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doncbruital on 02/02/2010 at 02:45PM

I'd Like to Introduce Our Machines to You, but I Forgot Their Names

Few musical outfits navigate the borderlands of spacetime as nimbly as EXCEPTER does; fewer still are those whose means of producing music (electronic improvisation--that heady universe of conceptual exercise) comment so groovily on that music's end. It's real simple: Excepter uses their futurist setup--the vast majority of which comprises synthesized sound, artificial-like--to get at something real primal, real natural. All well and good--shouldn't all music work on a primal level?--except these folks take it a little further: their synthwash grooves propel the listener, y-yes indeed, to realms animalistic, realms kind of, w-well, savage.

We all know and can recite by heart, for example, their simple ode from 2008's Debt Dept. entitled, even more simply, "Kill People" (there's a video too). We can thrill to fistpump remixtrax from industry juggernauts Carter Tutti and J.G. Thirlwell. We can access their backcatalog of tropical coverart and free podcast archives. Obviously these guys are no slouches on the tech end of things, and yet despite or perhaps by dint of this obstinate propensity for mechanized means, the group's rawness sticks out, wild and unadulterated--enhanced, in fact--by all the electronic spookiness. An Excepter show (for instance) means being confronted not with a clean, standardized exercise of technological prowess, but a rabid and insatiable one; a shaggy, wild-eyed (and wild-hatted) critter, all the more dangerous for those thunderous beats and synthattacks it seems so prone to pounding and howling into unholy existence. Unlike any other electroacoustic progenitors I can think of, Excepter takes hold of that staid improvised form, wrestling it from its button-down gallery atmosphere and installation hoitytoitiness, and it makes the thing scary.

Hours of this stuff is available on the band's FMA page, as well as via their own internet presence (go to their website, click around). They've a new album a scant two weeks away from release, and in a universe wherein noise-improv-ers stubbornly barrage the market with release after release after drab release, theirs is a prolificacy you can trust. So go for it, mirror Excepter's brave savagery-through-tech model, and take a computer ride into the wilderness.

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herr_professor on 02/02/2010 at 09:00AM

Lighter than Air

Memoria Textil cover

Balún are quite different from many of the artists in the chip music scene, even the exceptional ones picked by myself (humility). They are a mixed gender four piece from San Juan, Puerto Rico who "build electro-acoustic melodies for imaginary films". The chip console sounds is just one detail in their complex arrangements that include acoustic instruments, vocals, electronics, and a wonderful sense of space and ambiance that is often missing from the more traditional chip musician's work.

Uploaded for your perusal is an earlier free EP from Observatory Online, that only hints at their tiny wall of sound that is expanded upon in the just released Memoria Textil, out today on their Bandcamp page as a pay what you want download.

We are still working on Blip Festival uploads, so more on that next week, in the meantime enjoy the title track from 'While Sleeping".

See you in seven!

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andrewcsmith on 02/01/2010 at 02:30PM

The Necks (a two-night engagement)

The Necks: Night One / Set Two

It’s not so much hearing things happen. It’s more like noticing that things have changed, and now it’s time to re-assess your surroundings. It’s not so much listening for individual motivic and textural changes. It’s more like looking at time-lapse photography. It’s not so much seeing it all happen sped up. It’s more like looking at each image for a full minute or two. It’s not so much like noticing the movement of forms in the photo. It’s more like noticing the movement of color and shadows, whether random or patterned.

As a direct consequence of stretching one moment into such a duration, the slightest changes become tectonic shifts.

The Necks’ music comes in pockets, in revolutions per second that sometimes are very slow, and other times are very fast. Still other times, slow moments are superimposed on percussion patterns approaching twenty Hertz, the lower range of audible frequency. Phantom sounds come from Chris Abrahams’ piano strings, or maybe from Lloyd Swanton’s bass bowing in the upper registers. They could also be coming from how Tony Buck drags a cymbal across another cymbal.

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jason on 02/01/2010 at 08:30AM

CBC Radio 3 on the Free Music Archive

CBCRadio3Please welcome CBC Radio 3 to the Free Music Archive!

CBC Radio 3 is a service of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation with a focus on emerging Canadian music. Alongside their pioneering efforts in webcasting, podcasting, and satellite broadcasting, CBC Radio 3's website offers a free on-demand library of streaming music from over 20,000 Canadian artists. With a unique curatorial focus, CBC Radio 3 is expanding the definition of radio, so we're proud to welcome them to the Free Music Archive!

CBC Radio 3 kicks things off with live tracks from Caribou, Destroyer, Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, Feist, K'naan, Neko Case, Islands, Thunderheist, Do Make Say Think, The Sadies, Sloan, and many more. Check out their "Additive Free Canadian Blend" mix after the jump, and dig in to CBC Radio 3's FMA portal.

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jason on 02/01/2010 at 12:00AM

January 2010 Free Music re-cap

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andrewcsmith on 01/29/2010 at 01:05PM

Tony Conrad's Microscope

The harmonic series (from

More from Tony's brain today: this one comes from the MIVOS Quartet's June 2009 performance at ISSUE that also featured Luke DuBois's string quartet "Hard Data." Tony Conrad's "Minor" takes a 31-pitch-to-the-octave scale (a step up from the usual twelve), and fairly common harmonies become unfamiliar.

The first chord sounds, then the second, in an angular harmonic move like something from late Wagner, and back to the first chord again. Or, wait, it sounds like a new chord now--the microtonal inflections giving each chord a different vector and acceleration, like looking at the same object at dusk instead of dawn.

The contentious history of the "minor" scale might have something to do with this. Harry Partch, whose influence trickled down through La Monte Young (and many, many others), used an "undertone" scale as well as an "overtone" scale. In this tuning, the composer would (essentially) multiply the base pitch by whole numbers for a major scale, and divide the base pitch for the minor scale. Young, on the other hand, just used the upper-reaches of the major scale (the multiples 6, 7, and 9) to form the minor triad: there were many more different conceptions of "minor" theorized in the 20th century alone, which is not to mention that the minor chord was the number one roadblock for just about every tuning theorist since "minor" came into being.

Tony Conrad uses these "minor" tunings and more to defamiliarize the scale as we know it. For this performance, the MIVOS Quartet detuned their instruments ("scordatura") so that they could play in the same hand positions to reach strange notes on mistuned strings. The performance resonates with the open strings, and feels less like moving through standard chromatic harmony than like looking through a microscope at a large object and trying to keep the whole thing in your head at once.

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tony conrad
jason on 01/28/2010 at 06:30PM

This is a JAM! Gunhead

This is one of four great tracks from Gunhead's Every Chimpanzee Step EP. It's a free EP, released on the amazing Maltine Records netlabel out of Japan last fall. For more from this killer netlabel, check out the previous feature on Quarta330, and a few more selections from their vast archives here on the FMA, or dive into

Gunhead is a member of Kawasaki, Japan hip-hop crew Leopaldon, and his personal myspace is here. According to lastfm, Gunhead is an "obscure 90s trance artist with a few releases on compilations in the mid-90s, most notably on the White Label series."

This track was featured on my Stuck In a Groove Mix, some of my favorite jams from 2009, check 'em out after the jump

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lizb on 01/28/2010 at 09:00AM

Italian Motormouth, Zona MC

I must admit, for a brief moment, I considered populating my New Year's Eve party playlist with nothing but Italo Disco. With song titles like "Girl On Me," "Droid," "Spacer Woman," "Sex Tonight," and (my fave) "How Old Are You," plenty of fine examples from this genre surely started some parties back in the '70s and '80s.

In the years following Giorgio Moroder's reign, Italian electronic music has mainly evolved into house/club music or the occasional pop dance tune suited for Eurovision.

Naturally, I was excited to discover Italian rapper Zona MC on the FMA, whose style I can only hope is indicative of a new wave of Italo beats. Breakcore, slightly experimental-leaning hip-hop, with the fastest motormouth rapper that I've heard in a long time.

Take a listen to "Non puoi toccarti se sei omofobico" all the way through, and I think you'll be hard-pressed to come across a faster mouth.

Zona MC appears on the FMA courtesy of the Homezero label, featuring European copyleft artists.

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beats, italo, italy
jason on 01/27/2010 at 01:22PM

Celebrating Haitian Rara with Djarara, Alan Lomax, and the Other Side of the Water documentary film

Djarara, "the only sustained rara band in America", performs in summer 2008 (photo © Other Side of the Water [source])

Barbés is hosting a celebration of Haitian rara music this Thursday night. From the Barbés site:

Rara is festival music usually played by marching bands. The music is played on drums and homemade bamboo horns (sometimes replaced by PVC pipes) and is often associated with certain aspects of Vaudou rituals. it's also a purely celebratory music which can have political and protest overtones.

This event was inspired by the re-issuing of Alan Lomax in Haiti, a legendary set of recordings commisioned by the Library of Congress in 1936-1937. At 7pm, the event begins with a presentation of recordings from this 10-disc box set.

The event also features a performance by Djarara, New York City's premier Haitian rara group, who have been active for two decades. Djarara performed live from Barbés this past September, with their amazing array of PVC pipe horns, in an event that was broadcast on WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise. Two medleys from the performance can be heard below.

Djarara is "the only sustained rara band in America" according to the producers of The Other Side of The Water, a new documentary film that follows the group "through a hidden New York landscape of vodou temples, underground economies, violent politics, and ground-shaking music." The documentary is co-produced by Magi Damas and director Jeremy Robins, whose previously collaborated on the 2004 documentary "The Cause of Pierre Toussaint". The Other Side of the Water will screen at Thursday's event, and you can watch a preview after the jump >>

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jason on 01/27/2010 at 12:15AM

Chandeliers: Activity EP

The Chandeliers - Activity EP (Captcha Records fka HBSP-2X) Spring 2010 / split w. Lazer Crystal

Clearly the Chandeliers keep getting better with every release. Their new Activity EP (to be released in the future, on Captcha Records, fka HBSP-2X) will be issued as a split w/ fellow neon Shape Shoppe Chicago contemporaries Lazer Cystal.

This new stuff reminds me of futuristic beat deconstructers like Raleigh Moncrief, but more subversively funky. And in-league with fellow Chicago natives and collaborators like Icy Demons, Bronze, Michael Columbia, Lazer Crystal (who'll be on the other side of the Activity EP), and Mahjongg. More from the Chandeliers on their blog, tumblr, or after the jump

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