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JoeMc on 12/22/2009 at 02:00PM

Learn a New Song for Christmas

The world is awash in Christmas music this week, and I'm not planning to buck the tide. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a matter of picking which Christmas music you care to be drowned by. What's your poison? Will it be Bing? Frank? The Waitresses? Dogs? Power tools?

My Christmas poison will be none of these. I actually like Christmas music, amazingly enough, and every year I do my best to find a few songs that I haven't heard before. What fascinates me about Christmas music is that once you get past the usual suspects, your Bruces and Bobbys and Bings, you find that there are tons of forgotten Christmas songs just waiting to be discovered.

In fact, I just discovered one on the FMA.

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holiday music
katya-oddio on 12/22/2009 at 07:00AM

Loved Like a Milkshake

Wesley Willis (1963-2003) was an artist and musician from Chicago who released hundreds of songs with his own unique sense of humor. His chronic schizophrenia was reflected in his work which leaned toward the bizarre and obscene. Willis gained a cult following and major label attention.

One of his labels, the prominent independent Alternative Tentacles described Wesley's work as "simultaneously disturbing, hilarious, blunt, and intoxicating. Wesley's sheer excitement and unaffected honesty about every cultural phenomenon, defined his music as truly individual, and truly punk rock."

Sadly, in 2002 Wesley was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). He underwent emergency surgery in June 2003, and passed away in August of the same year.

Hiji, a.k.a. M-Halo, soon thereafter organized a tribute album to honor Wesley Willis. Work for LOVED LIKE A MILKSHAKE: A WESLEY WILLIS TRIBUTE ALBUM began when Hiji posted a Craigslist listing suggesting a tribute of cover songs. The response was positive and the following 18 songs were selected. The final product was released for free online in November 2003 and produced by M-Halo with mastering and additional production by Tom Gordon.


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BTurner on 12/21/2009 at 12:18PM

Fandango: A Sampler of FMA Experimental Sounds

A sampling of sideways sounds, improvisations, drones, cut ups, and one messy Emerson Lake and Palmer cover, all found within the Free Music Archive, some recorded live on WFMU (avarus and graveyards were live on my program, you can hear the full sessions here on FMA or stream on my playlist archives at Headphones recommended!

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jason on 12/21/2009 at 10:00AM

Anti-Pop Consortium remixes are in!

Back on November 16th, the Free Music Archive announced our first official remix contest featuring NYC's legendary hip-hop innovators Anti-Pop Consortium. Last night was the deadline, and we've got everything posted now so take a listen, because these remixes are incredible!

The original song "Reflections", from Anti-Pop Consortium's new album Fluorescent Black, is just brimming with potential -- hints at styles and sounds that could be infinitely expanded. And 50 remixers from all over the world have gone and done just that, expounded on the idea like a fractal!

I was hoping somebody's start out like Lille, France's Luminocolor did, with the drum fill from the second section of the song moved to the very beginning. They even re-recorded the theme with a horn arrangement.

We've got some familiar faces throwing their unique interpretations into the mix. Chicago's Chandeliers, Lord Tang (a new project from the mastermind behind Qulfus/Borful Tang), Curha (Curtis Hasselbring), even our own Dylan Going (of Bronhard/Going/Public and White Mice) did a 12-minute extended dancefloor into ambience remix!

We also heard from a bunch of artists who are new to the FMA, but well established. Like Montreal's DJ Brace, who's worked with the liked of the Pharcyde and Roxanne Shante, and whose 2009 solo album, Nostomania, won a Juno award! Also from Montreal is sound artist and composer and Mutek performer Nimalan Yoganathan. I was personally very excited to've received entries from uiutna and h., part of Switzerland's Wildrfid collective, and Jonas the Plugexpert , a hero of the UpitUp netlabel. And then there are new sounds -- check out Karash Nikol from France, the slowed-down groove of 22tape, the midwest funk of DJ Kamikaze, the glitched-out sounds of _jjj_ from the Czech Republic, a squeaky, slammin' beat from Amsterdam's C.O.G.

I'll admit -- I was worried that some remixers (like myself!) might get disoriented by the tempo-changes, and advanced, arrhythmic, anti-pop approach of Anti-Pop Consortium. But even the occasional awkward moment makes for pretty engaging listening, and everything I've listened to so far is awesome!

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longrally on 12/20/2009 at 12:00PM

Bug Incision Records + Bent Spoon Duo Live on WFMU

A year or so ago, WFMU received a bunch of releases from the Bug Incision label, a small high quality improv label based in Calgary, Canada.  Now honestly, I don't know much about Calgary, but I was transfixed by this scene happening up there being documented by Bug Incision. I have a tendency to root for the underdog and so was intrigued by the label immediately, but the music lived up to all expectations.  There seemed to be a wide berth of sounds, sometimes coming from the same people, from your basic free jazz descended improv, to grating noise, skittering improv, toys and "tiny instruments," an anything-goes mentality that seemed to be free of dogma.  On further inspection I noted Bug Incision also released some fine music from Ben Hall's Broken Research/Detroit orbit, a midwestern noise powwow featuring C. Spencer Yeh and Ryan Jewell, as well as a few things with Jack Wright, somewhat of a teacher/patron saint to many of the leading younger North American free players.  In other words, good company they keep. 

I contacted Chris Dadge who runs Bug Incision and appears on many of the label's releases, about possibly doing something for my radio show and while he doesn't get to the NYC area often he agreed to record a set especially for the program to send to me.  I left it up to him and he put together an exceptional improv set by the Bent Spoon Duo, his long running group with Scott Munro.  Their set-up is highly portable; a few battery powered amps, maybe a snare drum, small percussion, some tiny Casio keyboards, perhaps a guitar, etc. which is remarkable in its simplicity, and yet belies the group's sound, so much bigger than the sum of its parts.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Please stream or download via the Free Music Archive.  Thanks to Chris Dadge and Scott Munro for taking the time to play and engineer this recording.

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Scott_Williams on 12/19/2009 at 01:35PM

ST 37 Live on WFMU: Some Hormone In Your Drone

Austin, Texas has got a lot to love if you're a music, bbq and concrete gorilla garden-gnome lover like me.  And the assorted distorted musical minds of ST 37 measure their Austin roots back to the 13th Floor Elevators.  Tapping into the future with furrows into gardens also visited by the Buttholes and Scratch Acid, ST 37 has arguably now achieved the status of greatest working surrealist psychedelic punk band in Texas.

ST 37 formally came together in 1987, as a collaborative project between several other Austin bands.  Scott Telles, Joel and Carlton Crutcher, and Jon Torn (son of Rip) laid down the blueprint: a heavy devotion to Hawkwind, Chrome (from whose Alien Soundtracks they took their name), and the original Krautrock band of 5 (Neu, Kraftwerk, Amon Duul, Can, Ash Ra Temple).  Lest the beards get too long, live sets always included covers by the likes of the Urinals and Aussie deviant Pip Proud.  By the summer of 2000, Telles and the Crutchers remained, with new guys playing Theremins, guitars and more synths, to make their first visit to New York.  While here, they stopped off at my WFMU show to play a set that was wasted, shambolic and visionary.  They've agreed to freely share these tracks with us.  Enjoy!

ST 37 live set on Scott's show, August 11 2000, here

ST 37 home page here

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st37, texas, austin, psychedelic
mwalker on 12/18/2009 at 09:30AM

cable dazed

Photo by Kotaro Okada

For a group with only a single year –and-a-half old 12” to their name, the Invisible Conga People have maintained an unnaturally pervasive foothold in my consciousness. I find myself spinning (well…digitally spinning, I don’t have a turntable) “Cable Dazed” as regularly now as when it came out last Februrary…which is to say: pretty damn regularly. Justin Simon and Eric Tsai make music with a little bit of guitar, a little bit of vocals, and a huge assortment of analog equipment, much of which has been personally modified, circuit-bent, or otherwise cracked with purpose. I’ve been fruitlessly checking their myspace every month or two for quite some time now, hoping and failing to find a little info suggesting that a follow-up might be in the works (though, finally, as of last week, a new 12” has been announced -- slated for release sometime next summer) so, needless to say, I was thrilled to discover a half-hour set of new music (at least new to my ears) in the ISSUE archives this week.

In a fluid set of continuous music, ICP spool out a hauntingly mesmerizing performance of muted intricacy. This is not so much dance music as the strains of memories of minimal house gingerly reconstituted in a dimly lit room, cavernous and empty. Though seemingly all sounds are run through pedals and processors to varyingly transformative and alien effect, a faint but undeniable glow of humanness remains -- a lonely streak of soul shivering amidst an ever-stretching field of cold, restrained beauty. While the tone is immediately assimilable and the atmosphere remains frozen in a timeless haze, the emotion possesses a quiet complexity inviting endless probing (though melancholy seems an undeniable component). The music itself reflects a similar balance of intricate construction and monochromatic affect – one may either allow the small parts to drift and blur into a singular wash of sound or slowly pull out the fragile components from the bottomless depths of the composition – disembodied vocals, soft eruptions of distortion, slow cascades of arpeggiated synth, groaning bass, calmly droning drum machines... even the comfortingly static hum of amplified equipment. If a lone 12” could provide 18 or so month of stimulation, this 30 minute set can surely last us til next summer.

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DylanGoing on 12/18/2009 at 09:00AM

The DG FMA 2009 Favorites!

cc by-nc-nd via flickr mischiru

It's been quite an initial year for the FMA! There's way too much going on within these 15,000 tracks to get an all-encompassing favorite free music of 2009 but I thought I'd give a shout out to some of my favorite live recordings I saw come through within the comfortable confines of an embeddable FMA mix.

Along with nine other instant classics, I've included one of my favorite recorded live bits this year: Dan Deacon imploring the Spanish-speaking crowd at Primavera Sound 09 to follow his human tunnel instructions. Speak English or a poorly buttressed tunnel made of Deacadets!

Also, I don't know if it ruins it for you or not, but I just found out the Master Musicians of Bukkake aren't actually from Bukkake. The track's still good though.

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lizb on 12/16/2009 at 11:14PM

Top FMA Picks of 2009

Getting all misty-eyed about the end of 2009, which was a huge year for WFMU... SXSW, Primavera Sound, ATP-NY, Lincoln Center, the first-ever WFMU Fest, our annual Record Fair, etc.

It was also the year that our baby Free Music Archive finally hatched, following 2+ years of incubation under the warm glow of freeform radio here in Jersey City. We're so proud of how the site has grown! Huge thanks to all of our members, artists, curators, labels, and developers!

I put together a big ol' mix of some of my favorite songs I found on the FMA this year, listed in an order that sounded cohesive to my ears (not necessarily in order of preference). Enjoy, and here's to an even more amazing 2010!

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year-end lists
JoeMc on 12/16/2009 at 01:20PM

Newly Firing Cylinders

A couple weeks ago, the Cherry Blossom Clinic program with Terre T featured a live set by Dutch power pop band De Cylinders. Lest you think we've suddenly time traveled back to the Netherlands in 1980, let me assure you that this indeed took place in 2009. The band reformed recently and was playing its first ever shows in the United States. Luckily, they found time to stop by WFMU and play a snappy set of Amsterdam power pop for us.

De Cylinders perhaps would have remained a footnote for U.S. power pop fans rather than a living, breathing live band if it hadn't been for Sing Sing Records. Lately, this Brooklyn label has been giving an airing to some long-forgotten punk and power pop singles by pressing up shiny new plastic versions of the originals. Be sure to check out their catalog here and their fine blog. So far two of the three De Cylinders singles have received the Sing Sing reissue treatment.

The song I'm featuring today was the B-side of the band's first single and has become a bit of a theme song for some folks I know. Although the band members are a bit balder and greyer, they still play the power pop as if born to it. Vocalist Jolanda Markus, meanwhile, remains the band's most distinctive feature on wax and on stage.

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