Wednesday, 26 December 2012

2012 was a good year for me. I was very productive creatively.

It was also a good year for netlabel music, I found a ton of good stuff to listen to. For the last several years, I’ve done a write-up of some of my favorite netlabel things released during the previous twelve months. I’m doing it again this year with this blog post, but before moving on to my end of year recommendations, I would like to call attention to the work I was personally involved in during 2012.

Two of my albums came out this year:

Buddha Reduction” on Vuzh Music


One of the Drone Boys” on Linear Obsessional.
Both are free downloads with CC licenses allowing for non-commercial derivative work.

Inarguably the biggest thing I did this year was curate and open an exhibition of sound art, which was visited by hundreds of people in Fort Collins, Colorado, made possible through the financial support of Front Range Community College and guided by my Museum and Gallery Studies instructor Jennie Kiessling. It was titled Sound Through Barriers, and included performances by Jeph Jerman and Cheryl Leonard. The exhibition & performances are extensively documented at the website with TONS of photos and TONS of sound recordings and a big curatorial statement that distills some of my thoughts about listening. Hope you’ll read it if you haven’t.

I also started performing live, after having been an exclusively a composer of recorded music prior. Here’s a video of one performance:


and here’s another one of the performances (audio only this time) on SoundCloud:

Vuzh Music released eight albums this year by the following artists:

Each one is free to download.

I also was happy to release seven generations of new work on Dystimbria, my netlabel where each new release uses appropriated material from the previous release(s). The artists this year were: AODL, Mutant Beatniks, Post-Avantist, Cinchel, Miquel Parera Jaques, David Nemeth and Phillip Wilkerson. All of their tracks can be downloaded freely from the Dystimbria.cc.

OKAY, so that ends the part where I talk about my own projects from the year, and start recommending netlabel music!

Just like last year’s best-of, I’m only going to recommend free downloads, because that’s primarily what I listen to.

I’m again calling special attention to those releases with licensing allowing for derivative work. I am currently working on a new set of music based entirely on samples of netlabel music with this kind of open licensing. I’m drawing samples from a diverse set of artists and transforming them into new works. This process has been very exciting, not only for me creatively, but also because it deepens my appreciation for the original works. I appreciate artists who allow for derivatives, extra hoorays for them! Derivative-friendly licenses get a happy Bush badge, unfriendly licenses get an EVIL CHENEY badge.

Again I’d like to encourage more promotion of this type of underground music. How is anyone supposed to find out about underappreciated music if you don’t tell someone about it? Don’t assume that any of this music, or any other netlabel music you find has no problem attracting listeners, often very few people ever listen to this music. Unknown artists really made an effort to do good work, and they want listeners, so do your part and tell someone if you like a netlabel release. Please.

This list is not qualitatively ordered, it’s alphabetical, so please don’t glean any kind of meaning from placement.

PLEASE share any of your favorite netlabel releases from 2012 in the comments to this post. I and the readers of this post may have missed something really good.

30 Notable Netlabel Releases of 2012

Audition Records cc by nc nd

An intense 20 minute piece of abstracted electronics.


Daniel BarbieroNot One Nor
Zeromoon cc by nc sa

Nonstandard sounds and extended techniques on double bass, contrasted with long silences, or “non-actions” as the artist says. Fantastic.


Andreas Brandal – Apparition
Control Valve license unknown

Andreas’ intriguing sound pairs a subtle musicality with abstractions and drones. Minimal repeating phrases and saturated squalls of howling sound, all with a keen sense of flow and composition. Very nice, I like a lot of this fellow’s work.

I always check the Control Valve netlabel for new things, they’re one of my favorites in terms of content, but the website design is frustrating. I can’t deep link direct to the album, because of the way the netlabel presents its releases. Here’s the label’s website: http://www.controlvalve.net/ To get this release, you’ll either have to go to ‘releases’ on the main site, and search for the album or you could go to this archive page and download the .zip (it’s not a normal netaudio release page).

Control Valve also doesn’t provide release date or licensing information for its releases, I wish they did.


Alex CharlesAudio for Noisy Rooms
Petroglyph cc by nc nd
Alex CharlesTrevenec
Linear Obsessional cc by nc sa
Alex CharlesWords I Regularly Misspell including ‘Calendar’ & ‘Publically’
self released cc by nc nd

Just three of the many releases by this prolific artist during 2012. I’ve listened to as many as I can. Alex’s stuff is always interesting, a common strategy of his is to select a collection of materials non-standard to sound making and improvise with them while running these sounds into a looper. Audio for Noisy Rooms uses insistent electronic synthesis, Trevenec focuses on bell sounds, and Words I Regularly Misspell… is the most melodic of the things I’ve heard from him, even going into a long, repeating sung refrain at the finale.


ConureSurrounded by Pages
Treetrunk cc by nc nd

Begins with a splendid 22 minute track of mind-clearing, slow-burning, intense, harsh noise. The final two tracks are not as harsh, but equally deserving of attention.


GurdonarkOpen Spaces
We Are All Ghosts cc by

Each Gurdonark release is similar in content, simple, plucky little melodies played with soft synth pads, this time with prominent glissandi used in the compositions. I enjoy listening to each Gurdonark release to get a feel for Robert Nunnally’s progression as an artist, but I also simply enjoy the music for itself.


He Can JogPocket Suite
Pocket Fields (conflicting reports of license, on archive it’s listed as cc by nc nd, on other places it’s cc by nc sa – the artist assures me he’s derivatives friendly.)

A nice abstract journey in static-y tone clusters and glitches. Feels somehow melodic and rhythmic, but it’s neither. I’m not sure how he pulled off that effect!


The Implicit OrderGaps in the Land
Wholeness Recordings cc by nd

Talk about your ‘hauntology’… the Implicit Order wrote the book on spooky nostalgic collage music. This road-trip themed release is as good as it gets, very nice work. Although it does nag me that his work is built on appropriated samples from copyrighted sources, and yet his own work is licensed disallowing others to remix it.


Miquel Parera JaquesImprovisation and Indeterminacy
Treetrunk cc by nc sa
Miquel Parera JaquesnxN001 Empty Space
Tecno Nucleo cc by nc sa
Miquel Parera JaquesnxVacuity001 for Computer and Pipe Organ
ComputerMusicNeixMusic cc by nc sa

Miquel Parera Jaques is one of those artists whose releases I always listen to, and usually I end up really liking a lot. The first two releases listed here feature Jaques’ mind-massaging complex electronic wave forms slowly transforming… utterly and completely mesmerizing stuff. It’s hard to concentrate on anything but the sound when this music is on. The last release here is something a bit different, as it uses algorithmic computer functions to generate midi signals to control a pipe organ. It reminds me of some of the stochastic synth work I’ve heard from academic sources, but of course the organ sounds lend a contextual weight, which Miquel outlines in his artist statement. I would like to have seen more variation in terms of rhythm / tempi and timbre in this work, but it is fascinating that this very different work elicits some of the same mesmerizing effect as the electronic stuff.


Hannah MarshallTulse Hill
Linear Obsessional cc by nc sa

These are improvisations for cello with de-tuned strings. Many of the pieces are structured with simple repeating tone phrases, but rhythmically they sway in an organically determined imprecise meter… this is something that interests me very much, something I’ve explored and continue to explore in my own music. I keep listening to this and my appreciation keeps growing. Splendid work.


Withering Trees netlabel cc by nc sa
Withering Trees netlabel cc by nc sa
Withering Trees netlabel cc by nc sa
MeteerThree Word Seminary
BFW Recordings cc by nc nd

We were lucky to have a bunch of Meteer releases this year! Three Word Seminary is ambient electronica with an edge… expertly made. The three -meteer releases – named after the last three months of the year – are the same, but with a more experimental / exploratory edge. I think I’ve listened to Novometeer the most, but they’re all good. If you don’t know his work, you are cheating yourself.


Treetrunk cc by nc

Thomas Park does country music. He’ll put a boot up yer ass, it’s the American way. There’s little identifiably “country” about this music, the genre’s conventions are strained really thin, curt steel twangs twitch in repetitive spasms and the slide guitars shimmer confusedly.


David NemethHome Drones
Treetrunk cc by

Miscellaneous domestic hums and whirrs treated as though they were worth documenting and listening to, which of course they are. I think it’s fab.


The NoisemakerSpace Drones
Inside Outside cc unspecified

A pair of completely lovely drones, can’t say it’s especially “spacey” though. The first sounds like its source might be a high tempo drum machine looping a single tom hit run through liberal amounts of chorus & delay. Somehow this builds into an enveloping atmosphere of shimmering overtones. The second track is a low frequency hum, a higher frequency whine and a repeating ping. The simple things make me happy sometimes.


PBKThrill Pictures (Condensed)
Nostalgie de la Boue license not listed

A reissue of one of my favorite abstract noise-ambient albums from my tape collecting / trading days. This is a drop-dead classic of abstract ambient-noise. Unmissable.


PhroqRecordings of various vibrations and stress situations
Uzu Sounds cc by nc nd

Begins with an eight second blast of loud harsh noise, just enough to scare the shit out of you. The remainder is a very compelling exploration of strange textures coaxed out of piezo mics and failing equipment, with some recordings of live performances thrown in for good measure. The bare minimum of acid-etched sound, no ornamentation.


RestiveSonic cc by nc sa
RestiveSonic cc by nc sa

Crunchy loops and entrancing melodic sequences. I think I’ve enjoyed these two releases more than anything he’s done prior.


Martins RokisLive Recordings 2009-2011
Uzu Sounds cc by nc nd

Hi voltage computer music. Intense and captivating swirls of generated waves and noise.


SchemawoundThey Want To Make Your Body Move. I Want To Hold You Perfectly Still
self-released cc by nc

Sparse electronic atmospheres. Yummy oscillations, drifty quasi-melodic tones, slowly creeping crunches & clicks. Says here it was made with Soundcollider.


Sound_00 & IversenII
Panospria cc by nd

Collaborative quasi-ambient drone music derived from field recordings. Bonus points for the sempervivum on the cover!


Chris WhiteheadSouth Gare
Linear Obsessional cc by nc sa

A composition that organizes selected phonographic elements and multi-tracks them together with a smattering of humble percussive interactions with actual spaces. Terrific.


Xesús ValleGently Annoying
Audiotalaia cc by nc sa

How do you even describe this album? It’s peculiar and diverse and offputting and catchy and… and… gently annoying. An intriguing collection of off-kilter music that grooves by its own secret inner logic.


My Last.FM stats for the last year (I’m last.FM user vuzh)… you were thinking I don’t actually listen to this stuff, were you?

Netlabel links:


  1. Vuzmusic review:”We were lucky to have a bunch of Meteer releases this year! Three Word Seminary is ambient electronica with an edge… expertly made. The three -meteer releases – named after the last three months of the year – are the same, but with a more experimental / exploratory edge. I think I’ve listened to Novometeer the most, but they’re all good. If you don’t know his work, you are cheating yourself.”

    TrackBack by Meteer | December 26, 2012 11:05 am
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