There was a time when the comp made sense, back when it just wasn’t economical for small bands to either shell out for a whole album’s worth of recording time with no name recognition to guarantee sales and when consumers just didn’t have the cash to buy unknown albums willy nilly. Hence, the comp. They were great for what they were at the time and many of the aforementioned gave boost to genre defining artists and became classics in their own right. (I still have my first pressing of Grindcrusher that I
There have been attempts to revitalize the let’s-get-a-bunch-of-bands-together-and-make-an-album spirit of the classics, most notably Scott Hull and Relapse’s This Comp Kills Fascists series. While I’ve given them kind reviews and spotted a handful of exciting new bands that way, the part of me that recognizes the musical landscape has shifted with the force of an East Coast earthquake (OK, probably shifted more significantly than that) wants to know: what’s the point?You just as easily could have posted up a link to a bunch of Myspace and Facebook pages on Relapse’s home page and accomplished just as much. The easy streaming offerings of the internet make the compilation superfluous when it comes to hunting down new music. And I don't have to drive to a mall or camp out by a mailbox to enjoy it. Probably more people would have explored the bands that way than those who bothered to actually buy the physical album. It seems like an anachronism in the age when bands can just as easily sell, stream or give away their music via a plethora of web avenues.I’m at a loss. I have no real insights to offer here. I just wanted to pause to pay tribute to moment that I recognize is lost but probably doesn't mean much to digital natives.
Does the humble compilation really have a future or is Relapse simply pressing a vanity item for obsessive record collector nerds to fetishize? And if the comp as we know it is history, what comes next?