20 Years of Ninja Freebies (MP3s)

Time’s a wasting, so head over to ninjatunexx.com, which is not a truncated porn site, but the 20th-anniversary hub for the great Ninja Tune record label. Hard to believe a decade has already passed since I lugged home from Amoeba Music the six-LP Xen Cuts box that Ninja released to celebrate its first 10 years in business. Apparently September 20, 2010, marks the date on which the duo Coldcut formed the label, and they’re celebrating with what’s billed as “20 giveaways,” but could easily hit 40, since the initial giveaway consists of not one but two free tracks, dating from 1990, by Bogus Order (a Coldcut pseudonym).

Listening to these early tracks is to revel in the spare rhythms that are due not to aesthetic rigor but to the limited allowances of then available technology. This music is the equivalent of electronica’s dixieland: the rudimentary building blocks of a nascent genre being played with by fiercely innovative musicians who, more than anything else, want to entertain. “Da Sound of Zen” is club music at its most homespun, repetitive beats and samples made for dance-floor melodrama, and “Zen Bones” is all the more sparse, just a few light beeps that repeat into the night. Both tracks are encoded at a generous 320kbps. The latter is from the very first Ninja album, Zen Brakes Vol. 1, and the former is from the label’s first 12″. These tracks will only be up for another six or seven days, and they’re only available for free to registered participants. (That’s why there’s no streaming or direct file links available in this post.) So head over to ninjatunexx.com and sign up.

And here’s a vote for some rare Funki Porcini, aka James Bradell — been way too long since we’ve heard from him. (Update May 15, 2010: I am both embarrassed and excited to note that Bradell’s been recently releasing music at funkiporcini.bandcamp.com. As of this writing there is a full album, the December 2009 Plod, available for £5, and several singles.)

And while we’re reminiscing, here’s an interview I did with Coldcut’s Matt Black (partner of Jonathan More) back in 1997: “Pump Up the HTML.”

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