AUGUST, 1999

Various Artists

The Shanti Project Collection (Badman)

Putting together a benefit album is often like building a bonfire: Pile enough on and hope it ignites. The Shanti Project Collection, which benefits the San Francisco-based AIDS organization its named for, breaks with tradition by collecting tracks from five like-minded mope-pop masterminds (Red House Painters, Low, Idaho, Hayden, and Misc), creating a somber soundtrack that matches the gravity of the cause. Fortunately, from the Painters nervy, heart-in-throat reworking of Genesiss Follow You, Follow Me to Lows almost-cheery Venus, the album is not the dreary aural barbiturate it could have been; instead it invites listeners to take comfort in all its gentle noise.