The past month has been a particularly fine one for entries in Aaron Ximm‘s One-Minute Vacation series, which collects 60-second field recordings from volunteer contributors around the world. March 7’s, courtesy of Anders Ostberg, opens with a high whistle, courtesy of a steam engine demonstration at a museum in Eskilstuna, Sweden. March 14: an Alameda, Calif., joint with some two dozen classic pinball machines, and a classic-pop background soundtrack to boot, recorded by John Tenney. For March 21’s entry, Ben Owen taped the mechanical sound of rain beating down on his New York apartment. And March 28: the sounds of Australian ski slopes, heard from above in a chair lift, complete with the rustle of wind and the call of distant voices, recorded by Ben Dixon. Check ’em out at quietamerican.org/vacation.html.
Month: March 2005
Fred Frith MP3
The multi-night, 11th annual Other Minds music festival that occurred a few months back in San Francisco is slowly taking on a second life, as a series of downloadable audio files on the servers at the Internet Archive, aka archive.org. Among the more recently uploaded entries is a half-hour series of improvisations by legendary guitarist Fred Frith (of Henry Cow, and now teaching music at nearby Mills College), in collaboration with instrument maker Sudhu Tewari. Frith mixes soft-hewn fragments of melody that ring like bell tones with more acoustically acerbic material drawn from mishandling of the instrument, and also launches into some solos forged from a mix of feedback and held notes. There’s limited info on Tewari at the Other Minds site, and this is one performance where visual accompaniment would have been particularly appreciated, but as the piece develops, it takes on a rhythmic intensity, a metric consistency — yes, a discernible downbeat — that is often consciously lacking in Frith’s music. In other words, it rocks. Intermixed are moments of intense quietude. The concert was recorded on February 25, and now it’s up online for the ages. The file is only downloadable via FTP, but the site provides clear instructions; just search for “Frith Tewari.”
Another Noisejihad MP3
Following up yesterday’s introduction to the Noisejihad Live! netlabel, here’s another recommendation. In brief, don’t be scared off by the site’s thus far longest and largest track, a nearly hour-long opus by Danny Kreutzfeldt. His entry appears on the label’s second release, dated February 19, 2005, and shares its virtual space with the group Ryfylke. The track starts off quiet, and takes its time before breaking that spell. First comes a thick layer of moist haze, then reflected beats that bring to mind dub, though only by association. This is much more the echo of a dank cave than of a Caribbean sound system. The only arguably weak moment is a brief section where the sound is evidently sourced from heavy breathing, which contributes a literal blemish to an otherwise ambiguous whole. The closing section sounds more like dawn than dusk, coming to life with a bright, creaking spaciousness — the image of the sun rising registers with a music that came of age in the clubs, not the concert hall. Check it out at noisejihad.dk/netlabel. (Kreutzfeldt was mentioned in a previous Downstream entry, for his soundscape contribution to the Stadtgruenlabel’s Janus [here]).
To paraphrase Pavement, “Music scene is crazy/ Netlabels start up each and every day/ I saw another one just the other day/ A special new netlabel.” Yes, there’s a new netlabel, and it’s something of an instant favorite. Noisejihad Live!, at noisejihad.dk/netlabel, posts live recordings of noise acts (no surprise there), and it’s already released three sets this year: Massaccesi and Pol Mod Pol; Ryfylke and Danny KreutzFeldt; and Mag Necro and Ultimate Combat Noise. The tracks are lengthy and sizable (one is nearly an hour, at 50 megabytes), and it’ll take a while to work through ’em, but it doesn’t hurt to start off with the most recent: Kyoto, Japan-based Mag Necro‘s half-hour guitar performance, a suffering soundscape of improvisatory edgework. Drenched in gloom, it’s a fine example of the axiom that the difference between noise and ambient music is often just a matter of where you set the volume level.
For the time being, the Disquiet Downstream remains focused on freely downloadable music, but exceptions should be made for the occasional noteworthy streaming-only release. In this case, for the past week or so the background track at the website of Autechre‘s record label, Warp (warprecords.com), has been “Fermium,” a track off its forthcoming album, reportedly titled Untitled, due out April 18 in the U.S. The track, which repeats at length a short glitchy rhythm before breaking off into dubby abstraction, has received some airplay, though it’s not yet commercially available; it appears on the February 17 playlist of BBC DJ Rob da Bank (here), slipped between the Wedding Present and Lady Sovereign.