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BTurner on 12/07/2009 at 06:18PM

New Zealand's Axemen at WFMU (MP3's)

Axemenlive It's a chore enough these days for any kind of overseas band to land a U.S. tour on any scale, so its was nothing less than a pleasant surprise when we learned that New Zealand's Axemen had a pretty extensive one lined up with Columbus, Ohio's Times New Viking this fall. The Axemen started in Christchurch in 1981, a time when New Zealand and Flying Nun records in particular were stirring up a major musical waves (ones that were felt in countless 1990's US indie bands and are still being felt today especially disciples like TNV), yet the sweeping, strummy pop element that was evident in many of the Nun's stable was only a part of the fuzzy picture that was the Axemen. The band's central core of (Little) Stevie McCabe, Bob Brannigan, and Stu Kawowski recorded in both cheapo home mode and in traditional studios, but setting had little to do with the wide-swing of directions that are evident wherever you drop a needle (or cue up a tape). There's tons of basement weirdness nodding to the more antisocial Velvets and Swell Maps moments, scatterings of drunken White Album recreation attempts, even moments where they sound like Royal Trux way before their time. When they played at Union Pool in Brooklyn last week I could swear they were going for a Stackwaddy/Doors thing, but then they became Half Japanese with Stevie playing sax solos on guitar. In Axemen recordings, they have one song about Elmer Fudd that sounds like Psychic TV, and another that is totally inspired by Grandmaster Flash. They even did a full album of Elton John songs. I have a feeling that if Flying Nun gave them the giant studio budget like they did Straitjacket Fits they would have come up with an album just as great as their Big Cheap Motel and Scary! Part III cassettes that Siltbreeze thankfully reissued in 2009. Check out the clip below (and more after the jump) of the band on a 90's NZ kids' TV show (promoting their Peter Wang Pud album!), and dig in to their November 20th visit to my radio show, engineered by Jason Sigal and Alex Yockey. Thanks for Terre T for leaving us all the food the Reigning Sound didn't eat earlier that day, there were some fancy pastries!

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new zealand
mwalker on 12/07/2009 at 04:26AM

The Seven Storey Mountain

Nate Wooley

This Tuesday at ISSUE Project Room, trumpeter Nate Wooley (Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, John Butcher), violinist C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core, Thurston Moore, Evan Parker), and drummer Chris Corsano (Flower-Corsano Duo, Paul Flaherty, Six Organs of Admittance) join together in holy-shit revelry, forming a trio as intensely formidable as one might ever be lucky enough to witness. Along with a bracing evening of improv, attendees will also bear witness to the unveiling of a new tape piece from Wooley, expanding upon The Seven Storey Mountain album collaboration with David Grubbs and Paul Lytton (released last month on Important Records). To get warmed up for what should be a staggeringly awesome concert, check the playlist below for some past ISSUE performances from these three men. You’ll hear a newly-shared performance from C. Spencer Yeh (with Greg Kelley and Paul Flaherty) as well as a couple classic staples of the FMA.

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BTurner on 12/04/2009 at 08:47PM

Airway live at WFMU (mp3)

Airway_-_2009113014357463 The Los Angeles Free Music Society had its earliest roots in 1972, attracting, almost by act of nature, like-minded audio hooligans who huddled around Tom Recchion's esoteric musical recommendations at the Poo-Bah record store in Pasadena. Not just content to sit around a listen to weird records, the LAFMS generally sought out to blur the lines of highbrow Euro-informed avant classicism, dada-rock ala Beefheart, humor-laced psychedelic jammage, and a million more influences. They did it in a very home-styled manner, held guerilla performances, took over parades and art spaces, and documented countless hours of their interactions on tape and the odd LP. Groups like the Doo-Dooettes, Le Forte Four, Solid Eye, and Extended Organ held court at the nucleus, while interactions with many in their orbit led to early documentations of free-blowing stalwarts like the still-viable Smegma, and to lesser extent notables like Monitor, and even Christian Death and 45 Grave wound up encoded in LAFMS documents. It wasn't until the 1990's that a 10CD box set on the Cortical label, and a 4CD anthology of the open-contribution-based Blorp Essette appeared to try to encapsulate things, inevitably only scratching the surface of the LAFMS saga. So when Mike Kelley's curated two-night noisefest landed at Performa's monthlong NYC event, and brought a slew of LAFMS alumni to town, I jumped on the opportunity to have them down to WFMU to decode the long and mysterious history of the collective.

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andrewcsmith on 12/04/2009 at 10:41AM

2009, evoking 1979

Connie Beckley performing Sound Split (1976)

To imagine the difficulty of imagining what a snapshot of the New Music New York series at the Kitchen in 1979 might be imagined as, begin by listening to these excerpts from last night's performance. But more than he sonic differences--flutes, trumpets, and voices or voice and tape recorder or solo piano--the differences were in the performances.

Connie Beckley, whose piece for voice and tape recorders is featured here, recorded these vocal loops while walking down the aisle, after which she placed the looping cassette players around the room and (eventually) turned them off one by one. "Blue" Gene Tyranny, who performed in many different contexts with everyone from the Once crew to pop to the Kitchen in 1979, presented both a duet for dancers with tape (featuring the voice of Harvey Milk, serving as a reminder to the New York Senate) and a solo piano performance. Peter Kotik's work with a text from Gertrude Stein began with relatively classical instruments and positions. In no time, though, the musical parts drifted apart--three of his compositions were being performed simultaneously--and floated back and forth among one another.

All of this is to illustrate that even after cutting out three different excerpts from a three-night concert series meant to represent the Kitchen in 1979, there isn't much of a stylistic thread to follow. But then again, the concerts weren't exactly specific in their implied content; New Music New York tells three things, none of which were disproven (well, aside from the "new" part this time around). 

Which is to say, if you really want the full experience--mobile tape recorders and all--your best bet is to show up at ISSUE Project Room tonight and tomorrow night, for the rest of the festival. Check or for the full details.

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Scott_Williams on 12/04/2009 at 09:09AM

Bad Blogger, No Pudding: A Mix

Been a month since I made a blogpost.  Bad Blogger!  I deserve, and accept, punishment.  Can't have any pudding.  How can you have any pudding if you don't blog on schedule?

Oh look, pudding! 

Every track guaranteed arrived at through self-flagellation and crow-eating, always with an eye on the satorical prize.

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wmmberger on 12/03/2009 at 10:00AM

Ghost Moth Haunt the Castle; Live Session 11th November 2009

GM1 When you're already in a dance with noise and free improvisation, the Kosmische is less than one membranous step away. And so it was with Ghost Moth, the duo of suitcase electronicist Todd Pendu and multi brass/woodwind blower Daniel Carter.

This was Ghost Moth's third set as a duo (reduced from a trio), continuous play totaling over 50 minutes. So many of my favorite records come to mind upon listening: Bob Ostertag's Getting a Head; Merzbow & Christoph Heemann's Sleeper Awakes on the Edge of the Abyss; Miles Davis' In A Silent Way. But Ghost Moth are really their own thing, and must be heard to be believed:

After the jump, there's some video of the session, from Todd's YouTube channel:

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doncbruital on 12/02/2009 at 01:00PM

The Movement of Survivance

nuclear waste location map/potential instrumental psych repositories

A bunch of fascinating/trippy and thoroughgoingly existential-spook-inducing recent news stories on issues surrounding Nevada's Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository--namely how to alert future-flung Nevadans, living in the year 12,000, of the site's radioactivity--have got me dwellin' on the old idea of just what our grimy civilization, all aspew with nasty fumes and bad TV shows and rotten wastefulness, will leave to future generations. Of course we have great culture out there, little diamonds in the rough tangle of lameness, to which hubs like the FMA are a testament, a proud archive of our civilization's worthwhile musical output. But, per the Rosetta Stone angle these scientists are taking with their "DON'T DIG UP OUR NUCLEAR WASTE" markers, I wonder what all will survive when English, or any spoken language, is no foregone conclusion. Sure, maybe future generations will have on-hand a copy of the useful multilingual phonographic canon of music up till 1977 rocketed into space on NASA's Voyager, but as that cutoff already excludes all the Kiss solo albums, how reliable a document can it be, really?

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jason on 12/02/2009 at 08:43AM

What's New? Tagging and more!

We're testing out some new features and slight changes to the FMA this week, please try them out and let us know what you think!

+ The big #1 is Tagging. Any registered user can tag a track, artist, or album. This will help create community-generated tag pages like this one for Banjo and this one for Baltimore

+ you might notice your tags popping up in the Recent Activity Feed on the homepage, along with recent user-generated blog posts, mixes, and comments. Soon, these feeds will also be available on your own profile, as well as on Artist, Curator, and Label pages to track discussion and help users collaborate

+ We've tweaked the FMA's Mix Creation and Blog Management -- try it out!

+ Smoother uploading, more intuitive Edit pages, more dynamic label pages w/ Fans & Comments (here are some examples)

+ more Stats: Starting this week, we're keeping a download count for each track, and we're working on more comprehensive statistics and charts.

+ You may have already noticed our embeddable player, and .zip downloads for Albums and Mixes. Huge thanks to our friends at Cuban Council and tireless developer Mark for helping make these site improvements this far.

We all share high expectations and big goals for this project, and your feedback is our guide. Please let us know what you think of these changes by leaving a comment or by emailing One of our next steps is a message board, where we'll be able to discuss site improvements, share free legal music resources, and bring our broad userbase together to discuss a range of topics. Read more about what's in store on our new donate page, where you can help the Free Music Archive reach its full potential.

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mwalker on 12/01/2009 at 02:00PM

Darmstadt Festival: Essential Repertoire

So, big week for the Downtown Music community. ISSUE Project Room hosts the second annual Darmstadt: Essential Repertoire Festival on the evenings of December 3, 4, and 5, curated by Zach Layton and Nick Hallet. In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Rhys Chatham-curated concerts held at the Kitchen in 1979, this year's Essential Rep festival will be comprised exclusively of work from composers featured in the seminal Kitchen performances -- Meredith Monk, Peter Zummo, Phill Niblock, Jon Gibson, and many more living legends. Check the full line-up: here.

Things kicked off last night at Galapagos Art Space with an unbelievably huge (50+) ensemble of incredible musicians (Jon Gibson, David Grubbs, Alan Licht, Peter Zummo, Alex Waterman, etc, etc, etc) performing Terry Riley's classic In C, an annual Darmstadt staple. The fantastic performance came off as a veritable universe of joyfully dense sound, at every moment threatening to implode with blissful exuberance.

To get everyone pumped up, we're sharing a little mix featuring three performances from last year's festival as well as a performance from Phill Niblock, who performs on Friday for the 2009 festivities. Enjoy!

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herr_professor on 12/01/2009 at 11:46AM

Over The Edge

photo: marjorie becker

For chip music aficionados, the Blip Festival anticipation is reaching unbearable levels. Mere weeks away, the full lineup has been posted and amongst those announced, and coming back for their second year, is NYC's Starscream.Their last release on the 8Bitpeoples label, "Future and It Doesn't Work" is a masterful mix of perky Game Boy post-rock anthems, driving drums and a sense of futuristic humor.

Despite their youthful appearance, the duo of Damon Hardjowirogo and George Stroud , themselves barely out of high school, have become a crack live performance engine, playing dozens of shows in the last year. Check out "Future, And It Doesn't Work", and try to contain yourself for next weeks Blip Festival feature.

Until then, check out the official Blip Blog for more news and tunes you can use. See you in seven!

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