Now in its fifth incarnation, the running Wet Pizza compilation series is a perfect representation of Denver's just-under-the-radar music scene. But Wet Pizza V (Wet It Be) -- a collection of of 32 tracks by 32 artists -- isn't merely a snapshot of this city's vibrant DIY-minded music community; it includes artists from across the country, all with a Denver connection.
"It's not necessarily about genre, but people I had been friends with in the scene," says Gabe Stoll, the musician behind the Wet Pizza series he began several years ago. Though it has been four years since the last compilation installment, Stoll says he had no trouble rounding up the songs that flow seamlessly through the almost two hour long album.
Old friends like garage punks Thee Goochi Boiz -- who were a Denver/Boulder staple a handful of years ago before the band spread apart across many states -- contribute with "This Gun's For Hire." Right next to that track "Tropical Topical" can be found, a stripped down and tripped out instrumental by Ben Donehower, another longtime pal of Stoll's who has been in many projects in Colorado including Original Sin, The Matildas, School Knights, The Octaves and more.
East Coasters like Pictureplane (a former longtime Denver resident) and Mannequin Pussy (who went to school in Boulder) also add to the sonic diversity, along with up-and-coming local electro-weirdos Running Niwot and Bollywood Life, younger dudes who are representative of the latest generation of Denver DIYers.
There is so much going on, so many directions in which the album expands and contracts with synth-based minimalism and wirey guitar work that across 32 tracks, there is something for every palate. Contributions from Male Blonding,Thug Entrancer, Church Fire, Cop Circles, Lordz of Posh, Alphabets, Docile Rottweiler and Stoll's own project, Mystic Bummer, all add to the continuity of the Wet Pizza series.
Reminiscent of the 1978 Antilles Records' compilation No New York, Wet Pizza V is a curated cross section of not a genre, but a scene -- a community that centers around the work and performances that can be seen and heard at local DIY venues Rhinoceropolis and Glob. No one genre can be pinned down in this collection -- and that's kind of the point.
"The whole concept based on someone seeing a band that they like or know on the compilation -- then they download it and have all of these other tracks to check out," says Stoll. "If anything, the genre is kind of "fringe" or "marginalized" in one way or another. I think the term "underground" gets used too much."
The idea for a fifth mixtape came to Stoll a few months ago, right as he was coming out of some personal time away from being involving in the music scene. The time was right and he saw many of the musicians he had worked with in the past doing things and making music he was excited about. The compilation -- a documentation of what he was seeing and hearing from his friends -- felt like a natural step in the right direction.
"I think that is what is so special about this comp; I've grown as a person, but it is also a measurement of how far a lot of these artists have come," says Stoll. "It's important to rep the scene that I'm a part of and try to push everyone forward as much as possible. But all in all, I think the diversity is what I'm trying to express; it's Denver's music scene."
The album is a powerhouse from beginning to end, starting with former Denver-based musician Jacob Issacs and his Dugoutcanoe project's "ARPN," all the way through to the album's haunting closer and secret smash, "Double Suicide," from Rhino mainstay Katie Taylor A.K.A. Crab Lab.
"That's always been the goal of Wet Pizza -- I like to work with people who have strong integrity in terms of their art."
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