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jason on 02/21/2013 at 01:15AM

Snowboarding Like the Beach Boys Surf

Cover Illustraion by Carlos Etcheverry

"I've snowboarded once," Michael Stasis admitted when I asked him about Snowboarder, his new collaboration with Jason Kick and David Nichols. "It's like the Beach Boys didn't surf." The trio's got harmonized pop songcraft to back up that reference, but instead they list "devils" as their primary influence and "hell" as their general manager.

Snowboarder's self-titled debut offers seven tracks of warped, hook-laden jams for your real or imagined snowboarding trips. The opening track "Sled Dogs" takes off on a bent guitar wail over jangle pop powder, then flips a 180 into a cinematic bridge. The next verse describes some kind of coke iditarod, landing unexpectedly in a torrent of radical metal riffs. Elsewhere, Snowboarder rides everything from 80's dance pop ("Poppers") to industrial nursery rhymes on Sulfur Hexafluoride ("Going Up The Mountain").

Jason Kick is best known for his work in San Francisco synth-pop favorites Maus Haus whose motorik, hypnotic rhythms earned them "Band of the Year" in SF Deli Mag. They also seem to have influenced some of the recent work of Snowboarder collaborator Michael Stasis. A talented solo artist, Stasis first caught our ear via Phoning It In's tip on his Natural Resources cassette: "a perfect lo-fi pop-psych-folk concoction in the lineage of Ariel Pink or Guided By Voices."

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jason on 02/13/2013 at 12:30PM

Dr. Wylie's Dam Funky Favrit Flayvah's

If you dug the soulful hip-hop of Toussaint Morrison's recent mixtapes, then you'll definitely want to check out Wiggle, the debut by his producer Dr. Wylie.

The opening track "GFGDGT" stands for Good Food, Good Drinks, Good Times. It conveys all that and more with its grinding anchor of a beat and a cosmic synth lead that toes the line between Dam Funk and Dabke (that spirited solo about 2 minutes in particularly recalls this vibe). More highlights include the talkbox-infused spacious groove of "Favrit Flayvah" and the hop-along organ beat of "Happy Money."

Wiggle was released by Urban Home Companion. The Twin City activist/art collective is a home for music by Dr. Wylie, Toussaint Morrison, and their talented collaborators. It's also a platform for forays into film and theater. We're looking forward to new releases by both Dr. Wylie and Toussaint Morrison this April!

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jason on 02/05/2013 at 03:49PM

Bitbasic's Foresty Electronica, Custom DJ Software, RPM Album-in-a-Month Challenge

As Bitbasic, Simon Haycock creates expressive instrumental electronica that he calls 'glitch,' but more often than not defies categorization. Bitbasic fuses everything from jazz licks to downtempo, funky hip-hop beats to ambient layered shoegaze, IDM to jungle, all through a breezy style that Drowned in Sound compared to fellow Londoner Four Tet. He's also drawn comparisons to everyone from Steve Reich to Aphex Twin while releasing music on some of the snazziest netlabels around.

"Lack of Anything Good" a track off 2010's Pixel Mixel (Rec72), was my introduction to Bitbasic. Featured on All2Gethernow's Creative Commons compilation, the track's slammin' intro segues seamlessly into a hypnotic groove. Haycock has been refining his craft since the age of 15, and programming is very much a part of his approach. Using the programming environment Max/MSP, he designed his own software, the DJ64, for live performance with the Monome controller. Here's a video demonstration:

Rec72 describes Bitbasic's latest as an album of Future Garage tracks like "Alpha Dromeyo" alongside folksy and foresty electronica journeys like "Stealth Elk." There is so much to explore on Meek that it's hard to believe the album was created over the course of just one month as part of the RPM Challenge. The challenge invites anyone and everyone to create a 10-song album all in the month of Febrauary, and last year was Bitbasic's third year participating.

If you'd like to join this year's album-in-a-month challenge, RPM 2013 is underway here.

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bitbasic, maxmsp
jason on 01/30/2013 at 10:15AM

Beatjazz: Onyx Ashanti's 3D-Printed Interface To Create Music From Movement, Now Open Source

Originally a jazz saxophone player, Onyx Ashanti cut his teeth in the 90s rave scene where he imagined how sax-like gestures might control the sound of drum 'n' bass music. Following through on this idea, he harnessed the potential of new open source technology to design his own instrument, the "Beatjazz" system, which is also the term he uses to describe his distinct style of music.

Beatjazz is an open framework for improvisation. The two tracks below are from Recursive Artifact II:Nomadic Summer 2010recorded as Onyx Ashanti road-tested his ever-evolving system and experimented with new techniques. The recordings themselves make for a fantastic listen, but it's the performance that takes Beatjazz to the next level.

The Beatjazz controller includes two hand units and a mouthpiece. The mouthpiece senses breath pressure to instantiate notes, using a lip sensor for added expression. The hand units each have a joystick, four pressure-sensitive buttons, a switch to change modes (i.e. from 'record' to 'loop'), and accelerometers to measure x-y coordinates. Three wifi-equipped Arduinos transmit all of this controller information to a computer running Puredata patches that turn these zeroes and ones into sweet Beatjazz music.

Onyx Ashanti is continually refining his Beatjazz system. For example, the prototype's controllers were made out of cardboard, while the latest iteration is almost entirely 3D-printed. Now you can play a role in the evolution of Beatjazz because Controller v1.0 is officially released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license via MakerBot's Thingiverse. The same CC BY-NC-SA license covers the tracks below.

Onyx Ashanti has many more releases available at, where you can keep tabs on his latest innovations. 

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jason on 01/26/2013 at 04:15AM

Downer Pop & Dark Wave Emerge from Providence Noise... Fake Techno Is Real!

Price Tapes is a cassette label from Providence, Rhode Island, releasing some of the best local and not-so-local contemporary experimental music. The tapes have been preserved as free downloads at the Price Tapes Tumblr, and we're pleased to host them at the FMA. Price Tapes tends toward sonic adventures by solo artists who gravitate towards Providence's thriving artist community. When they joined the FMA, Price Tapes requested we add a few new genres to our genre tree like darkwave and fake techno. What is fake techno? Let's unpack the tapes and listen:

Christopher Forgues used to make music as Kites, releasing fantastic albums like Peace Trials for Providence's Load Records, that were often classified as 'noise' or 'folk'. Lately, under the name Mark Lord, he's applying that same creative force to music that usually gets classified as techno. But it's not really that simple. Hence, 'fake techno.'  

Coppertone is the darkwave project of Sasha Wiseman. Darkwave is dark ethereal synth pop with grit, and we really should add it to our genre tree since we already host music by similar-sounding artists like Zola Jesus and Stacian.

As Pak, South Carolina's Lauren Pakradooni makes recordings out of her own handmade loop tapes, run through effects with layers of warped vocals.

Philadelphia's Davey Harms (Mincemeat or Tenspeed) recently moved to Providence where he continues to refine his distinct effects-pedal-generated beats. Price Tapes has a fantastic live excerpt, and check out Mincemeat or Tenspeed's FMA profile for lots more including The Tower, one of the best releases of 2012.

As Russian Tsarlag, Providence filmmaker and visual artist Carlos Gonzalez churns out a fascinating stream of narcoleptic no-fi downer-pop.

Price Tapes proprietor Mickey Z is a visual artist working in comics and screenprinting, to be credited for most of the Price Tapes artwork as well. 

Mickey contribtues tracks from her solo project Dungeon Broads, a plethora of off-kilter home-taped doomishness including a tribute to Lazy Magnet and collaborations with Pippi Zornoza (Bonedust) and Jacob Berendes (fujichia).

She also sings and plays viola in the experimental no wave 3-piece Bloodhuff.

Check out Price Tapes at Big Cartel for in-stock tapes, and on the FMA, where you'll find much more including Earth-Enemy's synth pop with an acoustic tribute to Black Pus, and a tape from Providence noise wunderkid Spiritual Recess.

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jason on 01/18/2013 at 08:00AM

Balkan Brass & Beyond: WFMU Live From NYC's Golden Festival This Weekend (Mix)

For much of the last three decades, Zlatne Uste was the singular Balkan brass band on the U.S. eastern seaboard. Their influence has spread rapidly in recent years. Newer groups like What Cheer? Brigade, Raya Brass Band and Slavic Soul Party have not only helped introduce a new generation to the irresistible melodies, rhythms, and timbres of Roma (Gypsy) Music, but infused everything from Bollywood, hip-hop and dabke into a genre that knows no bounds.

They're among the 60+ groups performing at this year's Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, where the spirit of Balkan brass is a jumping off point to celebrate a wide range of traditional music. Bulgarian women's choirs, Turkish folk, Norwegian hardingfele, Egyptian film music, Georgian throat singing, and flamenco are all part of the mix. It's an incredible grass roots event where generations join hands for circle dances in complex time signatures. Traditional food and drink are included with your ticket, with all profits donated to Balkan educational & relief organizations. The 28th annual party kicks off tonight (Jan 18th-19th) at Brooklyn's Grand Prospect Hall.

WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise presents a special live broadcast from the Golden Festival's main stage on Saturday Jan 19th, 6-9pmET (91.1-FM NYC | It's the fifth year that WFMU and the Free Music Archive document performances across the festival's multiple stages.

This mix offers a sampling of Golden Festival archives from recent years (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) as well as tracks from artists scheduled to perform at this year's event.

Zlatne Uste kick things off with a Čoček, one of the most common Balkan brass styles, performed live in the WFMU studios for Transpacific Sound Paradise.

Provience RI's 19-piece street band the What Cheer? Brigade play brass music "with the intensity of metal." A crowd favorite whether they're playing a house show, Lollapalooza, or legendary brass festivals like Guca (Serbia) and Sziget (Hungary).

Rooted in the tradition of Bulgaria's a capella women’s choirs, Black Sea Hotel performed "Malo Selo," a song named after the village in Bosnia-Herzegovia, live on Irene Irudel's WFMU program.

Young classical virtuosos The Rosen Sisters perform "Ruchenitsa," a Bulgarian line dance in 7/8.

Toronto's Ventanas meld sephardic, flamenco, and Balkan traditions on "Gusta Mi Magla."

"Merzifon Karsilama" is a bride-meeting song from Merzifon, Amasya in northern Turkey, performed by Turku: Nomads of the Silk Road.

The guitar duo Isra-Alien Band draws on Israeli musical traditions for "Brogez/Sholem."

Rakiya peform an electrified Roma tune "Sa Bas Tute."

Zikrayat, specialize in Egyptian film music's golden era, accompanied by live dancing on stage at the Golden Festival for this rendition of the song "Tahey" by an unknown composer whose song now lives on.

Raya Brass Band put a Brooklyn spin on Balkan brass, take a listen to a room packed with people gettin' down to "Riff Cloud" during last year's Golden Festival, and don't miss 'em this year!

Photos by Oresti Tsonopoulos: Raya Brass Band (top) & What Cheer? Brigade, Golden Festival 2012.

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jason on 01/16/2013 at 08:00AM

Modern Classical and Generative Art Shape Lauki's Antartica Dreamscape

Lauki is a Barcelona-based sound designer with a penchant for modern classical music and generative multimedia art.

The coordinates of 69º54´S-135º12´E point somewhere along the coast of Wilkes Land, Antarctica. Lauki describes  "the polar desert, another frontier of our planetary existence, a territory where only fools and heroes dare to go." On this recording, Lauki's digital processing manipulates classical instruments—including Heike Grafe's guest violin part on "Deconstrucción"—to shape the ambient dreamscape of a frozen world.

Despite the record's sensation of a glacial stillness, it is a quick 15-minute listen. Such is the nature of every release on Audio Gourmet, a UK-based netlabel cooking up releases "that can be listened to in full during a standard working tea-break."

License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
More Permissions: Contact Lauki

Thanks to Recent Music Heroes for the tip on this release!

Lauki - "domo" (03:46)
Lauki - "domo" (03:46)
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jason on 01/15/2013 at 10:30AM

New Pop Fusion and Gangsta Rap From Brazil's Capital of Happiness

Beto Wilson of Lá Eles recording at WR Bahia studios, photo by Humberto Borges via Subterrâneo Records

Subterrâneo Records brings new Brazilian pop fusion and gangsta rap from Salvador, Bahia. "Brazil's capital of happiness" has always been a vibrant hub of musical invention where styles meld to form new genres. Salvador's Carnival, the world's largest party, was the first place electric guitar was heard in Brazil. Samba originated in the region, which is also the birthplace of tropicália pioneers Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, and more recently of styles like Axé and samba-reggae and that mix local Afro-Brazilian genres like Forró with calypso and other carribean influences.

Lá Eles' six-song debut Infinito continues Salvador's grand tradition of fusing regional music with new influences. Check the electric guitar pulsing through "A Pulso," the reggae groove of "Ouro Bahia," the smooth trombone & trumpet lead on "Pela Cidade," the samba percussion instrument agogô on "Retirante," and the dash of synth sprinkled throughout. With a slew of guests guided by the voice of Beto Wilson, Infinito is so well-crafted and pristinely-produced that its complex time signatures breeze by effortlessly.

Infinito is only the third release from Subterrâneo Records. It is the follow-up to this hypnotic low-riding gangsta rap single from Oddish featuring guest MC's Banha and Neto Bicho-$olto:

Oddish and Lá Eles were both featured on Subterrâneo's eclectic debut compilation, Você Pensa Sub. We're looking forward to what's next from this vibrant young label!

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jason on 01/14/2013 at 03:30AM

Dalibor Picks The Best Creative Commons Metal

We invited Dalibor from Free Metal Albums to present his favorite Creative Commons metal releases. Free Metal Albums shares our initials, and spreads the word about amazing, often annonymous, metal bands from French power metal band Holy Pain to the symphonic female-fronted Hungarian group Obsidian Shell. Nuno Anes founded Free Metal Albums from Portugal in May 2007, and Dalibor took over in August of 2012. Dalibor runs Free Metal Albums in parallel to his original free music site, W H I T E  R A V E N.

Holy Pain - Last Sigh

Aching Beauty - L'Ultima Ora

Molecul - Где нет места цифрам…осталась ЛЮБОВЬ?
download from the FMA

Obsidian Shell - Elysia

ID:VISION - Plaszmadkaos

Check out Free Metal Albums and White Raven for more of Dalibor's selections.

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jason on 01/09/2013 at 11:00AM

Best of 2012: Recent Music Heroes' Picks

Recent Music Heroes ( is a free music review site from Estonia run by Kert Semm, a journalist and musician (Autharktos). He says, "My blog's purpose is to spread the word about those artists who have no possibility to find their way to well-known sites and webzines."

Recent Music Heroes' Favorite Free CC Albums of 2012:

Bisamråtta - Bisamråtta (Vulpiano)

Последние Каникулы - Ромашка (self-released)

Radio Royal - RRDL01 (Clinical Archives)
download from the FMA

Algesis - Mosaic Relics (Subwise)

Pollux - My Beautiful Melancholia (Sirona-Records)
download from the FMA

C.Scott - Stage Theory (Beats vol. 3) (self-released)

Saito Koji - Again (Resting Bell)

Aboombong - Anaphora

Plusplus - Game Over (La bèl)

2 additional favorite not-free cc albums:
Lauki - 69º54´S-135º12´E (Audio Gourmet)

Joxfield ProjeX - Insult on the Dance Floor (Tin Can Music)


Recent Music Heroes' Favorite Free CC Tracks of 2012:

Favourite tracks
CocolixeGiving Myself To You
Algesis - Fugue State
Leonardo Rosado - Variation In White #3
C. ScottEnjoyable To Know
PlusplusSong For Sonny
Joxfield ProjeX – Stir Fry Fish


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