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jason on 08/24/2010 at 05:45PM

Chicago via Columbia: CAVE & Lazer Crystal (mp3's)

The August 17th episode of Talk's Cheap featured live music from two bands who are part of the "Columbia Diaspora". This term's been used to describe a mass musical migration from Columbia Missouri to Chicago in the early/mid oughts, led by scene progenitors Mahjongg and Warhammer 48k, resulting in groups like Michael Columbia and Chandeliers. The Columbia expats brought a new sound infusion to Chicago -- ranging from brute sludge to new wave dance -- which has continued to develop and branch off into new forms. The expats found a home in Griffin Rodriguez/Blue Hawaii's Shape Shoppe recording studio, and may have drawn some inspiration from the city's musical history (I'm especially thinking of 80s electronic/house and late 90s rhythmic post-rock), but these sounds are not textbook 'chicago' music by any means. It's more like diaspora music from some delocalized point in the future, where electronic elements like drum triggers, computer sequencers, and vocoders have become extensions of the human body.

PureMoods  CAVE inhabit the more organic side of this spectrum; its trance-inducing kraut-rock grooves flow like lava. The four piece consist of three Columbia expats -- Cooper Crain (guitars/organ), Dan Browning (bass) and Rex McMurry (drums) -- plus Chicago native Rotten Milk (also of Stress Ape and the Terry Plumbing label) on synthesizer. Have a listen to Cave's live set below, check out their discography for releases on Permanent Records, Drag City (who released the Pure Moods 12'' pictured), and Important Records, and check here for tourdates as Cave explore Europe this fall,

LazerCrystal-LP  In case the title of LAZER CRYSTAL's debut LP (MCMLXXX, Thrill Jockey 2010) didn't tip you off, they dig the '80s. Probably more for the psychedelic visions of our digital future than anything else; check out the Max Headroom-style video for Love Rhombus after the jump. The LP compiles their two previous 12'' EP's released by Chicago's HBSP-2X (aka Captcha Records). For this recording, Lazer Crystal were the trio of Nicholas Read (electronics & vocals), Josh Johannpeter (percussion), & Mikale De Graff (vocals & electronics).

There is a lot of overlap between these "Columbia Diaspora" bands -- Cooper of CAVE once played in Lazer Crystal, Josh and Mikale of Lazer Crystal are also in Mahjongg, etc. Check the Chicago tag on the FMA for more, or dig back into a time before the Free Music Archive launched with our Chicagoland FMA preview back in July '08.

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jason on 08/24/2010 at 12:50PM

The Tudor Consort: Revitalizing Early Choral Music

The Tudor Consort is a Wellington, New Zealand-based choral group that brings the music of the late Medieval and Renaissance eras to life. Active since 1986, the group has expanded their repertoire far beyond their initial focus of 16th-century Britain, to now encompass choral music from every century that followed.

Along with commercial releases on "The World's Leading Classical Music Label"  the likes of Naxos Records, The Tudor Consort make their recordings available on their website under a Creative Commons Attribution license. The Tudor Consort approached us after their free hosting expressed bandwidth concerns over hosting free music, and we were delighted to hear from them!

One of the Tudor Consort's FMA offerings -- Renaissance influences - Pizzetti: Messa di Requiem / Palestrina: Missa Sicut lilium inter spinas -- is a sort of 'old-meets-new' in Italian choral music, contrasting Ildebrando Pizzetti's Messa di Requiem (1922) with Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina's Missa Sicut lilium inter spinas (1590).

They also share a 20th-anniversary live collection with performances from the Parroquial Church in Ordizia, Spain and the Madonna dei Monti in Rome, which is available at left. Be sure to check out The Tudor Consort's FMA profile for more, including works by JS Bach, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Thomas Tallis and more key figures in the history of western choral music.

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DavidKant on 08/23/2010 at 11:28AM

Musica Universalis: Music of the Planes

Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

July 28, 2010, Cecilia López brought her Música Mecánica para Chapas to ISSUE Project Room, a long way from her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The composition features López’s homemade instrument, called the chapa: a large sheet of metal, suspended from the ceiling, and rigged with piezo-electric elements that both amplify the vibrations of the sheet and drive it.

We played the chapas in pairs; for each chapa, one performer playing at it and the other playing the chapa itself. Facundo Gómez—López’s partner in acoustic crime—shook, bent and uncurled the metal sheet, capturing and transforming the sounds of my saxophone into disembodied and transfigured specters of ringing feedback.

It was a strange kind of duet. It felt like we each had one hand on the same instrument. It felt like someone was taking the voice right out of my throat and manipulating it before it ever reached my own ears. At times, the sound of my saxophone and the sound of the chapa were completely indistinguishable. Then the metal sheet trembled and the sound split into two halves. Sometimes I tried to mimic the sound of the chapa, and other times I struggled to distinguish myself from it.

I felt an overwhelming sense of being part of the machine, part of this immense acoustic mechanism. In contrast to the all-too-often disembodied sensation of performing electro-acoustic music, this was not my sound and processed sound. It was not about input and output. It was just one giant edifice of physicality and acoustic resonance.

This particular performance for ISSUE Project Room’s 15-channel speaker system nicely complements other recordings of Música Mecánica para Chapas. The performance was more subdued and subtle than others, but still retains López’s characteristic controlled chaos of feedback and eerie sonic simulacra.

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jason on 08/20/2010 at 09:09AM

Shamantis' slowed-down Bieber: a silent victory for fair use?

It's the first and probably last time I'll ever tweet about Justin Bieber (though he is the preeminent trending topic), from the FMA's account. But I just had to this week on the occasion that multiple major labels have lent their support to a hugely popular (and quite excellent) 800%-slower remix of Beiber's song "U Smile". This, despite the fact that it is arguably "an infringement of both the sound recording (owned by Universal’s Island Records) and the musical composition (owned by both UMG and EMI)" (Billboard). I mean, with the same free open source program that producer Nick Pittsinger aka Shamantis used to create this 30-minute glacial epic, it could just as easily be shrunk back into the actual song.

If you just listen, clearly this is a transformative work that meets the conditions for Fair Use. But Fair Use has yet to reconcile with US laws pertaining to sound recordings; the influential Bridgeport ruling seems to imply that there is no such thing as fair use when it comes to recorded music. Meanwhile, the file is hosted by Soundcloud in Germany, one of many countries where "fair use" doesn't even exist! Fortunately a court in Germany did recently decide that a 2-second Kraftwerk sample twisted beyond all recognition can be legal if the result is 'substantially different' [BBC / Techdirt]).

Fortunately, there was no need for the law in the Bieber scenario as it clearly stood to benefit all parties. Beiber tweeted about it, and this new form of public announcement from our young king of tweet-pop declared it to be good because he stands to benefit. And why not? The slow version shines an interesting light on Bieber's own music for new fans (and twitter followers) who now have a much deeper appreciation for his music, and went on to spread the word about the remix creating a stir that is invaluable in our increasingly fragmented Attention Economy. I wouldn't even be shocked if this was all a big publicity stunt from Bieber's label.

In cases like these (#musicblogocide, for example) I often recall Lawrence Lessig's chart describing the Law as one of four forces that impact reality. Our society and the structures of the music industry are changing rapidly. Soon -- with any luck -- remixes like this which clearly just draw attention to the artist in a purely noncommcercial environment may even be declared legal! Or at the very least, we should be able to publicly acknowledge that there are certain noncommercial forums for shared creativity where the law need not interfere. Transformative remixes are already kind of impossible to stop, and seem to stand to everyone's benefit. Quite an artistic and politicized statement by Free Culture's new hero Shamantis.

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andrewcsmith on 08/20/2010 at 03:00AM

John Butcher, in binaural glory

Photo by David Reid:

John Butcher improvises on the space he is in, using amplification as an instrument rather than as a transparent tool. He wrestles with the many enharmonicities present within a single saxophone tone, as if trying to either contain the sound or to lose himself in it. Rhythms begin to appear in seemingly static harmonies, and what starts as a centered sonic etude over a single tone grows more unstable as the improvisation progresses.

Butcher's improvisation is multiplication; in the addition of every new note, multiple others are created in the surrounding and related harmonic zones. It's not a matter of looping and layering over a singular idea but, like the best counterpoint, the sounds constantly shift one way or the next, without losing their continuity or their relationships to each other.

Over the next few weeks we'll be posting some binaural recordings from ISSUE's Floating Points Festival. Going on five years now, Floating Points has dedicated a month to works highlighting ISSUE's 15-channel hemispherical speaker system built by series curator Stephan Moore. A good chunk of the series was recorded in binaural stereo sound (which means: put on your headphones). For now, listen to a chunk out of the middle of Butcher's July 16 performance at ISSUE.

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longrally on 08/19/2010 at 06:00PM

Dawn of MIDI: improvised international piano trio

The fully improvised piano trio Dawn of Midi stopped by WFMU a few days before their debut at local jazz bastion The Iridium and painted the darkness with their abstractions. And when I say darkness, I mean total darkness. They are the first band I've ever hosted at WFMU's Love Room to turn off every light in the joint. Qasim Naqvi, Dawn of Midi's drummer, commented later that he couldn't even see his drums. Apparently this is how Dawn of Midi have played together since day one, in total darkness. Listen and it makes sense --

Their set, as well as their debut record First on Accretions, is riveting in its restraint, so deliberate at times that you wonder if the whole thing might pull apart and just disappear.  It's a surprise, this type of patience by such a young group. The other surprise is that it's totally improvised since there are parts that sound very cohesive.  The band's music immediately evokes all kinds of interesting things, at least to me: Morton Feldman, Olivier Messiaen, Ahmad Jamal, Jimmy Giuffre's Free Fall, The Necks. Not influences per se but all concerned with the space between the notes.

The bandmembers, Qasim Naqvi on drums, Aakaash Israni on contrabass, Amino Belyamani on piano, hail from Pakistan, India and Morocco respectively, met at CalArts in San Diego, and reside in Paris and New York. I can't exactly hear how this unlikely geographic melding contributes to their music, but suffice to say DOM embodies a cosmopolitan and world aware vibe.

Thanks to Mark Koch for engineering this set.

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dawn of midi, jazz, piano
lizb on 08/19/2010 at 10:30AM

Ukrainian Collage Pop

Photo by Yoggurt

Came across a really fun Ukrainian band here on the FMA recently... Gosprom, who put hip-hop beats and a guitar together with frenetic and gleeful pop, quirky and layered cut-up samples, and occasional nods to jazz. The band's femme vocalist on top of all this genre-mash reminds me a little bit of Pizzicato Five and a Cantonese pop band called PixelToy.

I've posted a few of my favorite tracks below: "Japan Punk" and "Oop Shoop," both of which tend toward the more spastic end of Gosprom's ouvre. You can listen to more of their songs from their album "Lazy" right here. Thanks to the fantastic Headphonica netlabel from bringing this music to the FMA!

Check out this video for "Oop Shoop;" Gosprom performed the song live at club Jazzter with a clairinetist earlier this year.

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AlexGoldstein on 08/18/2010 at 09:00PM

Catching up with Gary Wilson (interview + mp3's)

photo via Western Vinyl, who will release Gary Wilson's new album Electric Endicot

In 1977, Gary Wilson released his second album, "You Think You Really Know Me." It was a bizarre yet affecting collection of songs that ranged from lite lounge-funk (that could almost recall a young Prince Nelson Rogers at times) all the way to creepy atmospheric tunes that wouldn't be out of place on a Dario Argento soundtrack. Despite receiving some radio airplay and even some fanmail from costumed avant-garde rockers The Residents, Gary Wilson soon found himself in the pitfalls of obscurity.

While working at an adult entertainment shop on the West Coast, his name had slowly built up a following over the next two decades, with an infamous shout-out from Beck on the album "Odelay" and a full length documentary on his life and music, named after his most famous record.

Since his reemergence, Gary has finally been able to experience success as an artist, releasing records on labels like Stones Throw and enjoying his time as a performing artist. He appeared live at WFMU on Scott Williams' show in 2002, around the time where he played his first shows in New York City since the 1970s.  Gary Wilson is releasing an album called Electric Endicott later this year on Western Vinyl. I interviewed Gary via email.



Between your 2002, when you reemerged with a live performance on Scott Williams' show on WFMU, and now, your career seems to have gone through some tremendous changes. Do you view this as a rebirth of what you were doing in the late 70s or a new era of Gary Wilson

I would say a continuation of what I was doing in the 60s and 70s. One is always "growing" and adapting to the dynamics of life. We all go through it. This will reflect in your art. I do a lot of self editing. If a song of mine does not reflect the Gary Wilson personality, or what I think Gary Wilson represents, then it is tossed out. It has always been that way (since I was 12 years old). I try to stay true to what I think Gary Wilson should sound like. What is important to me is for a listener to put my music on and know that what they hear is Gary Wilson. Since 2002 a lot of different things have happened to me. Good things.  Life can be interesting sometimes.

What inspired you to incorporate tape, mannequins, wigs, flour and trashbags into your live performances?

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gary wilson, new york
elizalomas on 08/18/2010 at 10:45AM

Berlin Warehouse Residents Jimmy Edgar & AGF/Delay

It is a well-documented fact that Detroit gave birth to techno in the glorious 80s. Fast forward thirty years, and although trailblazing techno producers such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Carl Craig were all born and are still living in the Motor City, if you wanted to actually hear them you would have to hope they were out of town. Save for the ever-faithful Underground Resistance record shop, today’s Detroit has little left to offer for techno.

Despite this dearth of a scene, legends still emerge from Detroit’s depths with a sound as prominent and exciting as if the sound was still alive and evolving, with young acts like Jimmy Edgar pummelling seductive techno so thrilling as to be snapped up by Warp whilst still in his teens. For the FMA, INQ Magazine has offered a track showing another side of him, as One Twenty Detail V3 1 is swooning deep house of the highest calibre.

The clubbing sounds of Michigan have been driven right through to Europe, and specifically to the deliriously vibrant deserted corners of East Berlin warehouses.

Berghain/Panorama Bar is perhaps the most renowned place of the warehouse culture. Described as a cathedral for techno, DJs have been reduced to tears at ungodly hours on a Sunday afternoon, as the passion of the crowd is omnipotent and their energy nothing short of miraculous.  Jimmy Edgar has often strutted his sets here, as well as Berlin natives AGF/Delay, who are partners Antye Greie (AGF) and Finland's Vladislav Delay (aka Sasu Ripatti / Luomo). As AFG/Delay they are lucky enough to belong to electronic goddess Ellen Allien’s BPitch Control label, and as individuals, Ripatti is a world-renowned electronic experimentalist and Greie is a sound artist and poet. Their offering here is laid-back trip-hop, recommended on the journey home from Berghain.

For more of Greie's free music, go to Poem Producer

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jason on 08/17/2010 at 05:00PM

San Franciscan Art-Punk from Club Foot (Subterranean, 1981)

Club Foot image via clubfootorchestraThe Club Foot LP is named after one of San Francisco's premier artist-run venues of the late 70s/early 80s, and documents the jazz-punk-DIY-situationist sounds nurtured therein. Originally released in 1981 by legendary local imprint Subterranean Records (Flipper, Dead Kennedys, Inflatable Boy Clams), it was recently repressed in a limited edition of 450 12'' LP's to coincide with Club Foot's 30th anniversary and an "Artifacts from SF's Art Punk Cabaret" event at the San Francisco Public Library.

Club Foot was founded by Richard Kelly, a student of John Cage who sought to "marry high art values to the vitality of underground performance art; to fuse Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison and Albert Ayler and project that onto the art-rock stage" (this from an article on Club Foot's history at the Club Foot Orchestra's website). The Club Foot Orchestra was originally a revolving cast of characters from the local scene, including members of the bands who appear on this compilation: Bay of Pigs, Alterboys, Longshoremen and Naked City (not the Zorn one). Though the original Club Foot closed its doors in 1985, the Club Foot Orchestra it spawned continues in a sort of tribute to the sounds heard on this recording, but now specializing in "modern music for silent film".

A few copies of the Club Foot LP repressing are still available from Subterranean. Bay of Pigs, Alterboys and Longshoremen all performed at Club Foot's aforementioned 30th anniversary celebration earlier this year at Cafe Du Nord, and we hope to hear more from them soon!

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