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Monthly Archives: September 2004

Folktronic MP3

If you dig the mix of folkie guitar lines and glitchy studio techniques that has been a trademark of recent Greg Davis and Matmos releases, be sure to download “Fireflies” by Accelera Deck. Here some click’n’paste effects suit the stringed samples well, making for a kind of augmented strum, one that can set aloft like a rural epiphany, or dig in deep with John Fahey-esque finger-picking intensity; some subsumed field recordings of voices and a wash of white noise lend further mystery. The MP3 is a track off the Hereafter CDR release, from the Toronto-based Piehead label. Accelera Deck is an Alabama-based musician named Chris Jeely. The five-track EP, of which “Fireflies” is the shortest, was released on September 11. Download the file directly here, and visit the Piehead label at pieheadrecords.com.

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Backward-Masked Fave from Half-Gig Compilation

Closing out the week with one more track recommendation from Wein, Weib und Gesang, the Kikapu netlabel’s massive new, nearly five-hour compilation of ambient music and its more rhythmic derivations. “Madison,” by the System Boot, is a montage of tones, the most prominent of which slope tremulously and quickly to a close. Those quick and wispy edges to the sound fragments are the marks of backward masking, and “Madison” is an etude for that classic tool in the tape-music composer’s toolbox. System Boot is a pseudonym for Allen Morrisson, who recorded one of Kikapu’s first releases, the eight-track Feather Shredder EP. You can hear premonitions of “Madison” in that set’s “F.M.A.D.,” but on the whole the earlier collection was more concerned with the elastic jitters of video-game soundtracks. Time has passed, Wein, Weib is Kikapu’s 72nd release, and System Boot’s “Madison” is more composerly, less focused on visceral shudders and more on lovely layering. Download “Madison” here and visit Kikapu.com.

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Ambient Fave from Half-Gig Compilation

Another favorite from Wein, Weib und Gesang, the massive, 34-track, nearly five-hour compilation from the Kikapu netlabel. (See yesterday’s entry for more info.) Feel free to download the half-gigabyte collection, or just pick out the Downstream recommendations. Today it’s “Senseless in Space,” credited to Souns: a pleasurable eight-minute modulated drone piece, with a mix of aquatic bass depth, ring-tone highlights and glitch textures — the glitch stuff never gets out of hand; it sounds as if the crinkled cellophane wrapper around a CD were part of its sonic content. “Senseless in Space” circulates in a loping manner, but manages its beats with an intriguing strategy — while a lot of beat-based music gets labeled “ambient” due to its casual, spacey aura, Souns keeps its rhythms ambiguous, so just as they come to determine a head-swaying pattern, they drift away. Pleasing stuff. Download “Senseless in Space” here and visit Kikapu.com.

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Industrial Fave from Half-Gig Compilation

Another day, and one more firm favorite from Wein, Weib und Gesang, the massive, 34-track compilation from the Kikapu netlabel. (See Tuesday’s entry for more info.) Feel free to download the half-gigabyte collection, or just pick out the Downstream recommendations. Vincent Parker‘s “P09IJK” is one of the shorter works in the set, just four and a half minutes that could easily get lost in the nearly five-hour full run. It’s a piece of industrial ambience — crisp little splatters of static and noise, percussive with the urgency of an tiny ant brigade on a foraging mission. There are also these momentary sparks of drama that sound like house music leaking in from a neighboring sound system. As with a lot of great minimal techno, this sounds like a click-track blueprint that knew to quit while it was ahead. Download “PO9IJK” here and visit Kikapu.com.

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Half Gig of Netlabel MP3s

Today’s Downstream entry is less a review than it is a public notice, because its subject, at five hours or so in length, is too sprawling to be summarized meaningfully, or to be fully consumed any time soon. The release, Wein, Weib und Gesang, is a various-artists collection from the Kikapu netlabel, and it contains 34 tracks by as many artists, ranging in length from two minutes to 14. Rather than wait until the whole thing’s been absorbed, if that’s even plausible, consider this a simple notification of the set’s existence, along with some initial notable highlights.

First up: among the Wein, Weib und Gesang musicians who’ve made previous appearances in the Downstream are Pocka (also Kikapu’s founder, Brad Mitchell), whose 12-minute “Four Little Photos in a Row” begins with a (Steve) Reichian percussion loop and slowly builds its own dense aural gauze, and Raemus, whose 13-minute “Komori-Chambon” sounds like a glass harmonica built from some deeply strange alien crystal, these piercing shards of sound that glint and echo in mysterious ways. Those are just two of 34, so expect additional individual-track recommendations in the near future. The set is downloadable song by song, or as one giant (525 megabyte — no kidding) file, along with a color PDF (by one of the contributing musicians, Matt Borghi) that can be printed and trimmed and fit into a jewel case.

Also appearing on the ambitious collection — the word “album” seems insufficient — are Agnes High Quality, Algorhythm, Autistici, Caddis, Cypod, Dub Jay, EelFayGree, Effacer, Eric Laurence, Evil Jon, Gainforest, Introspective, Jason Sloan, Kaminari Synthesis, Kosik, Latency, Mar.ch, Mike Verde, Notech, Room, Sex Enemy, Souns, Space Plans, Spark, Stephen Philips, The System Boot, These Men Are Cowards, Veem, Vincent Parker, X41 and 518 vs. Joel. Download the compressed, half-gig file here, visit the album’s homepage here, or go straight through the front door at kikapu.com.

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