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jason on 04/05/2010 at 03:00PM

ccMixter's Secret Mixter

ccMixter is a community music website, and a big inspiration to our work here on the FMA. ccMixter focuses on remix-friendly audio, and its users offer sample packs, a capellas, and stems under collaboration-friendly Creative Commons licenses. The site has built up a thriving community that ranges from up-and-coming amateurs and hobbyists to worldclass professional producers. 

Victor Stone -- the major force behind ccMixter since its inception in 2004 -- wrote a fascinating memoir about the first four years (which you can read here, CC licensed naturally). In one section, he recalls that the site originally came about as a place to host the results of the Creative Commons/ WIRED remix contest. The site would go on to host contests by the likes of Vieux Farka Toure, Fort Minor (of Linkin Park), and the Copyright Criminals documentary. Over time, the community started to suffer from what Victor calls "remix fatigue"; more importantly, the idea of a remix contest that promotes a certain artist seemed at odds with the community-oriented nature of the site. As Victor puts it in his memoir, "contests were a construct of the commercial economy and simply didn't fit into ccMixter's sharing economy".

The last couple years, ccMixter has found some really cool ways to engage the community in projects that are better suited to the sharing economy. Last month's March Mixup Madness, the Secret Mixter, is a great example.

MC Jack in the Box, producer and host of ccMixter's Cool Music Show podcast, explains what the Secret Mixter is all about:

The Secret Mixter is a semi-regular feature the artists of ccmixter have created to bring them together as a community, and the resulting music is testament to the fact that as a whole, this is a labor of love. You remix somebody secretly and you get remixed secretly. It's that simple. There is no prize, nothing to win, and the most you can hope for your time and involvement is to be reciprocated back in a similar fashion. It brings out the best in its participants, as they are creating a gift for someone else, and the gift to the listener is a wealth of great music from an incredible array of diverse talent.

I've picked a dozen of my favorite tracks from the most recent version of the Secret Mixter, in a variety of genres, which I think truly represent what this project and the community is all about.

The full results of last month's mixter are available here. And if you want to dig deeper, ccMixter recently launched the beta version of their new music discovery tool, dig.ccmixter. Dig is a great way to tap into some of the amazing sounds coming out of the ccMixter community, with advanced filtering options and featured picks. So "dig in" if you haven't already, and we look forward to more ccMixter-curated mixes on the FMA.

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macedonia on 04/03/2010 at 12:14PM

Cvees Spread Love For The Springtime...

This is a special FMA Springtime shoutout for those who have come through a very tough Winter and an unpredictable March.  From blizzard conditions to torrential rains, gale force winds, uprooted trees, down electrical wires, and flooding of biblical proportions, we could all use some sunshine right now.  And as the temperatures flirt with 70 degrees in the Northeast, let's turn our focus to the warm production and skillful lyricism of Harlem's own Cvees.

Consisting of Probe DMS, Ike P, and Swave Sevah, this hip-hop trio has been grinding within the underground for at least a decade now, earning special guest spots on one of J-Live's earlier albums as well as seeing their own work released independently on labels like Sub-Verse and DMS Country Recordings.  Probe is somewhat of a triple threat as an MC, DJ, and producer.  His collaboration with pianist Jon Solo as Spymusic resulted in "Cloak," one of the most hypnotic singles of 2004.  They quickly followed up with an album that combined hip-hop, jazz, soul, and house music that proved impossible to ignore.

Here's Probe alongside Ike and Swave trading verses while sampling liberally from a Take 6 classic.  With the weather getting warmer, this seems like as good a time as any to "Spread Love To Ya."

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hip-hop, rap
BTurner on 04/02/2010 at 05:43PM

Pissed Jeans at WFMU

Photo06 Someday they may settle down and listen to Tom Petty and Astrud Gilberto like the rest of us, but now several records down the line Eastern Pennsylvania's Pissed Jeans continue to churn out ugly, malevolent, sexually alienated/frustrated and boredom-damaged rock music. At a total peak right now with their latest "King of Jeans" on Sub Pop, the Jeans have aged and matured, but instead of going soft they've only honed in on the fine art of destruction with even more precision in channeling the frayed-cable attack of Black Flag, Flipper, Drunks With Guns and more. In October, they turned the stage of WFMU Fest in Brooklyn into a wasteland of broken mic stands and (much) vomit (great pix on Diana Wong's Flickr stream) and might have put in thee rock show of the year. Now, from last week, an especially fried performance and recording from Brian Turner's show, engineered by Dave Mambach and Mark Koch. See em April 3rd in Baltimore at Sonar Fest, and April 9th in NYC at the Knit. Set list today: Science Fiction / Half Idiot / Human Upskirt / Pleasure Race / Dream Smotherer / False Jesii Pt 2 / L Word / Boring Girls.

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Calebk on 04/02/2010 at 10:15AM

Noise Sydney

Things get pretty noisy in Sydney - this is in itself interesting as it is quite problematic to play at volume due to excessive noise restrictions and often underground venues. One answer to the issue is to take it outside, play briefly and return things to how they were. This is Kusum’s ScreamAMP. The work sees her carting guitar amps around Melbourne and setting up in various environs, before unleashing her extreme vocals on an un-expecting audience.


Tactically, numerous noise music practitioners find ways to perform at heart thumping volume about the city, below are three tracks at the noisy end of recent recordings from Sydney, turn them up if you can.

Kusum plays at ISSUE on the 7th April with LoVid and Marina Rosenfeld

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JoeMc on 04/01/2010 at 02:52PM

Vialka: Plus de vie que la musique

Vialka live, somewhere in the world. (Photo CC by-nc-nd courtesy Smoet/flickr.)
Take a bit of Ex-ian anarcho-punk, mix it with some Afrirampo-like abandon (and occasional facepaint), add in some Sublime Frequencies-style world music exploration, and finish it off with a soupçon of Gallic attitude, and you're getting close to what "turbo-folk micro-orchestra" Vialka puts across.

Vialka is Marylise Frecheville (drums, vocals) and Eric Boros (guitar, vocals) who reside somewhere in the Pyranees of "deepest France." Well, at least that's where they are for now. Boros is originally from Canada and Frecheville from France. They have lived in Canada, Switzerland, and Slovenia, but really they are a band that makes the world their home. In fact, their performing M.O. is to crashland in all sorts of out-of-the-way places to wake up the locals with a barrage of their unique brand of DIY. Right now, they are touring China, where they are playing in 18 different cities. From China, it's on to Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Australia, and...New Jersey!

Yes, one of the out-of-the-way places Vialka will be crashlanding soon is at WFMU, where they will be Brian Turner's guests on April 20th. They also play in Brooklyn the following night. To get you in the mood for what promises to be a great radio session and live show, check out a few tracks below from Vialka's six-album deep catalogue. If you like what you hear, read on for more about this barnstorming duo.

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lizb on 04/01/2010 at 09:00AM

Mutant Glitch Pop Comp

Recently discovered the UpitUp netlabel here on the FMA: mutant glitch pop for these modern times. The label has featured tracks by known pros like Vernon Lenoir and Dan Deacon, but also brings a ton of lesser-known artists to the table for some sonic magic.

I'm particularly enamored with UpitUp's "Back From the Future" compilation from 2007, which is chock-full of electronic fun with plenty of spastic knob-twisting. You would be wise to practice your robot dance moves prior to taking a listen, so you don't look like a complete idiot when you find yourself involuntarily busting a move.

Take a listen to a few of my favorite tracks from the comp below, and if you are doing the head bob or foot tap by the end, just download the whole damned thing. If you're poppin', lockin', or working your robot arms, I will prescribe a higher dosage of UpitUp.

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electro-pop, glitch
jason on 03/31/2010 at 11:00AM


cover art to Pataques by Tep (Bedroom Research, 2008)

"The place for happy, frivolous music," is Proot Records' motto. They're one of the six top-notch netlabels who joined forces for the Greatest It compilation earlier this month. And we're now hosting more gems from their well-curated discography here on the FMA.

Along with Proot releases by FMA heroes like Ergo Phizmiz, GOTO80, Katapulto and label head-honcho Thiaz Itch, I'm fascinated by the work of Tep, a scatter-brained electronic artist from France with a great ear for organic source material, especially of the sqeeky variety. Horns, banjos, even some flatulence (on Fitje-Fetjeries). But I'm especially digging Tep's penchant for vocal sounds -- he finds something musical about the voice beyond traditional notions of language or "singing". Take a listen to the title track to Tep's "Humble" EP on Proot, hear what I'm talkin about.

Tep also has a couple releases on the fantastic Bedroom Research netlabel. 2004's Tep EP has some great moments, but Tep really found a distinct voice in the four years between his debut and 2008's Pataques (a song appears below). Bedroom Research offers a few key descriptive points about tep, which I've run through the online translation tool:

* Feed the dancefloors of its polka-core
* Orchestrations random songs distilled helium
* Discuss the meaning of life where does TEP draw inspiration for these distilled helium blasts? Take a listen to his podcast/mix for Human Workshop, with music by thiaz itchzavoloka, ween, Daniel Padden, aavikko, wevie stonder, and more.

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doncbruital on 03/30/2010 at 02:00PM

Sword Heaven Slays


But then you knew that, didn't you? I mean, few bands make good on the promise of harsh texture intensity and nonpitched brute crunch force like the guys in SWORD HEAVEN do, delivering via drumpound worship ceremony and metal (as in sheets of it) screech, their blasts coming tectonic-heavy, thunderbolt-heavy, asteroid-annihilation-heavy, again and again and again, guaranteeing for the listener an experience of defocalization to rival any yogamat meditative zone or nature-rumination psychic space to which you've ever grooved.

At the risk of this post's form too closely mirroring content--and all this purple prose overloading comprehension as much as a Sword Heaven set does--I want to double down on this idea for a sec, cause I think what this band does is really incredible. For some help, Robert Smithson, writing about a theoretical sculpture "The Eliminator"--basically a big repeating neon light--hits us with a handy thought about overload: "The Eliminator overloads the eye whenever the red neon flashes on, and in so doing diminishes the viewer's memory dependencies or traces. Memory vanishes... unreality becomes actual and solid." The incapacitating blasts of a harsh industrial act do the same, staggering out irregular and spaced out, offering the listener nothing to focus on but the overwhelmed mind's own lack of focus. Unlocked from the everyday sensory comfort zone, it all floats free.

Lest you think this is all some modern art conceptual game--not all  Eliminators are found in the museum, after all--listen to how great Sword Heaven sounds doing their thing: check out the killer live set so neatly offered up for you FMA folk. And--lucky us--these masters of the sensory overload have hit the road again; their tour, northeasterners, is not to be missed.

Trust me, you're likely to retain some lessons from their scrapmetal-strewn zone of total annihilation.

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sword heaven
herr_professor on 03/30/2010 at 10:25AM

Quitters Always Win

One of my favorite chip music shows I have ever attended.

With the spring weather remaining gross and profane, let's keep the recent trend of bastards of Game Boy noise going with a release from Timeheater. For fans of Starpause, and Overthruster (touring together and collaborating on tracks), Timeheater exploded on the East Coast Chip Music scene with numerous explosive performances, and countless (and extremely hard to find) releases.

He may have quit the Game Boy in 2006, but I emailed him for some information and can reveal to you the following nuggets:

- Originator of true chip till death
Well at least the name. The logo cracked me up so much, I usurped it for the title of our blog when we launched.

- Long format tracks
- Lots of feedback, distortion, dissonance
- Industrial electro, breaks, breakcore, noise.
His style is singular amongst most Game Boy performers, who tended to stay away from heavy complex sounds, one because its really hard to do, and two because most of them CANNOT TAKE IT.

- Along with overthruster worked heavily with nested tables and generative programming
You may not think a Game Boy is up to snuff in this category, but tracker technology allows for great variation in poly-rhythms, and generative programing

- Early adopter of gameboy advance sp due to crashes on older gameboys from processor load
This goes against the grain slightly with the general consensus that the oldest grey brick Game Boys have the "best sound" but most of Timeheater's tracks wouldn't even play on the older machines, as the nested table techniques are quite processor intensive. There is also the idea that the "harsher" sound of the SP's lends itself more to this style of music.

- not a fan of videogame music.

That much is apparent from this release, 1776. I've linked to the full version, so take a listen, and catch you guys next week.

Timeheater - "1776" (19:42)
Timeheater - "1776" (19:42)
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katya-oddio on 03/29/2010 at 03:00PM

Warmth from Andalusia

Alcázar de Jerez de la Frontera by El Pantera [Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license]

The group El Niño del Parking brings you the sound of the ancient city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia in southwestern Spain between the sea and the mountains. In addition to Spanish guitars, Latin rhythms, and the clapping of flamenco, this brings you the experience of the fluid poetry of the Castilian tongue, festivals, palm trees, celebrated vineyards, sunshine, Mediterranean warmth.

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