July 1999

Various Artists

Shanti Project Collection


Benefit albums are good causes, but from a purely musical perspective, they’re usually not that satisfying. Either there’s a plethora of big-name throwaway tracks, or the roster is so scattershot that it hardly encourages fluid listening. However, the Shanti Project Collection, benefiting an AIDS help center in San Francisco, takes a welcomed approach in keeping cohesiveness to its spectacular benefit by choosing five bands to fill out the whole CD.

San Francisco’s Red House Painters wade through their usual magical mix of country and rock, trading electric and acoustic sounds on “Follow You, Follow Me.” Their best contribution, and that of the entire album, is a smoldering version of Neil Young’s bluesy “Midnight On The Bay.”

The sleepy, dub-like “Turning Over,” from Low, is indicative of this band’s inertia-less, yet potent, style. They can make a silly refrain like “Sarah, you’re lazy” (from “Lazy”), sound surreal and sublime. The usually lumbering Idaho, meanwhile, revel in Shanti’s most groovy track, relatively speaking, “The Sun Is All There Is,” accented nicely by a female backup vocalist. Hayden’s slo-mo aesthetic and the prancing rhythms of Misc. round out the compilation.

All these bands suffer from sad souls and have heavy sounds because of it; a perverse cohesion, sure, but with their intensity, this collection plays out as a slow-burning, meditative and, ultimately, immaculate listen.


Joseph Patel