October 30, 2004

Just Vote!


Hey!! Stop what you're doing! You're not going to find that Arcade Fire live bootleg today, you're not going to stumble across the b-side to "Hand In Glove", and you're not going to find the unreleased Pixies album.

If you have the right to vote in the US election then find your nearest polling place and get prepared to vote. Tell your friends to vote, tell your enemies for that matter. But just vote.

I am not an American citizen, but I will be calling and emailing all my American friends to make sure they plan on voting. Participation is crucial. The decision of the American public will affect each and every one of us. I don't care who you vote for, all I am asking is that you exercise your democratic right to have your opinion counted. I want to believe that your new president is the choice of the majority and is not elected as a result of low voter turnout.


And since this is an mp3blog we've added a song or two as well.
Vote by Chris Stamey w/Yo La Tengo

For my part, I'm posting Thank You George Muthaf@%#king Bush, a spoken word piece by Pittsburgh street poet Vanessa Gearman, which won first prize in the Slam Bush National Rhyme Contest.

And, on a lighter note, Frat Boy by The Compassionate Conservatives.

Get Out And Vote On November 2nd. Regular Blogging Will Commence On November 3rd.

Music Bloggers For Democracy
and everyone that has agreed to post
the big ticket
last sound of summer
Pregnant without intercourse
Bars and guitars
radio babylon
Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again
The Napkin
Tuwa's Shanty

Posted by Warren at 12:36 PM

October 28, 2004

Mosh By Eminem

I must admit that, with the exception of Stan and Lose Yourself, I’ve never been a huge fan of Eminem’s work. But this slow-burn anti-Bush track, released just in time for the US elections, is one of the most potent pieces of agit-prop hip hop that I’ve heard/seen in a while. (I say seen because you really have to see the video that was made for it.) Daily Kos has posted a link to a stream of the video (but it seems to be faltering under the weight of demand)… So, here’s a fansite with streamed videos in a variety of formats and an mp3 of the song.

(STOP PRESS: Apparently, there's a Bit Torrent of the video at this site.)

Posted by Warren at 01:48 AM

October 27, 2004

John Peel 1939-2004


This is just so fucking sad… John Peel was responsible for the greatest moment in my brief musical career, when he invited the band I was playing bass for to record a Peel Session back in the early 90’s... At the time, it was almost beyond belief to me… We were a bunch of Antipodean nobodies who were struggling to get headlining gigs, and here was the great man giving us the nod of approval and letting us record in a BBC studio that had once been graced by the Beatles… It was an honour that just seemed undeserved, and something I will be forever indebted to him for…

To mark his passing, I’m posting this site devoted to mp3s by bands featured on his show since 1992. There are a lot of names that you will probably already know, but please download something from an obscure group you’ve never heard of… Someone who might've regarded it as truly valued recognition that they wouldn’t have got elsewhere…

RIP John Peel… I extend my sympathies to your family… Thank you for all you’ve done for the struggling musicians of this world…

Posted by Warren at 10:07 PM

October 26, 2004

Legal To Sample, Legal To Share: The Creative Commons Wired CD

The Wired CD is the first official compilation of musical works released under the new Creative Commons’ Sampling licences. These licences mean that the works can be legally copied and sampled for non-commercial purposes. (In some cases, they can even be sampled for commercial purposes – provided they aren’t used in commercials.) The artists who’ve contributed to it include the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Matmos, Dan The Automator, Le Tigre, The Rapture, Danger Mouse, Chuck D, Thievery Corporation, Cornelius, Spoon, Zap Mama, DJ Dolores, Paul Westerberg, The Morning Jacket and Gilberto Gil. You can go out and pick it up for free with the November issue of Wired, or alternatively you can download this Bit Torrent. (via Boing Boing)

Posted by Warren at 11:59 PM

Tape Findings: Found Home Recordings, And Other Cassette Deck Oddities

Tape Findings is a brand new mp3 blog devoted to home recordings and other odd audio cassettes found at thrift stores and garage sales. It kicked off last week with a couple of excerpts from a music class recording, a no-punches-pulled past life psychic reading (forget the usual ego-stroking guff about being an Atlantean high priestess in a past life, the poor subject in this one is told that she was hung as a witch in the early 1800’s!), and a bizarre vision of “grunge music” from 80’s kid cartoon, Teddy Ruxpin

Posted by Warren at 08:06 AM

Walter Kitundu's Turntable Creations

Continuing on with the experimental instrument theme, here’s Walter Kitundu, a sound artist who specialises in modified turntables. He's constructed turntables that are powered by wind, water, fire, earthquakes and even pigeons, but his most stunning creations have resulted from fusing turntables with traditional stringed instruments like the harp, koto, kora and sarangi. (In these hybrids, the record stylus effectively acts as a "pickup" for the vibrations of the strings.) His website contains images of his many wonderful instruments along with Quicktime clips of some quite lovely jazzy/folktronic music produced on the “workhorse” of the collection, the phonoharp. (via Metafilter)

Posted by Warren at 07:18 AM

October 25, 2004

Experimental Musical Instrument Extravaganza: NIME 04

New Interfaces for Musical Expression is an annual conference where boffins from university media labs around the world deliver papers on current projects and show off all manner of nifty new experimental musical instruments and midi controllers. The website of this year’s conference, which was held in Shizuoka, Japan, has a complete set of the papers, which cover subjects like as optical turntables, eye-movement-triggered music software, Bluetooth-enabled taiko drumsticks, and something called a SillyTone Squish Factory. (Warning: High tech-speak content.) If these become too heavy-going, you can always just head over to the video/image gallery and enjoy clips of some of the performances. These include a laptop and electronic sitar trio (included in highlights clip), a live Gameboy composition, the ever-faithful pairing of violinist Mari Kimura and the GuitarBot, a two-person wind instrument called a Tooka, and Uriko Fujii’s “formula for orgasm between human and technology” which involves hair-bowing and a drum with a burst skin.

Posted by Warren at 07:00 PM

October 23, 2004

Crash Ballet: The Spontaneous Plane Crash Test Music Video Contest

Last Sunday, CoolGov, a weblog of “cool stuff” on US Government websites, posted a link to some amazing silent NASA footage of a plane full of crash test dummies being crash-tested out in the California desert. Shortly thereafter, Coudal Partners, a web design studio in Chicago, set up an impromptu contest to edit the footage to music. They promptly received a dozen entries, and now, less than a week later, they’ve announced the winner – Ethan Mitchell, who created this mini-video for Velapene Screen’s remix of Untitled by Interpol. Brilliant stuff… Makes you wonder how we ever got along before we had cheap audio/video editing software and the Internets. (via Boing Boing)

Posted by Warren at 11:23 PM

Indian Music Composed By Someone Who Has Never Heard Indian Music Before

…Or, maybe, he did hear Indian music and decided that it was just too “weird” for a mid-sixties Italian TV audience… but, hey, those sitars produce great sounding twangs so we’ll throw one in for a bit of "authenticity"...
This odd piece of pre-Ravi-Shankar soundtrack Orientalism was composed by Francesco Di Masi as the score to a 1966 Italian TV documentary about India. To give it its due, it’s a solid piece of soundtrack composition filled with creeping percussion, vibes, flutes, and the aforementioned sitar played like a carefully plucked banjo. Overall, it brings to mind some existential Western penned by a New Age Cormac McCarthy… but its meant to be a film about India. (Maybe, as the folks at Aquarius Records suggest, he’s composed it with the wrong type of “Indians” in mind.) Here, from the CD of the score, is the opening track, Alla scoperta dell’India. The album can be purchased from Aquarius Records.

Posted by Warren at 01:48 AM

Thai Beat A Gogo: 60’s Music From “The Land Of Smile”

Once again, we’re back in a region whose pop music history holds an endless fascination for me – South East Asia. This time, the stopover comes courtesy of Subliminal Sounds, a Swedish label dedicated to 60’s obscurities, who have just released a compilation of Thai music from that period. Unlike the restless re-interpreters of acid-rock in neighbouring Cambodia, the Thai acts on this CD mostly deliver fairly straightforward (but still quite rocking) renditions of Western beat and surf music. There are, however, a number of notable exceptions; one of these is Johnny’s Guitar, who crank out blaring surf-guitar and organ drenched numbers underscored with racing traditional percussion. Probably the best example of this is their first track on the compilation, Kratae. (Apparently, its a reference to a local variety of rat with a long tail.) In a similar vein, though infinitely more kitschy, is this twitchy Thai-ified version of the James Bond theme by The Son of P.M. The album that they both come from can be purchased from Other Music.

Posted by Warren at 12:43 AM

October 22, 2004

Chango Spasiuk: The Charm of Chamame

Chamame is a folk music from the Misiones province in north-eastern Argentina, that mixes up influences from the native Guarani, Afro-Spanish creoles, and East European immigrants, in a lively brew that is characterised by toe-tapping 6/8 rhythms and skipping lines of staccato accordion chords. The current world music poster boy for chamame is Chango Spasiuk, a ridiculously talented accordion virtuoso who has turned this once-derided music from the sticks into a respectable concert hall filler. (He’s even given it a measure of avant-cred, thanks to his work with the likes of John Zorn.) All the while though, he’s never let anyone lose sight of this music’s rural roots. On this track, for instance, the music is introduced by a chorus of farm animals. The track’s called General Virasoro, and comes from The Charm of Chamame, a 2003 release that compiles the best material from his previous three albums. The album can be purchased through Amazon. (More samples from the album are available at this site.)
(Many thanks to Perfect Sound Forever for putting me on to this musical delight.)

Posted by Warren at 01:38 AM

October 17, 2004

DIY Swedish Teen Riot Grrl Black Metal Hardcore Techno: Arboga Teenage Riot

This is quite possibly the second best "teens for Satan" home recording ever made. (The best one is Satan's Blood by The Frugal Gourmets.) Imagine a couple of Swedish schoolgirls raised on red cordial and black metal being let loose on a cheap karaoke machine that plays nothing but cheesy gabber/techno (and the occasional Spice Girls track.) To give you a taste of the resulting insanity, here's a medley of two tracks by the gals. The first one is a kind of techno Beauty-and-the-Beast-gone-wrong with guttural barking and vampish "Ooh, Baby"s instead of comprehensible lyrics. (When Family First unleashes its inevitable scare campaign against non-Hillsong-approved clubbing with TV ads showing 14 year olds ODing on GBH, waking up in drug dealers' beds and shivering in laneways with running mascara... hopefully they'll use this as background music.) For the second track, ATR pinch their nostrils shut and do their best Nina-Hagen-with-rabies hatchet job on "If You Wanna Be My Lover"... If only school rock eisteddfods had been like this!
(A full CD can be purchased from Aquarius Records.)

Posted by Warren at 03:52 PM

October 15, 2004

Does The Blues Have Islamic Roots?

According to music scholars Sylvaine Diouf and Gerhard Kubik, a lot of the vocal stylings used in blues singing actually have their roots in the music and recitations brought over to America by African Muslim slaves. Its a claim that may seem far-fetched at first, but its been estimated that anything from 7 to 30 percent of the African slaves who arrived in the US were Muslims, so its at least plausible that their music had some influence on the development of African-American music in general. And this mpeg played by Diouf at lectures (which juxtaposes the Muslim call to prayer with an early blues song called "Levee Camp Holler") does seem to suggest some pretty strong links... I'd be interested to hear what you think, though (via Metafilter)
(In addition to singing styles, Kubik claims that blues also inherited slide guitar and the general preference for stringed instruments from Islamic African music traditions.)

Posted by Warren at 06:56 PM

October 13, 2004

For Those Of You Who Missed It: Yuri Beatboxing Through A Harmonica Over A Mobile Phone While Standing On A Sidewalk In Chicago

Here’s an mp3 of the live beatbox harmonica performance that Yuri Lane did for us on Friday. Considering it was done through a mobile phone while he was standing on a sidewalk in Chicago, it turned out pretty damn well (and just confirms what a talented guy he is). Apparently, while he was laying down these rhythms, a couple of African-American kids wandered past with looks of disbelief; wondering what this crazy white guy was up to. I only wish someone had been there with a video camera to capture it.

Posted by Warren at 09:22 PM

The First Unequivocally Positive News in The Last Four Days: Slint To Reform!!

For us lefties in the Antipodes, the last four days have been pretty fucking depressing. In case you didn’t know, we had an election on Saturday and the Lying Rodent (aka John Howard, the leader of the conservative Liberal Party, our equivalent of the Tories or Republicans) got re-elected with an increased majority. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it looks like his party are within a whisker of getting control of both houses of parliament, so they'll be able to push through a whole raft of right wing death beast legislation that will gut workers’ rights, clear the way for regime-friendly tycoons like Murdoch and Packer to own every major media outlet (and thus snuff out voices of dissent), and sell off the last remaining public interest in our national telco, Telstra (Say goodbye to decent phone services if you live in the bush!)
To do this though, they may have to make deals with a shadowy fundamentalist Christian party called Family First. On the bright side, these god-botherers have indicated that they won’t automatically support the sale of Telstra or the watering down of media ownership laws… But the odds are they'll horse trade, and I shudder to think what they’ll want in return for giving those laws a leg up. After all, these people are the sort of creepy nutjobs who call mosques “strongholds of Satan”, and advocate the burning of lesbians at the stake

In this world gone grim with a capital G, one of my few recent comforts has been the news that one of my favourite ever bands, Slint, is reforming. You probably already know about these guys. In 1991, they brought out an album called “Spiderland” that pretty much spawned post-rock (and IMO was never bettered by any of the sprawling opuses that that genre gave us.) The reformation seems to have come about as a result of the band members agreeing to curate next year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, where they’ll be performing for the first time in a decade… Oh well, at least, if I decide to take a break from the brave new Rightist Paradise in the South Pacific, I’ll be able to go and see a decent gig somewhere… Here’s a page full of Slint live recordings from the Transmission 3000 website.

(FOOTNOTE: You can supposedly buy a CD of this live performance, but don’t do it – no money from it goes into the band’s pockets. Instead, head on over to Amazon and purchase either Spiderland, Tweez, or the unnamed single.)

Posted by Warren at 08:33 PM

October 08, 2004

The Long Tail

In traditional music industry business models, the primary focus is on churning out hits – mass appeal songs performed by marketable artists that can be heavily promoted and thus earn the company squillions. Such a paradigm is based on scarcity – because of space constraints, a record store can only stock so many CDs, so you want to make sure that the CDs which are stocked, are the ones that are most likely to sell.
But, this paradigm starts to break down when you move online. A web store is not limited by space so can potentially stock any recording ever made (if its Amazon-sized, of course). Faced with such a dizzying array of choices, consumers start to explore, and their appetite for the traditionally non-commercial (fuelled by those “If you like this, check out this” lists) expands… As a result, everything that becomes available online eventually finds a buying public. Sure, in many cases, it may only consist of one or two punters, but when you consider that there are hundreds of thousands of these little niche sellers, then what you are talking about is a market whose unit-shifting potential rivals that for the small handful of stars at the top of the charts…
In the business, this is known as the Long Tail, and just what it means for the future of the entertainment industry, is explored at length by Chris Anderson in this very, very interesting article from Wired magazine.

Posted by Warren at 07:31 PM

October 07, 2004

2SER Radiothon: Featuring Live Harmonica Beatboxing From Yuri Lane

Starting tomorrow, it’s the annual 2SER Radiothon, a time when we attempt to coax and cajole our listeners into becoming paying subscribers so the station can remain afloat for another year. (As we’re a community station, this is the only source of funding we get – no government money or big corporate sponsors for us poor toilers.) To help get those subscriptions flowing in, I’m calling in the assistance of awesomely talented beatboxer, Yuri Lane, who will be beatboxing live through a harmonica over the phone from Chicago! Will it work and translate into a moment of pure radio magic? Or will it be defeated by the shitty sound quality of the trans-global phone network?... To be honest with you, I have no idea…
The only way to find out will be to tune in at around 7:45 am Friday 8th, Sydney time. If you’re in Sydney, go to 107.3 on the FM radio dial. If you hail from other parts, go to the 2SER-FM site for live streaming audio. (Hopefully its up in time. The site’s currently down for maintenance.)

(UPDATE: Its 7:20 am and the main site's still down, but you can listen to the show via the streaming link page.)

Posted by Warren at 05:49 PM

J M Nasim's Psychedelic Jaw's Harp

Even if there were no audio to accompany this, it would be worth posting just for the OTT techno-hippy jargon that J M Nasim conjures up to describe his music. Apparently, its “entheogenic, deep space, techno-shamanic, pansensual vibrations… a post-industrial, paleotribal synaesthetic, timeless & harmonic polyrhythmatrix”.
Basically, he plays a jaw’s harp into a bank of signal processors and creates the sort of trancey, ambient twang-and-burble that you’d expect to hear on a live stage at some Earthcore rave-in-the-bush. Or, if you prefer: “various programmatic, architectonic sound spaces frame rhythmic zones within which certain acoustic potentialities reside. These sonic holograms manifest my musical explorations as shape-shifted sound. Seminal acoustics are gestated into new aural forms to birth multi-dimensional soundscapes of interpenetrating pulses and harmonics.”
An album of these “multi-dimensional soundscapes of interpenetrating pulses and harmonics” is available from CD Baby, who also have lo-fi streaming excerpts from all of the tracks on it. (via Metafilter)

Posted by Warren at 12:01 PM

October 05, 2004

Brokenhearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica From South East Asia

There will no doubt be much better records that come out this year – records that rock your world; that restore your flagging faith in the life-affirming power of music; and so on… But nothing will slap your preconceptions about “music” in the face quite like this new release from Sublime Frequencies….
If you were to listen to it without being told anything about its creators, you might think that it was the latest work by some European or Japanese drone-n-sine-tone electronica artist… Or you might pick that its sourced from field recordings, but conclude that its been heavily processed, sequenced and composed… But its none of these…
Supposedly, it’s a series of unprocessed field recordings of swarming insects recorded by Tucker Martine in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. The title of the album refers to a Burmese folk-story which claims that these are the sounds of the hearts of post-coital male dragonflies bursting from their chests… Something which seems entirely plausible when you hear the "orchestrated" insect shriek crescendos in this excerpt from Morning Fanfare...
If want more, you can purchase the album from the Sublime Frequencies website.

Posted by Warren at 11:50 PM

October 03, 2004

70's Funk, Psych 'N' Saz From Turkey: Edip Akbayram & Dostlar

Nedir Ne Degildir? by Edip Akbayram & Dostlar is a fine new addition to the steady stream of 60/70’s Turkish rock reissues that have appeared in the past couple of years. On previous releases, the big Western influence that appears in the music of that period is psychedelic rock. (60’s psych rock, indeed, continued to hold sway in Turkey long after it had faded in the West.) In this latest one, which originally came out in 1975, elements of funk have started creeping into the mix (along with fizzing 70’s synth and the occasional tape speed manipulation.) The bods at Aquarius Records have likened the results to a score for some lost 70’s Turkish car-chase film… And that certainly sums up this track, Arabam Kaldi Yolda, pretty well. As always, the album can purchased through the Aquarius Records site.

Posted by Warren at 06:32 PM

October 02, 2004

An Entire Community Singing Its Heart Out: The Clouds

When Irwin Chusid, the czar of outsider music, brings out a record, you know its bound to be something special!... In the past, he's given us such gems as The Langley Schools Music Project and Songs In The Key of Z. And now he has released The Clouds, an “avant gospel” project put together by Indianapolis artist, Stuart Hyatt, and featuring performances by 88 amateur singers and instrumentalists from Sumter County in Western Alabama who range in age from 8 to 80. All the songs performed by the project were originals written by Hyatt in collaboration with the performers... even where those performers weren't really songwriters. On "No, You Can't Take Them", for instance, he got a group of fourth to eighth grade kids to come up with one thing they would take to a desert island, and this list became the quirky Widney-High-esque verses to a song about what you can't take to heaven with you. As a counterpoint, the choruses were sung in classic vaulting gospel style by the Union Chapel Male Chorus... Its a combination which may look odd on paper, but it all works beautifully... An mp3 of the track can be downloaded from the WFMU archive, and the album can be purchased through Innova.

Posted by Warren at 05:33 PM

October 01, 2004

Mad Axe Designs Via Music Thing

One of my current favourite new sites is Music Thing, a music-making gearhound weblog filled with mouthwatering reviews of flash new gizmos, detailed gear-wise dissections of notable recordings, homages to arcane musical apparatuses like the Teleharmonium, and tongue-in-cheek profiles of some of the more excessive moments in instrument/device design… Recently, its been focusing on guitar-design madness with a list of “ten guitars shaped like guns” (including a flamethrower-mounted guitar used by former Alice Cooper guitarist, Kane Roberts) and links to the truly bizarre collection at Ed Roman Guitars… In Ed’s catalogue, there is an Elven wood sculpture disguised as a double-necked guitar, a pair of ZZ Top commissioned fur axes, and the ultimate cock-rock instrument – the Wang Dang Wangcaster (Warning: possibly NSFW)

Posted by Warren at 12:54 AM