- Should the release artist be “Various Artists” or “David Lewiston”?
David Lewiston. Due to his role being heavily noted (written on cover, back and CD) on this release. Crediting compilers is not unusual; for example, Gilles Peterson, working only as a compiler, is credited as the release/release group artist on here.
- Should the individual tracks/recordings be credited to “[unknown]” or “David Lewiston”?
I believe that avoiding [unknown] in this case is the right thing to do; the guidelines point towards avoiding the use if at all possible. Even though he did not perform these recordings, he is still heavily involved them.
The case of where an unknown performer was credited in a more specific way was brought up. For example, a release might list “Cayapa harmonica player” (Lowland Tribes of Ecuador) as the performer for a track. I believe that it is still a good idea to avoid [unknown] with a more specific artist credit.
Relationships can still be used on recordings for unknown performance (with the credited alias), but if possible, nothing should be filed there.
In the case of performers being only partly unknown, for example, this credit on the same Folkways album as my previous example, emphasis on the unknown part: “Hernando, Luis & ayahuasca ritual participants”, the whole credit should be listed as is, without linking [unknown].
I think it is a good idea to avoid using special purpose artists if there is an alternative. Even though you might find it offensive to the artists who are being recorded, field recordings are seen as a kind of photography (“phonography”), and is a more intimate practice than the one of a recording engineer. If it is not applicable to credit field recordists for recordings of unknown music performed by humans, it should probably be noted that [unknown] is preferable on Style / Unknown and untitled / Special purpose artist.