Damsel Elysium

Common Ground Vol. 3

Various Artists – Common Ground Vol. 3 (Safe Ground Records, 2023)

Safe Ground Records extends a sequel to its Common Ground series. While goosebumps run down your arms, exclusive material is once again offered here by the finest names in the experimental and ambient scene. Work that introduces you to artists or, if you already know them, solidifies their status even more. A clever selection that fits together like a long flow. As always, ‘Common Ground’ can be listened to like a radio show. The immaculate transition between, for instance, the work of British composer Victoria Wijerante and American JJJJJerome Ellis, leave you in doxubt that you have entered a new track. Before you are overthrown by Colin Self‘s angelic and enchanting ‘Vale of The Crested Mire’, Poland’s Martyna Basta, with field recordings, a diligent plucking of her violin and those dishevelled, distinctive, elegiac voices, reaffirms her status as a rising star on the European experimental scene. Using almost exactly the same elements, London-based Damsel Elysium creates a completely different sonic universe where alienation is nonetheless central. An ultra-short ambient soundscape that tempts for more. That lurking hunger for more of this, is further whetted by Aho Ssan‘s rougher but controlled ‘Blue Tears’. The compilation hums on. You are unobtrusively dropped off at the next artist. Sometimes it breaks radically. As with Chantal Michelle‘s compelling, engaging and abrasive ‘Study for Fuses’. And again with the work of Brussels-based Liew Niyomkarn, who this time makes her signature whispers echo louder, up against clashing rhythm patterns. ‘Don’t Die Out There’. Proceeds from Common Ground go to the NGOs Sea Watch and Choose Love. Themes and titles that are all closely linked to Lamin Fofana‘s work. His ‘Love’s Shadow’, a hauntology-rich bath of sound wrapped in crackling vinyl, brings you to inner silence. A silence that Edinburgh-based Alliyah Enyo takes advantage of. She brings reverb, masses of reverb in ‘Look Godly in Your Eyes’. Her voice, her instrumentation, the atmosphere. Intoxicating and enchanting. One last time, goosebumps unabashedly run down the arms.