review

Textura

Three:Four Records commissioned ali_fib (Paris-based concert programmers Maxime Guitton, Benjamin Tellier, and Jérôme Boutinot) to curate the inaugural volume in the label's proposed compilation series, with Err on the Good Side the ear-catching result. With the exception of pieces by Ilitch and Amen Dunes, the recording features eight previously unreleased tracks, many of which are in the folk-oriented, or perhaps more precisely psych-folk oriented tradition in the Fonal mold.

Illitch's "Chambre 1" sets the mood with a brooding setting played on a dusty old piano (the piano parts in fact recorded in 1978) by Thierry Müller. Recorded on eight-track reel-to-reel in the West Village above a Chinese restaurant, Amen Dunes' extended version of "Diane" is a good example of the album's psych-folk style, even if its macabre vocals can't hold a candle in freak-folk terms to the goblin squawk that appears in él-g, sus et jakob's disturbed "Förgiftad gåva." Ben Nash's dirge-like composition for vocals, pounding drum, and electric guitars sounds like it was recorded in an industrial tunnel, while Hellvete's psych-folk instrumental "Osschaarts Kiste" presents a simmering mass of cymbals, guitars, flutes, and assorted wooziness. On the guitar tip, Sir Richard Bishop's "Moorish Tiles" dazzles in less than three minutes, and Steve Gunn's ruminative "Chazy Landing" backs acoustic picking with snake rattling. Err on the Good Side is not all of a piece: the album's most anomalous track is clearly Duane Pitre's "Study for "The Carpenter"," a skeletal setting of sine tones ("The Carpenter" is a movement from Pitre's modular composition Origin which is scored for an ensemble of bowed harmonic guitars), and not everything works either (I'll happily pass on revisiting the groan of distorted voices and raw guitars that makes up Liberez's untitled contribution). But overall, the compilation's primarily acoustic sounds have an oft-lulling effect that weakens one defenses.