There’s something that I’ve always found very compelling about music or collections of musi, which are intrinsically connected to the place in which they’re recorded. Tally that with the sheer sense of togetherness and collaboration that radiates out of anything that Communion puts together, and the resulting record will inevitably be something pretty special.
During the summer of 2010, Communion gathered a collection of some of its favourite groups and musicians to take part in a week long series of collaborative live recordings in the Flowerpot in Kentish Town just before the venue closed.
Those of you familiar with Communion will be well aware that what has always been key to its principles is the idea of openness and participation. This record does a great job of capturing that exciting and often quite magical musical dialogue that’s so important to the label’s ethos. It’s so difficult to successfully catch the atmosphere of live music in a recording, impossible to catch fully, but some of the songs on this record go a long way to giving you the sense of energy that was undoubtedly there in the performance.
They’ve also made a very well ordered and constructed album. Despite there being some very differing tones of music and very distinct artistic voices playing together or alongside each other on the record, the mix of music sits very well together. You don’t feel uncomfortable drifting from the lushly aggressive blues of Kill it Kid and Joker and the Thief’s ‘Something Funny’ into the soft and stretching slide-guitar country of Lissie ft. Mt Desolation’s ‘Oh Mississippi’.
Highlights in the album are the strikingly bare and almost tribal ‘For Birds’ James Moss ft .The Staves; and the guff Pogues-like polka knees-up ‘Little Eyes’ by Crown ft. Ben Lovett, Beans on Toast and The Staves. These songs in particular capture some really special performances, and in the latter, the fantastic interaction between performer and audience that makes projects like this so charismatic.
It’s often the chink of a pint glass, the creak of a pub stool and whisper of the crowd that make live albums like this, and although few of the songs are obviously in the company of a audience, the album is still scattered with the beautiful mistakes and broken vocals that indelibly mark it as a unique event that will never be recreated.
I find it hard to bring myself to say anything bad about this album. Even though it perhaps wasn’t all I hoped it would be, and not all of the music had the strength I wanted it to, I can’t help but admire what Communion are doing and this record seems to me a very fitting swansong to the late Flowerpot cafe and really lives up to Communion’s already blossoming legacy.
Words: Chris Belson