Recent FMA Blog Posts
This is a feed of featured blog posts from FMA users. Blog on, bloggers!
arispool on 03/18/2010 at 12:00PM
An Annotated Guide to Replacing Every Day Conversation with Songs from the FMA
It's a busy world. You read about it on the teevee all the time: "Today's Teenagers Are Looking at Screens 89% of the Time"; "Families No Longer Connect on Emotional Levels, Arrangement Now Purely Financial"; etc. We don't have time for each other, to give each other gifts, to wipe a bit of chocolate off of a child's cheek, to read the newspaper and sip coffee on a Sunday morning while the wife cleans the bathroom.
What if I told you that I could free up some time in your life and help restore you to your vernal vision? All you need is the Free Music Archive's handy "Embed this Track" feature, and you, yes YOU, can start communicating difficult concepts through song. No more sticky social situations where your words fall out of your mouth in a cascade of idiocy, turning the rest of your day into a winding tunnel of bureaucracy! Let a singer do the talking!
Let's start with a simple one. Say your significant other comes home at night, fretting about an incident that day at work where he/she walked around for a good two hours with a gigantic piece of broccoli stuck between their teeth. "It's gonna cost me that promotion!" they cry. You simply reply:
It's easy! You've saved time, you've reassured your family, and all with one copy and paste. Come with me to the other side of the jump for more.
BTurner on 03/17/2010 at 10:00AM
After our debut show at SXSW in Austin in 2008 and our joint show with our pals at Aquarius Records from San Francisco last year, we're happy to be returning to Encore (formerly Spiro's) on 611 Red River Street on Friday, March 19th!
The show is open to badge/wristband types, but also to the general public for a mere $7! That's 50 cents a band! We're super-excited about being back and also excited about the bill (which is a pretty unique blend of the poppy, psyched-out, heavy and otherwise that seems catered to both FMU and AQ listener/customer tastes!) The lineup:
We've got a heady mix of the heavy, damaged, darkly, punk, weird, noisy, poppy, trippy sounds, some hometown NY/SF heroes representing in Austin, and even a full on Cambodian psych-pop dance party at night's end. Check out the lineup, and a mix of audio from some of the aritsts who already have some music on the FMA
OUTDOOR STAGE (covered, rain or shine)
We're broadcasting live this Friday night 8PM to 3AM ET on WFMU, and we'll feature highlights for download here on the Free Music Archive. In the meantime, check out our 2009 and 2008 SXSW collections, with music from Obits, Gunslingers, XYX, Mayyors, Half Japanese, Homosexuals, and more
doncbruital on 03/16/2010 at 01:00PM
An all-timer of avant-garde creation myths is the one, apocryphal though it may be (all the good ones are), that tells of a conversation between Brahms and Mahler held along the Danube’s Vienna banks, wherein the former, decrying the state of contemporary composition, lamented for the lost spirits of Mozart and Beethoven and the long-gone golden age, in response to which der Mahler merely pointed to the river, noted it was impressive, sure, but that its flow ensured new waters for every consequent glance, so that one could never greet the same river twice. The Danube, yea though it may be immortalized time and again in story and song, doesn't even really exist, not as a changeless constant at least. So was it for music, constantly flowing, never at rest. Heraclitus, probably talking about a different river, nonetheless sez it best: "the river is never the same river, nor the man the same man."
Then there are those who get in on the river-flow act in different ways, not content to fight the current or transform with it or get dumped out into the Black Sea of time or, uh, wherever. Nah, some folks might be better thought of as prowling the edges, like a 'Big Ole Bear' of song on the lookout for prey, poaching discrete ideas and forms from the ever-shifting waters of musical tradition like a grizzly poaching those salmon from the river. And like poached salmon, the result is often weird and tasty. One such practitioner of a timeless mixture of musical forms is LITTLE HOWLIN' WOLF, whose presence on the FMA enables you, lucky listener, to get in touch with some of your own time-animal tendencies.
Little Howlin' Wolf's work is somehow simultaneously junkyard cutup from the American Folkways archives, noisy outstrumentation, and wild animal sound that'd be equally at home nowadays as in the days of neolithic river worship. There's lots of essential stuff on that FMA page, including the 2006 set from Brian Turner's show to which you had better just listen--I'll stop blathering, as I can't compete with the essential indescribability of these riverrun fragments--just start prowling 'em yourself.
TAGGED AS:little howlin wolf
herr_professor on 03/16/2010 at 09:42AM
Tonight marks the first of two chip music packed shows at Austin's Datapop, a collab between the Alamo Drafthouse, and 8bitpeoples. While not a SXSW event, the two-day free showcase is a nice bridge between the techy interactive aspect of the first week of SXSW and its older rockier musical component. Featuring act such as Hally, Bit Shifter, Nullsleep and more, the showcase is but a taste of the various chip related parties and showcases throughout the week. Official SXSW highlights include the 8bit cumbia fueled nudity of Meneo, Pains of Being Pure at Heart affiliated Depreciation Guild,and synthbreak wunderkin Talk To Animals.
It is always interested to see which of these acts are the "bubble" acts that break through to the "next level" of "rock fame", but you can saunter into the showcases and tell all your friends that you where there first! To get you started, we uploaded this SXSW mix with tracks from FMA chip artist appearing at the events, so enjoy and see you in seven!
andrewcsmith on 03/15/2010 at 05:02PM
Jon Rose, Australian violinist and instrument builder, played last week in the most virtuosic display of fence-playing I've seen in at least six months. His instrument, which he reconstructed at ISSUE for his first U.S. performance in around ten years, is an excerpt of the 3,500-mile Dingo Fence in Australia, built to keep the wild dogs away from the sheep. It also happens to be the world's longest fence, and one of the longest man-made structures on the planet.
Through the weekend, Rose switched between this fence and his violin, during improvisations with Zeena Parkins, Alex Waterman, and Miya Masaoka, and it was clear that he explored the sound of the fence just as he pushed the sound of his violin. No kitchy effects were taken for granted, or exploited for cheap thrills, but the sound of the amplified wire comes through. Always verging on some kind of slack-stringed chaos, the wires rattle just until Rose grabs a node on the string and stops all but a single harmonic.
It's really a sound that you have to hear, or even see, to get the full idea, as any limitations you might expect from a fence-instrument are just blown out of the water. For this, check out Rose's site with some extracts from his book's DVD, and the recording of his ISSUE performance below.
TAGGED AS:jon rose
Irene_Rible on 03/15/2010 at 02:00PM
I'll admit, my knowledge of Scandinavia in general doesn't extend much farther than my Pippi Longstocking veneration. Although, given Pippi's penchant for ingesting magic peas, taking off in makeshift bicycle powered flying contraptions, and other hallucinogenic adventures; I can imagine her feeling very comfortable with the ethics of her Finnish psych-folk neighbors.
I think the Finnish psych-folk scene owes a lot to the spirit of childhood. In a musical sense by their uninhibited manner of exploring the textures of sound within their songs without letting the restrictions of melody hold them back too far. Each sound breathes freely, often droning on in fascination as if heard for the first time. Often they even incorporate toy instruments and found objects into their milieu of traditional folk instruments and electronics.
But in a broader sense, there is something innocent about their music that is harder to find in America and makes the Finn's music particularly intriguing and I think novel for an American audience. Just like so many European children's television shows, their culture of childhood is rooted more in folklore and a natural wonder as opposed to our more commercialistic entertainment.
When I listen to most of these Finnish artists I envision dust covered puppet theatres and marionettes, all the dreams and nightmare's of childhood. Much like Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, the music captures not so much the vibrancy of actually being a child, but the vague and faded ghosts of our memories that haunt us later.
However, I think the innocence of the Finn's music isn't so general or personal, but feels almost like a collective remembrance of pre-civilization, like the sounds of buried pagan souls resting in their safety coffins, ringing the bells up on the surface just to let us know they're not dead yet. The underpinning of melancholy that is present in so much of the Finns' music (especially Islaja, similar to Nico's recordings before her) perhaps mourns the childhood of mankind and laments a severed connection as our species moves farther away from an intuitive state.
But the primordial innocence is paired symbiotically with a primordial dread. Just like all the fairy tales with reoccuring forest motifs, we are led to believe that the pagan forest contains many earthly delights, but don't stray too far because it can get very dark and nasty things lurk in the shadows. At some of their most evocative moments these songs sound like what the wind would whisper into your ear as you wander deeper and deeper into the woods of your subconscious.
Here on the FMA several Finnish bands have cropped up including Kemialliset Ystavat, Avarus, Kiila, Es, and adoptive Finn Fursaxa (she's really from Pennsylvania but appears on Finland's Fonal label on compilations such as Surrounded by Sun). Unfortunately, I missed Islaja and others from Fonal records when they collectively toured the United States in 2005, but you can listen to their performances from that tour on Brian Turner's show on WFMU and WNYC's Spinning on Air. A Finnish DIY cassette tape from the Lal Lal Lal label is also available to download from WFMU's Beware of the Blog and another out-of-print compilation can be downloaded from Lal Lal Lal's website.
Although the current Finnish scene claims to have no connection to their predecessor's from the Sixties and Seventies, Love Records has released three great compilations of Finnish psychedelic music from that era including Artic Hysteria, More Artic Hysteria, and Psychedelic Phinland which are also worth a listen.
While it is unfortunate that no Moomins roam our American forests or television sets, we do have an American counterpart to the Finns, with the Jewelled Antler Collective releasing mysterious, hand pressed psych-folk recordings that channel the woodland sprites of our own terrain. You can listen to one of those artists, Thuja, here on the FMA.
Jacklebee on 03/15/2010 at 11:00AM
Ranging from the melodic to the absurd, CTV is Christian Television is Joshua Inwood. Currently residing in Portland Oregon, CTV mixes, makes, tapes and tempers on his keyboards and laptops. Included in his soundscapes you can hear television chefs whirring chocolate mousse while simultaneously tasting a sweet absence of linear rhythms.
macedonia on 03/13/2010 at 12:59PM
I first came across the work of Graphiqs Groove last year via Mevio's Music Alley. Six months later, I still don't know that much about them, except that they hail from Japan and describe themselves as a sound creator, drummer, and graphic designer. Graphiqs places the emphasis squarely on the Groove for their selections, crafting machine-driven and rhythmically complex house, techno, and drum and bass. The song titles are all different colors such as "Reed Gray" and "Deep Sky Blue." Different moods and textures accompany each shade, their common thread being a jazzy aesthetic that shapes each arrangement.
It's good to see these pieces as part of the Free Music Archive. Hardcore gamers out there may get some Sega Genesis flashbacks listening to some of these songs: they wouldn't be out of place as part of the sound test for your favorite racing game. For today's featured track, take "Sea Green" out for a test drive...
jason on 03/12/2010 at 12:30PM
We surpassed the 18,000 mp3 milestone this week. That's nearly 4 times as much free quality audio as when we launched the FMA less than a year ago -- a lot to keep up with!
To break it down for you, we highlight a few gems from the FMA on this here blog (RSS), on Facebook, and on Twitter. And I've made a mix of some of the sounds that've bent my ear lately -- most of them uploaded within the past month or so.
We're curious to know -- how do you go about browsing the FMA? Do you browse By Curator? By Genre? Search for music that fits your Creative Commons criteria? Or do you just dive right in to the Recently Added RSS feed and hit Play? We're going to combine our browse functions (by curator and by genre) with our search filters and add a bunch of filters to make it easy for you to find music that fits your criteria. You can read more about what's in store here, and leave a comment to share your feedback
andrewcsmith on 03/12/2010 at 10:45AM
To kick off ISSUE’s Chamber Music Month, downtown regular Elliott Sharp brought himself and Italian-born conductor/composer/percussionist Andrea Centazzo out for a few excellent improvised sets. As one might expect, it’s all good—check out Centazzo’s three cymbal trees in the above picture. Although according to the Wikipedia Centazzo’s a “minimalist” composer he, like Sharp, never seems to fit into that box. What they do both take from Reich & Co., however, is a concern with the effect of repeated sound on the sound. What they don’t take is diatonic harmony and pure “process.”
That downtown improvisation departed in style and content from minimalism is nothing new. This music turns a fixed process into an arbitrary element, and in that it seems to break the mold. Any aesthetic element of minimalism that seeps in—repetition, strong rhythmic pulses, ebow drones—is arbitrary and bound to change, and seems in active discourse and even disagreement with its downtown friend.
In the very last improvisation (below) just a few minutes from the end, Centazzo begins to play repeating patterns on his hanging gongs (parts of a gamelan? I can’t quite tell—check the above picture) and the decay of the gongs never really meshes with the next attacks from his yarn mallets. For one, the yarn mallet does not cause the sound to instantly appear, but rather draws the sound out a split second later, by which point he’s already moved on to the next note. It’s like looking at a spinning wheel that looks like it’s beginning to spin backward, where no percussive hits really make it through—they’re coming too quickly—and instead the focus is not on the actual attack, but on the point at which the tone from the gong becomes audible as a tone.
This takes maybe a half-second, by which point Centazzo’s already made it just about through his loop. Additionally, this repetitive auxiliary percussion calls to mind a certain someone, but evokes no tonality or central pitch, or even mode. This is why I suggested gamelan; these non-equal-tempered tunings defamiliarize a very familiar percussion pattern (extra credit to anyone who transcribes and analyzes these pitches). This is important: as the attacks quieten, and as the mallet sounds soften, the inharmonic sounds take over, and draw ears in. The attacks melt together, like fondue. All important things become as one and the differences have disappeared.
Sharp’s playing is always enveloping, a virtuosic display meant not to impress, and a rarity of form and ethos among musicians. Too often, those with the technique compromise or use it to replace real content, because they can get away with it. But in this—in never seeking to impress, only to convey—Sharp is in a rare territory.