You came this way: Home > Free Music Archive > Blog > Best of 2012: dvd's Picks

Free Music Archive

About Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive
dvd on 01/08/2013 at 10:00AM

Best of 2012: dvd's Picks

a tough nut to crack

Hey! I'm David - former FMA librarian, admin, and thing-doer. I spent a lot of time this year hunting the virtual stack for lost gems and Creative Commons treasures, and I come to you now with my Top 10 Albums to hit the Free Music Archive in 2012. They're presented below in alphabetical order... enjoy the tunes, and here's to another couple years of free sonic goodness at the FMA!


Hisko Detria

Static Raw Power Kraut

As a sucker for all things Krautrock, this Creative-Commons licensed demo from Finnish psych-rockers Hisko Detria hit all the right buttons for me. Long cuts of interstellar guitar/keyboard explorations, delay-laden vocal outbursts, and a steady rhythm section from a group that doesn't shy away from its influences. Looking forward to hearing them build on this sound in 2013!


Howie Mitchell & Ruth Meyer


If you haven't been keeping up with The Howie Tapes pseudo-label here at the FMA, then you're missing out on some of the, er... freshest archival recordings on the net. David Mitchell, son of famed Hammered Dulcimer player Howie Mitchell, has been methodically digitizing and releasing his father's recordings - so far dating all the way back to this unreleased 1958 tape. They're all excellent!


Machine Death

Machine Death

2012 saw a real uptick in activity from New Weird Australia here on the FMA, including the introduction of their brand new netlabel Wood & Wire, focusing on experimental Australian music. They've been releasing excellent sounds from new and old artists alike with startling regularity, but this one from Ben Byrne and Ivan Lisyak's Machine Death project really takes the cake. Soul-crushing and sublime, there is a subtlety to their method that has me listening again and again.


Meg Baird 

Live at WFMU - July 7th, 2012

As always, WFMU contributed an amazing amount of live sessions to the archive this year, not to mention recordings from SXSW and Primavera Sound. Meg Baird's appearance on Jeffrey Davison's Shrunken Planet program was one of my favorites and helped keep my morning email routine zen for a number of months. 

Michael Chapman & The Woodpiles

Natch 7

Sadly, Black Dirt Studios called it quits this October after having recorded a truly wonderous list of records in their upstate New York location since 2005. Their final contribution to the NATCH series is a doozy, featuring UK folk legend Michael Chapman playing out-there oldtime/string ballads with a venerable cast of contemporary freeform musicians, including: Steve Gunn, Marc Orleans, Nathan Bowles, and Jimy SeiTang. I heard there's a NATCH 8 out there featuring Loren Connors & Bill Orcutt -- hopefully it will surface in 2013!

Monroeville Music Center

Le Progrès

Re-hashed EDU synth-pop never felt better. Mix a mind-numbingly vintage science educational film soundtrack with a hefty dose of analog synthesizer and you'll get this strangely addictive recording from Monroeville Music Center. Re-released as a DVD by Crash Symbols early this year, check out this clip of aluminium rods marching to the beat.

NSJ Crew

Goin' Ham

Yes. The Nellie got a lot of play at house parties this year in those liminal sonic spaces when the host gets tired of searching for indie dance hits on Spotify and the Youtube DJs have yet to be thoroughly emboldened by their drinking to disrupt what little flow the soundtrack had to party all night with the FM hit parade. In those moments, when most are in the kitchen considering their next drink, I steal away to the laptop and fire up the school-yard freshness that is the NSJ Crew (pretty much the same folks who did Hot Cheetos & Takis) and wait for the jaws to drop.

Saito Koji


Saito Koji's ambient minimalism is well documented through releases on Resting BellSEM, and a slew of other independent labels. Grounded in the subtle layering of repetive melodic phrases, Koji's work typically allows this pattern to develop and morph slowly thoughout the duration of the album. Since the devastating earthquake in Koji's native Fukushima his music has made some stark changes. Again sees Koji incorporating heavier distortion into 3 minute tracks, a notable limiting of Koji's usual fair as well as a provocative nod to pop form.


Various Artists

On A Steady Diet of Hash, Bread, & Salt

This compilation features a stellar cast of contemporary experimental and freeform musicians riffing on Rebetiko, a type of folk music from the 20s and 30s that was born in the hasish dens of Greece. What more do I need to say?



Furnaces & Pyre

Chanced upon this one whilst breezing through the archive -- beautiful minimalist doom from this enigmatic French group. Flying a bit under the radar here on the FMA, but hopefully that will change. Sparse, stewing drones that take their time getting to the heavy bits. Check out their other stuff as well on their artist page. Definitely one of my favorite archive finds this year.



01 on 01/08/13 at 06:55PM
Thank you for this inspiring stuff!
jason on 01/09/13 at 01:47AM
i've done the same thing with "The Nellie" ever since you introduced the NSJ Crew. Thank you for sharing your awesome selections, dvd!
daniellemorgan on 02/03/14 at 06:49PM
amazing sounds
log in to post comments