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doncbruital on 10/13/2009 at 03:15PM

Harvey Milk, the Romantic Ideal

Hey doods, so I've skirted around saying so before, but enough's enough, here goes, the laying of a law, as it were: there is an inviolable and fundamental connection between music and nature. We each of us know it, and fall foliage crackling lazily to earth with a killer hard-rocking soundtrack for the viewing will confirm its truth, if you're near some trees right now. Try it, reaffirm that connection, for there's no shame in having forgotten; after all, we inept and easily-distracted humans often get caught up in our drab minutiae and need, every so often, a helpful friend to reassert the Romanticism-tinged Ideal at the heart of everything, not least that of rock and roll. Bands aware, intelligent (in other words, down) enough to play this helping role are few and far between, and even fewer and farther, like the deepest components of infinity-flung constellations, are bands as smart as HARVEY MILK.

This group constitutes some sort of supernatural being; an angel of sludge. I'm not kidding, I really think this--in a symbolic conception that trumps any stringently veracious one, the band has been touched, kissed, wrapped in the silver-threaded cloths of another argent world. When Harvey Milk walks among other bands (as in their 2008 WFMU-curated South by Southwest showcase, whose other performers were each, make no mistake, completely great) there is a soft light of distinction that haloes it around. And it's got everything to do with the way its members celebrate and mourn, like their Romantic forebears, the sublime exaltedness of nature, of life ('the best game in town,' sez the leadoff on their most recent full-length effort) and death (which, we are reminded immediately after, 'goes to the winner'), of love, of hate, of glory, and yeah, of a flag overhanging a battlefield.

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herr_professor on 10/13/2009 at 09:57AM


Mole Soul EP.

When one thinks of progressive music, "stripped down" doesn't easily come to mind, but in the music of chipmusic proggers like this weeks featured artist, Zan-zan-zawa-veia, the barebones sound of raw NES sound chips are infused with the intricate compositions of an prolific and accomplished performer. A member of the II Music roster along side such artists as Disasterpiece, Animal Style, and Alex Mauer, ZZZV fits nicely within their vision of finite sounds with infinite melody. Often working without post-production and on strict hardware limitations, prog-chip'ers often are free to focus on one of the main columns of Progressive music, excessively exuberant voicing and melodic riffing.

ZZZV is a mysterious presence online. From what little information available, I THINK he hails from Alexandria, Egypt, and is as much as a fan of this style of music as one of its more accomplished voices. He has contributed to dozens of compilations and recently made his spring debut for the II label, Mole Soul EP, which i've upped to the archive. Prog safely, and catch you guys in seven.

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stevenarntson on 10/12/2009 at 08:08AM

The Absent Second: An Explanation

In 1931, the Carter Family recorded a song called "Can't Feel At Home," a spiritual about storing up treasure in heaven in the face of the world's cruelty. The chorus contains the line "I can't feel at home in this world anymore." The catalog of copyright entries produced by the Library of Congress Copyright Office contains the following notice for A.P. Carter:

Can't feel at home ; words and melody by A.P. Carter. © 1 c. Aug. 25, 1931; E unp. 45219 ; Southern music pub. co., inc., New York. 21378

A.P.'s lyric and melody is substantially equivalent to another song called "This World Is Not My Home," by Albert E. Brumley, who copyrighted his words and melody in 1936, five years after Carter. Despite the suggestion of authorship suggested by these copyrights, the song is older than either of these versions. In his essay, "Roots of Bluegrass Music," Richard L. Matteson Jr. charts its history, which reaches back in print to a 1909 hymnal and likely long before that in the oral tradition. There are two recordings that predate that of the Carter Family. One is by Sam Jones, from 1924, and the other is by The Kentucky Thorobreds, from 1927.

Sometime in the late 1930s, Woody Guthrie heard a version of the song and penned a parody of it titled "I Ain't Got No Home," which considerably changes the tone of resigned worldly rejection of the original spiritual. The line "Angels beckon me to heaven's open door/And I can't feel at home in this world anymore," becomes "Rich man took my home and drove me from my door/And I ain't got no home in this world anymore." The earliest recording of "I Ain't Got No Home" that I know of is from 1940, made by Folkways chronicler Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress.

Sixty-eight years later, in 2008, I heard "Can't Feel and Home" and "I Ain't Got No Home," and felt the latter lyric connected well with some lyrics I was writing for what would become The Emerald Arms suite. I decided to arrange "I Ain't Got No Home" as the second movement. After creating the recording and sheet music of the entire work, I set out to discover whose permission I should ask before giving the suite away online as free recordings and a score.

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JoeMc on 10/11/2009 at 06:00PM

You Can't Be Too Wrong

GP pic courtesy Bill Wilcox/flickr

This year Columbus Day in America and Spain actually falls on the same day, which doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. In Spain, it’s always celebrated on October 12, no matter what day of the week it is, but over here we like to have it on the second Monday in October. We’re a practical people, we Americans; we like our holidays to extend our weekends. Only Jesus gets away with that middle of the week stuff here. Well, Him and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade promoters.

So, some of us get a long weekend out of it. That’s about the biggest impact that Columbus Day has on most Americans. Let’s face it, Columbus Day gets the razz pretty often in terms of holidays worth celebrating. The famous story, the one even tiny schoolkids know by now, is that Cristóbal Colón never really discovered “America” as we know it. He ended up in the West Indies. Personally, I don’t see how we can really hold this against the guy; I mean, as far as I can tell, one person’s bungled stopover is another person’s New World. Ol’ Chris was looking for a new world and there’s no doubt that he found one. It wasn’t the one that suits our national mythology, but I’ll bet it suited him well enough. I mean, hey, it’s the Bahamas!

Okay, so he’s not much of a hero. Lest ye forget, plenty of Spaniards who came in the wake of this brave Italian brought war and pestilence to the native peoples of this hemisphere. They practically set the standard for rubbing ’em out, in fact, a lesson not lost on later colonists. And although there’s that romantic bit about the queen, wasn’t Columbus really just trying to sew up the spice trade routes for Spain for mucho moolah? Yeah, probably. But, hey, how many people do you know who have a national holiday named in their honor? Amerigo Vespucci may have gotten naming rights, but Columbus got the holiday (alas, the United States of Columbia was not to be). There must be something to that old story. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a pretty good story, with the three ships and everything.

John Drew Barrymore tells my favorite version of the Columbus story here. As you can tell from watching this for two minutes, the myth is so embedded in our culture that it’s not only a source of easy satire, but it’s more important than the reality. You have to admit, it’s a great metaphor for all kinds of discovery, not just ones involving patches of real estate. Even if we did limit it to America, it’s not like there aren’t people who are discovering America every day. Sometimes they even literally come from across the ocean, like the fellow in today’s featured FMA MP3.

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macedonia on 10/10/2009 at 03:13PM

"super...super...super fly..."

One of the reasons that I like to frequent the Free Music Archive is knowing that I'm going to find some left-of-center, wonderfully off-kilter material from many different genres.  Within the hip-hop and electronic sectors alone, the beats, rhymes, and varied frequencies that I have come across have run the gamut.  This makes it all the more interesting when stumbling upon an artist whose work embraces Creative Commons licenses, but would be expected to be heard in heavy rotation on urban contemporary radio across the nation.

Born in Atlanta, but raised on hip-hop in The Bronx, The Kid Daytona has that unmistakable swagger...and a verbal delivery that should be placed alongside Jay-Z.  His album Come Fly With Me dropped this past summer and features a number of ride-with-the-top-down joints, produced by the likes of Double O and 6th Sense, not to mention the noteworthy guest appearances from artists like Kardinal Offishall, Outasight, and Bun B.  "Lately" was the cut that grabbed me upon first listen, thanks in part to the lush production by Ill Bomb and an effective vocal hook from hip-hop superwoman Amanda Diva.  The Kid's vocals glide effortlessly over the beat, like he was born to this and he knows it.  Put this one on and it's like summer never left the building...

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mpvernon on 10/10/2009 at 02:05PM

Diablo Swing Orchestra - The Butcher's Ballroom

29dtllj.jpgWhen it comes to odd music, I don't shock easily but Diablo Swing Orchestra got even me off guard on its first listen. This Swedish ensemble has one of the freshest and most exciting sounds I've heard in a long time and they manage it through an insane combination of heavy metal, swing jazz, a traditional European music smorgabord, and a classical soprano voice that probably broke wine glasses in the studio. By the time I got through the first two tracks, I considered going to the emergency ward for the possibility of impending head explosion. There is an operatic feel throughout the tracks and an intensity that hold up marvelously through every musical twist. There are actually two vocalists, male and female, and these two work to good effect on "Rag Doll Physics", a weird cross between Wagner and Ozzy Osbourne. Just about when I thought my head might explode, soprano and guitar make love on the gorgeous ballad "D'Angelo". However if you really want to get the sense of this album start at the first track with "Balrog Boogie", a full-assault barrage of swing and metal that has to be heard to believe. Other tracks all have their surprises like the Raga influenced "Gunpowder Chant" and an epic "Zodiac Virtues". Finally, in case, you haven't received the message that no limits are spared, Diablo Swing exits with a marvelous "Pink Noise Waltz" that offers flute and violin solos among the metal barrage, swing overtones, and the operatic power of the vocal. Even though this album was originally released as a CD in 2007, it soars to the top of my best free online albums of 2009 list and I expect will stay there until the end of the year. (full album here or after the jump)

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jason on 10/09/2009 at 03:00PM

Foot Village offer Creative Commons Anti-Magic remix kit

Looking for a legal Funky Drummer sample? How about four drummers? Good news: Foot Village (Los Angeles' premier 4-drummer ensemble) is making all the multitracks from their new album Anti-Magic (Upset! The Rhythm) available for free under a Creative Commons license to encourage remixing, sampling and creative re-use.

As you may reremember, earlier this year, Foot Village enlisted a coalition of the willing to remix their song Chicken & Cheese 2, and we posted highlights (from the likes of Lucky Dragons, Tussle, Anavan, Jason Forrest, Death Sentence: Panda! and T.I.T.S.) on the FMA here. We'll do the same thing this time around. Submit your remixes after the jump, where you'll also find links to the raw audio. And here's a message from Foot Village HQ:

All of us at Foot Village love to meet, party, and even work with other musicians. So, in an effort to find even more ways to work with YOU, we our very happy to give you complete remix kits for every song on our most recent album, ‘Anti-Magic’. Thats right, separation of all 4 different drum parts and all the vocal parts, plus some surprises! So download and remix away, or sample for your own songs, or whatever you want to do with these stems from our songs. All we ask is that you share the results with us!

Here it is, 6.5 gigs of data! Our gift to you!!! All files are zips. (after the jump)

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doron on 10/09/2009 at 06:09AM

ATP-NY 2009: The Dirty Three

Photos courtesy Rez Avissar (

It's been almost five years since Warren Ellis, Jim White and Mick Turner have recorded a studio album as the Dirty Three but it looks like they've been keeping busy. Drummer Jim White, who now lives is New York, has been anchoring Cat Power's Dirty Delta Band while sitting in on various gigs around town while violinist Warren Ellis, a member of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, has spent the past few years scoring several films with Cave including this fall's upcoming screen version of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road".

"Ocean Songs" is probably my favorite album by the Dirty Three and All Tomorrow's Parties organizer Barry Hogan most likely feels the same way as the 2009 New York installation of the festival marked the third time that the band has played the album in its entirety as part of ATP's Don't Look Back segment. The album is decidedly less raucous then some of the band's earlier work and the slow, almost dirge like compositions are loosely structured allowing everyone lots of opportunity to stretch out and improvise in a live setting.

The album reaches its climax with the epic 16 minute track "Deep Waters" which finds the band exploring a wide dynamic range from quiet finger picking to a rather loud, crashing tumult. Like many of the tunes on the album "Deep Waters" is a bit of a mood piece and the song has a staggering, almost drunken quality that always threatens to fall apart before returning to beautiful, repetitive violin pattern played by Ellis. Joining the band to play the piano parts originally played on the studio album by David Grubbs was Nick Cave, resplendent in a sharp black suit.

The tune was one of the grander moments I witnessed in the Starlight Ballroom over the course of the weekend and definitely one the festival's stand out performances.

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blocsonic on 10/08/2009 at 06:20PM

They Made Their Bed (Processed Music Product Revisited)

Back in January of 2007, I launched with our premiere “netBloc” compilation. In the PDF booklet for that first collection of free, Creative Commons licensed netaudio gems was included the introduction “Processed Music Product”. Here I revisit that introduction, it’s topics and add further thoughts.

Being a child of the 70s, I clearly remember a time when popular music was alive. Radio playlists weren’t limited to 10-12 tracks endlessly played over and over. Yeah kids, there was actually a time when FM radio was relevant. You could easily dial into your favorite station(s) and catch something new and interesting or even old and classic being played. Because stations were more independent and DJs were able to make playlist decisions instead of some corporate “radio consultant” dictating it, there was diversity being broadcast over the airwaves.

Before videos, before the independent music industry sprouted, before CDs, MP3s and iPods. Somehow the major music industry, even with it’s monopolistic control, allowed artists to develop and create great music. Artists’ first albums weren’t expected to become hits. If they did, so be it, but if they didn’t the label knew that they could expect the artist to further hone their sound and image on subsequent releases. In the 70s there are numerous examples of major music stars who required 2 or 3 album releases before they hit it big. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Pink Floyd, Judas Priest, AC/DC… etc. Then came MTV and CDs.

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lizb on 10/08/2009 at 04:00AM

ATP-NY 2009: Deerhoof

Photo by michaelz1, CC by-nc-sa

From the crumbling dining room of Davis California's DAM House to a massive stage in the Stardust Ballroom at All Tomorrow's Parties New York, Deerhoof have forged a loud and impressive path over their decade-plus existence. Living in the Bay and Sacramento areas during the late '90s, I was able to catch them a few times in their earlier incarnations, and it was a real treat to witness their performance at ATP-NY last month.

After repeated (and mostly failed) attempts to turn friends on to the quirky, irregular, experimental, yet undeniably catchy and sweet sounds of Deerhoof over the years (the girl who cried Deerhoof?), standing in a giant ballroom full of believers was indeed a powerful moment.

The band's lineup has changed over the years: mainstays Greg Saunier, John Dieterich, and Satomi Matsuzaki were joined by Ed Rodriguez at ATP, who has been with the band since early last year. Chris Cohen was part of the band for a number of years (he has since formed Cryptacize, along with Nedelle and Michael Carreira), and appeared with Deerhoof during all three of their visits to WFMU on Brian Turner's show in 2002, 2003, and 2005.

The band has graciously allowed us to serve up their awesome set from ATP-NY for your listening pleasure, including some recent hits and a brand new song. (mp3s after the jump)

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