VA: Joy (Schole Compilation vol. 3)

If ever a recording wore its heart on its sleeve, it's Joy, Schole's third compilation album. Designed to commemorate the Japan-based label's fifth year of existence, the collection features thirteen pieces that artists associated with the label created especially for the occasion and in accordance with the titular theme. Think highly melodic reveries of varying stylistic character and arrangement and you're on the right track.

Mamerico's “Beginning” sets the joyous tone at the outset, with Maya's soft voice floating serenely above the lilting acoustic guitar backing (sweetened with woodwinds and glockenspiel) provided by Mamerico partner Johan Christher Schutz. The song's blithe and carefree spirit will remain largely in place throughout the fifty-seven-minute recording. Akira Kosemura's title track perpetuates a similar mood, though does so in a quartet format that sees his stately piano playing augmented by guitar, bass, and percussion. “Evergreen,” a collaboration between Kosemura and [.que], amplifies its already luscious soundworld by adding Lasah's multi-layered voice to a dense arrangement of shimmering atmospheres and acoustic guitar picking. Uplift also arises in “Imagine Fun” by no.9 (Takayuki Joe) and “Light Dance,” a lilting acoustic guitar waltz by Guitar and Paniyolo (Kosemura and Muneki Takasaka)

A more playful side of the recording surfaces in Yoshinori Takezawa's “Irodori,” a quietly jubilant setting of rich and at times eccentric instrumental colour, with the artist seemingly intent on working as many sound sources into its six minutes as possible. No Schole recording would be complete without a dash of melancholy, which Quentin Sirjacq are Haruka Nakamura more than happy to supply in their elegant piano setting “Short Story” and melodica-sweetened “Anne” respectively, and a field recordings-tinged piece, which Sawako and Daisuke Miyatani are also happy to provide in their soothing “Day Light Dream” lullaby.

Only one piece seems out of place, and that's Ghost And Tape's brooding electroacoustic soundscape “Santiago,” which sounds a darker note compared to the others' pieces. But on the whole, the collection's a veritable tonic, an aural corrective to the gloom that sometimes covers our lives. Simply put, there's no room for dark thoughts when something as good-time in feel as Hummingbert Stereo's “Welcome to My Playground” fills the air.

May 2013