The Death Roots Syndicate is a free digital download label specializing in the promotion of dark country, folk, blues, americana and roots music. The Syndicate covers dark roots music in a very broad sense. The music is free (for promotion), legal (all releases are officially sanctioned by the artists) and spectacular (there's a virtual goldmine to immerse in). You can find a link to their Bandcamp page here. It's not common for the adjectives free, legal and spectacular to occur in the same sentence when it comes to music. But despite the high odds, sometimes it happens. Death Roots Syndicate is 100 percent non-profit. At the moment there are about twenty albums available for free download. Among them, three spectacular compilation albums released digitally: "The Death Roots Syndicate Volume I-III". Several "well-known" artists are represented: Sons of Perdition, Slackeye Slim, Uncle Sinner, Christian Williams and Reverend Elvis. But there are also artists that I guarantee you never heard of. It doesn't matter that the quality is shifting somewhat. It's the authenticity that counts. And there's no shortage of authenticity here, believe me. I have discovered (for me) new and fascinating music through the compilations. The selection process is loose. It doesn't matter if the song already has been released in another context or not. The artists come from US, Canada and Europe. The only thing they have in common are dark roots. The three compilations are shown below. The album covers are stylish. All cover art is designed Christian Dubé.
The three adjectives free, legal and spectacular appeal to me. It's free, which creates a small dilemma for me, since I want to pay for music and support the artists (in this case it's promotion), legal (well, you can read what I think about stealing music from artists in a blog entry here) and spectacular (the lengthy and time-consuming process of trawling the genre has been somewhat facilitated by The Death Roots Syndicate). The compilations reminds me of the fact that music is strange. When I hear Phil Collins "In The Air Tonight" I instantly think of mass consumption music safely placed on the painted center line. But Sons of Perdition's version of the song on the third compilation is really scary(!). It's obvious the same song, but quite different performed or deformed. It's just a tiny little problem with DRS. The albums are not released in the cd format. My tiresome nagging about the CD format is not new to returning visitors of this site. In this case, digital release, is for the greater good. Otherwise, it would't be released at all. The compilations wouldn’t fit on a physical cd anyway, since they are packed with music and well over the 80 minute cd limit. On the other hand, the albums are luckily enough released in FLAC format so I can make my own cd-r albums including the beautiful artwork. The people behind "The Death Roots Syndicate" perform a cultural act when they put out this kind of music. I can only imagine how much time has been spent on contacts, planning, administration and the actual production of the compilations. The Death Roots Syndicate is an anomaly in music industry, non-profit and specializing in the promotion of music that doesn't reach out so easily (for very obvious reasons). It takes equal parts commitment, endurance and obsession to pull a project like this through. You can read more about The Death Roots Syndicate here.