Various Artists – Moodsetters

[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

Imagine a mansion party in the late 1960s/early 1970s that has spilled out into the garden where the participants have all reached that peculiar phase of inebriation that is exemplified by high minded chatter and fiercely passionate debate. This is the music which would be giddily humming along in the background and if you stopped to listen you’d soon be off touring every room in the aforementioned abode; the artists who are on this baleful beauty range far and wide, from glittering game show extravagance to low key introspection.

Some even go so far as to create what sound like tv show themes,; many of these pieces are oddly familiar to me, even though this is the first time we’ve been introduced… there’s “Hostile Moods” by Frank Ricotti which features a bassist clearly out to cram as many notes into each measure as possible; over on the more electronic side of things Anne Dudley ushers us into her vision of the future via swirling synthesis underpinned by one singular gorgeous chord. Stroll along with Keith Mansfeld through empty rooms saturated with polyester and velvet lined tapestries with your glass of Chablis; bliss out to his combinations of electronic piano and brass as the sun is going down.

As you make your way through these seventeen entries don’t be surprised if a sly smirk graces your face, these are some of the grooviest compositions Buried Treasure has yet unearthed. “Moody Groover” from Alec Gould revels in this and showers you with wave after wave of tricked out funk; the alto sax lead gives way to some mighty fine juke joint piano before being firmly taken by the hand back to a dance floor peppered by killer brass stabs and cleverly placed guitar.

This is a collection meant to engage it’s listener on every level, the pastoral splendor of Syd Dale’s “All on a Summers Day” takes me back to childhood, when we’d go out into our backyards and invent an entire universe out of nothing but the trees and open space. Easier times to be sure but even though ‘Moodsetters’ is escapist in, ehem, mood you can sense the tension and unease at what was coming at the end of those decadent, hedonist 70s.

It is Anne Dudley’s “Computer Pop” with it’s minor keys and darker tone which demonstrates this wariness best. She barely misses two and a half minutes but somehow all of the turmoil that had been building underneath the flares and Billy Beer comes right at me, a very talented pair of hands, no doubt. As if to bookend things on a more positive note, the Harpsichord Rhythm Group bring us the jazzy and harpsichord led “The New Elizabethans”; a bouncy, colorful fusillade which I can’t help equate to a peacock strutting proudly with all it’s plumage on display.

Various Artists – Moodsetters
Buried Treasure Records
LP/Digital 2018

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