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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Leroy Brown DJ Mix

Self-proclaimed "International Superstar DJ" Secret Agent Gel (of The Kids Are Bored Radio) gives us this insanely eclectic mix:

The Leroy Brown DJ Mix
1. jimmy castor bunch - troglodyte (caveman)
2. t. raumschmiere - I'm Not Deaf, I'm Ignoring You
3. Zapp & Roger - more Bounce to the Ounce
4. Vex'd - Smart Bomb
5. DMX Krew - Mouse
6. Assemby Line - Prototype
7. Whodini - Freaks Come Out at Night
8. MIA - Amazon
9. Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster
10. Scandal Inc. - That's a Good Look
11. Murray Head - One Night in Bangkok
12. G.D.Luxxe - Skin and Fur
13. Nine Inch Nails - Head Like a Hole
14. Dr. Dre - Let Me Ride
15. The Hacker & Miss Kitten - Frank Sinatra
16. New Order - Blue Monday
17. Buju Banton - Champion
Do check it out, I personally guarantee it will make you smile.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Lego Harpsichord

Created and built by Henry Lim, with the exception of the wire strings, the LEGO Harpsichord is entirely constructed out of LEGO parts--the keyboard, jacks, jack rack, jack rail, plectra, soundboard, bridge, hitch pins, tuning pins, wrestplank, nut, case, legs, lid, lid stick, and music stand are all built out of interlocking LEGO plastic bricks and related pieces. With a 61 note range, the instruments size is 6 x 3 ft. weighing approximately 150 lbs, and built with an estimated 100,000 LEGO pieces!
Vitriolix says (with the utmost respect for the creator): "Sounds like a team of hamsters running around in a harpsichord while someone tries to play Bach."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

DJ Mix: A Sample/Source Schoolin'

Dub producer, DJ, Jahtari label-founder, and playtherecords pal Disrupt has agreed to let us post an mp3 of a great mix he and his friend Susann did on the radio in Leipzig a few weeks ago, inspired by our post on The Funkiest Year Ever (which reports on the excellent work Pace Foster has done on this subject).

You can get the hour-long mix here: Susann & Jan - Groovebox 01.

More than a mix, this mp3 is an education. Though Susann is speaking in German, the lessons are clear enough even if you don't understand the language (I don't). The music speaks for itself. Disrupt has put together an impressive collection of well-known songs that rely heavily on sampling, followed by their less well-known sources, as well as some cover song/original song material (and also a little breakbeat science). If this kind of pedagogical approach to mixing sounds potentially stiff, I assure you he's arranged it well enough that it sounds much more like something you'd hear in a club (or maybe on the radio, given all the talking) than in your Pop Music 101 class.

Did you know that Soft Cell's Tainted Love is actually a cover of an old northern soul song, recorded by Gloria Jones? Or that Portishead's Glory Box samples Isaac Hayes' Ike's Rap II pretty much verbatim? Are you interested in hearing the song that Fat Boy Slim sampled for that groovy loop that became the basis of his hit, The Rockafeller Skank? If this kind of trainspotting piques your interest then don't sleep on this mix.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Hearwax is a nice, brand new, Jamaican music blog. It begs comparison to Distinctly Jamaican Sounds, offering a similar service (and layout). But there is plenty of room in this field -- another smartly written blog, upon which the author gives away mp3s of his fine reggae collection, complete with commentary and historical background, is more than welcome. Highly recommended, check it out today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Actual Sounds of Hard Drive Failure

dsl just sent me this awsome link:

DJ Hitachi Global Storage has dropped six new tracks on us. Head Stuck to Platter, Slow Spindle Motor, and Head Damage 1-4. Yep, these are all the authentic sounds of hard drives experiencing meltdowns. Or, as Hitachi artfully puts it: "There are various noises that may indicate a failing hard drive. If you are experiencing any of the noises, please contact the technical support center at: 888-426-5214"

Seriously, this could be the beat track to an Aphex Twin song. I'm betting that someone out there can make a great tune based on one or more of these sounds. And I've got a Tokyoflash Equalizer watch (pictured above) for the person with the DJ skills to make it happen. Here's how to win:
Hard Drive Dying Dance Track Contest

(Write the best track using the hard drive failure sounds, win that watch above.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Stupid, Dumb, Hyphy, Popular

Dear regular readers... no, wait, you're not regular readers, you're all here because you were googling for that Mistah F.A.B. & Scweez song, "Stupid, Dumb, and Hyphy", that I posted about last month. Ever since, the playtherecords referral logs have looked like this:

That this percentage of our traffic is stupid, dumb, and hyphy-related amuses me, and hints at the healthy condition of the Bay Area hip-hop scene. I need more mixtapes, stat.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I've been following the Vienna netlabel scene for about 5 years now, and monohm is one that I check in on every now and again. They seem to do only quite ambient stuff with little electronica thrown in. There is a ton of ambient, textural, and/or chill electronica out there, but most of it is either totally vapid or quite boring. While monohm definitely fits in ambient realm, they pay careful attention to the layering and add in simple rhythms and glitches and make for an engaging listen.

There is a range of level of engagement. Some tracks are really full-on background tracks, nice soundscapes to enhance the present, others sneak into the foreground in simple and surprising ways.


Sonic Fabric

There is a short piece up at Wired about Alyce Santoro's Sonic Fabric (via Chiasm). I want sonic pants:
Sound and visual artist Alyce Santoro has created Sonic Fabric, a cloth made from pre-recorded, recycled cassette tape combined with other fibers. Using a minimally hacked Walkman, the fabric becomes an audible reminder of its musical past.

Sonic Fabric feels a bit like flexible plastic tarp, and is durable and hand-washable. Santoro's work has drawn lots of oohs and aahs, and is making waves in the design world.
Reminds me of the curtains I used to make out of cassette tapes that had fallen out of my favor back in high school. I have to admit, I'd jump on stage wearing a dress made of this stuff at the drop of a hat, no matter what the Chiasm guy says:
Unfortunately there's TRIPLE bad news for all you musicians who think it would be 'cool' to 'play' this at your next set:

1 - It's already been done

2 - By Phish

3 - Specifically by Phish drummer Jon FISHman (FISHman!), who wore a custom-designed sonic fabric DRESS that he ""played"" in concert.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Rise of Reggaeton

Wayne&Wax has published a lengthy, authoritative piece on reggaeton in this week's Boston Phoenix. His blog post on the subject acknowledges that there is currently no shortage of articles on reggaeton. But this one provides a level of musical, historical, and cultural analysis (with a firm ethnomusicological grounding) I've not found in the recent torrent of mainstream media stories, and it asks and answers some of my burning questions. A couple of choice highlights:
As a modern sound, a sound intimately related to hip-hop and reggae, reggaeton gives Latino youth a way to participate in contemporary urban-American culture without abandoning important aspects of their heritage. This may help to explain why a Latin-Caribbean form -- and not, say, a Mexican or Chicano style -- has managed to captivate young Latinos in a way that norteño never has, despite Mexican-Americans constituting well over 60% of the US Hispanic population.
Dancehall reggae had already established a strong following in Puerto Rico in its own right by the early 90s, as popular songs by Jamaican deejays such as Shabba Ranks, Cutty Ranks, and Chaka Demus & Pliers helped to redefine the sound of contemporary club music. It was, in fact, a Shabba Ranks song, "Dem Bow," produced by Bobby Digital, which would lay the foundation for what became known as reggaeton. The underlying instrumental -- i.e., riddim -- for "Dem Bow," a minimalist production with catchy percussion, became an overwhelming favorite in Puerto Rican freestyle sessions, to the point where, for a time, Spanish-language reggae in Puerto Rico was simply called Dembow. Vocalists drew on a variety of styles, borrowing from dancehall, hip-hop, and various Latin musical traditions and creating a distinctive synthesis. By the mid-90s, a catchier tag came along, and reggaeton began to describe what was emerging as far and away the most popular music for lower-class Puerto Rican youth, at home and in the United States.
This is perhaps my favorite aspect of the story of reggaeton, tracing it back to the "Dem Bow" riddim. It pleases me to no end when a musical origin story is this neat, when you really can trace things back (in at least one important way) to a single song by a single producer. While you're reading the piece in the Phoenix, check out Wayne's Dem Bow mix over at The Riddim Method.

Finally, a peek at the last page to convince you it's worth reading all the way through:
Only relatively recently, with its acquisition of market power and stateside acceptance, has reggaeton reached Puerto Rico's middle- and upper-classes. What was previously denigrated as crude and crass now stands as a national symbol and a promising source of foreign exchange. In a place where, despite their celebrated mixed-ness, over 90% of Puerto Ricans self-identify as "white," it's no accident that a prominent reggaeton artist like Tego Calderon foregrounds his blackness by wearing an Afro, referring to himself as "El Negro Calde," and incorporating Afro-Puerto-Rican traditions. In the US, Hispanic immigrants often find themselves living alongside, and racialized along with, African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, so it's no surprise that reggaeton works in sympathy and solidarity with the cultural politics of hip-hop and reggae.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Blog Link Roundup

Ok, so this week's "Blog Link Roundup" is basically a boingboing roundup, too many good stories there recently to pass up:

Video: rapper dressed like a jelly donut kicking ass
(from boingboing)

Dot matrix printer music (from boingboing)

MP3s from 1960s LP about groupies (from boingboing)

Musician playing at Hollywood's MP fundraiser owes success to copying (from boingboing)

Joseph Goebbels's Nazi swing band (from boingboing)


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Famous for 15mb

These guys are taking the idea of the Netlabel and blowing it open to encompass video and visual art in addition to music. Every month they select a few artists to feature. Looks promising.
Please come and visit us at Famous For 15MB, a completely new space for deserving artistic talent. In 15 easy to use spaces, we offer you the cream of all the under-booked and possibly overlooked musical and audiovisual artists from around this small planet.

The works of the chosen artists are presented as MP3 or video files and also as manageable .zip files of 15mb. We present the work of new artists each month on the 15th and will include artists from any genre, background or discipline that we consider worthy of attention from from your discerning eyes and ears. As this is not My Space, not everyone who submits gets to be featured on Famous For 15mb.

If you have a band, are an artist, have a label, DJ, director, animator or whatever and would like to submit something for our consideration please just drop us a line and we'll explain the drill.

Enjoy the first round of Famous for 15mb: Bohman, Natural 20, Massaccesi, Virgin Passages, Sarah Culler, Emanuele, Erik De Vahl, Wyz, Aus, Tenebrous, Virgin Passages, Opsvik & Jennings, Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words and Agnes Szelag.



Thursday, January 12, 2006

Distinctly Jamaican Sounds

Distinctly Jamaican Sounds is my favorite new blog. Mp3s of the author's stellar reggae collection, complete with record label scans (I really appreciate this, seeing the record the mp3s came from really helps me contextualize things), and insightful commentary on each release -- this is what the WWW is for! The subtitle reads: "Jamaican music from the 1950's until the mid 1980's - Everything from mento to early dancehall reggae and all the stages in between!" Perfect!

If you grab one thing, check out the classic African Dub Almighty Chapter 3. But then sample a little Tony Tuff, or try out Alton Ellis' 1982 dancehall track. And don't forget to say thank you. I'll go do that now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Jamaican Space Jazz And More

Announced here (complete with tracklists and some historical context), Dr. Auratheft has posted three new mixes today.

- AFRICA WAKBARR VOLUME 2, African funk, ballads and classics

- WAREIKA HILL JAZZ, Jamaican space jazz & nyahbinghi

- FREEDOM INC., All that jazz & beyond

I've got the Wareika Hill Jazz mix in my ears right now (how could I pass up "Jamaican space jazz"?), and it seems that Auratheft's latest attempt to educate us about rare Jamaican sounds is a success. Another set of great songs I've never heard before, and this one sounds almost like Sun Ra threw a party and a bunch of Rastafarians showed up. The Nyahbinghi chants and drumming provide a crucial chapter in the history of Jamaican music.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Take Me Money And Run Venezuela

Jamaican-American singer and longtime activist Harry Belafonte has been in the news since making this unambiguous declaration to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a broadcast on Sunday:
No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people... support your revolution. We respect you, admire you, and we are expressing our full solidarity with the Venezuelan people and your revolution.
This is not an especially surprising sentiment coming from Belafonte, but it still makes me smile to hear the old guy being so fiery. Can't say I listen much to his music these days, but I credit a scratchy "Best of Harry Belafonte" LP I got for a quarter in a junk shop when I was little with beginning my lifelong obsession with Caribbean music. I still have that LP somewhere. Tonight I'll put it on, jump in the line, and rock my body in time. Viva la revolucion!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Brit Poppers Make It Without Labels

In Britain these days, there seems to be a thriving music scene completely removed from record labels and even standard concert venues to some degree. Often, these bands are playing in living rooms of band members and fans. This is some good examples of what many people have been predicting the internet would do to the music industry. Let's hope things follow this trend. Who needs middlemen?



Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Free Music from Bleep

Bleep has released a free MP3 EP for the end of 2005:


Some good tracks on here, especially the Wisp track... but there are some very strange tracks on there too... a little indie rock and some 70's soul throwback. Gotta hand it to 'em for staying unpredictable.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ambient, Ambient (and more Ambient)

There are finally Mp3's (and photos) from the Chillits 2005 ambient festival (which we've mentioned recently). Tons of good music in there for the digging. I'm just starting to download some of the sets, so please leave comments for any especially good ones you find.