Notable Netlabel Releases of 2016 (part three)

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Hi, again, I’m C. Reider. I release most of my own music for free on the internet, and I listen to a lot of music by people who do the same. This is a list of free-to-download releases from 2016 that I liked a lot.
I’ve done lists like this for several years, here are previous years’ lists:
2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

These lists have been getting really long, because I listen to a lot of music over the course of a year, so for my sanity and yours, I’m going to break up this end of year list into several smaller lists. This strategy will also allow me to consider albums released late in the year, while still being able to raise the profile of cool stuff from earlier in the year. This is part THREE of the big list, I will post links just below this line of other parts as I publish them.


The ordering of these releases is completely arbitrary, no ranking is intended, and none should be inferred. I like everything I’m listing here to varying degrees, but ranking is a silly activity that helps exactly no one form their own opinion about music.

I should clarify that by saying these are netlabel releases, I don’t necessarily mean they were released on proper netlabels, many of these albums were self released. To me, netlabeling is a community activity, involving releasing music online for free (or pay what you want)…
preferably (though not necessarily) with a CC license…
and EVEN MORE preferably (though not necessarily) with a CC license that allows for remixability and sampling. So I use the word “netlabel” even though the word is admittedly problematic. You could just see this as links to a bunch of free music if you wanted to keep things simple.

You can be notified when the next part of this year-end list gets published by either following me on twitter @vuzhmusic or by subscribing to the RSS feed for this blog’s “Recommended Listening” category:

Martin Rach – Late Autumn Quartets
Martin Rach – Piano Attic
CC BY NC SA (Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)

‘Late Autumn Quartets’ sounds like a room full of automatons dispassionately hammering on dulcimers, a child’s xylophone and perhaps a banjo or two. Whatever setup Martin is using to strike and excite his sound objects is put to good use here, revealing a decent variety of tone colors, even considering the relative staticity of the strange-attractor rhythms. The second half of the 4 track album integrates electronics, with the third track somewhat inexplicably meshing the clattering machines with electronic dance music, failing interestingly.
On ‘Piano Attic’ the titular instrument is played such that no easily identified repeating rhythm or melody can be discerned. The very slow pacing of the beginning of track one is joined by more rapid, digitally spasms of tinkling keys. The second track is a sample collage of sounds recorded by bonking, or prodding, or poking various less audibly identifiable territories on the instrument.

Miquel Parera and Computer – nxI2016-06-30_04_56_08
Miquel Parera and Computer – nxI2016-07-03_04_33_13
CC BY NC SA (Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)

If the code-like alphanumeric titles and co-credit given to his computer doesn’t entirely prepare you for the abstracted music collected on these two albums, then I’m not sure anything I say is gonna do the trick. Both of these collections have four tracks of consistent lengths, on ‘nxI2016-06-30_04_56_08′ each is five minutes fifty-nine, and on ‘nxI2016-07-03_04_33_13′ each one is seven minutes, two seconds. With this in mind, I guess we could claim that there is a discernable 4/4 rhythm on these two records! The buzzing soundscapes presented here do not signify meaning other than that of the math used to derive them, although they do seem to find some representation in the multicolored lattice-like tiles in the artwork to the two albums. If you need your music to have “soul”, then don’t look for it here. I’m so glad I don’t need any such imaginary thing.

Naoyuki Sasanami / Stabilo (speaker gain teardrop) – Immersive EP
Copyright (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)

The two composers achieve a kind of stylistic unity, even though it appears they worked on their respective pieces separately. A very open sounding, minimalist, ambient music of suspended, mentholated synth-tones. Pretty, but light in bearing enough to avoid being cloying.

Nate Scheible – Breezewood
Copyright (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)

That tape loops are all the rage nowadays is okay by me. The waft and warble and fluttering cut-outs reflect a glitch aesthetic through the older technology, in this case augmented by noisey electronic effects and accompaniments. It’s a sort of shoegaze for tougher times than the nineties, (certainly a mopey decade, but not existentially threatening). Very impressive shit.

Noisesurfer – In Motion
CC BY NC ND (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
Tape Safe Netlabel

Somewhat gritty little (maybe modular?) synth sketches. Not a whole lot of development or complexity, but those aren’t things I always need in music. Some tracks are characterized by whoofing bass overloads and repeating phrases that are modulated slowly as they go along. Other tracks have drum beats that kinda just grind along on rails, occasionally having glitch hiccups.

Norah Lorway – Drone Bølge
Copyright (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
Xylem Netlabel

Always a composer to watch for, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve heard from her up to this point. These are slow, airy drones with very sublimated tones that kind of threaten to break out into a larger, orchestral fanfare, but instead retreat back into reverb clouds.

Oscar Santis – Desde la Caja
CC BY NC SA (Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)
Pueblo Nuevo Netlabel

This is some of the best noise music I’ve heard all year. Dense, complex clumps of noise, in varying grits of abrasive power, spin out in rapid twitches from sometimes identifiable sources, such as ultra-detuned guitar. Other pieces seem more purely electronic. There really is a lot of variety and dynamics within these tangled pieces, not something that I can always say about noise. Correspondingly, the fatigue factor is pretty low. If you like weird sounds at all, don’t miss this one.

φορέας – Annoyances
Copyright (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
Citrus Sounds

What do we call this now… Blade-Runner Ambient? A nice pile of short ambient pieces that are slightly neutral, slightly melancholy, slightly chilly, with sparse beats that occasionally butt-in and cause everything to get pumping-compression sickness.

Professional Flowers – Ars Botanica
Copyright (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)

Some very nice synth noodlings with hissy field recordings. Yeah, it’s impossible for me to find fault with it, it’s just simple, charming music.

Thuuooom – Aste EP
Thuuooom – Kaiut
CC BY NC ND (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)
Textural Healing / Self-released

These are probably the most minimal things I’ll recommend this time. Drone music that permutates extremely slowly. Kaiut may be the more ‘progressive’ of the two, but not by so much.

tsone – The Earth’s Reply (tracks for Nagual)
CC BY NC ND (No derivs! No sampling / remixing 🙁)

Looping ambient music going through a process of breaking out of some low-lo-fi distortion process. Loses a bit of the inherent tension once the music smooths out, but it’s still nice enough.

psph.S – {enter / reenter / out}
CC BY NC SA (Derivs allowed! Remix / sample away! 🙂)

Having all the ingredients of your standard harsh noise performance, (feedback, fast-tweaking of effect pedals, twitchy abuse of contact mics…) but adding up to something a bit more reflective than reflexive.

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