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wmmberger on 02/24/2010 at 11:15AM

T, H & D - Suite: Castle Blue Eyes; Towering Heroic Dudes live on WFMU's My Castle of Quiet, 17thFeb2010

THD_WFMU4a I would never dream of imposing my will upon any of the great musicians I've had on the air over the years (except to say, "uh, play now"), but I really wanted to title this session "Suite: Castle Blue Eyes." Why? Bad rock joke? Not necessarily, as Towering Heroic Dudes sit firmly on the wooden front porch of improvised noise; they're friendly, approachable guys, whose "organic" nature is plainly evident in their creations, which are basically lurching, giant paramecium in search of constant sonic nourishment. (Hell, I have no doubt THD have a lot more to offer socially than CS&N at their peak! Those guys were probably dicks! And why aren't THD playing the big, outdoor stage at the Sonoma Jazz Festival?)

MUoo2 copy I've been listening to this session over and over, and I continue to hear new layers of communication and activity each time I do. Gentle piano gives way to violence, metallic scrabbling accompanies vocal murmurs, and sheets of digital noise drive past like suspicious white vans. Enjoy!


THD have CDrs out on Obsolete Units and Phase! Records, and a tape on Cryptic Carousel.

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bondad on 02/23/2010 at 01:00PM

New Farmer (feat. Mia Doi Todd)

About a month ago, John gave me an album entitled Follow The Music: A Commemorative Sampler of Elektra’s Pre-Rock Era. Essentially a collection of folk music, I quickly became enamored with a number of different elements of these recordings. The intentional: the simple forms of the songs, the directness of the lyrical meaning. As well as the elements inherent of the time period in which they were recorded: The fuzzy, consonant-shy vocal sonority, the time constraints of recording vinyl, the hiss and scratch of vintage technology. Using all these elements as criterion for the composition, I began. This simple song encapsulates an entire relationship in three and one half minutes, and features one of Los Angeles’ most creative musicians, Mia Doi Todd.

I hope you enjoy “New Farmer”.


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los angeles
herr_professor on 02/23/2010 at 10:00AM

God is my Binärpilot

When the Micromusic trend first started gaining traction in the late 90's, a key aspect of it was blending of chip music with existing styles in a club friendly way. One of the earliest and most prolific of these early artists has to be Binärpilot. Similar in approach to Psilodump, Binärpilot takes chip instruments and produces them using the same tactics as an experienced club producer, allowing the chip sounds to more easily compete with their expensive mainstream cousins on the beefiest of systems.

Binärpilot also is a big fan of the free music movement, with every one of his releases available for free, as well included in this giant torrent on The Pirate Bay. His seminal Commodore64+ release Remember C64? is uploaded for your approval, enjoy my favorite track Otosclerosis, and see you next time.

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bennett4senate on 02/22/2010 at 01:00PM

Mardi Gras Hangover

I spent last week in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It was my first time there, but let me tell you, its a magical, musical place.

The young white music hipsters in the old-time jazz bands dress kinda like turn of the century baseball players (at least on stage), play washboards, and can smoke a cigarette for a whole song without changing facial expressions or ashing. One club over, a brother in an all white suit who sings like Stevie invites his uncle on stage - who just so happens to be Meters bassist George Porter Jr. - to join him in covering a Donny Hathaway song. Outside, a Cadillac with 26" rims, painted in stripes like a pack of Lifesavers, is parked in the middle of four lanes of traffic, with a chick in black tights 'walking the dog' on the bumper while the latest track chronicling the Saints' improbable Superbowl victory blares from the stereo. Slightly-too-peppy Christian missionary teen groups put on choreographed hip-hop dances in front of the cathedral, and a child prodigy trombonist is the frontman of a brass-rock jam band that just signed a 5 album deal.

After losing track of how many high school marching bands I had seen in the parades, and about halfway through my daiquiri-to-go (from a place called 'Jazz Daiquiri'), I was rid of any lingering doubts of New Orleans' status as a geyser of awesome musical expression.

The one act that I missed down there was Quintron and Miss Pussycat, the husband and wife duo who have been playing organ, soldering homemade drum machines, puppeteering, and hosting shows from their base of operations at the Spellcaster Lodge for some years now. I did catch their show at the New Orleans Museum of Art, which contains Miss Pussycat's puppets and Quintron's Drum Buddies. Quintron has moved his studio into the museum to record and album over the duration of the show, and surrounded himself with a nice selection of paintings from the museum's storage holdings.

Check out Quintron and Miss Pussycat's broadcast on WFMU from last year, Live from the Spellcaster Lodge on Sound and Safe with DJ Trent, or their 1995 Live WFMU Christmas Eve special right here on the FMA.

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new orleans, quintron
andrewcsmith on 02/22/2010 at 12:00AM

Steve Gunn, adding

Steve Gunn's playing shimmers like a raga-inspired blues, or maybe a blues-inspired raga. It seems like it's all plucked guitars, roots and open strings, and cymbals.

In this music, every beat is the same. There are moments, here and there, where it starts to feel like it settles into something like a simple rhythm, the threes and fours we're used to hearing. It doesn't take long, though, because Gunn turns it around again and the "accent" (or what we're used to hearing as an accent) is somewhere completely different. After this happens enough times, the mind just shuts off. There's no use trying to re-calibrate every five or ten seconds.

Or, properly, "that part" of the mind just shuts off: the part that likes to keep time. Not that likes time, but that likes to keep it, and package it, and remember it for later in more easily-digestible threes and fours. When that part acquiesces, there's an entire universe to be found–the universe that consists of addition, not multiplication—a universe that does not remember multiples.

Steve Gunn's latest work, Boerum Palace, is available as of last November from Three Lobed Recordings.

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mwalker on 02/19/2010 at 09:00AM

the collective consciousness

This Friday (2/19/10), ISSUE’s first-ever Artist-in-Residence Collective returns for their second monthly concert. The ensemble consists of Shannon Fields, Laura Ortman, Matt Lavelle, Shelley Burgon, Ryan Sawyer, and Jon Natchez (long-time collaborators from their 10+ years of work together in the now-concluded Stars Like Fleas). For the second residency concert, Jon Natchez and Matt Lavelle will present works to be performed by the collective. Shelley Burgon and Ryan Sawyer will lead the ensemble on 3/26/10.

To get everyone amped for the second installment of the residency, Shannon Fields and Laura Ortman have shared the recordings from their fantastic first performance. I‘ve included all three compositions from the show in a mix included below.

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JoeMc on 02/18/2010 at 09:00AM

The Wizard

One of the all-time great artistes of the accordion was a diminutive Sicilian immigrant with bad eyesight and a bum lip named Pietro Frosini. Although he was barely five feet tall, he stood head-and-shoulders above the players of his day. Even today, among accordionists, he is considered to be one of the greatest players who ever hoisted the instrument. He lived up to his renown as "The Wizard of the Accordion."

What made him so special? Well, technical facility for one thing. The dude could play rings around just about anybody. He wasn't just fast, but flawless, his playing almost liquid in its sure and smooth motion. Not only that, but he was doing it on a chromatic accordion, a beast harder to master than the standard piano accordion. Chromatic accordions rely on a button system instead of a keyboard system, with more complicated fingering patterns and other arm and wrist gymnastics. The buttons are set up on the chromatic scale of half-step intervals instead of the standard major and minor scales most employed by musical instruments. Frosini made playing this challenging instrument sound easy.

Frosini was indeed technically accomplished, but what makes him such a master is that he also had taste. His playing is rarely busy. Take a listen to his version of "Wedding of the Winds" and see if you don't agree, and then read on below for more about the "Wizard of the Accordion."

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jason on 02/17/2010 at 02:20PM

Hayvanlar Alemi's dubbed out Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara

Seems like all the world's a dub these days, and by and large that's a good thing. I've been wading deep into the underwater sounds of DJ /Rupture & Matt Shadetek, Titus 12, and a couple of the world's finest dub-oriented netlabels: LCL (Libre Comme Lair), and Jahtari. A lot of the stuff that's bending my ear lately has veered toward the electronicly manipulated sound. Which is a good thing too. But it's also one reason why it's so refreshing to hear Visions of Psychedelic Ankara, the newest album from Turkey's most awesome contemporary rock band.

I think of Hayvanlar Alemi as a modern continuation of the global psychedelic/folk/rock phenomenon of the late 1960s and early 1970s, an era of when the electric guitar melded with traditional musical influences around the world. Artists like Ersen and Selda in Turkey, Traffic Sound in Peru, Os Mutantes in Brazil, Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family in Zambia, Sinn Sissamouth and Pan Ron in Cambodia...

This first wave of international psych-rock is a major influence on Hayvanlar Alemi's music -- for example, their Demolar 2007-2008 drew inspiration heavy on sounds from "Cambodia, Malaysia, Bolivia and Japan, mutated African guitars, some post-rock ambiance, touches of surf and dub, and a live improv." Dub has always been an element in Hayvanlar Alemi's music, and it's brought to the forefront on Visions of Psychedelic Ankara. I highly recommend checking out all four of Hayvanlar Alemi's free albums here.

I'm working on a mix of dubbed out favorites from the FMA and beyond -- was hoping to make it part of this post but I think I'll take my time with it.

What dubbed out sounds have you been diggin lately? If you're craving more dub, have you checked out LCL (Libre Comme Lair)'s recent adds to the FMA? Holy smokes!

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DylanGoing on 02/17/2010 at 08:45AM



A nugget of not-so-distant history from 2006:

My band politely opened the show and played a decent, three song set that didn't have anyone jumping out of their skin but generated some polite comments afterwards. Mordstrahlen, the eastern European chopped-and-screwed hip hop cdj alias of Shawn Greenlee played between all the sets as people perused the liquor table full of Old Grandad of an indeterminate age that my friend, the estate cleaner/tomb raider, had found in he attic of someone recently deceased. The attic conditions didn't prove to be too kind on Old Grandad's finer notes and nuances so a mildly distressed, kerosene-smelling crowd politely waited for the next action-adventure rock band to play...and play they did.

One particular person was so excited about the playing that it suggested to him that the plastic lawn nativity virgin mother that was hanging around was not being smashed with enough garden hoes. Person, who happened to be the propietor of the space, took his trusty garden hoe and in the upswing, knocked the head off of the sprinkler, letting a violent black cloud of warehouse water out on the crowd, band, and vintage equipment. He disappeared and water kept filling the space for about twenty minutes while I ran several blocks down to find a wet-dry vac from my studio.

This was the second out of five acts set to play, two being on tour from Europe: Jason Forrest (aka DJ Donna Summer) with his band, and About from the Netherlands. We certainly couldn't have brought these nice people all the way out to not play, so we strung some extension cords (on the ceiling, for there were already a couple inches of water on the floor) and some lights to a part to the warehouse where there was a spot of raised cement about four inches high where a band could conceivably fit, completely dry. They fit, and they performed for the remainder of the crowd who danced enthusiastically in several inches of water. Nobody was electrocuted.

Anyway, moral of the story: however cold, bleak and socially anesthetizing this winter might be, check out Jason's take from the Peppermill Records compilation "Winter" and remember that you're probably not ankle deep in water right now.

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doncbruital on 02/16/2010 at 02:07PM

When Uniformity's Got U Down, U Can Unlearn Guitar

The realm of home recording may be a pretty righteous place, full of patron saints and young apostles and the whole liturgical bit, but it's no dour zone of straight-faced worship; in other words, no dress code in this cathedral, no way--home recording is really more of this paradise of impish subversion, where the boring mainstream is reliably mocked, slandered, and taken to task. Using tried-and-true guerilla methods, the underground can really make a go of winning the hearts and minds of the listening population, and though alright, the mainstream may occasionally push back, these losing-battle efforts usually look sort of dumb. Of course there's no doing away with home recording--it's the advancing industry's pace-keeping mischievous twin: for every Garageband, there's a Garbageland, and U CAN UNLEARN GUITAR, satirist saint in the ever-growing pantheon, will have the last laugh.

UCUG began life as the shadow project of a four-track band (called, yeah, U Can Learn Guitar) which harnessed guitar, turntables, and the Suzuki QChord's bank of corporation-imposed sounds and samples in an effort to explore with hyperbolic bravado the straight-faced world of overblown music. Before long the push to Unlearn subsumed its twin impulse, and Garageband and other feature-rich DIY enablers found their way into the project's anti-aesthetic maw. Using these and other tools of the master, UCUG's library of noisy subversion grew--and found a handily righteous partner in communicating its message, namely this here Free Music Archive. Indeed, the album Garbageland is, by ringleader Andrew Unlearny's admission, a direct result of the FMA's existence, it having placed instant feedback from the sacred underground within easy reach.

So light your candles or get down with a sacrifice or affect whatever mechanisms of worship you deem appropriate; there are, after all, 59 U Can Unlearn Guitar tracks up at the FMA, and such a gift deserves some thanks. Below you'll find the tiniest of samplings; the songwriterly and elegiac "High for the Hogs," the lifealteringly NSFW touring-blues anthem "58 Days on the Road" and the epic Garbageland manifesto "Newest Zong, BuhBuhBaybeee." I'd urge you, reader, not to stop here, but I'm certain you won't, not once you've heard the good news. The gospel of home recording's here to counter that industry spiel--unlearn it, brother, and preach on.

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