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Spark on 04/21/2010 at 06:00AM

Spark: Creative Commons Playlist

The latest addition to our guest curation series comes from Spark, "a weekly audio blog of smart and unexpected trendwatching" from CBC.


My name is Dan Misener, and I work on Spark, Canada's national technology/culture show from CBC Radio. I'm delighted to have been asked to participate in the Creative Commons curation project at the Free Music Archive. From its first episode in the fall of 2007, Spark has extensively featured CC-licensed music. Let me tell you why:

What the Web Sounds Like

A few years ago, the staff of Spark were preparing to make our very first episode of the show. We knew we wanted Spark to be more than a traditional broadcast radio program. We wanted it to be a collaboration and a conversation -- a platform for exploring the intersection of technology and culture. We wanted to embrace the values of online culture to talk about online culture. And as we worked on our first episode, one question we kept asking ourselves was, "What does the Internet sound like?" As it turns out, the Internet sounds an awful lot like the best CC-licensed music: collaborative, remixable, and constantly evolving.

Equality for podcasts and broadcasts

Here in Canada, using music in podcasts can be tricky business. Though rights and licensing agreements are in place for terrestrial broadcasts, that's not yet the case for podcasts. The result is that many over-the-air radio programs use commercial music, which must be removed or replaced for the podcast version. Usually, this means extra work, recutting a show so it's "podsafe."

When we started Spark, we were very keen to create a single, definitive version of the show for online and on-air. We didn't want our podcast to be a watered-down, "lite" version of Spark. We put a lot of time and attention into researching, writing, editing, and mixing Spark every week, and the quality of the end product shouldn't suffer because of the distribution mechanism.

Spreadability, linkability

One of the great unintended consequences of using CC music on Spark has to do with the Attribution condition. Of course, artists deserve credit for their work, and each week, we post links to the music and artists featured on the show. If listeners hear a tune they like, they can easily find out who wrote it and download their very own copy. This is a win-win-win for the listener, the show, and the artist. Listeners get pointers to great CC-licensed music, Spark gets exposure on sites like CCMixter (via trackbacks), and the artists get heard by hundreds of thousands of people on Canadian public radio.


Dan Misener is a producer on Spark, the national technology/culture show from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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jason on 04/19/2010 at 08:43PM

Chechnya on a dance floor w/ Nambavan

Greatest It -- the multi-netlabel collaborative greatest hits compilation to which Cock Rock Disco, Ego Twister, Peppermill, Proot, UpItUp and WM Recordings each contributed three tracks -- has garnered some nice mentions in The Guardian (alongside Notorious B.I.G.) and Rhizome (where UpItUp label-head Tracky Birthday was a former Fellow) along with countless more sites world wide. As it should!

But those 18 songs are just the tip of a massive net-audio iceberg that we're chiseling at (or swimming through?) every day to find the treasures buried within. There are 1,434 netlabels indexed by the Internet Archive's collection, and countless more still hiding out there somewhere online. Many of these netlabels are both well-curated and astoundingly prolific, like the mighty Clinical Archives -- now on its 372nd release.

<-- a cool track off WM022 (pictured above)

WM Recordings -- the most prolific of the aforementioned six -- is currently at WM107 with the NetLabel Coalition's debut compilation (which is itself a very cool release/project, worthy of its own post). WM Recordings was started in 2004 by Marko Kalnenek, who was an active contributor to the pioneering Comfort Stand netlabel, and also runs Weirdo Music and Balkan Brass World.

When a label's this prolific, sometimes it takes a great DJ to really highlight the music within its proper context. Someone like Charlie Lewis, who used to host Monday mornings on WFMU, and is still doing radio up in Vermont at WVEW-LPFM. He's posting downloads for his show, titled Busy Doing Nothing, and it's been nice to hear Charlie drawing some pod-safe material from the FMA, especially since he was also active in the netlabel scene as part of Comfort Stand. And after hearing him contextualize this Cream-inspired Nambavan jam in the midst of a freeform radio show, I logged in to the FMA and hit the star-shaped "Fan" button on Nambavan's FMA profile.


Nambavan hails from the Russian republic of Tatarstan, and the above two tracks can be found on his album Chechnya on a Dance Floor. The album is technically "Part 1", cuz there's also this Part 2 nonstop mixtape of instrumental jams.

"Liver", a track off of Sex Drugs and Russian Girls, also appeard on the WM Recordings split w/ Rallehand Records. And "You Should Be Dancing Dub" is a track off the much more experimental and glitchy Last Night the DJ Shaved My Ass.

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efd on 04/19/2010 at 02:07PM

The Laureates play live at WFMU

Chad of The LaureatesLast Tuesday I posted a Facebook status update about the live set by The Laureates that I was airing on my show that night. In an effort to convey the catchy musical smarts that would be on display, I wrote "A must for fans of Sloan, GBV, Big Dipper, the Kinks, etc. etc." Then, realizing a (slightly) more succinct way to put it, I added "or: 'A must for fans of songs that are good.'"

The Laureates began germinating at the end of 2005, when singer/guitarist Chad Preston wrote a collection of songs that he subsequently recorded on his ownCrawfie and Pete of The Laureates as a lo-fi album of sorts. Inspired by that initial effort, Preston set about putting together the right band to really do justice to the music. By early 2007, the band was complete: Pete Gray and Crawfie Ward had joined as the rhythm section, and guitarist Adam Penly finally rounded out the combo. The band's first EP (available for free download) was released later in 2007, and it subsequently became a staple of my show. "I Want To Miss You" was the standout track to my ears, but the rest of the EP was certainly no slouch -- as evidenced by another track on the EP, "Witching Boots," attaining the highly coveted "Song I heard on the Evan "Funk" Davies show on WFMU and immediately thought 'I must have this'" slot on the Unblinking Ear blog's 2007 roundup.

 As it turned out, The Laureates were just getting started. A full-length CD, There Are No More Gentlemen, was released in November 2008, and it proved that the songwriting chops displayed on the EP were no fluke -- as did the No Kontrol EP (available for free download), released earlier this year. The band will be returning to the studio soon to start working on a new album, and the new songs they played in this session are a strong indication that it'll be another gem. Give a listen and I think you'll agree.

Chad and Adam of The Laureates

Special Blog Bonus! Throughout 2010, The Laureates are posting a cover song each month to their website. So far, they've released covers of songs by the Breeders, Troggs, Soft Boys and Velvet Underground. They performed the VU song live during their WFMU session, and you can grab that MP3 right here:

The Laureates - "I Can't Stand It"

Thanks to Diane Kamikaze for engineering the session.


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MartyMcSorley on 04/18/2010 at 02:56PM

CSC Funk Band Live On Marty McSorley's Show

When flipping though singles in the new bin how do you not pick up a 45 for a band that has got 4 alternate names on it? CSC Funk Band, aka CSC Racket, aka Newtown Creek Playboys, aka Thrift Store Find, aka Fuck The Funk Band. Whatever they want to call it their Bad Banana Bread single has been burning holes in my playlists ever since. 

By any name CSC is the real deal, a sweet spaced out, minimalist, heavy psyche funk collective rolling nine deep, compiled by Colin Langenus from USA is a Monster and Matt Motel from Talibam! which features many of the finest from the Brooklyn underground. Including Dave Kadden (Invisible Circle) playing an effected obo that will send your brain into opium-drenched wanderings though your wildest Ethiopique dreams. Plus Jimmy Thomson (GWAR) on percussion, keeping time that will blow your mind, moving in and out of sick boogaloo breaks and head bobbing struts that are so good they make you want to smack a sucka.

We have been hearing all kinds of great throw back funk and soul coming out of Brooklyn for minute now. While the Dap-Tone/Truth and Soul crowd go after the funk with style, class and sick matching outfits, CSC forgets all that and takes the George Clinton approach (+ more acid) and just wants to get funked up, taking a riff, finding their groove and pounding your jaded DIY loft dwelling ass into dance floor submission. And that’s where my like turned to love, while I was being forced into an epileptic dance fit at Market Hotel (R.I.P.) on an Todd P bill where CSC was opening for Awesome Color and Tyvek. After speaking to Colin for a minute and exchanging some emails with Jimmy I was stoaked to be able to bring them up to the WFMU studios for a live set. Big thanks to Jason Sigal recording the session.

Check out the live set and if you dig what you hear head on down to Issue Project Room on Monday April 19 where CSC Funk Band will be playing with Greg Ginn and the Taylor Texas Corrugators as part of Matt Motel’s artist in residency or on Tuesday 4/20 at Zebulon.

Also be on the look out for their new 7’’ split with Superhuman Happiness (Mem. of Antibalas) on Electric Cowbell Records.

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macedonia on 04/17/2010 at 12:22PM

Kieran's Angel Echoes (and memories of Steve...)

Kieran Hebden a.k.a. Four Tet.

I was at work on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 when I got the news that legendary drummer Steve Reid had passed away.  Not even a week after the death of Malcolm McLaren, my heart was heavy that day.  With all of the amazing accomplishments that Reid achieved during the course of his life (as well as the wealth of talented musicians he played with), I can't help but think of his collaborations with Kieran Hebden a.k.a. Four Tet.  Their conversations between drums and electronics were something really special and it caused me of have Four Tet on the brain while Reid was on my heart.

It was about five years ago that I went to see an in-store appearance by Four Tet at Other Music in New York City.  Surrounded by an arsenal of keyboards, drum machines and effect boxes, it was there that I witnessed first hand his love for improvisation.  Even while performing songs like "Smile Around The Face" or "Sun Drums and Soil," the random bursts of noise threatened to run some onlookers out of the place.  It was as if Hebden was saying to the crowd, "If one of you refer to what I do as 'folktronica' one more time..."

For all of the melody and beauty his recordings possess, it was clear that Four Tet wasn't interested in his performances sounding just like the record.  There was an element of "OUT" that was being unleashed.  He wanted the music to get "free."  By that rationale, it was only a matter of time before he would cross paths with Steve Reid.  I will forever be in debt to Kieran Hebden: it was through him that I was introduced to Reid's music.  Both volumes of The Exchange Sessions remain phenomenal recordings in my mind, these one-take moments of unbridled energy.  You can tell the chemistry that Hebden and Reid had together just by listening to those albums.  They didn't have to exchange words; all they had to do was meet up in the music.

"Angel Echoes" is the opening cut from Four Tet's latest album, There Is Love In You.  This version was recorded live in the studios of KEXP earlier this year and aptly showcases Hebden's on-the-fly performance style.  The beats that usher us in to this selection slowly give way to sparkling tones and vocal cut-ups, making this song one of his most touching and poignant selections.  Put this one on and think of the living legacy of Steve Reid's music as well as the continuing tradition of rhythmic freedom that Four Tet provides within his own...

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andrewcsmith on 04/16/2010 at 12:11PM

More from the Porter Records Showcase

Matt Bauder (center) with his ensemble

Last week’s Nate Wooley post neglected to mention that his performance was part of a Porter Records showcase (I have an excuse: his performance had little to do with his fantastic Porter Records release, Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing, which includes electronics, cello, and bass).

Florida-based Porter Records, founded in 2005 by Luke Mosling as a way to reissue bits of his record collection that were no longer around, has since released recordings encompassing free jazz/improv, electronic, hip hop, international, and otherwise experimental music.

March 23 and 24 saw six sets of these performances at ISSUE, some of which were taken straight from Porter CDs and others that went in a different direction. Best of all, something close to the entire cast of musicians came to both nights, and almost all of them played in Matthew Welch’s Blarvuster Big Band. The two sets for today are somewhere between improvisation and composition, and it’s tough to tell when exactly they cross that line.

The first, from Matt Bauder’s May 18 release on Porter Records, is “Paper Gardens.” Bauder’s modular suite pivots between soft chords that seem to undulate without moving and moments where the saxes turn into other, more percussive instruments. Bauder plays with his woodwind group—the four wind players rotate through two tenor saxes, two clarinets, soprano sax, alto sax, and a bass clarinet, accompanied by an upright bassist—and he seems on a mission to detach the instrument from its jazz connotations.

The momentary cells in Bauder’s music repeat a few times, then arbitrarily stop. Beginning many of his sections with unisons allows Bauder to slowly branch out into clusters and sometimes even chords; he treats all motions as timbral rather than harmonic shifts. Many of the moments seem to break away from written material, like they are working with a theme or instruction rather than notation.

The second set for today, from Matthew Welch’s Celtic/funk/post-minimalist Blarvuster  Big Band, takes a little bit from a few different continents. The bagpipes figure heavily in Welch’s “Blind Piper’s Obstinacy #1,” where the seemingly-unending lines are transformed into time signature-unbound funk bass lines that meander without ever really finding a pocket to rest in. Under all this, a huge ensemble entwines lines in every direction before coming back to the occasional short unison riff. This recording features Welch’s regular-sized Blarvuster along with all five other artists from the two-night stint: Bauder, Wooley, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Jeremiah Cymerman, and Katherine Young.

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katya-oddio on 04/16/2010 at 09:00AM

Charles-Valentin Alkan's Opuses 25 and 31

Alkan's music frequently displays idiosyncratic features, including nonstandard key signature and pedal notation, as seen in this extract from the 2nd movement of the sonata Les Quatre Âges.

Brazillian pianist Felipe Sarro performs Opus 25 Alleluia and Opus 31 Préludes by French Romantic composer Charles-Valentin Alkan.

Alkan, one of the greatest virtuoso pianists of his day, was a friend and contemporary of Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin. He was a child prodigy, entering the Paris Conservatoire at the age of six. Alkan was a favorite of his teacher, Joseph Zimmermann, who also taught fellow composers Georges Bizet, César Franck, Charles Gounod, and Ambroise Thomas. In his twenties, Alkan was a famous virtuoso and teacher in elegant social circles. Liszt once stated that Alkan had the finest piano technique of anyone he knew. This Romantic composer was a luminary of his time.

Felipe Sarro began his musical training at the age of eight and studied at Academia Musical Fátima and Santa Cecília Musical Conservatory. In this album on the FMA, Sarro performs Alkan's Opus 31 Alleluia (1844) and Opus 25 Préludes dans touts les tons majeur et mineurs (1847) in entirety.

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doncbruital on 04/15/2010 at 02:30PM

Über „To Live and Shave in L.A.“

The task of the blogger is hardly monumental, his works rarely of earth-shattering importance or clarion-call-heeding necessity. There's no reason for you, reading this, to trust that I've got much in the way of a messianic charge underlying my ideas, animating my words, urging me on to write what I do. No sense in the snake-oil-grimed claim that the result of this here pronouncement will, if taken to heart, alter your very perceptions, change your life, that whole bit. No reason, maybe, save my musical subject this week--and so I guess I'm asking a little leap of faith on your part, reader, when I say that you should drop everything, now, and get to checking out all the TO LIVE AND SHAVE IN L.A. that's up here on the FMA. I mean it; eschew your responsibilities, drive out all distraction. Do nothing else until you've listened to it all. As in, folks, if you're still reading once this paragraph ends, you'll have failed.

So I'll assume by now you've done your homework, and see why I had to be a bit pushy about it; I mean, ain't it just the best? I don't bluff: as the work of TLASILA constitutes the firm bedrock of any and all avant-noisey musics what've shook fleetingly across the tectonics of the underground in the last twenty years, nothing but complete surrender to the soil will do the trick. No band has done more to explore, map out, and claim the farthest corners of this thing we do--we diligent and focused listeners of what others might style 'trashy old noise'--and yet no band brings those marginal treasures back to feed the hungry masses with more wit (dig that Ron Jeremy-inspired band name) more elegance, more of that healthy optimistic iconoclasm that constitutes the task of any practitioner of 'degenerate art.' "Genre is obsolete," sez TLASILA; and then they prove it.

And they do it again and again; indeed, Tom Smith (whose always fantastic TLASILA blog is required reading) and his rotating spheres of disparate musical collaborators have set up in the hallowed halls of WFMU more than a little, and their available sets from Brian Turner's show are no less than full album performances, documents of hit after hit after hit--enough to rival any warped Sun Sessions record to share with posterity (and only if it's been in the sun long enough). That these degenerate artists have offered their wares on the FMA is a real cause for celebration; TLASILA, besides being wildly influential, is an immensely positive force for any creator--rigorously grounded in theoretical and experiential knowledge and anticopywritten as it is (dig a handy article here, kids, and rip it off for yer term paper).

True culture heroes one and all, TLASILA's members offer a veritable how-to for navigating the wild and wooly underground. Get to listening, reader, and follow.

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lizb on 04/15/2010 at 09:00AM

Muddy beats

Fell upon a track by Tha Silent Partner a few weeks ago and find myself going back to his page on the FMA for more (and more and more...). TSP is Gregory Davis, from the UK originally, but now residing in Boston.

TSP's tunes are mostly hip-hop beats and cut-ups, downtempo, muddy, and scratchy songs you could spend all day listening to. In fact, thanks to BlocSonic, we've got a whopping 82 tracks by Tha Silent Partner for your enjoyment.

I find TSP's instrumentals particularly amazing (two of my faves are posted below), and if you're an independent producer, get in touch with TSP... you might be able to talk him into letting you use a track or two in your next video or radio piece.

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beats, boston
Nat_Roe on 04/14/2010 at 01:33PM

10 Live at WFMU

When Japanese laptop noisician Marqido came through Rob Lim's Janitor From Mars program five years ago, Marqido probably never would have foreseen the musical direction he would take when returning to my program last week with his duo 10.  South Korean crooner Itta began collaborating with Marqido several years ago after Marqido toured through Seoul's experimental venue Yogiga.

As 10, the duo is just finishing up their first American tour, promoting their recent album, Kitsch.  Fans of 10 will be surprised by this live session (or by any of their live concerts for that matter), since 10's electro-pop is highly improvisatory.  Each of the three performances I've seen personally in the past weeks have been completely different.  Wave No Wave is taken at half tempo on this recording, for instance, and all the songs are significantly lengthened.  Marqido makes great use of an optical theremin (which is already at the top of my Christmas wish list) and feeds Itta's vocals and both members' keytars through Logic on his laptop.  10 has been one of my favorite mutant-pop bands for a few years now (especially their album Nomad), so it's been particularly illuminating to see the free improv that underlies the pristine, taut pop on their recordings.

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