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jason on 12/28/2009 at 09:00AM

Focus/Folkus 2009 (mix)

Selva de Mar

It's been very difficult for me to even think about my Free Music Archive year-end list. I mean, we haven't even been around for a year yet, and there are already three times as many mp3s as when we launched in April. My lists keep expanding, while at the same time I start realizing how much I haven't had a chance to hear yet, and I start to go a little bit insane!

It is worthwhile though to take a moment and reflect as time speeds on by, and I thought I'd start with this mix and just focus...We'll begin with some meditative instrumental tracks, then move on to sparse folk with psychedelic fingerpicking and spacious, hypnotic sounds that sooth the mind and body.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

The Barcelona-based Selva de Mar (pictured) and the mysterious No Regrets For Our Youth are curated by Halas Radio out of The Israeli Center for Digital Art.

"Sound philosopher" Roland P Young, best known as a freejazz clarinetist, performed this thumb-piano piece live at WFMU for This Is the Modern World with Trouble.

This dark folk track from Koonda Holaa and The Beetchees comes from one of my favorite releases of the year, 10 Acres of the Finest Sand, a split release between Bar La Muerte and Track Brack Records. Koonda Holaa is Kamilsky, a world traveler who came of musical age in the 80s' Czech underground. For something completely different, try the track with Otto Von Shirach.

Orquestra Popular de Paio Pires, from Portugal, released their self-titled album on the Clinical Archives netlabel. The Moscow-based netlabel has really lived up to their motto "expanding the definition of music" this year, both in quantity (this was their 262nd release) and quality -- they've been receiving world-wide recognition from sources ranging from Phlow to The Wire.


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macedonia on 12/26/2009 at 11:59AM

Macedonia's 15 FMA Faves of 2009 (plus one...)

another NORMS piece from my good buddy Dean (in loving memory of Gordon Parks), somewhere within the port of Albany, NY.

One of the musical highlights of 2009 for me was seeing the Free Music Archive come to fruition: getting here, playing around, discovering new music and netlabels, and interacting with other users as well.  While it is virtually impossible to pick just a handful of absolute favorites from the almost 15,000 tracks hosted here, I did manage to find some memorable cuts from Year One of the FMA.

Big shouts to KBOO and KEXP for keeping me engaged with some great live recordings, as evidenced by the included pieces from Os Mutantes, Thavius Beck, and Pezzner.  Real and surreal forms of hip-hop weigh in heavily throughout this mix, whether it's the contemplative feel of Just Plain Ant, the beat-centric brilliance of the Custodian of Records, or the out there spaceiness of DJ Ilya Monosov or Anti-Pop Consortium.  Space is saved for Nikki Giovanni to wax poetic on the Reverend Dr. King, and time is allowed for our beloved DJ Donna Summer and his laptop to digitally carve up the "Chicken Dance" (does anyone else miss his Advanced D&D radio show as much as I do?).  And don't sleep on the Error Broadcast netlabel, one of my absolute favorites of 2009.  Shlohmo holds it down for them, closing out the mix in fine form.

You may have noticed the "plus one" within the title of this entry.  That's just me coming up with a good excuse to throw you a bonus track from Just Plain Ant, who is hands down my favorite producer within the Creative Commons realm, a true ambassador of hip-hop's  production and potential.  His Just Plain Sounds netlabel is an unquestionable favorite of mine, bringing the heat with every release.  The attached track below is a 10-minute sampler from a JPS release entitled The New Black, which includes over 30 of Ant's fabulous instrumentals.  Here's hoping that you enjoy the sampler as well as the mix, which you can find after the jump.  The archive is host to a ton of hidden gems, so please feel free to leave comments and let me know what your FMA favorites are...


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doncbruital on 12/26/2009 at 10:30AM

2009's Stoppage of Time


That most happening of theorists Walter Benjamin writes, in his posthumously discovered manuscript "On the Concept of History," of an incident in which, during France's 1830 July Revolution, crowds of rebels fired on the clocks in every tower in an apparent effort to stop time at the moment of revolutionary upheaval. "The awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode is characteristic of the revolutionary classes at the moment of their action," sez Walt; "the great revolution," yeah, "introduced a new calendar." And look, I'm not saying it's the same to have created, debuted, and implemented a curated archive of free and legal downloads from the best bands going, but there is more than a little of the revolutionary in the FMA spirit that, at this, the close of its first year, merits commemoration.

I've thus gone ahead and cooked up this 2009 (year one of the FMA Revolutionary Calendar) All-Faves Smash-Megalith megamix to erect itself stele-like and let future generations know what I dug on the Free Music Archive in this most decade-ending of years in this decade. Its component pieces, listed in reverse-numerological-idealist-diagonal-dragon order (actually I just tried to make it a good mix), hopefully go some ways toward enumerating that handy diversity of sounds available on the FMA in its capacity as a reliable and trustworthy cataloguer of what's actually pretty good and not un-happening in the world of music. But look, it's all just getting rolling; surely time, having stopped briefly at the moment the FMA launched, is back on--but year two is, yeah, most promising.

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jason on 12/24/2009 at 11:00AM

Free Holiday Music Mix + Resources

There's a ton of free holiday music out there on the Internet. But a lot of it is low-quality, made using cheap MIDI sounds, or ripped from a CD illegally without the artists' permission (not in-line with the Holiday spirit). If you spend some time digging around aimlessly you might start to wonder...maybe it's not all worth digging through, especially in this time of year that we'd, at least in theory, rather spend with family than in cyberspace.

Well it is worth digging through if you can just get to the good stuff! The holiday season has inspired some amazing music. Everyone has their own taste of course (I'm more of a Song-Poem and awful[ly-good] music fan myself). But whatever your flavor, it's out there. And fortunately, there are some great resources for quality CC holiday music of all sorts, outlined below.

As a starting-point for your visit to the Free Music Archive, I made this little mix (at left). Most of it is Creative Commons-licensed -- click the "i" next to each track for the specific license, and to learn more about each artist. Many of these artists have more free mp3s to share on the FMA, and a few of them have some Christmas-oriented collections.

This mix is just the tip of the digital iceberg, on the FMA and beyond.

More free (as in beer) holiday music resources after the jump, and please share your favorites by leaving a comment!


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jason on 12/22/2009 at 05:08PM

Wooden Shjips for the Holidays (2009 edition)

Wooden Shjips' 2008 holiday cassingle

This time last year, San Francisco's Wooden Shjips released a Holiday Cassingle featuring psychedelic covers of "Auld Lang Syne" and "O Tannenbaum". The 4-piece -- who famously gave away all 300 copies of their debut 10'' -- offered free mp3 version of the cassingle to the WFMU blog. Meanwhile, the cassette itself, limited to 100 copies, sold out in no time, and -- in the spirit of The Holidaze -- all proceeds went to the San Francisco Food Bank.

This holiday season, Wooden Shjips' guitarist and vocalist Erik "Ripley" Johnson is continuing this tradition. He sent over an mp3 from his new project Moon Duo, a brilliant melding of "Silver Bells" with a bit of Hawkwind's "Silver Machine" thrown in the mix. [*Because of these references, we can't certify it as "FMA-safe", so you can grab it from this off-site locale: Moon Duo - Silver Bells (mp3)]

Moon Duo have also put together a new benefit for the SF Food Bank, in collaboration with Zola Jesus, Gary War, and Sacred Bones Records. From the Moon Duo blog (after the jump):


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JoeMc on 12/22/2009 at 02:00PM

Learn a New Song for Christmas

The world is awash in Christmas music this week, and I'm not planning to buck the tide. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a matter of picking which Christmas music you care to be drowned by. What's your poison? Will it be Bing? Frank? The Waitresses? Dogs? Power tools?

My Christmas poison will be none of these. I actually like Christmas music, amazingly enough, and every year I do my best to find a few songs that I haven't heard before. What fascinates me about Christmas music is that once you get past the usual suspects, your Bruces and Bobbys and Bings, you find that there are tons of forgotten Christmas songs just waiting to be discovered.

In fact, I just discovered one on the FMA.


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katya-oddio on 12/22/2009 at 07:00AM

Loved Like a Milkshake

Wesley Willis (1963-2003) was an artist and musician from Chicago who released hundreds of songs with his own unique sense of humor. His chronic schizophrenia was reflected in his work which leaned toward the bizarre and obscene. Willis gained a cult following and major label attention.

One of his labels, the prominent independent Alternative Tentacles described Wesley's work as "simultaneously disturbing, hilarious, blunt, and intoxicating. Wesley's sheer excitement and unaffected honesty about every cultural phenomenon, defined his music as truly individual, and truly punk rock."

Sadly, in 2002 Wesley was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). He underwent emergency surgery in June 2003, and passed away in August of the same year.

Hiji, a.k.a. M-Halo, soon thereafter organized a tribute album to honor Wesley Willis. Work for LOVED LIKE A MILKSHAKE: A WESLEY WILLIS TRIBUTE ALBUM began when Hiji posted a Craigslist listing suggesting a tribute of cover songs. The response was positive and the following 18 songs were selected. The final product was released for free online in November 2003 and produced by M-Halo with mastering and additional production by Tom Gordon.

Enjoy the entire album LOVED LIKE A MILKSHAKE: A WESLEY WILLIS TRIBUTE ALBUM on FMA!

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chicago
BTurner on 12/21/2009 at 12:18PM

Fandango: A Sampler of FMA Experimental Sounds

A sampling of sideways sounds, improvisations, drones, cut ups, and one messy Emerson Lake and Palmer cover, all found within the Free Music Archive, some recorded live on WFMU (avarus and graveyards were live on my program, you can hear the full sessions here on FMA or stream on my playlist archives at wfmu.org/playlists/BT. Headphones recommended!


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jason on 12/21/2009 at 10:00AM

Anti-Pop Consortium remixes are in!

Back on November 16th, the Free Music Archive announced our first official remix contest featuring NYC's legendary hip-hop innovators Anti-Pop Consortium. Last night was the deadline, and we've got everything posted now so take a listen, because these remixes are incredible!

The original song "Reflections", from Anti-Pop Consortium's new album Fluorescent Black, is just brimming with potential -- hints at styles and sounds that could be infinitely expanded. And 50 remixers from all over the world have gone and done just that, expounded on the idea like a fractal!

I was hoping somebody's start out like Lille, France's Luminocolor did, with the drum fill from the second section of the song moved to the very beginning. They even re-recorded the theme with a horn arrangement.

We've got some familiar faces throwing their unique interpretations into the mix. Chicago's Chandeliers, Lord Tang (a new project from the mastermind behind Qulfus/Borful Tang), Curha (Curtis Hasselbring), even our own Dylan Going (of Bronhard/Going/Public and White Mice) did a 12-minute extended dancefloor into ambience remix!

We also heard from a bunch of artists who are new to the FMA, but well established. Like Montreal's DJ Brace, who's worked with the liked of the Pharcyde and Roxanne Shante, and whose 2009 solo album, Nostomania, won a Juno award! Also from Montreal is sound artist and composer and Mutek performer Nimalan Yoganathan. I was personally very excited to've received entries from uiutna and h., part of Switzerland's Wildrfid collective, and Jonas the Plugexpert , a hero of the UpitUp netlabel. And then there are new sounds -- check out Karash Nikol from France, the slowed-down groove of 22tape, the midwest funk of DJ Kamikaze, the glitched-out sounds of _jjj_ from the Czech Republic, a squeaky, slammin' beat from Amsterdam's C.O.G.

I'll admit -- I was worried that some remixers (like myself!) might get disoriented by the tempo-changes, and advanced, arrhythmic, anti-pop approach of Anti-Pop Consortium. But even the occasional awkward moment makes for pretty engaging listening, and everything I've listened to so far is awesome!


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longrally on 12/20/2009 at 12:00PM

Bug Incision Records + Bent Spoon Duo Live on WFMU

A year or so ago, WFMU received a bunch of releases from the Bug Incision label, a small high quality improv label based in Calgary, Canada.  Now honestly, I don't know much about Calgary, but I was transfixed by this scene happening up there being documented by Bug Incision. I have a tendency to root for the underdog and so was intrigued by the label immediately, but the music lived up to all expectations.  There seemed to be a wide berth of sounds, sometimes coming from the same people, from your basic free jazz descended improv, to grating noise, skittering improv, toys and "tiny instruments," an anything-goes mentality that seemed to be free of dogma.  On further inspection I noted Bug Incision also released some fine music from Ben Hall's Broken Research/Detroit orbit, a midwestern noise powwow featuring C. Spencer Yeh and Ryan Jewell, as well as a few things with Jack Wright, somewhat of a teacher/patron saint to many of the leading younger North American free players.  In other words, good company they keep. 

I contacted Chris Dadge who runs Bug Incision and appears on many of the label's releases, about possibly doing something for my radio show and while he doesn't get to the NYC area often he agreed to record a set especially for the program to send to me.  I left it up to him and he put together an exceptional improv set by the Bent Spoon Duo, his long running group with Scott Munro.  Their set-up is highly portable; a few battery powered amps, maybe a snare drum, small percussion, some tiny Casio keyboards, perhaps a guitar, etc. which is remarkable in its simplicity, and yet belies the group's sound, so much bigger than the sum of its parts.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Please stream or download via the Free Music Archive.  Thanks to Chris Dadge and Scott Munro for taking the time to play and engineer this recording.


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