Charlie Gillett mixes the well-known with underground discoveries, crosses continents, sifts thousands of songs, balances the sexes and blends contemporary and traditional on this year’s crop
There aren’t too many meaningful things to say about a record that has 33 tracks from almost as many countries except that Charlie puts in the work when he makes compilations and the results speak for themselves. It would be all too easy to let a few favoured tracks go when tracking down the rights owners or to buy in bulk from a few labels but Charlie knows that in an age of cover-mount CDs and ever cheaper compilations, selling ever fewer copies, there is no need for another compilation that is less than essential.
Now with his tendrils ever wider spread on the Internet more and more of the songs are coming through to Charlie without necessarily being pressed and posted through the door of his south London flat. How he finds time to listen to all this music is one of those mysteries. Many of the tracks on the compilation come from the heartland of ‘world music’ while others come from acts outside of this comfortable zone like Devendra Banhart (twisted folk) or Juana Molina (electronica/singer/songwriter). The big guns of Tinariwen and Ladysmith black Mambazo are there, current faves like Lura and Andy Palacio too. Rubbing shoulders with fresh new voices like Vieux Farka Touré and the wonderful discovery of Mayra Andrade from Cape Verde.
To say that the compilation jumps around a lot is an understatement but it works, songs blend and combine. This is the other advantage of having someone with a good ear do the compiling: rights songs in the optimum order. What more could you want?