Kettel’s “prairieplant 2,” like much of what appears as part of the kracfive.com monthly free download series (aka its “MP3 Rotor”), suggests a kind of modern exotica. Its woodblock percussion and sweet single-note piano line come across like analog derivations of modern digital pop (MP3). When a plucked string section arrives, also delighting in pizzicato and reminiscent of Sunday-afternoon Aphex Twin, the result is the audio equivalent of a hand-quilted ASCII drawing.
One of the most prolific musicians in a realm already not particularly well known for its constipation, avant figure Koji Asano has been steadily supplementing his commercial release schedule with a flow of free downloads, ranging from brief sketches, to alternate mixes, to lengthy live takes. Initially these were weekly, but now they’re popping up intermittently. Given the vastness of Asano’s catalog, a little self-editing is probably in the listener’s interest.
One recent highlight, dating from April, is titled “Safety Box,” in which a deeply echoed piano line, just a beat-keeping tone, provides a sound bed for cat-scratch strings. Eventually the piano itself is treated, lending it a rough texture that ends the work with a sense of formal cohesion. Perhaps as a result, the 15-minute work is surprisingly sedative, despite its inherent abrasiveness (M4A; Asano’s downloads are available as massive “lossless” files the week of their release and as more compact M4A files, playable in iTunes and other services, thereafter). More info at kojiasano.com.
The producer named SkyRider rides with a crew of aspiring MCs, all associated with the label Endemik. And though his music, like theirs, hails from hip-hop, it is largely wordless, and it’s more likely to get creatively lost wandering the byways of sound collage, psychedelia and claustrophobic Americana. His brand of instrumental hip-hop is vague in all the right ways.
His “Everyday of Their Lives” (MP3) has a slowly strummed guitar and a scattered drum beat to its credit, the rattle of loose percussion and the occasional overheard voice; its idea of a bridge is an almost beat-less aside, as it edges into a more spacious realm. “Hello Loneliness” (MP3) is a likewise self-consciously probing exercise toward songfulness, all the constituent parts of a song splayed out of context: what could easily be a chorus (a falsetto singing “And fly above the world so high”) is heard for a brief time, so it’s left to loop only in the listener’s mind. And finally “No Good (Nosdam Remix)” seems to be a remix of SkyRider by alt-hop figure Odd Nosdam, who appreciates, and amplifies, the music’s focus on spare parts and artful fumbling (MP3). The first two tracks, along with the original version of “No Good,” are from the album SkyRider 47:34, and the Nosdam remix is the flipside of the single “Masters of Deception.”
According to the brief bio at the Endemik website, endemikmusic.com, SkyRider’s real name is Bud Berning and some of his music’s otherworldly affect can be attributed to a spell he spent in a coma. More info at myspace.com/skyrider, including a fine (but streaming-only) mix of strings and beats titled “painted roses remix,” his take on a track off labelmate (and Endemik founder) Scott Da Ros‘ One Kind of Dead End.
Clark, formerly Chris Clark, has apparently gotten the sort of digital-to-analog conversion previously applied by Alarm Will Sound to Clark’s fellow Warp Records roster-mate, Aphex Twin. Or at least something that sounds like it.
The forthcoming Body Riddle, due out the first week of October, opens with “Herr Bar,” as did his Throttle Furniture EP from earlier this year. But whereas the Throttle version of “Herr Bar” was slo-mo, latter-day jungle, rich with computerized percussives, the Riddle “Herr Bar” (to which is appended the parenthetical “Reinterpretation / Improvisation”) appears to be more “acoustic” in nature. A collaboration with another Warp act, Broadcast, this revised “Herr Bar” is fuller and richer, featuring chimes and, possibly, bowed instrumentation. (Of course, Alarm Will Sound was a full contemporary-classical ensemble whereas this new “Herr Bar” seems to be a studio concoction, but it still has a very “live” sound. Perhaps all the elements are still sampled.)
And for the time being at least, the “reinterpretation” of “Herr Bar” is available for free download (MP3). Better yet, it’s the first of three pre-release MP3s that Warp and Clark are posting at throttleclark.com. September 4 is when the second MP3 becomes available. September 18 is the date for the third and final MP3.
At least one other track title is common between both Throttle and the forthcoming Riddle, “Frau Wav.” They can be compared at the albums’ respective webpages at the music retail site bleep.com (Riddle, Throttle). More info at throttleclark.com, myspace.com/throttleclark, broadcast.uk.net and warprecords.com.
The remix section of the freesound website (at freesound.iua.upf.edu) is somewhat misnamed. It isn’t really a tree, per se, in that rarely if ever is a remix of an original sample itself remixed. In other words, for a tree it’s sorta flat. The majority of material in the freesound remix section is second-generation renditions of raw field recordings, but still many of those are highly interesting. Earlier this year, someone named reinsamba, who identifies himself as a biology teacher from Cologne, Germany, posted what he described as “The most beautiful nightingale recording IÂ´ve ever made,” taped in a nearby forest (MP3).
Subsequently, someone named videochris took the birdcall audio, tweaked it and added a synthesized bed of sound (MP3). There’s also a version with pixelated video at videochris.com.
Now, as genetic engineers in the agriculture business know, once a sample is released into the wild, there’s no telling what will happen with it. Remixes of reinsamba’s nightingale call apparently aren’t restricted to the virtual aviary that is the freesound site. Over at the “riddim community” known as versionist.com, a musician named alin55 has uploaded a track of dub that features the nightingale as its lead vocalist (at versionist.com; no direct MP3 link apparently available).