Daniel Menche MP3

Let’s close off the week with a second consecutive Important Records entry, following up yesterday’s reference to the group Larsen’s Autechre-inspired Play. Like that album, Sirocco by Daniel Menche is of particular interest due to the music that fueled it. But whereas Play‘s ambitious post-rock benefited from Autechre’s glitch in ambiguous if imagination-provoking ways (Larsen reportedly jammed to Autechre melodies prior to moving into the recording studio), on Menche’s Sirocco the debt is literal. The album is constructed from one-minute slices of source material submitted by a range of musicians, including Andrew Lagowski, Asmus Tietchens, John Duncan, Scanner, Akira Rabelais, Illusion of Safety and Merzbow. As with Play, though, it’s unlikely you’ll recognize the raw ingredients in the final product. The result of Menche’s refined digital blender, as represented by a five-minute extract on the Important website, importantrecords.com (visit the “releases” page), is a cyclically chiming wonder, an epiphany on hold, something that simultaneously has the efflorescence of intense forward motion and the resolute stillness of a frozen moment glinting in the sun. More on Menche, who has albums on Trente Oiseaux, Soleilmoon, Ground Fault and other labels, and who has contributed to compilations on Ant-Zen, 23Five, Touch and other labels, at esophagus.com/htdb/menche.

Autechre-Inspired Post-Rock MP3s

The group Larsen consists of four Italian musicians on standard rock tools with some additional homey instrumentation: harmonium, xylophone, accordion. Their recent Play album, on Important Records, adds some guests, in the form of a cellist, a keyboardist, a violinist and a synthesizer player. Wondering, at this point, what Larsen has to do with the Disquiet Downstream section, beyond the fact that Play shares a record-label home with Jack Dangers (of the industrial band Meat Beat Manifesto), not to mention art-noisemakers Fe-Mail and Merzbow, and late ambient figure Muslimgauze? Well, according to Important, Larsen preceded the Play recording sessions with a particular exercise: “improvising around some of their favorite melodies from Autechre albums,” Autechre’s groundbreaking glitch having about as much to do, on the surface, with accordion rock as, well, fill in your favorite cultural-divide simile here. As it turns out, the Autechre factor infused Larsen’s recordings with a deep post-rock vibe. The Pitchfork online magazine’s MP3 page, pitchforkmedia.com/mp3, features a nearly eight-minute Larsen piece, “C,” which slowly makes its way from stasis to just short of ecstasy, building and building like some folksy ritual. And over at the Important site, at importantrecords.com, are two more tracks (on the Play album’s page). One, clocking in at two minutes, appears to be an edit of the Pitchfork track. The other, at three minutes, is an edit of an even more drone-like recording, the accordion bringing to mind, immediately, the protean work of Pauline Oliveros. Aside from this latter track’s clipped close, it’s heavenly.

Gavin Bryars Talk MP3

If you keep checking the Other Minds catalog at the Internet Archive, at archive.org, wondering when sets from the recent, 11th annual OM fest will be uploaded, there’s plenty in the meanwhile to download. Such as? How about Gavin Bryars (you know, the man behind Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Brian Eno’s old art school teacher, collaborator with Tom Phillips and Derek Bailey… yeah, that Gavin Bryars) speaking at the Exploratorium in 1986, interviewed by OM guru Charles Amirkhanian. The file is only downloadable via FTP, but the site provides clear instructions; just search for “bryars.”

Mixed Netlabel Compilation

Here’s one thing that netlabels have in common with traditional labels: various-artist compilations only work well if they have some sort of tenable theme, which Janus, on Stadtgruenlabel, does not, despite a flowery liner note about the two-faced god from which the set takes its name. There are pieces here with the canned maudlin of Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtracks (Martin Donath‘s quarter-speed “Plateau White District”; the simple melodic line of krill.minima‘s “Winterweiss”), with the look-at-me introspection of retro new wave (London Issue‘s “Sofaliebe,” a track that locates the Venn Diagram overlap between Steely Dan’s early pop fusion and Matthew Herbert’s desiccated lounge) and with a techno rhythm so familiar you wonder, for a moment, if it’s being ironic (Selffish‘s “Endless Fall”), but none of them do the others any apparent contextual favors; they don’t work toward any particular goal. However, there is a trio of less beat-oriented fare worth considering together: Lomov‘s “Northwest Passage,” which intimates forward movement with snaps and the occasional beat, but prefers to linger in its ambiguous opacity; Danny Kreutzfeldt‘s excellent soundscape, “Polar,” which is far richer than, if just as arid as, its title suggests; and Scott Taylor‘s “Andesite Black,” another soundscape, with rusty industrial overtones. It can’t be a coincidence that whoever programmed Janus chose those three tracks to open the collection. As for single, standout entries, Dataman‘s lowkey “Winter Panorama Window,” which comes midway through the album, is ambitious enough to demand repeat listens; it fades from a cafe field recording to backward-masked downtempo, with a steady but drama-infused beat. Choose your favorites at stadtgruenlabel.net.

150 Espionage MP3s

Been meaning to link to this for a while. Over in the netlabel section of the Internet Archive, at archive.org, is a selection of the some of the most mundane weirdness (or perhaps it’s a matter of weird mundanity) ever recorded. It’s 150 MP3s of random-seeming sequences of numbers (and, occasionally, words), generally read in monotone by anonymous individuals. Trick is, there’s nothing random about it. They are, the story goes, coded messages transmitted via shortwave radio, a cryptic espionage of the air. The set on archive.org contains the entirety of the Irdial record label’s quadruple-CD box set, The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations, including a PDF of the accompanying booklet. The Conet numbers game got some press when the alt-country band Wilco was sued by Irdial for including an unlicensed sample of one track on its Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album (the title, in fact, was lifted from a sequence of words on one of the Conet tracks). That’s all in the past, and the set is downloadable in its entirety for free, in all its lo-fi glory, at archive.org (search for “ird059”). Wilco was definitely onto something; if you’re into listening to several different sound sources at the same time, the Conet tracks make a nice foundation, lending a spooky Cold War cadence to anything ambient. More info at irdial.com/conet.htm.