A truly genre-unifying compilation, CrystalTop Music Presents brings together a clique of artists sharing six degrees of connection on stage and on record. The Brooklyn-based label reached out to its extended network and compiled eleven beautiful gems from eleven different artists for CrystalTop Music Presents. "Diverse" barely begins to sketch the range. In fact, the common element shared here may be the absence of a stylistic bag that can comfortably hold them. All the songs seem to reach for some sound that doesn't fit into easy black and white categories.
Pyeng Threadgill's soul-jazz take on Bill Withers and The Dang-it Bobbys' country-rock joint, "Say Goodbye" talk to each other in ways they might not if you encountered them separately. The heart of "Say Goodbye" is a soaring southern rock chorus worthy of The Allman Brothers, yet restless enough to wander off into Stevie Wonder-ish chord changes that speak of doo-wop. "Foreign Country" is the lyrical conceit of Christina Courtin's sharp but melancholy love song — a subliminal self-description of grass a slightly different shade of blue, a moody ballad that finds its down-home abroad. Luz Mob stirs a multi-textured pan-Latin jam with "Tabaco Y Ron" and even the afrobeat of Martón Perna's Ocote Soul Sounds has a Deep Purple heaviness that sets it apart from Perna's day job with afrobeat orchestra Antibalas. Elsewhere on CrystalTop Music Presents, the spirits of Norah Jones, Pink Floyd, Carlos Santana and Radiohead are all channeled in unexpected ways.
CrystalTop's might be a new approach, but it's also a throwback in some ways to a certain moment of 70s utopianism. Not because it's self-consciously "retro," but because it's the sound of a generation of 70s harmony babies and 80s zebraheads coming of age with a boom. The result is a brand new bag.
Elizabeth And The Catapult - Momma's Boy
Ocote Soul Sounds - Carino
Pyeng Threadgill - Can We Pretend?