Fair performs a sort of exorcism on "Right on the Line,” which isn’t half as harrowing as Antony’s impassioned "Hole in My Soul.” Isobel Campbell sings a lilting version of "The Beat Goes On” and Teenage Fanclub offer up a Kinks-y alternate take of "I Need Direction.” Bonnie ‘Prince” Billy submits the plaintive "Song for Doctors Without Borders,” and his presence alongside such followers as Shannon Lyon and NQ Arbuckle is almost fatherly. Jim O’Rourke’s "Naoru” is a lovely instrumental interlude, particularly in comparison to his former band-mate Thurston Moore’s disengaging noise track, "Sex Addiction.” The aforementioned names don’t necessarily overshadow the emerging gems here but, with 86 songs, they do still draw attention. With 100 percent of the proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders, Not Alone deserves all the attention it can get. (Wavetrap)