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JoeMc on 01/06/2010 at 04:34PM

But Dad, It's Smokey

Live at Barbés (Photo by WFMU's own Irene Trudel)

When I logged on to the FMA this morning, I really wanted to hear something happy, something that would make me feel a little more excited about starting my day. Lo and behold, after a couple of "not quite right"s, I found my tonic for today: Smokey!

I talk not of bears or Miracles here, but of Mr. Smokey Hormel, a man who needs no introduction to guitar enthusiasts. He's one of those guys whose guitar tone is pretty much recognizable out of the box; you've no doubt heard him on records by Tom Waits, Beck, Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash, and about five thousand other people. Lately, Smokey has gotten interested in Congolese dance music from the late 50s and early 60s, and that's the kind of stuff he's doing with his new outfit, Smokey's Secret Family.

Back in September of last year, Smokey's Secret Family appeared on one of WFMU's broadcasts from Barbés in Brooklyn, a series of remote broadcasts shepherded by Rob Weisberg of the Transpacific Sound Paradise program (Saturdays, 6 to 9). Here is a track from that concert, and a fine one it is.

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lavenders on 01/06/2010 at 10:00AM

Morton Subotnick Interview Live at dublab

Super-inspired electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick joined us during our DUBLAB DECADE PROTON DRIVE a couple of months ago. He gladly allowed us to pick his brain for some wisdom and inspiration, and shared some awesome stories of the old school Avant Garde. Dig this session and uncover some of the deepest roots of electronic music today.

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jason on 01/05/2010 at 05:24PM

San Cristobal Orquesta

image via San Cristóbal Orquesta's Facebook page (become a fan!)

This fantastic self-titled album by the San Cristóbal Orquesta is the distillation of 10-hours' worth of recordings made by students, aged 17-20, from a special education school in San Cristóbal, Spain. The project was coordinated by La Bisogno in collaboration with the Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial. La Bisogno is a cultural organiation from Avilés, Spain, working on several projects -- including radio through Radiadora -- that focuses on new media culture, technology, and social inclusion through educational events, workshops, and art projects. The San Cristóbal Orquesta is the result of La Bisogna's first MADI (Música  Avanzada y Discapacidad Intelectual), a workshop that seeks to extend their mission to young people with disabilities through artistic expression.

The students were given a whole range of instruments -- zithers, ukeleles, electric guitars, electronic drums, music boxes, xylomatics, xylophones, midi controllers, field recordings, reactivision software, effect pedals, acoustic & electric bass -- and the recording session took place from April 6-10 in the Palacio de Maqua in Avilés. The documentary video (after the jump) provides a neat window into the process.

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stevenarntson on 01/05/2010 at 02:41PM


I’m going to try to make a biweekly blog post this year (of the twice-per-month variety, not twice-weekly). When I asked for advice about what theme(s) I should pursue, I was encouraged to focus on my interests, so I’ve decided to call this series Enthusiasms. As my enthusiasms tend toward the fitful, I hope they’ll make entertainingly brief blog entries. I’m a musician and writer with an aimless but sincere interest in classical and avant music, poetry, world traditions, and prog rock.


I ended 2009 unexpectedly fascinated with yodeling, spurred by my purchase of World Music Network’s excellent 2006 CD The Rough Guide To Yodel. Yodeling, which had always seemed silly to me, suddenly seemed great. Rather than trying to help singers keep their voices from cracking, yodeling asks that they make a virtue of necessity. Physiologically, yodeling involves a basic fact of human vocal production: there is a boundary, or break, between singing registers, commonly termed “normal” voice and “falsetto.” There is also considerable debate about the nature of the mechanism, with some suggestion that yodel effects may be produced differently by men and women (see the link to Timothy Wise’s essay, further down). Here is a video from the UW of a vocal endoscopy that shows the switch between normal voice and falsetto.


Outside of European art music, there’s been considerable yodeling. An excellent essay from Excavated Shellac covers some theories about the development of the practice, and references this beautiful recording of alpine yodeling, hosted at the Free Music Archive:



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jason on 01/04/2010 at 05:28PM

International Sounds from 2009

I thought it would be fun to take a listen back to some of my favorite music from the Free Music Archive's "world music" library. I'm hesitant to use term "world music" since 98.6% of the audio on the Free Music Archive comes from this world, and we have curators, musicians and listeners from over 200 nations. But I do feel it is important for site visitors be able to find music you're looking for browsing by genre. We try to use the International genre classification for music that incorporates indigenous folk traditions, which aren't necessarily part of the american/british folk, blues, or Western classical traditions.

My ear often bends towards artists who build off of their traditional influences to create something entirely new.

Like Argentina's Hijo De La Cumbia, who released his debut album, Cumbia de los Barrios, on DJ /rupture's Soot label. The mix also features Vieux Farka Touré, son of the great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré. Six Degrees Records offered this track off of the new album Fafa, and writes: "Ali Farka Touré proved – in case anyone ever doubted it – that the soul of the blues could be found in West Africa.  His son Vieux is turning heads with a more radical idea: that those western Saharan roots can be heard in everything from the jam band scene to Jamaican dub." -- well put!

Vieux Farka Touré is one of many amazing musicians from around the world to have also performed on KEXP in Seattle, where many selections from this mix were recorded. Check out Jon Kertzer's radio program for more, especially if you're in search of well-curated African music.

A good many of these tracks were first broadcast on WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise. For those in the NYC area (or ever planning to head this way), host Rob Weisberg keeps a fantastic list of upcoming World music events, as well as local restaurants, all linked from the TSP headquarters (also the source of the fantastic image used for this mix).

The recording of Djara -- New York's premier Haitian rara group -- comes from one of Transpacific Sound Paradise's remote broadcasts from Barbés, a fantastic venue (and record label!) in Brooklyn.

 The Orkestra Keyif and Zlatne Uste track was part of WFMU's coverage of the 2009 Golden Festival, a grassroots Eastern European music and dance festival organized by NY Balkan music pioneers the Zlatne Usted Brass Band. The 2010 event is slated for Jan 15 & 16 -- more info here.

This mix concludes with an emersive raga, part of an on-air preview of the annual NYC Indian Classical all-night festival this past May.

And although it's not featured on this 2009-oriented mix, Excavated Shellac is an amazing resource for impossible-to-find international 78rpm recordings. Joe McGasko recently picked out some of his favorite shellac excavations take a listen here.

As always, please click "i" for more info on each artist and track!

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andrewcsmith on 01/04/2010 at 08:30AM

Viva la Resistance

As Phill Stearns put it, he only does this concert about three times a year. Heaving a sigh of relief, “This is the last time this year I’m doing it.”

It’s easy to see why he avoids performing this set very often–sometimes it’s difficult to see why he does it at all. He prepares for his performance quite a bit: building the electronic circuits that cycle amplified feedback through his mixer, tuning the filters so that they only allow particular parts of the sonic spectrum through. The noise created is incomparable and organic, while the lights flash on and off, creating shadows on the back wall.

He says he only actually practices for less than a half hour, just to get the system tuned up, before he turns it off until the performance. Before the performance, he attaches electrodes to six different places on each arm, wiring himself through the transformers so that each time he touches the metallic controllers his body becomes a human resister, controlling the pitch, spectrum, and volume of the sound. The trouble is that when he makes sound, the current using him as conduit causes him physical pain. Watching him hold pitches, seeing him writhe just a bit, his performance is far more visceral than if he had been a cool knob-twiddler.

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lizb on 12/31/2009 at 06:15PM

Beats from Rupture & Shadetek

Photo by Ghostdad (CC by-sa)

New sounds from local heroes Matt Shadetek and DJ/Rupture (who happens to be an acclaimed beatmaster, writer, cumbia champion, and host of WFMU's Mudd Up! program)!

The duo has just released a fantastic record called "Solar Life Raft," which veers from dance-heavy beats to downtempo sample relaxation to international psychedelic experimentation, and they've offered up a sample tune for download here on the FMA. Thanks to theAgriculture records for providing a sample track!

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JoeMc on 12/31/2009 at 03:19AM

Be Happy, My Heart

One of the greatest little stopovers on this gigantic, expanding planet known as the FMA is the archive for the 78 blog Excavated Shellac. I've sung the praises of this blog many times in the past, here and on the air, but as the end of the year approacheth, I feel compelled to finish 2009 with another huzzah for this wonderful project.

Curator Jonathan Ward has personally purchased, cleaned, and digitized highly rare 78s from around the world, and here they are for you, ready to be downloaded and enjoyed in your home. Modern technology hasn't always improved the way we live, but here is a nice example of how it sometimes does.

The FMA has dozens upon dozens of great material from the Excavated Shellac archive; you can always spot an Excavated Shellac song because it's accompanied by incredibly useful and well-informed notes about what you are going to hear on the 78 being presented. Needless to say, this makes my job today quite easy. All I need to do is hold up the "Go Thattaway" sign (click the "i" button) and you can find out what you need to know about each song in my mix.

Ah, yes, the Mix. The mix is simply a selection of some of my favorites from the collection. There is fandango from the Basque region of Spain; amazing kemençe (three-stringed fiddle) playing from Turkey; some beautiful singing from Morocco and Greece; Balinese Gamelan, among the first ever recorded; and to finish things off, an amazing piece by Mohamed Effendi El-Achek, one of the kings of Middle Eastern music. The title of this last piece translates as "Be Happy, My Heart," and that's not much of a stretch for me when I hear this wonderful music. I hope this mix makes your heart happy, too.

Happy 2010!

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pushbinlou on 12/29/2009 at 11:46PM

Pushbinlou's Year End/Best Of/OMG Mix

Image by Amyn Kassam

This was not easy but I was able to pare down this "best of" mix to 16 tracks. I'm sure if I waited another week the list would change again because so many new and exciting tracks are being added to FMA each day. These were the tracks that I seemed to be listening to over and over again. Some of you might say, "Hey Lou, this sounds kind of like a free-form radio fill-in show". Well, you would be right. Enjoy and have a great 2010.

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year-end lists
herr_professor on 12/29/2009 at 06:50AM

The Year in Chip on the FMA by TCTD for you, the discerning listener.

Still realing from our numerous Blip Festival injuries, TCTD just wants to take the time to thank all the readers, FMA writers, tech gurus and WFMU for giving us a chance to get into some deep choon here on the FMA. Here is a mix of some of the amazing chip music we uploaded throughout the year, and let's hit the ground running with even more insanity in 2010.

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year-end lists
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