Two Zombies Later at the Comfort Stand

There’s nothing quite like your, “first time.” Sure, I’d dabbled in free music before, by which I mean I’d grabbed a free compilation CD[ of local indie bands lying in unwanted stacks at the record shop, only to use them as impromptu drink coasters within a week. But there was that turning point, the day a naïve young boy heard about a collection of free music that anyone could download and own. And so I downloaded and even printed out the cover and CD art for the bold new Creative Commons compilation, Two Zombies Later, and that boy…became a man. It was the album that would ignite my passion for the Creative Commons cause.

Two Zombies Later is a two CD set of over thirty songs from various artists which would tend to fall into the lounge, progressive and eclectica genres of music. A study in opposites, the various songs, taken alone, would seem to derive from entirely disparate sources. Philip Jackson’s ambient mix of traditional electronica and sampling in Nature Boy has virtually nothing in common with Otis Fodder’s smooth swinging jazz sound in Brilliant Pillows, at least at first listen. But collected together and blended in one of the finest mixes ever made, these strange sounds all turn out to have a root thematic element. They display a fundamental unified theory of musical construction, the atom that is also a solar system.

In theory, free compilations are an excellent way for artists to join forces and advertise together. Even artists disinclined to give out whole albums for free can use these to take easy advantage of the free music model. Compilation albums like the drink coasters I describe above, however, are too often collections of artists which are not only sub-par in quality but also entirely unrelated, their music all jarringly dissimilar. Two Zombies Later, by contrast, is a collection of established, quality artists drawn together by competent producers and mixers to create a compilation with a signature sound and theme, a true extended play album, not just a hodgepodge of b-sides.

Together the music can, in fact, seem strangely one note, as the overt differences mysteriously slip away to be replaced by the once subtle but now absolute similarities. The sound becomes singular, a singularity, a mass less pinpoint of genre-specific excellence which, I think, is what compilations are supposed to be about in the first place. So instead of just listening to a couple of randomly selected songs, you connect with a uniformed effort to explore a very precise aspect of the whole of musical potential; in this case, the playful world of progressive lounge/jazz exotica! And what a fun place it is to hang around! Frankly the whole album is like staring at a gallery of Josh Shag paintings.

Alas I cannot tell you that this album will fill the holes of your pop/indy megaband collection. If you really needed the Creative Commons version of Pink Floyd or Sting then you’re just going to have to keep looking. But I’ll also say that Two Zombies Later has something for everyone. If you like music, I mean as in if you actually consciously appreciate music in any meager manner beyond as a means of displaying your chosen social class to your chosen peers, then you’re going to be challenged and pleased by at least some of what you find there, and that is a promise I’ll stand behind