Various Artists - CR200 - SPECIAL EDITION BOX SET

Beats Per Minute

Rochester seems a weird place, if Carbon Records is any indication. This local noise label, started in 1994, has long specialized in bringing the best leftfield tunes that the upstate NY town has to offer, and with CR200 they've released a massive compilation of bands their mining has dredged up over the years. Kicking off with some Phil-Elverum-goes-black-metal instrumentation (courtesy of Chris Reeg) and spanning more traditional noise in addition ambling acoustic guitar experimentation, fractured yelps of pop songs, and doomy drones, this compilation represents a wealth of diversity in the label's stable. Whether it's the kraut-noise stomp of "Free To Starve", Crush The Entente's contribution, or Autumn In Halifax's austere, bluesy spiritual "David O David", there's incredible tracks throughout. If this is the work of a great curator, then, well, good on Joe Tunis for bringing these tracks together and celebrating the best the region had to offer. But if the general darkness of these tracks is inherent to the Rochester experience, we might be worried about the emotional state of that city's inhabitants. Above I list several noise and psych bands in the "For fans of", but this time you shouldn't necessarily take those as guidelines so much as benchmarks: by and large the tunes on CR200 take a similar sort of intellectual preparation. These are tracks that, while endlessly intriguing, present a pervading heaviness that even in the most accessible moments can be a bit off-putting. That all being said, if you're willing to give it the time it demands, it's a compelling cross section of a widely under-examined scene. It's like wandering into your city's weirdest art gallery – in the dingiest warehouse space – and allowing yourself to be bombarded with what the underground has to offer.

Choice Cuts: Autumn in Halifax – "David O David", Joe Sorriero – "Electricity's Out!", Crush the Entente – "Free to Starve"