Best of Netlabel Releases 2010
It was a good year for netlabel releases, and that is for certain!
I mean it: download everything on this page. You had better.
We’ll start with a brief roundup of my releases this year and then move on to my favorite releases by other artists.
It was a bit of a sparse go-round for Vuzh Music this year, but I did put out a really great remix of a split tape from 1991 by PBK and Vidna Obmana which I hope you didn’t miss:
C. Reider – Fragment Three Re-Works
Dark Winter netlabel also put out a collaboration between me & Desohll of a longform guitar darkambient piece. Quite dark, somewhat ambient as well.
C. Reider / Desohll – Falling into Disrepair
I’m pretty sure 2011 is going to see a whole lot more activity at Vuzh Music, so watch out!
Now on to my favorite netreleases this year. All but one are free to download. They are presented here in alphabetical order, because I could not rate them, they’re all too good.
Andreas Brandal – Breaking a Mirror
Calm cinematic soundtrack-ish atmospheres and scenarios. It is constructed like a kind of collage music, but breaks into intimate little musical themes with real instruments. Quite lovely. I will need some more of this composer’s work.
Das, Jeph Jerman, John Hudak, PBK – Chain Mail Collab June 28, 1988
Old school looping industrial noise. This sound never gets old for me.
Christian Doil – Eis
A chilly collection of pinging synth tones, plucky percussives and arctic belltones working through fluctuating musical themes while accompanied by icy, ghostly drones. The crystal cathedral, indeed.
The Euphoric Hum – A Circle of Equal Altitude
Churning noisy ambience that intensifies and dissipates in dramatic ways. New sounds continually enter the mix, keeping things interesting. A sort of diffuse industrial/minimal techno throb emerges from the ambient noise.
Fosel – Problem of Universals (C. Reider Remixes)
Is it bad form to nominate this as a best of 2010 when it’s a remix of my own music? Well, for me it honestly is a great album. Ambient beat music done beautifully.
Gurdonark – Butterflies of North Texas
Gurdonark’s unique brand of sampling-synth musical fancies takes a move into slightly darker territories than last year’s wonderful “Seven Virtues”. Don’t look for scary dark ambient or anything though! Self-described “kid music” with odd modes, interesting sounds and unexpected changes.
The Implicit Order – s/t
I’ve been a full-throated advocate for the music of Anthony Washburn for years. This new effort does not disappoint. His haunting blend of looping samples alternate between creepy and jarring, and is always intriguing. “Dumb Generation” = great song title!
Miquel Parera Jaques – nx004_Automatic
Tinnitus drones moving along algorithmic flight paths. Computer music for hypnotizing organic life forms.
John Kannenberg – Oculus
The basis of this album is a set of site recordings of various video projection mechanisms in art museums. High strength of concept and execution. Those gorgeous ultra high frequencies in “Television Monitor”, jeez, how did he do that so beautifully?
Christopher McFall – A Long Time Running for the Suicide Strays
Sepia loops of tones & textures clustering and spreading apart. Unmissable.
Meteer – Unless
Blocks of odd samples move in rhythmic patterns a la Biosphere or Taylor Deupree. Somehow, even with all the ring modulation and lo-fidelity and occasional distortion, (not to mention lack of overt beats) it still feels like a lush ambient techno piece.
Mutamassik – That Which Death Cannot Destroy
Messed up hip-hop instrumental music with middle Eastern samples, the beats start off totally mutant and then they go and mutate some more. Fans of Muslimgauze will enjoy this.
Mystified – A Pale But Lasting Hope
Mystified puts out a lot of good stuff, and then he puts out some fucking great stuff. This release falls into the latter category. Rattling percussion elements and zigzagging synthetics form imaginary sonic structures. Loops that fall out of sync. Among my top favorite things I’ve ever heard from this artist. Please note that this release is on Magnatune, and so it streams freely, but you need to pay a $15 fee before you can download (but then you can also download everything else in their catalog).
Kurt Nimmo (Fosel) – Complex Silence 8
No fair, Mr. Fosel made it to the list twice this year! This guy puts out some great damned percussive ambient music. Includes a remix of Phillip Wilkerson and two remixes of C. Reider. Bonus points for the Kurt Vonnegut reference. Not sure whom to credit, because the cover says Fosel and the ID3 tags say Kurt Nimmo. Ah well.
Olifaunt – Innocent of the Smoke and Noise
Olifaunt just keeps improving and improving. I think this is the best outing yet from this composer. Extremely minimal, quiet, calming string work with elements of drone/trance and musical progression. Very pretty ambient album.
PBK – Appeal
A newly remastered digital re-release of a cassette from 1989. Early PBK tapes were pretty heavily loved by me, so it’s great to hear them again all cleaned up! Industrial quality machine noise that accumulates a calmed atmosphere better than most ambient music… pricks at your imagination.
V/A – Despite the Downturn: An Answer Album
Marc Weidenbaum’s sonic activism compilation reacting to an article by Megan McArdle in the Atlantic Monthly, in which artists used the article’s accompanying illustration as a graphic score. Nice concept, and lots of cool music on here, including one piece by yours truly.
V/A – No-R-Mal II
The only person that can out-do Mark Stolk, it appears, is Mark Motherfucking Stolk! His five hour long compilation of netlabel artists from last year was followed up by a SEVEN hour long compilation this year… seven fucking hours of cool underground music, as good an overview of the netlabel underground as you can get, period.