Silk To Dry The Tears pays tribute to victims of the Ghost Ship fire

The collection of 31 songs by 100% Silk artists pays tribute to 36 people who died in a warehouse fire while aiming to preserve DIY spaces and make them safer

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The new compilation from 100% Silk will be difficult for electronic music fans to enjoy.

But not all music is created for pure enjoyment. There’s a purpose and place for art that evokes anger, sadness and disbelief in ways that feel cathartic. In that sense, many people upset by the Oakland Ghost Ship tragedy need this album. It’s what we’ve been waiting for.

Silk To Dry The Tears pays tribute to the 36 lives that were lost in the deadly fire at the California warehouse/DIY space Ghost Ship in December 2016, during a show featuring artists from the 100% Silk label. Of the people who died that night, four were performers: Nackt (Johnny Igaz), Joey Casio (Joseph Matlock), Cherushii (Chelsea Faith Dolan) and Cash Askew.

Almost immediately, 100% Silk reissued cassettes from Nackt and Cherushii, who were both on the label. Proceeds were donated to their families.

This compilation album goes one step further with 31 tracks from the Los Angeles-based label’s alumni and affiliates. Songs from artists such as Estonian experimental artist Maria Minerva, Brooklyn DJ Bobby Browser, Malta’s Jupiter Jax and Tokyo pop producer Sapphire Slows span lush house, fantasy acid, twilight techno, dream pop and experimental electronics. At nearly 170 minutes, the album is a powerful statement of inclusion and endurance.

The album opens with The City Hangover by The Cyclist. Atmospheric noise gives way to warm tones and rhythmic yet melancholy melody. The song’s tension is a slow burn, never truly reaching a satisfying peak before its end.

This metaphor of rising creatively from tragedy is the connection between almost all 31 tracks. Bloom by Akasha System approaches the idea of rebirth from a darker place, with sweeping arpeggios over pulsing minor chords, embalmed in the Portland DJ’s signature ambient techno style – eerie but confident.

Tongue Control by Body-san is a chill, bass-driven jam that feels like a throwback to 80s synth pop, while Pleasure Model’s La Guardia channels the same era with a more kinetic, drum-focused style.

Octo Octa’s contribution, Not Sure What To Do (Variation Zoning 4), is another standout. Building on the success of her 2017 album Where Are We Going?, Maya Bouldry-Morrison continues to make classic house beats sound fresh by layering reverberating synth chords and arpeggios over addictive simple-sounding percussion. It’s one of the few songs on the album that evoke the joyful mood and heart-pumping energy inside warehouse shows like the ones that took place at the Ghost Ship.

What happened at the Ghost Ship could’ve happened anywhere, including Toronto. On any given weekend, there are warehouse parties happening across North America. A few hundred people gather in plain, darkened rooms to dance and listen to electronic music, and most of the times it’s safe. These underground spaces don’t exist because community members are out to flout the law – many of them take place with special licensing – they’re here because rising rents and unsustainable business models make it nearly impossible for young artists to thrive in permanent venues. And, after the Ghost Ship fire provided fodder for 4chan trolls to target DIY spaces such as Soybomb, they’re more endangered than ever.

That’s why half of the profits from sales of Silk To Dry The Tears will be donated to Safer DIY Spaces, an Oakland-based coalition of architects, artists, contractors and organizers offering guidance, financial assistance and labour to vulnerable community spaces. Silk To Dry The Tears was created not only to help the electronic music community heal but to ensure that it grows, and to keep a tragedy like the Ghost Ship from ever happening again.

Top track: Not Sure What To Do (Variation Zoning 4) | @michdas

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