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Monthly Archives: February 2006

Cepia Glitch MP3

How glitch went from an experimental manifestation of technological unease to a kind of cozy comfort music is a tale for another day. For now, one can simply download a file like Cepia‘s “Hoarse” (MP3), off the forthcoming Idol Tryouts Two collection from the Ghostly International label, and enjoy its rapid-fire textural abrasions, little sonic indiscretions that move from surface noise to rhythm as the song unfolds, taking a moment for the inevitable little break of a bridge, so you can collect yourself before the thing rasps out wildly toward the end, reminding you of a not so distant past when this sorta thing was anything but familiar. The album, which also features Loscil, Christopher Willits, Richard Devine, Matthew Dear and others, is due out next Tuesday, March 7. More info at ghostly.com.

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Musique Concrete Remix MP3s

The long-running, if long quiet, netlabel No Type is back. A quick glance at its archives suggests that the last significant update to the site occurred in July of last year, and the announcement via email this week of new No Type material included the following side comment: “we haven’t seen that since… since… well, we won’t say, that’d be embarassing.” (Spelling the word “embarrassing” incorrectly seems par for the course.)

Making up for lost time, the label unleashed six new sets, which will take some time to get through. The most eye-catching to start with is a 14-track tribute to musique concrete figure Francis Dhomont, in time for his 80th birthday. Fifteen musicians (two, Nuthre and Jon Vaughn, in collaboration) have taken various Dhomont recordings and techniques, and produced close to an hour and a half of recordings. Dhomont was an early figure in musique concrete, of making meta-music, in which the recording was the beginning, not the end, of the production process. Heard here are such familiar Dhomont ingredients as quick cuts, intense quietude, moments of shock’n’awe and occasional references to remnants of traditional instrumentation, like the splatters of trombone on “Io (Chiaroscuro),” as refracted by No Type regular A_dontigny (MP3).

There are also beats that sound more contemporary than their originator, as on a track by Diablatomica, though even there attention is paid to having the electric percussion come and go, so it’s less a rhythmic bedrock for the piece than it is an element unto itself (MP3). (Diablatomica also cues up an orchestral remain, a held note that bleeds into something processed and otherworldly.) The additional tracks represent work by Kevin M Krebs, Books on Tape, Infoslut, Philemon, Le Chien borgne, Julie Rousse, Chris Degiere, Headphone Science, Camp, Noah Sasso and Sam Shalabi. In related news, prices on No Type’s physical CDs have been reduced by 50 percent. More info at notype.com.

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Agriculture I-Hop MP3s

Cut’n’pasted in the studio, and often mistaken for background music when it can play well in the foreground, instrumental hip-hop has much in common with the broader field of ambient/electronica. But there are key differences, and one of them is economic. For any i-hop producer with an interest in going pro, beats are a form of currency, pure and simple. Thus, while netlabels proliferate with free downloadable electronic music, much of it beat-driven and sample-derived, someone coming from the hip-hop side of the continuum is less likely to post anything gratis — not when any given track might yield a payday. As a producer named Illmind says on his myspace.com page (myspace.com/illmind), “I am telling yall right now, please do not waste your time sending me messages for free beats.” (Apparently streaming audio is OK.)

One apparent exception: record labels that traffic in i-hop are known to post MP3s to promote proper albums. Yesterday it was Stones Throw, pushing a single of the the 35 tracks off Madlib’s forthcoming Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: The Movies (link). Today it’s the great label the Agriculture, noting the release of the 14-track Gentrified by QPE (aka Quiet Personal Electronics, aka Kacy Wiggins) with a pair of freebies. Like much of the Agriculture’s catalog, QPE’s Gentrified is only hip-hop in the most dub-minded, slack-paced way, and QPE appears to have embraced “hip-hop nouveau” as a tag to distinguish itself. Up for the download: “Stare” (MP3), a loungey beat with a raspy hi-hat amid a watery riff, and “McGarrett” (MP3), which has a similar feel, laced with a deeper underlying melodic line, the mating call of some sad robot. More info at theagriculture.com.

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Madlib I-Hop MP3

Moonlighting as Beat Konducta, the prolific hip-hop producer Madlib has grafted, in both senses of the word, some 35 bite-sized chunks of instrumental hip-hop into Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes, due out next month. One entry, “Understanding (Comprehension)” (MP3), is available as a free download currently from the set’s releasing label, Stones Throw.

A crowd’s laughter opens into a sped-up sample, easily mistaken for the standard Kanye West on helium, before the meat of the mid-tempo i-hop kicks in: a beat with a little needle fuzz on it, an orchestral snippet and a single vocal cue adding highlights, and then that upper-register voice gets scratched back in. There’s nothing like when you can hear the warble, the variation, in the vinyl as it’s manipulated by hand. On repeated listens, that one vocal accent, a hiccup at most, takes on a life of its own. What starts as a trailer becomes a short film unto itself, all in less than a minute and a half.

Beat Konducta Vol. 1 was released last year straight to vinyl, all strange miniatures like the incessant looping of “Third Ear (More)” and the extravagantly lo-fi orchestration on “Stax (Strings).” But great as vinyl is for DJs, it’s nice to have the tabula rasa of a CD (or MP3) against which to hear the first- and second-generation noises. More info at stonesthrow.com.

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Blue Gene Tyranny MP3s

The nature of the Internet Archive, at archive.org, is that it’s so big — or, as Monty Python might have had it, so very very big — that one only really knows if one’s seeing, or hearing, something oneself for the first time, and even then memory is known to fail. As for an individual file’s place in the broader information timeline, who knows? Invariably, given the Archive’s focus on public-domain materials, much of what’s up there was in existence when the closest approximation of the Internet was just a gleam in the eyes of a few science-fiction novelists, U.S. military officials and beatnik fellow travelers. Still other items are uploaded sometimes years, or decades, after their initial composition or recording.

Latest in the Other Minds archive appears to be an archived interview with Robert Sheff, aka Blue Gene Tyranny, with Other Minds founder Charles Amirkhanian from 30 years ago, recorded on July 14, 1976 for KPFA radio. (The RSS feed of the Other Minds archive lists it as having been uploaded on January 13 of this year.) The two discuss Sheff’s early experimenting with tape, playing the Mellotron, recording film music based entirely on descriptions of a given scene, and gigging with the Mothers of Invention, and they broadcast several examples of his work, including a lengthy sound collage of rural conversations and field recordings from the late 1960s, “Country Boy, Country Dog.”

The discussion is available in two half-hour parts (MP3s 1 and 2). Amirkhanian notes at the end of their conversation how little, if any, of the music discussed was available at that time for commercial purpose, and he talks about how he sees the broadcasts on KPFA as a means to redress that. Today, archive.org has picked up that baton.

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