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jason on 01/05/2010 at 05:24PM

San Cristobal Orquesta

image via San Cristóbal Orquesta's Facebook page (become a fan!)

This fantastic self-titled album by the San Cristóbal Orquesta is the distillation of 10-hours' worth of recordings made by students, aged 17-20, from a special education school in San Cristóbal, Spain. The project was coordinated by La Bisogno in collaboration with the Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial. La Bisogno is a cultural organiation from Avilés, Spain, working on several projects -- including radio through Radiadora -- that focuses on new media culture, technology, and social inclusion through educational events, workshops, and art projects. The San Cristóbal Orquesta is the result of La Bisogna's first MADI (Música  Avanzada y Discapacidad Intelectual), a workshop that seeks to extend their mission to young people with disabilities through artistic expression.

The students were given a whole range of instruments -- zithers, ukeleles, electric guitars, electronic drums, music boxes, xylomatics, xylophones, midi controllers, field recordings, reactivision software, effect pedals, acoustic & electric bass -- and the recording session took place from April 6-10 in the Palacio de Maqua in Avilés. The documentary video (after the jump) provides a neat window into the process.


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stevenarntson on 01/05/2010 at 02:41PM

Enthusiasms

I’m going to try to make a biweekly blog post this year (of the twice-per-month variety, not twice-weekly). When I asked for advice about what theme(s) I should pursue, I was encouraged to focus on my interests, so I’ve decided to call this series Enthusiasms. As my enthusiasms tend toward the fitful, I hope they’ll make entertainingly brief blog entries. I’m a musician and writer with an aimless but sincere interest in classical and avant music, poetry, world traditions, and prog rock.

 

I ended 2009 unexpectedly fascinated with yodeling, spurred by my purchase of World Music Network’s excellent 2006 CD The Rough Guide To Yodel. Yodeling, which had always seemed silly to me, suddenly seemed great. Rather than trying to help singers keep their voices from cracking, yodeling asks that they make a virtue of necessity. Physiologically, yodeling involves a basic fact of human vocal production: there is a boundary, or break, between singing registers, commonly termed “normal” voice and “falsetto.” There is also considerable debate about the nature of the mechanism, with some suggestion that yodel effects may be produced differently by men and women (see the link to Timothy Wise’s essay, further down). Here is a video from the UW of a vocal endoscopy that shows the switch between normal voice and falsetto.

 

Outside of European art music, there’s been considerable yodeling. An excellent essay from Excavated Shellac covers some theories about the development of the practice, and references this beautiful recording of alpine yodeling, hosted at the Free Music Archive:

 

 


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jason on 01/04/2010 at 05:28PM

International Sounds from 2009

I thought it would be fun to take a listen back to some of my favorite music from the Free Music Archive's "world music" library. I'm hesitant to use term "world music" since 98.6% of the audio on the Free Music Archive comes from this world, and we have curators, musicians and listeners from over 200 nations. But I do feel it is important for site visitors be able to find music you're looking for browsing by genre. We try to use the International genre classification for music that incorporates indigenous folk traditions, which aren't necessarily part of the american/british folk, blues, or Western classical traditions.

My ear often bends towards artists who build off of their traditional influences to create something entirely new.

Like Argentina's Hijo De La Cumbia, who released his debut album, Cumbia de los Barrios, on DJ /rupture's Soot label. The mix also features Vieux Farka Touré, son of the great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré. Six Degrees Records offered this track off of the new album Fafa, and writes: "Ali Farka Touré proved – in case anyone ever doubted it – that the soul of the blues could be found in West Africa.  His son Vieux is turning heads with a more radical idea: that those western Saharan roots can be heard in everything from the jam band scene to Jamaican dub." -- well put!

Vieux Farka Touré is one of many amazing musicians from around the world to have also performed on KEXP in Seattle, where many selections from this mix were recorded. Check out Jon Kertzer's radio program for more, especially if you're in search of well-curated African music.

A good many of these tracks were first broadcast on WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise. For those in the NYC area (or ever planning to head this way), host Rob Weisberg keeps a fantastic list of upcoming World music events, as well as local restaurants, all linked from the TSP headquarters (also the source of the fantastic image used for this mix).

The recording of Djara -- New York's premier Haitian rara group -- comes from one of Transpacific Sound Paradise's remote broadcasts from Barbés, a fantastic venue (and record label!) in Brooklyn.

 The Orkestra Keyif and Zlatne Uste track was part of WFMU's coverage of the 2009 Golden Festival, a grassroots Eastern European music and dance festival organized by NY Balkan music pioneers the Zlatne Usted Brass Band. The 2010 event is slated for Jan 15 & 16 -- more info here.

This mix concludes with an emersive raga, part of an on-air preview of the annual NYC Indian Classical all-night festival this past May.

And although it's not featured on this 2009-oriented mix, Excavated Shellac is an amazing resource for impossible-to-find international 78rpm recordings. Joe McGasko recently picked out some of his favorite shellac excavations take a listen here.

As always, please click "i" for more info on each artist and track!

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andrewcsmith on 01/04/2010 at 08:30AM

Viva la Resistance

As Phill Stearns put it, he only does this concert about three times a year. Heaving a sigh of relief, “This is the last time this year I’m doing it.”

It’s easy to see why he avoids performing this set very often–sometimes it’s difficult to see why he does it at all. He prepares for his performance quite a bit: building the electronic circuits that cycle amplified feedback through his mixer, tuning the filters so that they only allow particular parts of the sonic spectrum through. The noise created is incomparable and organic, while the lights flash on and off, creating shadows on the back wall.

He says he only actually practices for less than a half hour, just to get the system tuned up, before he turns it off until the performance. Before the performance, he attaches electrodes to six different places on each arm, wiring himself through the transformers so that each time he touches the metallic controllers his body becomes a human resister, controlling the pitch, spectrum, and volume of the sound. The trouble is that when he makes sound, the current using him as conduit causes him physical pain. Watching him hold pitches, seeing him writhe just a bit, his performance is far more visceral than if he had been a cool knob-twiddler.

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lizb on 12/31/2009 at 06:15PM

Beats from Rupture & Shadetek

Photo by Ghostdad (CC by-sa)

New sounds from local heroes Matt Shadetek and DJ/Rupture (who happens to be an acclaimed beatmaster, writer, cumbia champion, and host of WFMU's Mudd Up! program)!

The duo has just released a fantastic record called "Solar Life Raft," which veers from dance-heavy beats to downtempo sample relaxation to international psychedelic experimentation, and they've offered up a sample tune for download here on the FMA. Thanks to theAgriculture records for providing a sample track!

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JoeMc on 12/31/2009 at 03:19AM

Be Happy, My Heart

One of the greatest little stopovers on this gigantic, expanding planet known as the FMA is the archive for the 78 blog Excavated Shellac. I've sung the praises of this blog many times in the past, here and on the air, but as the end of the year approacheth, I feel compelled to finish 2009 with another huzzah for this wonderful project.

Curator Jonathan Ward has personally purchased, cleaned, and digitized highly rare 78s from around the world, and here they are for you, ready to be downloaded and enjoyed in your home. Modern technology hasn't always improved the way we live, but here is a nice example of how it sometimes does.

The FMA has dozens upon dozens of great material from the Excavated Shellac archive; you can always spot an Excavated Shellac song because it's accompanied by incredibly useful and well-informed notes about what you are going to hear on the 78 being presented. Needless to say, this makes my job today quite easy. All I need to do is hold up the "Go Thattaway" sign (click the "i" button) and you can find out what you need to know about each song in my mix.

Ah, yes, the Mix. The mix is simply a selection of some of my favorites from the collection. There is fandango from the Basque region of Spain; amazing kemençe (three-stringed fiddle) playing from Turkey; some beautiful singing from Morocco and Greece; Balinese Gamelan, among the first ever recorded; and to finish things off, an amazing piece by Mohamed Effendi El-Achek, one of the kings of Middle Eastern music. The title of this last piece translates as "Be Happy, My Heart," and that's not much of a stretch for me when I hear this wonderful music. I hope this mix makes your heart happy, too.

Happy 2010!

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pushbinlou on 12/29/2009 at 11:46PM

Pushbinlou's Year End/Best Of/OMG Mix

Image by Amyn Kassam

This was not easy but I was able to pare down this "best of" mix to 16 tracks. I'm sure if I waited another week the list would change again because so many new and exciting tracks are being added to FMA each day. These were the tracks that I seemed to be listening to over and over again. Some of you might say, "Hey Lou, this sounds kind of like a free-form radio fill-in show". Well, you would be right. Enjoy and have a great 2010.

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year-end lists
herr_professor on 12/29/2009 at 06:50AM

The Year in Chip on the FMA by TCTD for you, the discerning listener.

Still realing from our numerous Blip Festival injuries, TCTD just wants to take the time to thank all the readers, FMA writers, tech gurus and WFMU for giving us a chance to get into some deep choon here on the FMA. Here is a mix of some of the amazing chip music we uploaded throughout the year, and let's hit the ground running with even more insanity in 2010.

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jason on 12/28/2009 at 04:09PM

Hip-Hop 2009 (mix)

Buraka Som Sistema at Sonar 2009 :: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND via nudevinyl on Flickr

Some of my favorite hip-hop from the FMA this year...

Los Angeles California's Aesthetics Crew traveled to Beijing China for this collaboration with Mandarin MC Naughty Ray.

Up next we got a track off of J Dilla's post-humous release courtesty of Nature Sounds, hosted by Pete Rock featuring Black Thought of the Roots. Dilla's legacy lives on in producers like 6th Sense, who had an amazingly productive year that included a bunch of free net releases on his Notherground Music imprint. First we got a track from The Kid Daytona off Come Fly With Me, then the 6th-Sense produced "2-0-0-9" featuring The Kid Daytona, 6th Sense, & Harlem's Cash. If you dig these 6th Sense beats, he uploaded an album's worth of intrumentals for you to tinker with, It's a 6th Sense Beat Yo.

Advantage Music Group and Domination Recordings released a free mixtape, Chapter 2 Street Soul, featuring some of today's finest MCs and producers. This track finds Sweden's Ill Knowledge collaborating with Philadelphia-born, Copanhagen-based Malay Sparks. Domination Recordings also released Breez Evahflowin's Breez Dees Trees, and this radio-safe promo features guests Shaneeka Harrell and Swave Sevah.

The Comfort Fit track was part of Error Broadcast's debut compilation Bag of Nothingness. It was also featured by BlocSonic on Volume 23 of their netBloc series, compiling highlights from the netaudio world.


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jason on 12/28/2009 at 09:00AM

Focus/Folkus 2009 (mix)

Selva de Mar

It's been very difficult for me to even think about my Free Music Archive year-end list. I mean, we haven't even been around for a year yet, and there are already three times as many mp3s as when we launched in April. My lists keep expanding, while at the same time I start realizing how much I haven't had a chance to hear yet, and I start to go a little bit insane!

It is worthwhile though to take a moment and reflect as time speeds on by, and I thought I'd start with this mix and just focus...We'll begin with some meditative instrumental tracks, then move on to sparse folk with psychedelic fingerpicking and spacious, hypnotic sounds that sooth the mind and body.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

The Barcelona-based Selva de Mar (pictured) and the mysterious No Regrets For Our Youth are curated by Halas Radio out of The Israeli Center for Digital Art.

"Sound philosopher" Roland P Young, best known as a freejazz clarinetist, performed this thumb-piano piece live at WFMU for This Is the Modern World with Trouble.

This dark folk track from Koonda Holaa and The Beetchees comes from one of my favorite releases of the year, 10 Acres of the Finest Sand, a split release between Bar La Muerte and Track Brack Records. Koonda Holaa is Kamilsky, a world traveler who came of musical age in the 80s' Czech underground. For something completely different, try the track with Otto Von Shirach.

Orquestra Popular de Paio Pires, from Portugal, released their self-titled album on the Clinical Archives netlabel. The Moscow-based netlabel has really lived up to their motto "expanding the definition of music" this year, both in quantity (this was their 262nd release) and quality -- they've been receiving world-wide recognition from sources ranging from Phlow to The Wire.


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