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jason on 02/10/2010 at 01:51AM

Human Workshop: a digital music hybrid

As their Octopus logo implies, Human Workshop has many tentacles. They are at once a commercial CD label, a free netlabel, an E-Zine, and a sound design company. Based out of the Netherlands but with core crew members also living in Germany and the UK, HWS is a team of sound designers, music producers, web developers, and composers operating in a range of electronic and organic sound.

On the one hand, HWS has done original sound design and production for companies like Nike and the BBC, and their site offers a mix of quality stock music for commercial companies. On the other hand (the left one), Human Workshop offer gigabytes worth of their catalog for free under Creative Commons licenses. This allows noncommercial producers to make creative interpretations of HWS releases and encourages other promotional use. On yet another hand (or octopus tentacle), HWS keeps an E-Zine for fellow producers, sound designers, musicians, and "intellectual gangsters" -- like Free VST Plug-Ins and a nice article about the FMA.

Just as the collective's octopus-style approach is enabled by the Internet era, their music is also product of these digital times. As Durk aka ThorLtd writes, "in my music I use sound design as an instrument"(source)

Some HWS artists incorporate elements of plunderphonics into their compositional approach, and use their freely distributed net-releases to showcase their DJ skills. For example, Daan Hendriks specializes in video game music, but listen to his live set at the Jetto Festival and it's clear that he's a skilled sculpter of sound.

The title of "Akira vs. Konono" may sound like a mashup, but rather serves to acknowledge sonic inspiration as the distorted likembe sample is used to paint an entirely different song. This is DJ-ing as an art -- digital sound used to express a new sonic idea that could not be created from scratch.

Mentz - "Tumble" (03:57)
Mentz - "Tumble" (03:57)
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herr_professor on 02/09/2010 at 12:29PM

Da! Heard it yet?

With all our Blip Festival uploads, we nearly missed noticing the arrival of Da! Heard it Records to the FMA. Having already been around for a few years, focusing on "Toyz-Pop, Electro Trash, Chiptune, Breakcore and Electro Punk among others, with a heavy leaning towards 8-bit music and pixel/net art."

Artists include the aforementioned Computer Truck, Goto80, Eat Rabbit, and Tom Woxom, but one of my personal favorites on the label have to be elechiptro-punks Ben Et Béné. The french duo, active since 2003, has many free releases scattered throughout the net (check out this rad remix of document1 by Lo-bat).

As far as their FMA release goes, check out Brest, from their Trip to Trip ep, and see you guys next week!

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pushbinlou on 02/08/2010 at 10:27PM

Ears Wide Open: Computer Truck

Image by Brittany G

So are you down with some electro party music from France?  In my search for some on FMA I chanced upon these great tracks from Computer Truck (Julien Daigremont) which perfectly fit the bill. 

Rock the Boulevard, Reach the Bourgeois is Computer Truck's first full length which was released in 2006 by Da! Heard It Records and offered up here on the good old FMA.  This is a great release full of sweet lo-fi electro rave-ups with a touch of noise here and there.  Check out "Complimenti" and enjoy.

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computer truck, electro
jason on 02/08/2010 at 06:00PM

Anticipate Recordings @ Unsound Festival: Ezekiel Honig & Sawako

Anticipate Recordings is putting on a showcase tonight at Littlefield in Brooklyn. There will be live music from Ezekiel Honig, Sawako, Alexander Kaline, a DJ set by Borne, and visuals by Joshue Ott (details).

The Anticipate night is part of the NY incarnation of Poland's esteemed Unsound Festival, which is hitting venues throughout the city with an exciting set of music, art, and workshops until Feb 14 (check out ISSUE Project Room's write-up for more).

Anticipate was founded in 2007 by Ezekiel Honig, a NY-based electronic musician and sound designer. A few months ago, Pushbinlou featured Ezekiel Honig's It's Getting Cold Outside EP, released on Philadelphia's Unfound Sound netlabel in 2005 (not to be confused with Unsound Festival!). Here's a track form that EP

Anticipate is primarily a label dealing in physical objects -- some limited to as few as 50 copies, others distributed far and wide through Kompakt. In 2007, they released a free Creative Commons set of field recordings Japanese-born sound sculptor Sawako, recorded while on tour around the world. It was released under a Creative Commons Attribution license, encouraging the world to remix. The first volume of remixes featured members of the extended Anticipate family, including tracks from Sawako herself, Ezekiel Honig, and this one from Portland-based artist Strategy (Community Pool tapes, Kranky), while the second volume (cover art pictured above-left) featured a set of highlights from the CC-powered open call for submissions.

Last year, Sawako stopped by WFMU for a live performance on Bethany's Stochastic Hit Parade, which was featured by PushbinLou here.

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mwalker on 02/08/2010 at 08:30AM

unsound of mind

Bora Yoon

Unsound Festival New York kicked off last Thursday evening (2/4) – marking the first incarnation of the innovative performance and lecture series outside its homeland of Poland. Founded in Kraków in 2003 by curator Mat Schulz, Unsound Festival explores the intersections between “electronic, experimental, independent, post-classical, and club music scenes.” After only four days time, the festival is already crowded with stunning highlights. I caught the opening night show at Lincoln Center featuring a terrific set from Finnish DJ/composer/drummer Vladislav Delay (whose Tummaa album was probably my fav release of 09) in collaboration with German video artist Lillevan. Still recovering (in a variety of ways) from a startlingly fresh sequence of programming at Le Poisson Rouge last night: performances of classical music touchstones Pictures at an Exhibition (Moussorgsky) and Bolero (Ravel) were followed by an absolutely resplendent, mind-blowing set of abstract electronic improvisations from the North American debut of the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, featuring surprise guests Francois K (!) and Carl Craig (!!).  Levon Vincent closed the event with a blistering DJ set that carried on until the very early morning hours (I’m lame and only made it until about 3:30am…)

ISSUE Project Room will host two events in the festival this week. The “Electronic Bridge” program on Tuesday night (2/9) serves as the first in a thread of thematic shows under the Eastern Promise banner, seeking to highlight a number of important Eastern European artists generally underexposed in the U.S. The “Electronic Bridge” will feature a diverse array of experimental electronic music from Zavoloka (Ukraine) and Zenial (Poland), as well as a set from NY local Bora Yoon in collaboration with composer R. Luke DuBois on the live video tip. To whet appetites for what should be a fantastic show, I’ve compiled a dope little mix featuring works from the artists on the program.

Check here and here for more info on the two shows at ISSUE, and here for a full schedule of the rest of the festival.

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macedonia on 02/06/2010 at 02:00PM

the kids are alright (no, really they are...)

the face of bass: Hollywood, Florida's own Black Ant.

At 36 years of age, I find myself growing more restless by the day.  There are times that I feel twice my age, destined to become the ranting old coot that throws stuff from his front porch at passersby just because I can.  I resent the fact that my waking hours are spent at a place doing duties I could care less about and then having to steal back time and fight off sleep to do what I'm passionate about.  I resent a lot of sh*t, actually.

With that being said, it's nice to look upon the youth and see boundless potential, to know that there are heads coming up behind me that are light years ahead in possibilities.  Consider the young lord out of Hollywood, Florida named Black Ant, beatmaker in training.   Judging from his Free Beats Sel. 3 collection, he is well on his way to being a pad-punching, knob-twiddling Jedi.  Joints like the horn-drenched "government funded weed" and the head nod-inducing "Underdog" make me smile, plus they have me excited about what this hip-hop wunderkind will be creating in the next five years.

Sit back, relax, and take a minute and change to achieve bliss with the spaced-out selection "Oh K."  And once it's over, remind yourself that the brother's still in high school...

Black Ant - "Oh K." (01:23)
Black Ant - "Oh K." (01:23)
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jason on 02/05/2010 at 08:45AM

Smersh: NJ's Prolific Legends of the Cassette Underground

Smersh: Mike Mangino and Chris Shepard

When Mike Mangino and Chris Shepard started writing music together in the late 1970s, their goal was not to develop a repertoire and play gigs, or even to perform live in front of any audience. Everything they needed was right there in Piscataway NJ: a basement full of musical toys and instruments, novelty space microphones, a TR-606 (the same "Roland" who was listed as a member of Big Black), a SH-09 (Cabaret Voltaire's favorite synth), and -- perhaps most importantly -- a tape recorder. Every Monday night, they'd write a new song from scratch. A couple hours later, the song was recorded, never to be performed again.

By 1981, this dedication to spontanious creativity had already produced countless recordings, and the duo began releasing cassettes as Smersh via their own Atlas King label. A definitive Smersh discography may not even be possible, but this one lists more than 30 Atlas King cassettes. As these tapes traded their way across continents, Smersh developed a devoted following in places far beyond Piscataway, leading to releases on dozens of other labels from across the globe. A 15 song sampler featuring some of the many highlights from Smersh's vast discography, spanning 1983-1993, is now available here at the Free Music Archive.

My obsession with Smersh began relatively recently, when I first heard the song "Sweet Little Bishop" in the WFMU library, off a 7'' released by Sweden's Börft label in 1991 (listen). Then it got stuck in my head for several days straight. My subconscious couldn't remember what it was at first, mixed it up with some bizarre Prince song. But then i remembered that mysterious Smersh 7'' -- the one that stood out amongst the other Börft stuff in the library (Swedish artists like Frak and Enhänta Bödlar, who are also uncategorizable and each worthy of their own post!). I set about tracking down as much info as possible find about Smersh...

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bennett4senate on 02/04/2010 at 03:45PM

Ten Tracks to Sync - Vol 1. (mp3) (video)

One of the biggest problems facing filmmakers and online video producers is the high cost of licensing copyrighted music to sync in their work. Many a YouTube account has been shut down for using copyrighted music without permission, and the process of securing permission can be a major barrier for non-commercial/non-profit producers.

The FMA provides a much-needed resource for interesting, soundtrack-worthy, Creative Commons-licencesed music.

This post is the first in a series hightlighting (mostly) instrumental tracks culled from the FMA that would make for great video soundtracks. All the tracks in this series have licences that allow for derivitive works.

If you make a video that uses a track from the FMA, link back to the site and let us know! We'll be featuring videos that we like on the frontpage of the FMA, and we'll keep digging for interesting music to set your movies to.

(*Be sure to hit "i" to check the song's license type before you use it in your video. And it's important to note that not all of the content in the FMA is licensed for derivitive works. If you're not sure, check the description of the different CC license types at

Here's a video collection of Street Art Photos taken in Nagano City, Japan by Jim Atwood Photography, featuring Creative Commons music by Sunbyrn, the song "If I Wait"

Street Art Japan from Jim Atwood on Vimeo.

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BTurner on 02/04/2010 at 11:36AM

Faust live at WFMU Fest (mp3's)

FEST (Poster left Henry Owings, photo right Greg Cristman) We were honored to have Teutonic titans Faust headline the first night of WFMU Fest (which ran October 1-3 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and also included the likes of TV Ghost, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Talk Normal, VeeDee, Pissed Jeans, Drunkdriver, Sightings, Aluk Todolo, Cold Cave, and the Guinea Worms); it's a rare occassion for these living legends to hit American shores. They without doubt had a healthy hand in shaping modern experimental, industrial, electronic and even pop music; in Julian Cope's words, "there is no group more mythical."

For those who were hesitant to see what a nearly 40 year old band held near and dear to their hearts could be up to, doubts were instantly dispelled as the crowd was treated to a heavy dose of Faust IV-heavy classics and crazed improvisations that  seized the moment (coupled with live painting and cement mixer  action). A few weeks back Faust OK'd a broadcast of the set, and I had an opportunity to chat at length with Jean-Herve Peron and his dog (streaming archive from my January 19th show is here, and you can go right to the interview segment here), and now we're happy to say you can grab the entire October 1st WFMU Fest show on MP3! Severe thanks to Regina Greene, Jean-Herve, and Scott Williams for the fantastic mix. By the way, a few other of that weekend's artists (namely Talk Normal and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks) have all posted some Mp3s from WFMU Fest on the Free Music Archive. Enjoy!

Faust - "So Far" (07:30)
Faust - "So Far" (07:30)
Faust - "Krautrock" (09:05)
Faust - "Krautrock" (09:05)
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faust, wfmufest
lizb on 02/03/2010 at 11:00PM

Euro Gurgle Pop

I've been enjoying a number of artists from the Swiss Creative Commons label Das Andere Selbst lately: mellow, chirpy, gurgly, experimental pop with an oddball edge. My faves include Exteenager (Elia, who runs the DAS label/site), GB (pka Gateau Blasters, coming to the U.S. this Spring), and Mela Zeta (from Italy).

Related to the DAS label is Wildrfid, who put out some great limited-edition 12" records last year by GB, Uiutna, and Cancelled. Also affiliated is Zonoff, a site with plenty of Creative Commons MP3s and vids for the taking.

Check out the great track "Golosinas" by Mela Zeta below. The intro almost sounds like the opening notes to "These Boots Are Made For Walking."

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