Various Artists - Childish Music [Staubgold - 2005]Music for airports. Music for lovers. Music for the stations before and after sleep. Music for funerals. Music for children.
When I was about 6 years old, I saw for the first time a Walt Disney classic called Robin Hood. Ever since, it has been my favourite and I think the music played a big part in this. Not so long ago, they played it on telly. Of course I watched it. I loved it. I still knew the lyrics and the melodies by heart. I can’t remember having had a better time in front of the telly in years. Back in my childhood, I had a vinyl with actors telling me the story, and stuck in between the narration parts, there was music. When the film ended, I went to the cellar on the look of my former favourite musical item. Alas, I didn’t find it. A little bit later, I read a review of the film in the TV programme. The bloke said something like “a decent Disney classic, too bad for the awful music”. I will kill him.
Ekkehard Ehlers is not only an excellent composer; he is also a great compiler, in the track selection as well as in the subject matter. Quality music for children between 7 months and 77 years old, now that’s a great idea.
25 tracks, most of them already available on other records, quite a few exclusive songs, stellar line-up. I will now talk a bit more about the tracks I think are standing out. First off, including Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s Good morning was a great idea: they epitomize infantile, naïve pop at it’s best, and that particular song is very illustrative. Up next is a fantastic track by Hassle Hound. Great guitar noodling, nice repetition and vocals that your children will imitate for the next five years. My favourite track on this CD is Let’s pretend by La Grande Illusion: melody lifted off The Beatles’ Here comes the sun (firm favourite of mine since childhood), added bass line, nice piano melody, dogs barking and ducks err… in the background. FS Blumm’s contribution (a collaboration with Anne Laplantine) is also very good, reminding me of the music associated with Chinese characters in the cartoons I used to watch. An artist I immediately thought about when I first heard of this project was Asa-Chang. And it turns out one of his songs is included. Kobana is not my favourite of his stunning debut album, but it’s still a great track with the child-like babble, the weird sounds, and the tabla. Childish is also the name of Nobukazu Takemura's label. I’ve found his latest release stale, but his music makes perfect sense in this context. So does Lullatone’s and its toy-instruments. I have never heard of Bernadette La Hengst, but her contribution is definitely one of the best tracks on this comp, with it’s great bumpy, almost gentle roller-coaster like melody and vocals in hindi. I loved last years’ März album, but I think their remix of Sketch Show’s Fly me to the river is failed. It’s not bad, but the original song was so good that it was always going to be difficult to do it justice.
Among other included artists, you will find Devendra Banhart, Kazumasa Hashimoto, Harald “Sack” Ziegler, Oren Ambarchi, Matthew Herbert, Guido Möbius, World Standard…
Great subject matter, great music, great line-up, great packaging. What more do you need?François Monti