by Francis Andrews in New Music on Saturday 24 January 2009

The crew at 4AD, watching over perhaps the hottest artist roster of any independent label in the world, have put their collective minds together and come up with an album that holds every potential of being the finest release of the year. The formula is simple: you grab a batch of the hottest bands and artists around at the moment (take your pick from Arcade Fire, Yeasayer [pictured above], Bon Iver, Beirut, Sufjan Stevens; the list continues without the slightest dip in quality), throw in David Byrne for a touch of that priceless musical wisdom, quickly hammer together a few inspired duos, like Gillian Welch and Conor Oberst, or The Books and Jose Gonzalez, name it after a seminal Blind Willie Johnson track, and then get the brains behind one of the great bands of the last few years, The National, to produce it. Finally — take a deep breath — all the proceeds go towards the fight against AIDS. Dark Was The Night isn’t released until February 16th, but the scent on the wind is good. David Byrne and the Dirty Projectors’ opening track (listen below) is brilliantly fresh, while Yeasayer have channelled their wild spirits into a song textured as intricately as a Peruvian silk skirt, with a rainstick for effect.