featured: six compilations inspired by Covid-19


As the novel coronavirus forces most of the planet to stay at home and avoid other people, we find ourselves in a weird situation… a common anxiety, but also a common experience of remaining indoors or otherwise isolated while everyone simply waits. The mass illness and death is horrifying. The confusion and chaos instilled by some nations’ leaders is infuriating. And yet, artists need to create. When we suddenly have lots of time on our hands, we feel compelled to devote more of that time to positive ends, creating art and expressing our thoughts and ideas to share with others; a show of solidarity that’s sincrerely touching and rare.

Something about this global pandemic is inspiring people to create and/or curate art on a massive scale…. and this compilation, being offered for free/name-yr-price, is indeed M A S S I V E. Psi-Solation: A Global Compilation of Music Made in Lockdown ought to keep all of you busy for at least the next couple of months. Collected in once place are 119 tracks by equally as many artists, including me, 1/3 Octave Band, Peter Wright, Mike Bullock, Lasse Marhaug, Brendan Murray, Indira Neville, Astro, Edward Sol, Insect Factory, Thaniel Ion Lee, Seht, RST, Richard Francis, Pumice, Ducklingmonster, Mr. Sterile Assembly, Amon Dude and many many MANY more… including a band called Cats Are Arseholes, who I’ve never heard of but that’s just a terrific name, isn’t it? This behemoth was dreamed up and stapled together by my old pal Campbell Kneale (aka Our Love Will Destroy the World, Birchville Cat Motel, etc), who released it on his Celebrate Psi Phenomenon imprint. If you choose to pay for the comp, all the money goes to help Campbell run his art gallery space in Featherston, New Zealand… a worthy thing to support, for sure. We’re all stuck inside, art can help us process these insane times and make them somewhat more bearable. Ice cream helps too, but you can’t get that from Bandcamp, so…

Once you’ve absorbed all eight+ hours of that, here’s one more virally-inspired monster: High Risk of Hair Ribbons and Rainbows (I Got the Corona 19 Blues) is close to 100 more tracks of noise and “experimental”-type weirdness, this one curated by Chris Phinney (aka Mental Anguish) for his legendary Harsh Reality Music label, which has been releasing music out of Memphis TN since 1982. This comp skews towards industrial noise and cassette-network weirdo types, including GX Jupitter-Larsen, Minoy (something from the late artist’s archives), PBK, Konstruktivists, Al Margolis, {An} Eel, Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt, Don Campau, Attrition, Swinebolt 45 and so many more that I’m not gonna bother typing out here ‘cuz you can so check it out for yourself. I have a track on this one also.

The next two albums are released from the same label, which seems to have sprung up as a direct response to Covid 19. Social Isolation Records, based in India, has mad two volumes of music available, both featuring artists I’ve not heard of until now: Aeon Waves, Corridors, philterSoup, IP, Nishi, lots of others. Most of the artists are from India, which is also interesting as I don’t think I’ve head much Indian electronic music until now.

From there, we move from India to Indiana and the wonderful ambient label Past Inside the Present. If you’re familiar with PITP, you know that they curate a specific sound… ethereal and generally positive atmospheres and light electronic bloop, nothing too brooding or noisy. Healing Sounds II: A Compilation For Those In Need is a 4xCD set or a $1 download (you may pay more if you choose to), with all proceeds going to Feeding America, a fantastic organization that helps families provide food to low-income families. This is another big album, plenty to color your day with sonic pastels… music from r beny, Awakened Souls, Moss Covered Technology, Dreamgazer, Ludvig Cimbrellus, Chrisina Giannone etc etc.

Finally, we have Pandemic Response Division, compiled by Michael Esposito‘s Spectral Electric label. Here’s his explanation: “Based on EVPs and Field recordings taken from a variety of pandemic related sites. Contributions from artists will be uploaded to album as they come available. When album is finished they will be released on a limited edition fully printed USB card. All contributions will be collected and sent to a COVID – 19 relief effort.” That means the comp could very well grow in scale, so download now and continue to check back for more music! Right now, it includes source sounds provided by Esposito (whose interest in EVP seems to be the main feature of his work) composed by Francisco Lopez, CM von Hauswolff, Vanessa Sinclair, Schneider TM, Edward Quist, Andy Ortmann, Leif Elggren, Eraldo Bernocchi, France Jobin and the ubiquitous “more”.

If you know of other compilations being put together as a response to the novel coronavirus, please send me a message and let me know… I’ll feature it on this site! Everyone stay safe, stay at home, wash your hands and for godsakes wear a mask when you have to go out.