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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 "Genre is obsolete," sez TLASILA; and then they prove it.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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Irene_Rible on 04/14/2010 at 09:00AM

Spotlight: Amish Records

Amish Records was founded in Pennsylvania and began releasing 7"s in 1994.  Since then they've moved to New York and have accumulated an eclectic catalog of music rooted in the folk tradition, ranging from Oakley Hall's harmonized bluegrass-inspired Americana to the spacious psychedelic soundscapes of Hall of Fame (Dan Brown/Samara Lubelski/Theo Angell); from Bird Show's electronic/jazz meditations to Black Taj's Chapel Hill-style classic rock reinterpretations.

Before I say anything more, I've been warned by the Amish website: "we'd rather be listening to records than reading what blogs and/or bad music writers are championing as the 'new best thing since [fill in the blank].' Though these terms are often bandied about as signifiers of cool or as a coded form of insider-speak, very little holds up through time. Don't embarass yourself or your music by catering to these trends.  Have you seen what today is being pimped as 'New Weird America'?  To us, it looks like a bunch of kids dressing up for Halloween and playing Manson while their parents are away on business."

For a label that's been releasing various strains of folk music from the beginning, it's easy to understand their distaste for such trend-mongering.  At least no one on the Amish label has appeared on a Volkswagen commercial or is dating Chloe Sevigny, Winona Ryder, or an Olsen twin. Let's hope it stays that way.

That being said, one could call Amish an early supporter of "New Weird America".  However, as much as that genre has been touted as a community or a movement, music catagorized this way mostly reminds me of a person or place that existed long ago, someone or someplace just beyond the horizon, or maybe more accurately no one and no place at all.

Mike Wexler makes just such out of time and place music on his records.  "I'd Like to Solve the Puzzle" was my introduction to his songs, his idiosyncratic vocals and mystical lyrics sounding like a sober Devendra Banhart or a warlock incarnation of Jeff Mangum. There's something refined, almost chivalrous about his songs, I can almost imagine him kneeling in a medieval tapestry.  Like what a court composer would play as two lovers lock eyes in a Shakespearean tragedy, romantic longings weighted down by premonitions of ensuing futility.  Wexler paired with Jordi Wheeler from The Occasion for an acoustic set on Hatch's show on WFMU a few years ago that is archived here.

WFMU has had the good fortune to host several other artists from the Amish label that are now available to download on the FMA such as Theo Angell's performance on Maria Levitsky's Show.  Angell began playing experimental folk music with Hall of Fame, but unlike Wexler his approach to folk is rougher, like something you might find on a field recording of primitive American music.  His music facilitates somber meditations, like the mist in an early morning forest, obsfuscated shards of light wrangle to wake up the day from the night, yet these songs feel as comforting as mate and oatmeal on a wood stove. I never would have guessed all this was emanating from a Brooklyn loft as his ethos still seems firmly planted in his rural hometown in Oregon. Some of Angell's collaborators have also made appearances on WFMU, including P.G. Six and Hall of Fame on Irene Trudel's Show and The Stork's Club, respectively.

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herr_professor on 04/13/2010 at 10:15AM

Chipdub in the Emay

Pairat by Kupa

This week's post was inspired by a chance encounter trawling the chiptune uploads here on the FMA. I found an upload released by Mexico City Dubstep collective Nimbo, the artist was named Kupa. The tracks, in particular, Peach Bitch, are nicely produced, and reminded me that there is a huge subset of chipmusic dedicated to dubby wobbles. We have covered the J Arthur Keene's Band before, and Jason did this article on quarta330, but there are two other great collectives you should check out as well.

 The first is newish upstart Metrodub, a singles focused label with releases from the aforementioned JAKB, Canadian mystery man ??? (I pronounced it as CONFOUNDED GRUNT) and label head Minikomi. Metrodub has been hot with its last few releases,but the biggest name in this space would have to be Jahtari, a label with both physical and online releases and an eclectic roster of electronic dubdudes like fan favorite Disrupt, as well as chip music artists like Dubmood and overthruster.

Fans might pick up on me only having a casual knowledge of this end of the chip music pool, so let me know in the comments if there is anything I am missing, and see you guys in seven!

Kupa - "Peach Bitch" (05:05)
Kupa - "Peach Bitch" (05:05)
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jason on 04/12/2010 at 05:00PM

Diary of a Free Album: Bass Music Sessions

I.D. & Baobinga, a couple of the artists behind Bristol UK's influential Bass Music Blog, are keeping a "diary of a free album" to coincide with the release of their excellent Bass Music Sessions.

The 10-track album is full of top-notch, subwoofer-required tracks that've been dance-floor approved by prominent DJs like Claude Von Stroke, DJ Friction and Buraka Som Sistema. And there was some serious label interest, according to I.D.'s first blog entry, but the duo went the free/donation route -- with all proceeds going to Dove House Hospice in Hull, UK -- as "a bit of an experiment".

So how's it panning out? The statistics are included as part of the diary, and certainly open to interpretation. As of Friday's post, with close to 3000 full album downloads, it seems like 1/10 downloaders also donate, with an average donation of just under £3, totaling just under £900 so far. Not bad, but the blog also factors in pre-release planning, album mastering, promo video and publicity campaign -- all of these are costs (at least in terms of time) spent outside of the actual composition/recording. The diary also logs downloads/donations over time, and in relation to big events like a prominent review in an international print magazine, and posting stems on soundcloud. The biggest moment by far has been the day the album was released, prompting the question:

"Once its out, and the initial burst has worn off, what can you do to get more people interested, spread the word beyond the 'core' few thousand people who generally follow you, are aware of you, and have now either downloaded the album or at least checked it out?  Remix parts is one idea, we'll see how that goes, but there's got to be some more stuff we can do.  Hmm."

...and that's when they reached out to the Free Music Archive, offering to re-license under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike to encourage you to share this music far and wide. The tracks went up today, first and last tracks are below, but check out the full thing, and be sure to hit the "tip" button if you like what you hear!

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pushbinlou on 04/11/2010 at 09:52PM

Dubby Sunday

Here's a nice Sunday mix of dub tracks, dubstep tracks and a little dub influenced rock and electronica as well.  FMA has a small but very strong collection of this genre and I thought I would shine a little light on it today.

Picture by Dubdem Sound System

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katya-oddio on 04/09/2010 at 05:09PM

Droopy Drops In

Hugo "Droopy" Contini delivers hard bop from Lorraine, France to the WFMU Free Music Archive on US National Jazz Day. Contini is part of the RawBounce Records collective and the alto sax man for The Real Dealers.

Once after rehearsal, the band had the space for a few more hours, so they recorded the album, Surpriscording now hosted at the FMA.

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andrewcsmith on 04/09/2010 at 02:30PM

Improvisation: Exhaustion

Nate Wooley, sitting in an incredibly comfortable position

The trumpeter Nate Wooley recounted at the beginning of his set this interview he administered that day with the composer Tom Johnson in which Tom said a couple of things that Nate recounted for us: 1. improvisers are awful human beings 2. nothing new was happening in music period anywhere, but especially in the U.S.

“It’s kind of freeing to know that there’s nothing that I’ll do tonight that’s new,” which means that he can do whatever he wants. Which means that anything that happens that night is arbitrary, not necessarily confined to a historical period.  Still, anything improvised that night is inseparable from the current time because of its arbitrary and personal quality. It is not an attempt to progress through history—to look to the future—and it makes no claims. Whatever happens happens, as someone could say.

Nate’s playing is a constant expenditure of energy; there is never a moment when it seems like he is riding on his chops, or playing rehearsed licks. Or, if he is, he interrupts these licks as soon as they become standard, or sub-standard. Exhaustion is theme: maybe physical exhaustion as he circular-breathes for almost a half hour straight, or maybe emotional exhaustion, as the sounds oscillate between serenity and schizophrenia, multiple voices coming from all sides, or intellectual exhaustion, where it’s all been done before anyway so anything new is old, arbitrary, and re-hashed.

Arguing the dialectic of improvisation-versus-composition does not satisfy anything. There is no dialectic if there is nothing new; if improvisation is just re-hashing old ideas, and if composition is just re-hashing slightly different (but basically the same) ideas, then what’s the difference? This, which I’ll repeat as a mantra from somewhere else, is that all the important things have become as one and the differences have disappeared.

Nate never said whether he agrees or disagrees, and this is improvisation; it is taking statements not as conveying information but as commands and as fact: the fact of the statement and not the fact of what the statement might refer to. The statement is fact because someone thinks it, or because someone thought of it once.

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jason on 04/09/2010 at 09:15AM

Cooper-Moore: A Retrospective 1990-2010

"Wow man, what were you thinking about when you wrote that?" Cooper-Moore asks himself in the note accomanying his recent retrospective. Divided into three sets and sampling work that had not been documented on his official releases (for labels like AUM Fidelity and Hopscotch), this collection is as diverse as the various identities Cooper-Moore has accumulated since 1946, when he was born, "Gene Y Ashton," in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.

First, Cooper-Moore is a master musician; he began playing piano in church and turned to jazz at a young age, collaborating with the likes of David S. Ware in the 1970s. He went on to design and build instruments -- the electric mouth bow, a three-stringed fretless banjo, an ashimba-style xylophone -- which are works of art unto themselves. His penchant for creating music literally from scratch -- for building instruments from clay, paper, and bamboo as well as for his unconstrained approach to music -- is complemented by a rooted sense of art that came before, and of art as a folk tradition. For years, Cooper-Moore was the primary storyteller in a series of Sunday-night folktale sessions that took place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, weaving ageless stories from Russia, Africa, and Native America with tales inspired by these traditions. Cooper-Moore is also a teacher and a music therapist who has given workshops around the world. A video from one such workshop, a master class in Holon, Israel (sponsored by FMA curator Halas Radio), appears after the jump.

The retrospective encompasses all this and more. It includes live performances, short excersizes, and vocal pieces -- many composed for theatrical productions. Though some are purportedly fragments of a larger idea, they seem to work together to paint a larger picture; a flashback through twenty years in the life of Cooper-Moore, with snapshots of his creative mind at various points in time. Each piece is accompanied by detailed notes, available here on the Free Music Archive by clicking on the name of the song (or on the "i" that appears if you use the pop-up / embeddable player). These notes can also be downloaded or viewed online from the link in each album description.

Cooper-Moore: A Retrospective 1990-2010:  Set 1  |   Set 2  |  Set 3

In his introductory note on the retrospective's original Google Site (which he says he may take down this Saturday due to limited bandwidth, but has encouraged us to share), Cooper-Moore recalls an initial reluctance to look back rather than forward. Upon further inspection, he decided it would be a worthy endeaver "in order to gather up and move forward into the future". So this fascinating retrospective can also be thought of as a hint at what's next from one of the most creative musical minds of our time.

I've attached a few of my favorites from this incredible collection below, but encourage you to delve in to sets 1, 2, and 3 in their entirety. The FMA also hosts a fantastic ISSUE Project Room performance from a night curated by WFMU's music director Brian Turner, as well as a performance from the Brecht Forum featuring a collaboration with Elliott Sharp performed. Oh, and please follow the jump for the aforementioned video (via Halas Radio, who've also curated a performance from Cooper-Moore's duo with Assif Tsachar, Digital Primitives)

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