Young digital age music consumers whose lives are soundtracked 24/7 to Spotify and Apple Music playlists probably can’t fathom it, but back in the day (80s/90s), music fans learned about artists they were unfamiliar with via label generated CD samplers. The choices were limited to the 80 minutes a disc could hold and perhaps a certain theme or agenda, but it was still a way for that generation to hear some tasty stuff without making a full album commitment to one specific artist.
Launched in 2015, Oakland based label OIM Records - run by indie promoter Sarah Sexton and producer Jeff Saltzman – first captured that old school, “here’s your chance to expand your musical universe and check out amazing stuff we love” vibe with OIM: Vol. 1, a compilation of Bay Area artists. Now they’re opening their sonic universe further, gathering 13 edgy, sonically adventurous and super soulful, hypnotic and dreamy cool instrumental artists from around the world to create the intriguingly titled compilation shared secrets: WAVE, the first of an intended mood music centered series (also called shared secrets).
If you think like today’s millennials, as you listen straight through from Clef’s intoxicating, languid and atmospheric, strumming guitar driven “Old Days” through knuckledfruit’s strangely seductive, rhythmically offbeat, soul-jazzy and sparkly Rhodes-centric “Lost-Found,” you might be inclined to just go with the flow and enjoy. Nothing wrong with thinking something along the lines of “Wow, love all the trippiness, atmospheres, electronic madness, hypno-dance beats and, on one of the most inventive tracks ‘Robot Friend’, the furious interaction of dance, techno and computer generated vocals.”
But the compilation’s creators, while no doubt hoping you gravitate to certain artists and do a deep dive on them, want you to use your imagination to go further. By design and intention, they want you to experience this as “a canon of stories told by long ago friends, ones made up under night skies, ones that only the family elder could ever hold onto, ones that define people, ones that break them, all meant to share the deepest crevices of who we are.”
This may seem awfully ambitious, perhaps asking too much of us to emerge from our cool hypnosis as DeanThomas draws your spirit into the atmospheric synth wash and sultry distant voices of “Aura” and voxinitium blasts your ears into a densely percussive forest during an electronica blasted “Spatial Ascension. But their challenge makes it a heckuva lot more fun and interesting – and sets the stage for more thematic compilation magic to come.