Archive for the recommended listening Category

May Netlabel Recommendations

Wednesday, 05 May 2013

Don’t just read this post.
Click the links… download / stream the stuff.

Larry Johnson – Complex Silence 35
Treetrunk – CC BY NC ND / Boo! No derivs!

Cullllt – Attached
Open Sound Group – CC BY NC ND / Boo! No derivs!

Owl Brain Atlas – Snow Eater
suRRism-Phonoethics – CC BY NC SA / Yay! Derivs allowed!
(Frantic lo-fi collage w/ lotsa voice stuff. Haven’t heard much stuff in this vein since the tape days. Apparently this artist shares my home state… who knew?)

Avelino Saavedra – Mud
Audiotalaia – CC BY NC SA / Yay! Derivs allowed!
(An electronically enhanced exploration of the sounds possible within a single, large, clay udu drum)

Carya Amara – Vestigial Digital
Earthrid – CC BY NC ND / Boo! No derivs!

Alan Morse Davies & Mysterybear – Sing Men and Women!
At Sea – CC BY NC / Yay! Derivs allowed!
(Liner notes says that the sounds you can hear are primarily from wave interference – nothing fancy. I guess I’d take issue with that, this is plenty fancy indeed.)

ISZ -Miguel Isaza- – 200X
Impulsive Habitat – CC BY NC ND / Boo! No derivs!

Alozeau and Miquel Parera – Five Structures and a Cold Void
Treetrunk – CC BY SA / Yay! Derivs allowed!

D’Incise – De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari
Reductive Music – No License Listed / Boo! No derivs!

Schemawound – Domestic Ghosts
Xylem – CC BY NC / Yay! Derivs allowed!

Matt Earle, Timothy Green, Adam Sussmann, Massimo Magee – Opera
IdealState No Number Series – CC BY NC SA / Yay! Derivs allowed!

Open Sound Group – Penthouse
Open Sound Group – CC BY NC ND / Boo! No derivs!

April Netlabel Recommendations

Sunday, 05 May 2013

Piotr Tkacz & Alice Hui-Sheng Chang – micro
IdealState No Number Series – CC BY NC SA – Yay! Derivs allowed!
(Improvised w/ weird scrapings plus extended techniques on vocal. Really good, but very short.)

Iker Ormazabal / Oier Iruretagoiena – La Solana
Chirria Sello – CC BY NC SA – Yay! Derivs allowed!

The Implicit Order – Drifters
self released – CC BY ND – Boo! No derivs!
(A record with a sad premise, it’s based on an experience Anthony had knowing a young homeless girl who was murdered)

Oriol Rosell – [live]bcn 260311
República Ibérica Ruidista – No license listed – Boo! No derivs!
(Fantastic work with pure-ish waves & noise. Lotsa high pitches & phase. This has only been downloaded 23 times?)

CDRX – Greetings from Heidiland
Eg0cide – CC BY SA – Yay! Derivs allowed!
(Freaking great collage work of field recordings with electronic modulation. I really like this.)

@c – Half Life, Still Life
Crónica – CC BY SA (license only listed on BandCamp) – Yay! Derivs allowed!
(ASCII pun on “at sea” aside, this is some really quite good electronic abstracted sound.)

Red Fog – Zone of Avoidance
DNA Productions – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!
(Gah, drooooooone, so good.)

Alex Charles – Bowed Tape
self released – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!
(Quite a nice violin improvisation with effects)

VeDaKR – Pred Osle
H-A-Z-E – CC BY NC SA – Yay! Derivs allowed!

John David Eriksen – Super Sensitive
Control Valve – License not listed – Boo! No derivs!

Tom Ellard – Meteostat 2004
Severed Heads – Copyright – Boo! No derivs!

Wings of an Angel – Apocalyptic Love Poems for the End of the World
self released – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!
(I CAN NOT STAND the foofy titles to the songs (example: “Perhaps I’ve Failed, Perhaps I’ve Been Wrong My Entire Life, But My Lifelong Sadness Has Never Been As Beautiful As It Has Been On This Everlasting Night” *barf*) and that prejudices me against liking this stuff too much… I don’t know if it’ll survive for long on my hard drive, even though I’ve enjoyed the music.)

Transparent Body – Black Lights from the Wandering Stars
self released – CC BY NC SA – Yay! Derivs allowed!

Rafael Gonzàlez / Slo-Blo – Sketches of Hz Flapping
Tape Safe – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!

. – /////
ZeroInfo – Copyright – Boo! No derivs!–15
(David Nemeth said it first, and I agree, it is kind of silly for an anonymous record to be put out with a restrictive copyright license.)

Cinchel – Diamond in the Rough
self released – CC BY NC SA – Yay! Derivs allowed!
(Always worth following this guy, he does some really cool stuff!)

Blackdaylight – Nemesis
Kreislauf – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!

The Inner Shore – Silver Rectangles Reflections
Textural Records – No license listed – Boo! No derivs!

Evematic – Bisonogram
Earthrid – Copyright – Boo! No derivs!

Juan Antonio Nieto – Out of the Blue
Fugadiscos – License not listed – Boo! No derivs!

Jatun – The Mass of Portland
self released – Copyright – Boo! No derivs!

Luciftias vs. Ghosts Don’t Exist – Suspended Blades
Eg0cide – CC BY NC SA – Yay! Derivs allowed!

nojoined – Steady State
aReW – Public Domain CC0 – Yay! Derivs allowed!

Andrew Young – Inkplaces
Spectropol – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!

Sonologist – Ipotesi del Continuo
Petroglyph – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!

Christian Doil – MorseMusic
Treetrunk – CC BY NC ND – Boo! No derivs!

March Netlabel Recommendations

Saturday, 03 March 2013

Juan Antonio Nieto – Test
SuRRRism Phonoethics – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!
(Musique Concréte in a strict-ish sense. Acousmatic. Pretty much fucking fantastic.)

Kanukanakina – Triplo-67
Editora Do Porto – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

David J Fonseca – Re Menor
Audiotalaia – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Jukka Pekka Kervinen – Eight Oxymora
Ilse – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Elizabeth Veldon – Golden Lads and Lassies Must as Chimney Sweeps All Turn to Dust
self released – Copyright Boo! No derivs!

Kev Hopper – Tonka Beano
Linear Obsessional – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Nobodisoundz – Invocation
Etched Traumas – no license listed Boo! No derivs!

Norah Lorway – I’ve Had Dreams Like This
Earthrid – Copyright Boo! No derivs!

Harnes Kretzer – Randomize
Withering Trees – Copyright Boo! No derivs!
(Gurdonark recommended this… it’s easy to see the connection)

Metal Wind – Ancient Sounds Revival
Textural Records – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Ongaku2 – Short Stories
La Bel Netlabel – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

JHACK – Silent Water Deep Ground
Hazard Records – Public Domain Yay! Derivs allowed!

Ryan Roth – Distilled Corruption
Xylem Records – Copyright Boo! No derivs!

Ammonites – 33.3
Reverb Worship – Copyright Boo! No derivs!

Joshua Davison – I Been Thinking of the Universe
self released – Copyright Boo! No derivs!
(Modular synth patterns + guitar. This is Kosmische with a Kapital K. It threatens toward nostalgia, but somehow I still enjoy it.)

Onichomp – 86ES
Silent Flow – Listed as CC, but license not specified – Boo! No derivs!

Morphine Bandit – Smokescreen
self released – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

David Prescott-Steed – Soap
Impulsive Habitat – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!
(Engaging site recording of a soap factory in Australia)

Kid Feardive – Haiku
Subterranean Tide – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

February Netlabel Recommendations

Thursday, 02 February 2013

Here’s some stuff I have enjoyed this month, I’m pretty sure it’s all free this time. Not all of it’s new, there’s a couple of older things listed.
I don’t want to alphabetize, this is in no particular order.

Elizabeth Veldon – Ecce Homo
Self Released – Copyright Boo! No derivs!

The Implicit Order – Mystery Worlds
Wholeness – CC BY ND Boo! No derivs!

Pato Cós – Parede Que Me Toca
Black Square – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

Darvillers Ghost – The Grey Heaven
Textural Records – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Meho – Crna Zemlja
Eg0cide – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!
(No ID3 tags! Boo)

Booby Mason & Omutt – Split
H.A.K. Lo-Fi Record – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

Alphaxone – Across the Grooves
Webbed Hand – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

Half Evidence – Le Cachot Lumineux
Eg0cide – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

Damian Valles – Temporal
Absence of Wax – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

Morphine Bandit – Shamanic Anaesthesia
Eg0cide – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Christopher McFall – Quivering Into Your Blood Night Radio
Impulsive Habitat – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!
(Website auto-plays the audio! Boo)

Various Artists / Schemawound – Body Movements
Self Released – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Alex Charles & Richard Sanderson – The Fleet’s Lit Up
Three Legs Duck – CC BY SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Cloud City Cars – Bar Wolf
Self Released – Copyright Boo! No derivs!

Otra Carpeta – Transperente
Audiotalaia – CC BY NC SA Yay! Derivs allowed!

Eucci – LGL Winter
Rive – CC BY NC ND Boo! No derivs!

Caroline Park – Dirim
Pure Potentiality – No License Listed Boo! No derivs!

January recommendations

Saturday, 02 February 2013

New stuff I’ve heard this January that I liked:

Cinchel – Isolation Experiments vol 1
It’s 3 bucks. The rest of the stuff I’m listing is free.

Abdul Moimème – Mekhaanu – La forêt des mécanismes sauvages

Mystified – Music for Journeys

Gerald Fiebig – Piano Decay

Schemawound – @@trancount

(I forgot one)

Miquel Parera Jaques – nx011-2013-01


Wednesday, 12 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

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: 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:

Now Playing netlabels

Thursday, 10 October 2012

Mini reviews. Emphasis on the mini.

I like all of this stuff.
Except for the no-derivatives licenses I don’t like that stuff.

I didn’t feel like alphabetizing them, so please infer absolutely nothing from the way they’re ordered, it’s completely random.

Schemawound – They Want To Make Your Body Move. I Want To Hold You Perfectly Still.
Waxen Wings / CC-BY-NC / Name Your Price
An uncluttered collection of sparse electronic atmospheres. Yummy oscillations, drifty quasi-melodic tones, slowly creeping crunches & clicks. Says here it was made with Soundcollider.

Mystified – The Noise Years
Buddhist on Fire / CC-BY-NC-ND / Free
Burbling, squawking, grungey sounds, but somehow with that sleek Mystified structural sense.

Travis Johnson – Pnaïx
Ilse / CC BY NC SA / Name Your Price
Grooving to the rhythm of strange attractors. Seriously denuded percussion like something rattling in the bottom of a pot of boiling water. Short blips & glissandi. Some of the sounds might come from acoustic improv run through electronic filtrations, others sound like sequenced drum machine sounds.

Yolanda Uriz / Angel Faraldo – Ademen
Audition Records / CC-BY-NC-ND / Free
Abstracted electronic soundscapes journeying through various possible imagined spaces.”

Alex Charles – Audio for Noisy Rooms
Petroglyph / CC-BY-NC-ND / Free
Insistent polyrhythmic blips giving way to synth frequencies and white noise percussives, then modulating back into insistent polyrhythmic blips.

Daniel Barbiero – Not One Nor Zero
Zero Moon / CC BY NC SA / Free
Solo improvs on double bass, extended techniques with long pauses between one sound and another.

Toxic Toy Zone – Blight
17 Sons Records / CC BY NC SA / Name Your Price
Metallic trebley reverb hisses and some swooshes and hums too.

Graham Dunning – Graham Dunning – Recompiled 2010 – 2011
Open Sound Group / CC BY NC ND / Free
A retrospective compilation of some of this dude’s stuff. Claustrophic hiss loops, synth drones, feedback studies, site recordings and explorations of sounds on found tapes.

Hi Asobi – WHNZ:34:HSP
Free Music Archive / CC BY NC SA / Free
Two live improves for electronics and stuff.

Jeff Sampson / Mystified – Encounter at Lazaretto Prime
Ambitention / CC BY NC ND / Free
Ambient music made w/ voice and trombone.

Leo Bettinelli and Pol Nieva – Pale
Tecno Nucleo / CC BY NC SA / Free
Experimental electro-improv. I hear synths, strings (viola, guitar?) and lotsa delay.

Mon0 – Colliding Textures
Test Tube / CC BY NC ND / Free
Vaporous ventilation drones.

Mystified – Where Angels Fear To Tread
Treetrunk / CC BY NC / Free
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.

PBK – Thrill Pictures
Nostalgie de la Boue / License not listed / Free
What can I say? A drop dead classic of noise ambient. I played this music a lot in its previous release on cassette. This is billed as a remaster… maybe it’s been a long time since I’ve heard the music, but it sounds to me now like it may have been remixed too?

Now Playing: Netlabels

Saturday, 07 July 2012

Minireviews of netlabel stuff.
All of this stuff is free.
Look at all of those no-deriv licenses (grumble grumble). What’re you afraid of?

Barascud – Summit
Nowaki / CC BY NC SA

Well made guitar-ambient music alternating between neutral drone atmospheres and prettier stylings. I am partial to the former and not so interested in the latter, but for this kind of thing, it hits its marks fairly well.

Alex Charles – Trevenec
Linear Obsessional / CC BY NC SA
Drones based on bell sounds. Peals & jingles add up from a simple beginning to a thicker soundscape. Later, what sounds like thumb piano from a jack-in-the-box lends a gone-mad feel to it.

Conure – Surrounded by Pages
Treetrunk / CC BY NC ND
NOISE! Often this kind of thing is better live and misses something in recording, but I liked this one quite a bit. Needless to say that if you demand that the sounds you consume be all rounded off & padded and pre-approved for safety, this ain’t for you. Starts off with a long piece that builds to a satisfying heaviness by adding elements slowly to the ever swirling miasma. Other tracks take a more modified approach, such as the second one wherein a quiet guitar loop is joined by a spacey hum, and it only builds into a high volume squall eventually and only briefly. Overall a measured, patient & varied approach to harsh noise. Very enjoyable.

René Muñoz Córdova – The Fragility of Emotions
Akharene / CC BY NC ND
Top shelf acousmatic drone work from this veteran netlabel composer. The drones here oscillate forebodingly enough, and are paired with various instruments (piano, percussion, brass) and other unidentified acoustic sound activity filling out the sound field. Not a huge amount of processing going on, much of it sounds like something that happened, not something conjured from a laptop.

FJRicharts – Anders Als Alle
Camomile / CC BY NC ND
Brightly tinted ambient music that often flirts with sweet melodic motifs and occasionally gives in.

Hirobleep – Carved in Concrete
Hirobleep / CC BY NC ND
Insistent and simplistic primitive-techno jams based on a very limited palette of square & saw waves. Each high BPM track contains the same elements, a repeating bass line and a dissonant “melody” that also repeats, backed by a reedy drum loop clattering underneath. Once the pattern is set, that mixture repeats from the beginning to the end, with filter sweeps providing the only variety. On its own, it has a few moments, but I could really see this remixed into something good. It’s too bad then, that they issued this with a no-derivatives CC license, because we’ll never know.

Hunted Creatures – Summer Tour 2011 / Hunted Creatures Cassette
self-released / CC BY NC ND
CC net re-releases of two previously released cassette albums by this improvising quartet of guitar / violin / electronics / percussion. Most of the pitfalls of this kind of band setup are deftly avoided. There’s no rock posturing and more tension than release. When the drums finally do kick in, it’s more kosmische than crimson.

Noisemaker – Space Drones
Inside Outside / ?? (at this writing the netlabel page is down, I can’t determine license)
A pair of completely lovely drones. 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. The netlabel Ins Out seems to be down at the moment, I hope it comes back, because I can’t seem to find this release on Archive or Sonic Squirrel or other likely places.

Noise Research with Shaun Blezard – the Lanternhouse
Electronic Musik / CC BY NC ND
Blurry sonic meanderings with little patience for sticking around in one noise pile when there’s another inviting noise pile to jump into right nearby.

Sarah J Ritch – String Theory
Pan y Rosas / License not listed
Cello & violin pieces with some electronics. Call me crazy, but I hear hints of epic black metal in some sections and microsound electronic ambient stuff in others. The pieces with Ritch solo are more drawn out & patient, one has a subdued drone of frequencies beating, cresting & ebbing.

Now Playing: Netlabel music

Sunday, 06 June 2012

I’m finally getting some time to get caught up on my netlabel listening. The big project that was taking up so much of my time is now behind me (a sound art exhibition archived here: and I can concentrate on my other interests again!

So in preparing this post, I noticed that a lot of the Creative Commons licenses that are used here don’t allow remixing… “no derivative work”. Obviously it’s up to each artist / label to decide what license to use, but I humbly argue for a more open license, such as CC BY or CC BY NC SA — a no-deriv license amounts to a monologue, allowing derivative work opens up the work to dialogue. I’ve been strongly considering the idea of basing a new work on appropriated sounds from the netlabel underground, (with proper attribution, of course) and it’s dismaying seeing all of these good releases that disallow it.

And now I’m getting off my high horse and we can proceed to the reviews.

Clay Gold – Clay Mining
Three Legs Duck / CC BY SA / Name your price

A percussion improvisation with heaped-on effects, soft-pad washes & tinkles, and some samples too. I am ambivalent about it.

He Can Jog – Pocket Suite
Pocket Fields / CC BY NC SA / Free
(Note: lists the release as CC BY NC ND, but in conversation with the artist, that’s a mistake, and the above license is correct)

It is a bitcrushed swampland of electronic crickets & frogs, with an Ariel Kalma-esque feeling of something hovering. Comes packaged with the source code.

Miquel Parera Jaques – Empty Space
Techno Nucleo / CC BY NC SA / free

Frequency oscillations beat and collide together until they burst. Aw… poor square waves!
Samples and source code also available.

Travis Johnson – Menotact
Control Valve / license not listed / free

A quietly modulating electronic drone supplemented by the occasional electro-bloop, or sine-glissando is paired with an indoor site recording in which not much happens (a rustle of slight movement, something clicks or clatters). Later, there are a few claps in a reverberating space. None of it adds up to much, but that’s all-right with me, I happen to think it’s pretty nifty!

Lezet – Hum
Etched Traumas / license not listed / free

Assembled from incidental mouth / breath noises. Disinterested sounding “ah”s & “hm”s join amphibian snurks, clammy gurgles & bovine grunts as the primary source material for the two pieces that are the focus of this release. The compositional structure is as insistent as aimless, like a room full of morons bumping into one another: perhaps then the point is to dance to it? It’s funny at first, and then a little disturbing, and most definitely worth a listen. I’ll leave it to a literary scholar to tell me whether or not this is sound poetry.

BFW Recordings / CC BY NC ND / free

One day the “outside world” will discover how good Bjorn Asserhead’s Meteer project is, and what’ll happen then? Hopefully the rest of us netlabel folk will beam with pride and send him virtual handshakes and pats on the back, and he’ll make sure to remind people in that edenic “outside” that there’s other people like him making music and giving it away for free… “down there”. Seriously, though this chill rhythmic ambient music is better than much of the similar stuff I’ve heard on the 12k label, and he hits the occasional evocative groove that stands on its own. He’s an artist worth following.

Naïve Mind – ___________ (Put a title in this line if you want)
Zenapolae / CC BY NC SA / free

If you asked a lot of people if they like competent pop-techno with simplistic, pretty melodies sometimes with a bit of guitar plucking alongside, many of those people would say “yes, I like those things”. I’m not one of them, so this gets chucked in the bin.

David Nemeth – Home Drones
Treetrunk / CC BY / free

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.

Juan Antonio Nieto – The Voice Inside
Electronic Musik / CC BY NC ND / free

Filmic spooky atmospheres with a distant hint of Robert Rich’s “Trances / Drones”

Protofuse – Bits#10
self-released / copyrighted / it was free, but I guess now you have to pay?
Low-rent Basic Channel minimal techno stuff. It burbles along unremarkably enough. I’m often partial to this kind of thing, so I like it, but admittedly it’s not the most exciting music in the world.

Radio Royal – RRDL01
Clinical Archives / CC BY NC ND / free

A few seemingly competing interests here. Several extended freeform electronic jams with background loops and dirty lo-tech synths. Then the loops come to the fore to accompany a boring sampled vocal monologue, and things get more problematic. Then there’s another big change when nestled in the middle of it is a great psychedelic track with a wobbly repeating guitar / drum phrase and the vibrating inflections of a vocalist intoning in Japanese (?). Suddenly it all sounds more interesting.

Restive – [m2012/30-09]
self released / CC BY NC SA / free

That fondly familiar Restive construction: independent loops of rumbling noises, one track has a Cluster-ish little keyboard meditation, I’d love to see more like that!

Slowpitch – Biosphere Stargaze
Bah Doom / copyrighted / free

Hazy sound clumps looping for opiated head-nodding. Each track starts off promising, but never develops into anything but another reason to stare bleary-eyed at the wall.

Chris Whitehead – South Gare
Linear Obsessional / CC BY NC SA / free

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

My Favorite Free Netlabel Music of 2011

Sunday, 12 December 2011

Here’s my favorite netlabel releases of 2011. What qualifies me to make a list like this? Nothing at all! You don’t need credentials in the netlabel underground. I listen to a lot of music published on netlabels, I like making lists, and I like sharing what I’ve found with other potential listeners. There’s my qualifications! I wish more people would get vocal about the stuff they like in netlabel music. A few people did, including David Nemeth, Thomas Park and Alex Stretton. I’d love to read more lists of netlabel music people have enjoyed, I love discovering new music, and checking out the tastes of people who are different from me. So why don’t you consider sharing some of the things you listened to and liked this year? If you don’t want to write a blog post, feel free to add a comment to this post, you’ll share your recommendation with me & everyone who reads this.

Before I proceed with the rest of this post, I’d like to point my readers to a blog post I wrote re-capping some of the stuff I personally released in 2011, both my own music and stuff on my label. That blog post can be found right HERE.

I should probably give a special shout-out to one artist who gets the most-listened-to netlabel artist of the year award. It’s pretty clear from this screenshot of my last.FM stats who I’m talking about:

Saffron Slumber kicks ass, and the release by his other project Earthbreather made a pretty good dent too! Well done!

A few final notes:
– I’m dividing my list into 8 releases that are especially excellent, and then 23 more that I really like.
– I limited my list to releases that were available for free. Some are “Pay what you want”, including zero.
– Not all of this stuff is released with Creative Commons licenses, though most of it is.
– For some reason most of this year’s list is ambient music, even though, to be frank, most ambient bores me to tears. This stuff defies the expectations.
– The two lists are presented in alphabetical order.

Without further ado, here’s…

Eight Essential Releases of 2011

Earthbreather – Forget the SkySkrow!media

     Ambient that shakes the floorboards. Ambient that feels like heavy metal. Distortion as an element of beauty. Sometimes I download something and forget everything about it before listening to it. That happened with this album. When I finally listened for the first time, I put it on, and I was like, “Dude, who IS this, this is fucking awesome!” – and so I googled Earthbreather and realized that it’s the a collaborative project including Kevin Stephens, a.k.a. Saffron Slumber (along with Jason George of Ellipse) and I said to myself “Ah, no wonder it fucking rules.”

Ángel Faraldo – Scelsi Remix: 7 MantrasModisti

     This was actually released in December 2010, but I didn’t discover it until after I’d written last year’s best-of post. It surely would have made it to the list, seeing as how it’s incredibly good and all. Perfect drone music.

Gurdonark – Weights and MeasuresTreetrunk

     This is probably Gurdonark’s best work, in my humble opinion. Some of the songs remind me of something that might appear on a Boards of Canada album. Subdued melodies with round tones.

Christopher McFall – The Alpha is Strong and Amplifying BetaImpulsive Habitat

     This guy rules. Will he make it on every year’s best-of list? Only if he does something every year. Heavy clumps of lo-fi sounds.

Mystified – Remembering the Engineself released

     Mystified always releases a ton of good stuff. This was the one from this year that I really liked the best. Motorik mechanical industrial-ambient.

Saffron Slumber – SomnogenResting Bell

     Just take another look at that statistical graphic above. Yes. This is ambient music done right.

Various Artists – Dead Voices: White NoiseIntelligent Machinery / Just Not Normal

     A great compilation of edgey abstract music derived from ‘electronic voice phenomenon’, and very, very sadly the last release on Just Not Normal for “some time to come”.

Wirewall / Hal McGee – Dimension ShiftCohort

     A really interesting hybrid of harsh noise and ambient, from two of my old contacts from the hometaping days. One or both of these guys ought to participate in the Dystimbria continuum.

23 Really Good Releases of 2011

AODL – Wanted ValleyRive


Sandra Boss – Seks KompositionerModisti

     Composed electronic sounds.

Chiodata – CoplaCocodriller

     Synth music with lingering tones a la Eno.

Cinchel – friday.deconstructionself released

     Sadly this is not a deconstruction of the amazing song by Rebecca Black. Instead it’s rather good guitar-drone-loop-glitch music.

Closer Contact + Meteer – Geography 2BFW Recordings

     A well thought out blend of chilled melodies, site recordings, rhythms and electroacoustic experiments, not all at the same time.

Reñe Muñoz Cordova – EntityPetcord

     Musique concrete.

Christian Doil – MaschinenEarth Mantra

     Full disclosure: this contains a remix of my sounds on one track. Metallic drones, loops and vague rhythmic chirps.

Gusev K.P. – Vb K.Petcord

     In a recent review I said: “it’s minimal techno that threatens to erupt into a big beat and never does. It hovers there, all potential, unresolved – unresolvable. There’s no real beginning or ending, it occupies a limbo… The longer it goes along, the greater the tension, the greater the intensity, not because the piece builds to a crescendo – it never does – but because the enduring potential persists. The music does not repeat, and continually invents itself in interesting ways, but it refuses to progress… instead it hovers, intensely.”

The Implicit Order – Our Haunted Planetself released

     Our favorite appropriation artist is at it again. I’m thrilled that Anthony’s been so productive this year. His stuff is always worth the time for a listen.

The Implicit Order – Wartime Geneticsself released

     Very weirdly, some of this sounds like it could break into black metal screeee at any moment.

Kalte – FissuresPetcord


Kirill Platonkin – OrogenesisPetcord

     Drones. Vaguely textural.

Marax – the Weight of Insignificanceself released

     In a recent review, I said: “The normally screamin’ noise monster Marax takes an ultra minimal approach with this release, exploring the self-noise of a wah pedal. A droning, low-frequency oscillation with a mild static wash. This reminds me, of course, of Nurse With Wound’s “Soliloquy for Lilith”, in which Steven Stapleton found that waving his hands around a certain effects set-up caused a seemingly magic sound response, creating an accidental, playable instrument. The second track is the same source material as the first, taken in a more post-production / effected direction.”

Mysterybear – Complex Silence 12Treetrunk

     Electronic drones with frequency beating. Very trancey. The release page recommends headphones, but I prefer this kind of thing out-loud so I can move my head around and hear phase effects.

Mystified – Bone Drones 3Webbed Hand

     Many people are referring to the ‘trilogy’ of trombone releases by Mystified, but in reality Thomas produced quite a lot of material with trombones, both solo and in collaboration, so I think maybe calling it a trilogy and leaving it at that is selling it short. I heard several of Mystified’s trombone works this year, but this one was my favorite of what I heard.

NP – Couleur ASCIIPetcord

     Post-glitch, post-IDM, frantic electronic music. Rhythmic, but so unlikely to stay on one rhythm for long, it’s almost a misrepresentation to say so. A comparison would be the work of Ryoji Ikeda or Alva Noto.

Bob Ostertag – Motormouthself released

     Really cool blippy-bloopy modular synth workouts with a Buchla 200e.

Restive – Generative 2Modisti

     Supposedly this is “generative ambient music”. It’s quite minimal, sounds a bit like a guy and a sampler doing spooky loops.

Jeff Sampson – Requiem in ShallowsTreetrunk

     Best looped singing artist since Eyelight released all those amazing tapes back in the hometaping days. Jeff’s fellow Coloradan too! A fellow avant-prog fan too! Racking up the “cool” points!

SIGHUP – City PassageFeedback Loop Label

     Very interesting sonics, sounds like it might be heavily processed site recordings.

Sonorefiction – AutomatiqueMonokrak

     Vast minimal ambient-techno.

Uncertain – Amniotic Fluid EPself released

     Goes from Coil-esque melodic play to total drone.

Wjiik og Chefkirk – We Love Ginger CandyControl Valve

     Electronic music, possibly you could call it musique concrete. Occasional blasts of invigorating harshness.

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