By the 1980s music largely ceased to be the voice of protest and the force for change that it had been in the ’60s. Now Norway’s Pal Moddi Knutson has gathered together 12 songs from across the years and around the world that were banned or censored, or that somehow challenged oppression. As commendable as his intentions were, it is his execution that lends the album an odd and confronting power. At 29 Moddi still has an unusually boyish voice, and he has shied from lacing it with exaggerated anger, preferring to make his often stark versions of the songs as beguiling as possible, and let the lyrics (all rendered in English) bite as they will.
And bite they do, the songs coming from countries including China, Israel, Russia (Pussy Riot), Algeria, UK (Kate Bush), Chile, Mexico, Vietnam, Palestine and the USA (a harrowing Strange Fruit). On-line mini-documentaries tell the story behind each song, but you can also just immerse yourself in an album that reaffirms true north on the universal moral compass.