Recent FMA Blog Posts
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longrally on 09/11/2009 at 09:02AM
Back in the middle of July I had the opportunity to record Darcy James Argue's Secret Society at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC for air on WFMU. DJA's Secret Society is an 18-piece big band that pairs a healthy adoration of the history of big band jazz with a playful modern sensibility, infusing meticulous arrangements with noise and free passages, Afro-funk beats or minimalism. I was taken with their debut record, Infernal Machines, almost immediately because it represents a freeform approach to a music that has thrown genres into the toolbox only incrementally. Darcy has a large palette to work from and he uses it.
And, you know, let's face it, it's ballsy to have a big band in 2009. Despite the fact that this music has some support (the record was partially fan funded), and some favorable press (there was a piece in Newsweek, of all places, not to mention the fawning jazz press), it's not exactly economical or convenient to tour with a big band, record with a big band, or even play one-off shows. Plus, the logistics of periodically reassembling this cast of excellent musicians, all in demand players with their own projects to boot, is somewhat mindboggling. There is an audacity, a punk rock ethos, and a purpose that pervades this project, and it's worthy of some appreciation.
That said, the music is also wonderful. Have a listen. And, maybe peruse Darcy's excellent blog while you're at it. Special thanks to Le Poisson Rouge and Darcy James Argue for being so accommodating. Engineered by Matt Duane.
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society; Le Poisson Rouge 07/15/09 [full set]
Setlist, personnel and more photos after the break...
JoeMc on 09/10/2009 at 02:40PM
Ready for the Sophie Tucker revival?
I sure am!
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran a nice little article on the "Last of the Red Hot Mamas." Check it out here. The occasion for the article was the release of a new CD on Archeophone Records featuring songs Sophie Tucker recorded for Edison in 1910-11 and Okeh in the early 20s. Despite their low fidelity, the recordings show that this vaudeville pro's salty style was in full-flower from the very beginning of her career. Other media outlets in print and on the Internet have since picked up the Times' lead. It's clear: Sophie Tucker's back!
Why this renewed interest in this forgotten icon of the American stage? Read on, as you listen to her theme song, for some thoughts on the phenomenon that was Sophie Tucker.
lizb on 09/10/2009 at 10:29AM
Led by John Wood, Learning Music's members rotate, swell, and retreat, but the constant is their album-a-month release schedule. Sample tunes from each monthy release are posted to their page on the FMA. On the Learning Music website, you can subscribe to these monthly releases in either corporeal or virtual formats. Remixing and cover versions of their songs are highly encouraged (even by outsiders).
Songs range from well-orchestrated indie rock ("CGGF" and "(LM) Labor Day") to warped boogaloo ("I Want You Pretty") to hip-hop-worthy beats ("Echo Echo Echoman" below). Fans of bands like Xiu Xiu and Of Montreal will likely dig it.
Scott_Williams on 09/09/2009 at 02:23PM
This weekend (Sept 11 - 13), WFMU's heading back up to the haunted wilds of Monticello NY to set up camp at Kutsher's resort (aka "The Shining" in the Catskills), for our second annual weekend-long broadcast live from the All Tomorrow's Parties festival. Don't forget to listen, we'll be broadcasting on Saturday, Sunday, and even Monday, with live sets from bands as diverse as Boss Hog, The Animal Collective, The Melvins, Grouper, Akron/Family, Deers Hoof AND Hunter, and lots more.
To whet your appetite for this go-round, there's a page on the FMA that's chock full of nothin' but live performances from last year's ATP, originally broadcast by WFMU. Look for performances from Lightning Bolt, Wooden Shjips, Low, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Harmonia, and a bunch more. All the sets are collected here.
mpvernon on 09/09/2009 at 08:53AM
It's about time. I'm Marvin P. Vernon from Free Albums Galore. The people at FMU have been urging me to do a little blogging over here, so I thought I would take them up on it. For those who haven't stumbled onto my humble blog, Free Albums Galore (please don't call it FAG), I review and post links to full free and legal on-line albums and EPs over 15 minutes in length. No DRM and no registration allowed. So far I have over 1500 albums featured in any genre you can think of. I am especially interested in featuring albums outside the electronica and indie genres. Jazz, avant-garde, folk, world, and classical all get less notice in the Creative Commons arena but there is plenty of it around if you just keep looking.
As for myself, I'm a 9-5 working bloke in a very non-musical career but used to play rock and jazz professionally in the Los Angeles area. When people ask me why I changed career I tell them I got used to eating regularly and having a roof over my head. I still consider music the love of my life and use my blog as a way of paying back to all those struggling musicians who enrich us by their music.
So I hope I'll be able to post regularly over here. At the least, I will mirror my blog posts for the albums that you can also download from the Free Music Archive. Thanks, Jason for your insistence and your advice.
To start things off, here's a track from Roger McGuinn’s Folk Den Project, which was my first exposure to online music files back in 1995.
doncbruital on 09/08/2009 at 10:28AM
The preponderance of wilderness and ghost-themed posts I've been writing (as well as their attendant catalyzing idle thoughts) may well be put down to one unavoidable personal nugget of information: namely, that I've recently moved into a two-hundred-someodd-year-old house in the Western Massachusetts woods, isolated and undoubtedly replete with ghoulery. Indeed, the place's well-documented history accounts for a surfeit of ghost-invoking intensity: during the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette supposedly partied in our parlor. Daniel Shays' Gnarly Rebellion occurred up the street (our landlord, asking if we were aware that the rebels had hanged local tax collectors, simply pointed to one of the trees in our yard). Its incarnations as, variously, a stop on the Underground Railroad, a stagecoach hub, and a nesting enclave for bats corroborate the house's general vibe that whispers, indubitably, "Get spooked, for I'm haunted."
Of course this is basically the raddest place around, full of weirdness, dirt, and hidden passages, and I'd live nowhere else. All the same, some of this eeriness demands respect, or else action, and while I wouldn't presume to have either the ability or the desire to completely rid the house of the supernatural kreeps what infest it, a little display of magic by way of noisey guitar-lick jams seemed to be, upon move-in, rather in order. At the very least, this would communicate to the spirits my desire to assert some modicum of safety and influence, as well as my more essential quality as one who digs MOUTHUS.
herr_professor on 09/07/2009 at 02:42PM
Recently I saw the Phenomenal gwEm perform live with Counter Reset. As my face was melting from my body, a thought occured to me. Those who can meld various genres with the chip music sounds, and do so in a evocative manner seem to be rare, but those who succeed are some of my favorites in the scene. Perhaps one of the lesser known chipmusic rock hybrid acts (think the likes of Anamanaguchi, Graffiti Monsters, or Depreciation Guild) has to be Sweden's Bondange Fairies.
There are a few incongruous elements you have to get by to appreciate their music. The name is taken from a famous hentai manga and has no impact on their image or music, other to illustrate their fascination with sex and the profane. Live they are a duo, a guitarist and bassist (named Elvis Creep & Deus Deceptor) who play late 80's pixies style indie rock mixed with deep c64 style electronics. They never appear live or in photos without trademark robot masks. Lyrics range from the scatological and outrageous (see Songs like Gay Wedding and Pink Eye Paranoia), to biting and sarcastic (like Indie Girl and HeMan).
But the common thread throughout all their music is how CATCHY it is. Take a blend of Pixies style rock, add c64 and casiocore drums, and throw in a nasal, constanly exasperated and bewildered vocalist whose unreliable narratives paint uncomfortable and vivid imagry on a host on topics from 80's cartoons to cuckholderly to the sad state of shitty indie rock.
May saw the release of their second full length "Cheap Italian Wine" out on Audiolith. Audiolith is also promoting a free label sampler available here. Much thanks to them providing a free download of the track: "nv4.dll". It's good to be back, see ya in seven.
macedonia on 09/05/2009 at 02:23PM
When I was younger, my curiosity surrounding vinyl led me to do something I'd consider blasphemy now. I would take a thumb tack and run it within the grooves of the record. When the needle hit the album after that, an ungodly high-pitched squeak would emanate from the speakers, sometimes drowning out the original vocals or instrumentation underneath. I can remember doing this to an Average White Band album as well as a spoken word LP by Wanda Robinson, whose work would later end up being sampled by the likes of Public Enemy, Airborn Audio (two-thirds of Anti-Pop Consortium while they were split up), and Prefuse 73. As bad as I feel about those thumb tack treatments in retrospect, the one that I will never forgive myself for is Truth Is On Its Way, an album by Nikki Giovanni and the New York Community Choir.
I'm sure that the vinyl junkies and audiophiles out there will be glad to know that karma works the way it's supposed to work: I've inherited every last one of those slabs of wax that I desecrated so long ago. As beat up as the Wanda Robinson album is, at least I know I can replace that one on CD and will have to do the same with Nikki Giovanni's as well. Even as a young boy, I can remember hearing "Ego Tripping" and really getting into Mother Nikki's braggadocio, pre-dating the verbal swagger of hip-hop MCs by at least five years. I can't play that cut anymore without painful skips and scraps of the needle across the record, but some selections remain surprisingly intact. One such piece is "Poem For Aretha," a sister's loving dedication to a sister at the top of her game and wishing for more quiet times for the Queen of Soul away from the press and the fans. I listened to it right before I sat down to write this.
Between Giovanni's works on CD and the recent posting of her reading poetry and speaking at Clark College, it seems as if my analog atrocities are being erased in the digital realm. Major props to the good people at KBOO for making this available for all on the FMA. The attached poem, "Train Rides - In Praise Of Black Men" displays incredible wit while talking about everything from railroad porters and a fear of mice to iron lawn jockeys and a contempt for Black conservatives. It was nice to listen to this collection of poems and monologues on my MP3 player earlier this week on my way to work. I found myself laughing, smiling, nodding in agreement, and thankful that these works were in a largely intangible form...one where the thumb tacks of the world can't carve their ugliness into it.
jason on 09/04/2009 at 12:03PM
Silver Apples were one of the most ground-breaking, influential artists of the late 60s. The original duo was comprised of Dan Taylor on an "extensive" drum kit, and vocalist Simeon Coxe III on a homemade 12-oscillator synthesizer nicknamed "The Simeon". The pioneering duo's spacious, psychedelic electronic sound has audibly influenced generations of artists ranging from Suicide to Kraftwerk. In their 3-year existance, the original Silver Apples released two albums on Kapp Records. The label folded before they could release a third, causing the duo to disband as well.
Nearly three decades later, the German label TRC re-released both Silver Apples albums on double CD. Although TRC's release was pirated and issued without Simeon's consent or knowledge, it kindled a renewed interest in the Silver Apples. Inspired by the situation as much as he was upset by the unlicensed reissue, Simeon revived Silver Apples in 1996, officially reissued the group's earlier material, and set about recording new material. In 1997, he began touring with a new group, and one of the group's first stops was here at WFMU for a live performance on The Stork Club on 1/24/1997.
Joined by Michael Lerner on drums, Arrow Kleeman on bass keyboard, and Xian Hawkinds on keyboard and sampler, Simeon and the Silver Apples performed an amazing set of classics (listen to the opening set below), a new song "Fractal Flow", and a cover of Wilson Pickett's "Wait Till the Midnight Hour". The latter prompted an interesting conversation between Simeon and Stork about his own musical influences, as well as Silver Apples' influence on other artists, as demonstrated through remixes, covers and the like. Perhaps as an allusion to the TRC situation, Simeon remarked "if you wanna [cover] my stuff, i love it, i'll help you with it. But just give me some credit. I dont want money out of your pocket, but just give me credit, ya know? A six pack o' beer..."
Silver Apples continue to perform on rare occasions, one of which is coming up one week from today as part of The Oscillations Festival. Oscillations is "A festival of extraordinary audio-visual events celebrating new music, art and film." The second annual festival is currently underway in Belfast, Ireland. Film screenings include Jandek on Corwood, Pierre Henry - The Art of Sound, and an All Tomorrow's Parties documentary. Among the myriad musical performances are Damo Suzuki, Blues Control, and Tropa Macaca.
We are honored to announce that The Oscillations Festival is curating a selection of festival recordings for the Free Music Archive. More on that in the coming days!
jason on 09/03/2009 at 04:18PM
There's a great show tonight at Brooklyn's Glasslands w/ Larkin Grimm, Extra Life, Zs, and Liturgy. Most of those bands have music on the FMA, and I figured this is a nice opportunity to feature 'em
Larkin Grimm is "a musician, artist, psychic, and reiki master" according to her brand new website, which she has "infused with healing energy". She's performed twice at WFMU -- once on Irene Trudel's show in 2006, and most recently on Dan Bodah's Airborne Event in November of last year, accompanied by John Houx on gu zheng. The track below is from the latter session, which is available for download in its entirety here on the FMA. Larkin Grimm's newest album, Parplar, was released on Michael Gira's Young God imprint.
Extra Life is the project of Charlie Looker, former member of Dirty Projectors and Zs. I'd describe Extra Life as somewhere in between those two: abstract linear vocal lines (a la Dave Longstreth) mixed with experimental, meticulously composed prog a la Zs.
Zs recently played a fantastic Sax / Drums / Guitar / Electronics set on Marty McSorely's show, which you can download here. The first track's a suspenseful intro, the second an epic prog composition. Zs have a new 12'' EP out on The Social Registry called "Music of the Modern White".
Opening the show is Liturgy, a "so dark it's light"-metal group from Brooklyn. Last show I saw of theirs, a superfan was dancing along the whole time and afterwards I overheard her confront the band saying how light this black metal made her feel. At that show, they played along with a tempo-changing drum machine which I thought was pretty impressive. It started out as an awesome solo "white metal" project from Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, but more often, GDFX plays drums, and the artist formerly known as Willy Weird, currently known as Thick Business, plays bass. Check out "Ecstatic Rite", the single from their Renihilation 12'' (20 BUCK SPIN), here on the FMA.