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macedonia on 05/17/2009 at 04:15PM

Do your Homework...

front cover art for lavori domestici vol. 2, courtesy of homework records.

My first experience with the Homework Records netlabel was last year's release from a great DJ/producer duo called Apes On Tapes.  They immediately reminded me of Prefuse 73, chopping up vocals into Julienne fries-thin slices and peppering hip-hop based productions with spicy staccato phrases.  I was hooked.  From there it was on to the work of Phooka, whose Morning Patterns album (another 2008 release) contains selections created between 7:00 and 9:30 A.M.  The pieces ranged from relaxing deep house and downtempo to minimal and full-bodied techno.  Thankfully, this label has found its way over to the Free Music Archive and supplied us with the perfect introduction to their sound via Lavori Domestici Vol. 2.

Released late March of this year, it's 26 tracks deep and showcases the best of Homework Records alongside like-minded artists from other labels.  Meanest Man Contest supplies some quirky twitches with "You're right, it's ballin," a sparkling melody providing an anchor for the song while sonic bells and whistles circle around it.  Apes On Tapes make a welcome appearance here with "Loosing My Paganism":  while surprisingly subdued, the end results are no less effective.  "Taka" by (costa) is one of the best downbeat moments - hard-as-nails hip-hop beats with clicks, cuts, and verbal confetti whizzing by your head (was that Flavor Flav I just heard?).  Whereas the first half of this compilation deals in moments prime for living room chillout sessions, the second half makes its way to the dancefloor.  Recommended crowd movers include the melancholy minimal techno of "Sunny" by Mass Prod., the sensual "Sax For Your Sex" by Minidischi, and the edgy, acidic industrial of Micamat + Desanimaux's "Maneki Neko-Dance."

Clocking in at over 150 minutes in length, it may seem like a lot to take in, but I guarantee you that the monotony of any workday will be chased away just by putting this compilation on and letting it play.  Check out the selection from Phooka below for added incentive.  Although the song is entitled "I'm From Kreuzberg," its soulful warmth would be right at home in Detroit...

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Halas_Radio on 05/16/2009 at 02:58PM


iNiT was formed in 2006 by Guy Harries and M. Both had been working on experimental projects for years - together and separately. This band was going to be the happy-happy outlet, with unabashed pop theatricality. After a series of twists and turns, and a varying lineup leading to a very strange show in which three guitars on stage turned pop into a wall of metal distortion, iNiT finally emerged with its edgy electro sound. Bringing into the band their Middle Eastern origins, as well as the occasional flirtation with Goth, new wave, rock and cabaret, a diverse but recognisably unique sound emerged.

The live gigs are where things all came together. A cheeky approach, audience involvement, a mix of performance art and danceability result in something intense, funny and occasionally scary. The band performs in the weirdest of places, including boats on the Thames, a warehouse in Totthenham, basement venues that were once public toilets and neo-Cabaret nights. At the moment most action is in the studio where iNiT is working on a full-length album, a follow up to their recent EP.

So where does the name of the band come from? The band members have different takes on it. The word has something of the typically London mockney 'innit?' brought into a more general and almost mystical world of 'everything that is in it'. Whatever that means is up to your fantasy. Make your mind up when you see this phantasmagoric flabbergasting show.

iNiT on myspace | iNiT on the FMA

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DylanGoing on 05/15/2009 at 01:28PM

Only Slightly Fun! (No Fun Fest preview)

This guy is having no fun 2008. Photo by Seth Tisue CC by-sa 3.0

"I was very liked that drum sound. So, recently I often used Bozzio's sampling on stage as previous European tour" -Masami Akita

A great thing about Merzbow is when everyone assumes they have a handle on his image since his week-to-week new album release schedule leaves so little room for secrets. So with every curve ball he throws, a breath of fresh air that lets us know he's still on top of the game. His most recent bomb-drop that he had to cancel his trip to the US to appear at No Fun Fest this from H1N1 pandemic fervor was disappointing, but with the line-up they still have, I certainly won't be having any LESS fun. Here's are some artists playing this weekend who have material on the FMA:

Aura-readings on home-made synthesizers for the Nu Age from Portland, OR's Pulse Emitter.

Cold Cave plays probably the most forlorn pop industrial goth-porn sounds to come out of Philadelphia in the past year. Check out their recent live set on Choking on Cufflinks with Michael Goodstein.

Spain's Mattin plays on Saturday as well. High concept and high volume, he manages to provide thorough, academic essays to read while your ears file for divorce. Mostly a good time! Catch him on tour this month with Deflag Haemorrhage/Haien Kontra.

And last but not least: Carlos "Lee Iacocca of Noise" Giffoni. Organizer of the No Fun Fest + Production company, aka "the guy who over 50 performers are going to come to this weekend if they have a problem." This spectacular wherewithal shows in such performances as his live appearance on WFMU last fall on Dan Bodah's show.

The fest is sold out, but try and support the artists on their surrounding tours and be sure to listen to the upcoming Skullflower performance next week on Brian Turner's show.

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marcus on 05/14/2009 at 05:11PM

Bobb Trimble

The Man

One has to keep pulling up that LP cover and having a deep look into his face. Is that the kid who recorded these songs, that adolescent-looking midwestern hard case, with a tommy gun hoisted up over the guitar in his lap?

Released in 1981 in a limited run of 500 copies,  Bobb Trimble's Iron Curtain Innocence had by the mid-nineties become a legendary artifact, sought heavily by psych fans willing to pay characteristically unreasonably amounts of money to put hands on a recording that to this day still sounds unstuck in time and space.

With his attention to recording and vocal effects, Bobb certainly intended to convey a personal vision with these songs. But I can't imagine that even he knew how otherworldly this particular combination of cheap basement studio tweaks would sound after being poured over his breaking, melting, falsetto squall.

Secretly Canadian re-released this record in 2007, so now it's widely available. And we were lucky enough to get a track off of Iron Curtain Innocence, and one from a great follow-up, Harvest of Dreams.

Go deep with Bobb. He'll meet you there.

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lizb on 05/13/2009 at 10:44PM

The Soulful Pipes of JC Brooks

Photo by Fuzzy Gerdes, all rights reserved.

My desk at WFMU lies in close proximity to our live music studio, and thanks to the dozens of bands who roll through our hallowed halls, a variety of righteous sounds infect my workdays.

Despite the volume of talented artists who perform at FMU, it's rare when the racket that reaches my desk harkens back to the days of Otis Redding. And yet, this is exactly what happened just a few weeks ago, when JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound from Chicago swung by to record a live set for the Three Chord Monte program with Joe Belock.

The soulful pipes belonging to singer JC Brooks reminded me that some people were meant to sing. After listening to JC expertly wail through a few tunes, the cosmic weight of each screeching, off-key karaoke performance from my own dark past became practically unbearable and made me consider taking an oath of no singing. Clearly, this activity should be left to the professionals.

Take a listen to the set from Joe Belock's show for some great R&B, but beware: karaoke crimes from your past may come back to haunt you after witnessing the sweet, masterful vocal stylings of JC Brooks.

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Nat_Roe on 05/13/2009 at 08:03PM

Caustic Noise Productions, Cybernetic Neural Program, or just plain CNP @ the FMA

Even though grindcore has evolved drastically over the past twenty years, my favorite stuff is still the incredibly brutal, low-brow stuff that was coming out in the early nineties and documented in compilations like Fiesta Comes Alive and Cry Now, Cry Later.  There are few remaining survivors from that era.  The Locust are one, and certainly the most famous example.  Another too often overlooked example is Suppression.

But I'm actually not trying to talk about grindcore right now, so please disregard everything I just said.  Jason Hodges, an member of Suppression (OK, don't disregard that little bit) and founder of C.N.P. records has recently started curating for the FMA.  Although C.N.P. started primarily as a grind label, it has moved on to includes all kinds of noise and avanty freakdom beloved by us at WFMU.  Many of the projects Jason has uploaded are his own, such as the Bermuda Triangles.  The track below, "Melting Your Brains" was actually created with a Drum Buddy synthesizer, pictured above and invented by none other than Quintron.  Make sure to check out Jason Hodge's contributor page to see all of his submissions.  And friend him too!  This is a social network too, after all

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JoeMc on 05/13/2009 at 11:52AM

John J. Kimmel: Ten Buttons, Will Dazzle

Although its reputation has been on the upswing in recent years, for most of the "rock era" the accordion was scorned as a relic of the days of schmaltzy showbiz. At best, it was viewed as a novelty instrument; at worst, it was an instrument of torture. Cartoonist Gary Larson of "The Far Side" fame once drew a cartoon that showed the devil handing out accordions to new entrants to hell.

But it was not always so, and today's post focuses on one of the best arguments for an accordion revival that I can think of: John J. Kimmel.

John Kimmel was born in 1866 in Brooklyn. Although his parents were German, he grew up in an Irish neighborhood. Musically inclined, he picked up the accordion and adapted what he heard around him, a style of button accordion playing imported directly from Ireland. He became so proficient at playing Irish music that he was referred to for a long time as "The Irish Dutchman." But whether it was rugged American individualism, or perhaps proximity to New York City's vaudeville houses and show palaces, Kimmel soon began to add a pizzazz to traditional styles that took it up a notch. 

Technically speaking, the instrument John J. Kimmel played could only be generally called an accordion. It was really a melodeon, which at that time was a one-row button accordion with only ten buttons on it. The type of accordion that became most popular in America was the piano accordion, the type with a keyboard instead of buttons, owing to its versatility. But after listening to "Medley of Straight Jigs," you'd be justified in wondering what anyone needs all those keys for. Kimmel's amazingly fleet fingers and dynamic playing really rock his little button box.

Along with the Deiro Brothers, John J. Kimmel was the among the very first to play the accordion on record, as early as 1904. "Medley of Straight Jigs" is from 1907, and Kimmel would go on to make tons of records for Edison, Victor, and other companies well into the 1920s. He recorded Irish music, Scottish music, marches, and even popular tunes, in the manner of the day. They're all good, so check back for more Kimmel on the FMA in the future.

John J. Kimmel danced his last jig in 1942 at the ripe old age of 76, his bar "The Accordion" shuttered by Prohibition and his recording career long at an ebb. But one thing's for sure: No devil would hand John Kimmel an accordion on the way into hell. Hell would instantly become heaven.

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tommy on 05/13/2009 at 10:57AM

The Shivers, NYC

FMA Curator Nadav Carmel has been steadily uploading gems from the WBSR/WMBR/KDVS lo-fi radio show Phoning It In. I've been loving this program since catching a live session back in 2005 featuring Queens, NY-based musician Keith Zarriello, a.k.a., The Shivers.

I was first introduced to Keith's music with the 2004 freeform anti-folk album Charades. Five years and innumerable line-up changes later, The Shivers unique marriage of songwriting technique and live performance has remained intact. Zarriello often provokes his audiences with a direct and unwavering emotional intensity that is part farcical melodrama, part earnest sincerity. Live performances of songs about critical self-awareness and the challenges of integrity seem to simultaneously ridicule taking oneself too seriously while praising the ability to feel comfortable with your own shadow at your feet. See them live, and let the catharsis begin!

They'll be launching their new album In the Morning (as a duo, maybe a trio) with Peter & the Wolf and others TBD on May 18 at the Blender Theater at Gramercy in NY. Enjoy a track from 2008's Beaks to the Moon.

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zlayton on 05/11/2009 at 07:14PM

Acid Birds

Here is an excerpt from a rare live performance by Acid Birds at ISSUE Project Room.  Acid Birds is a trio composed of Andrew Barker (Gold Sparkle Band, Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra), Charles Waters (Gold Sparkle Band) and Jaime Fennelly (Peeesseye). Barker formed the trio in order to perform the composition of the same name, featured here.  Along with saxophonist /clarinetist Charles Waters and multi-instrumentalist Jaime Fennelly, the trio premiered in 2004 for the artist collective Free103point9 and their creative music event titled Assembled: Free Jazz + Electronics.  This recording is from the second live performance of Acid Birds.

Combining elements of free jazz, collective improvisation and low harmonium drones, Acid Birds creates a mystical sound that falls somewhere between Braxton and Cardew. Each piece is based on a graphic score composed by Barker; the sound produced is distinctly spatial.  Fennelly’s constant drone provides the ground, which is sometimes reinforced by Waters’ playing and sometimes punctured by his sharp notes.  Barker’s drumming contributes to the expansive and tactile feeling of the project: each hit is hard and indicative of the material of the percussive instrument.  Barker plays with a five-foot wide aluminum picnic tabletop in his drum kit.  Acid Birds explores the notion of the visual score translated through the haptic exploration of sound as form. Lets hope to see more of them soon.

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herr_professor on 05/11/2009 at 02:29PM

minusbaby and his tiny world

minusbaby live.

I want to thank WFMU for getting me involved as a curator for the FMA. I'm currently the editor of a Chip Music and Art related blog, True Chip Till Death, and it is my pleasure to show you some of the best tracks coming out of the Chip Music scene.

Knowing the types of readers the FMA has, some of you may have heard of Chip Music before. Documentaries like Reformat the Planet and 8BIT, compilations like 8-BIT OPERATORS, and crews like Micromusic and 8bitpeoples have shown off some of the best and brightest the scene has to offer.The bestest part, however is that the great majority of these tunes are free to download and enjoy (but not for stealing! Bad Timbaland!).

My goal for the FMA is to highlight some of these new releases and classic tracks from the most innovative and exciting artists in the scene. The styles vary almost as much as the use of platforms, from dubstep to indie rock, from the Sega Genesis to the Atari 2600, so there is a lot of ground to cover. Hopefully you'll find some new favorite bands, so lets get started!

Our first featured artist, minusbaby, is a globe trotting citizen of the world, one who's interests are as unique as his takes on the classic video game music sound. Using software that mimics the limitations of various classic consoles like the NES, and Sega Master system, he is seemlessly able to blend various styles of music from hip-hop to samba to afro-funk, and live he expands that sound using an eclectic mix of musicans of all backgrounds and skill levels.

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