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Epic lo-fi pop compilation ‘Through the Soil’ has Rochester roots 

During the pandemic, a hunger for social interaction led music aficionados Andres Villogas and Rochesterian Steven Danglis — who describe themselves as “two regular people without industry ties” — to strike up a dialogue on the popular communications app Discord. That conversation became the catalyst for one of the largest and most ambitious compilation albums in years.
click to enlarge ALBUM COVER BY PHIL ELVERUM
  • ALBUM COVER BY PHIL ELVERUM
The resulting 68-track collection of original, previously unreleased songs, “Through the Soil,” captures the multigenerational beauty of the DIY spirit — so much so that cassette tapes sold out within 18 hours of its release on Bandcamp in early April. The compilation was organized to benefit the NAMI COVID-19 Mental Health Support Fund and build a connection between “pioneers, leading faces, contemporary juggernauts, and rising stars of this sonic world,” Villogas and Danglis said in a press release.


Rochester indie rock band Attic Abasement sets the tone on the opening track, a bleary waltz called “Be There.” Much of the music on this compilation embraces the blend of intimacy and scratchy sound quality typical of the lo-fi, home-recording aesthetic. One of the many highlights include Mousetouille’s “Song for Growth Part 2,” a prime example of the experimental folk currently coming out of the Melbourne scene. “The Door is Closing,” by Spirit of the Beehive, channels cryptic pop, punctuated by sudden hallucinations of electropunk, ‘60s psych-rock and post-hardcore.


Sam Ray, a.k.a. Ricky Eat Acid, offers a deeper dive into his intricate, explorative pop sensibilities with his band Teen Suicide on the emotive “Groceries.” Swedish artist Weatherday, who’s ahead of the pack in the noise-pop scene, continues what they do best on the fuzzy and catchy-as-hell “Radar Ballet.” The Rochester-based musician James Kitchen keeps up his raw, stripped-down, raw sound on “Julie,” which shifts into a playful second half that’s still emotionally impactful.


Danglis, a former Bug Jar DJ who releases music under the moniker Occult Modem Settings (and contributes the track “Bugman”) says he wanted to get back into discovering new music while finding a creative way to raise money for mental health awareness.

“I think the spark that pushed me over the edge to actually going forward with this thing was the realization that I was unsatisfied with my current relationship with music, and I wanted to get back to being active again,” Danglis said via email. “I was very active in my scene when I was younger, playing in bands, going to every show in everyone’s basement, just trying to be a constant supporter of the DIY community.”



“Through the Soil” throws everything at the wall — raw honesty, expressive freedom and charm — and in the process, casts lo-fi and bedroom pop in its best light. Unlike on ordinary compilations, there’s a terrific flow between songs, a clear sign of careful curation. It’s an incredible collection representing the longing for interaction and collaboration, bringing in various artists who’ve found unexpected beauty in imperfection.

“Through the Soil” is available to stream on Bandcamp.

Joe Massaro is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.

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