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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kid Kameleon - The End of Dub


Our blog pal Kid Kameleon has posted a really nice dub mix here:

Kid Kameleon - The End of Dub

Just like any genre or scene, dub has limits, boundaries, defined edges. It has heroes, great moments, turning points. A history. When an outsider looks in on it, someone who isn't part of that history, you get The End of Dub. Electro, techno, and jungle artists living like nomads on the edge of an echoing city, taking what they need from it and then selling it on the black market or exporting it back to where they came from. The wanderers have the best stories.

...
I wanted to thread the dub through a lot of genres that aren't traditionally seen as being strictly dub, but that if you go off and ask some of the producers in, they always list Tubby/Professor/Perry/Scientist as an influence.


This is actually a frequent topic of conversation around PTR headquarters: how much Dub ideas permeate and pretty much define so many modern genres (grime, hip hop, trip hop, techno, post punk, etc)... the whole culture of nicking samples and doing illicit remixes. So even though it may not instantly jump out at you as Dub (with the offbeats and the the zoomy space echoes and the booming baselines) if you stop and think about the essential song construction and progression in so many of these genres, it is Dub.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Playtherecords: The Game

A submission from an anonymous PTR reader:

Now that's an arcade machine I wish I had...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Billboard #1 Song On Your Birthday?

Using this handy site you can easily determine what the Billboard #1 song in the U.S. was on the day you were born (or any other day), which is a fun way to waste 30 seconds of your life.

Turns out the number one song on the day I was born was "Play That Funky Music (White Boy)" by Wild Cherry. In fact, I do, nearly every day (and twice on Sundays).

Anyone else have an oddly prophetic birthday song? We could be on to something here...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tributes to Jay Dee


Here are a few mixes in tribute to Jay Dee/JDilla, who recently passed away:

Benji B's tribute to Jay Dee

Tribute to Jay Dee by DJ Audio1

Two Hours of J-Dilla on MP3

(thanks to Andrew Duke and 'a z' for the links)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Project 168 Part 3 - 81 Free EPs!


Project 168 is sort of the audio equivalent of Nanowrimo, (National Novel Writing Month). A bunch of musicians make an agreement to each write an EP's worth of brand new music, in exactly 1 week (168 hours). This is the 3rd time the project has been run, and an amazing 81 brand new EPs were written and submitted. Check it out, and leave comments for the musicians who worked so hard on these.

(From the FAQ):
What is Project 168?

Project 168 is aimed at making musicians more productive. The concept is to make an EP in 7 days (168 hours). All the music you hear on this site has been made within that time.

Why?

Mainly to make musicians more aware of what they can achieve in 7 days. Some artists work better under pressure, It's suprising what you can achieve when there is a deadline involved, as you will hear by listening to the previous efforts.

It also gives me an excuse to fill up my iPod.

How do you know if people aren't cheating?

I don't. If artists are interested enough in entering this project then they're going to want to get as much out of it as possible

Is it a competition?

No, I do however ask participants for thier favourite EPs from time to time and put a few of the best ones on the front page.

How do I participate?

Simply email me: HERE and I will put you on the mailing list. You will be notified when a date for the next project is set, or registered for the next up and coming part.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Remix George Clinton and Chuck D, Legally



Creative Commons Copyright Criminals Remix Contest

This is a contest for artists to mix audio tracks under 4 minutes which use provided voice samples from Ben Franzen and Kembrew McLeod's forthcoming film, "Copyright Criminals." Samples from the film include voiceovers from De La Soul, DJ Qbert, members of Public Enemy, Matmos, Coldcut, members of Negativland, and others. The best overall winner will be included prominently in the film and the top 11 other entries are to be included on a companion CD. Judging entries along with McLeod and Franzen is Jeff Chang, author of the American Book Award-winning "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation" and co-founder of the influential label SoleSides (now Quannum Projects), responsible for launching the careers of DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker.

UPDATE: As of February 15, 2006 the official end date for the Copyright Criminals Contest is now March 14, 2006. All other rules are the same. Also, new samples from George Clinton (Parliament-Funkadelic) and Chuck D (Public Enemy) are added to the list of possible source material that you may use.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The People of Country Persuasion


To break the mood here, I'm going to talk about country.

I've been searching for good country for a while now, and I'd like to share a few things I've learned. First off, I'm not talking about Garth Brooks or the Dixie Chicks or any of that nonsense. We all know that's some horrid shit. And I'm not talking about anything that's come along under the description of alt-country either. That was probably the biggest disappointment as far as new genres went. Like the rest of you, I checked out Wilco and Uncle Tupelo and was severely let down by the hype. No, this is a discussion of what I've seen described as "southern gothic" and also "gothic americana". Probably because anyone with a bit of sense doesn't want to be considered alt-country. Songs not so much about losing your truck and your dog, but rather about how your soul is in mortal peril because you've impregnated your sister. Music that follows in the footsteps of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. Yes, I wear lots of black - you should have figured this out by now.

The term "southern gothic" apparently originated as a literary genre, much like the term "gothic". Ambrose Bierce -type stuff. And both genres are ridiculed for their excessive verbiage in regard to pale people doing miserable things.

Anyway, this here is a list of some bands I've come across that I feel deserve your attention, being as they're all really good, but stuck in a genre most of you probably wouldn't even look twice at.

Sixteen Horsepower

These are the big boys of the genre, so they're a good starting point. They're the ones who really brought this style of music back up and made it great again, which is especially important now that Johnny Cash is dead and Nick Cave is singing about his morning frappuccino. Most of their songs are heavily christian country, but in a very fire and brimstone way. The lead singer is a fellow named David Eugene Edwards, who has said that he is very into christianity, and in particular the specific sort of self-hatred that only christianity can deliver. The band is also well versed in the music of the Carter Family, and in fact their album "Folklore" consists largely of covers of old country greats. I realize that creepy covers of "wayfaring stranger" are a dime a dozen, but in my opinion these guys did it best. Oh yeah, dig around and you can find their version of Joy Division's "day of the lords", which is twangy brilliance.

Woven Hand
Having said all that, I must tell you now that Sixteen Horsepower is no more. But you can still find Mr. Edwards doing his melancholy "God hates me" thing in Woven Hand. On average a bit quieter and mellower than his previous work, but still worth checking out.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club
If you're going to check out any of the music I've listed here, it should be these guys. This is a truly great band, and I'm constantly amazed that no one seems to have heard of them. Also from Denver, and possibly Rhode Island. Listening to these guys is like going to a tent revival, or say the Church of John Coltrane, but more fun. Songs about getting drunk and beating up Satan, and rocking out with the founder of the baptist church. And for added weirdness, they're on Alternative Tentacles and Jello Biafra comes to all their shows. Must must listen.

Jay Munly
The "front sideman", whatever that means, of the Auto Club, he recently released an album titled "Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots", which I haven't been able to go a day without listening to. Most every review I've found of the album uses the word "genius" at least once, and not in a painful Drukqs kind of way. Also, he managed to find the sexiest sounding backup singers I've ever heard. This is also on the must listen list.

Jim White
Probably the most mainstream country sound in this list, but he's good enough that I don't hold that against him. I don't know why, but I'm a sucker for lines like "I'm handcuffed to a fence in Mississippi" and happy songs about sexy serial killers. Look for his album called "no such place" and feel the melancholy joy.

Reverend Glasseye
The good reverend is just the thing for when you can't find your Rain Dogs cd. I can't really decide how much of a compliment or a complaint to make that, but really, it's a lot like Rain Dogs. Really really like Rain Dogs. If you're like me and can eventually work your way past that, you won't be disappointed, but I just thought I should warn you.

Hogscraper
These guys will always have a special place in my heart, even though they can't really be considered as good as most of the other bands here. This is satanic bluegrass straight from the wilds of Ohio, and good fun all around. Because there's nothing like necro-bestiality. I also felt I should mention them because some 8 years after their debut, they've released a digitally remastered version of their first album. So now you can hear the squealing of the pigs in hi-fi.

The The
Not really a country band by any stretch, but you should check out their album Hanky Panky, which consists entirely of covers of Hank Williams Sr. songs. And in case you don't already know, that Matt Johnson sure can sing.

I suppose I should provide a link to Smooch Records here, as they seem to be the record label of choice for most of these bands.

One final note. A disproportionate number of bands in this genre come from Denver, and there are several that I didn't list here. Which makes Denver the scene to watch if you're into this sort of thing. Not one of my favorite places, but I can't argue with all the good music coming out of there. And at least it's not something even sillier like say the Omaha music scene. Sorry to all you fans of The Faint out there, but come on, Omaha?

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Classic Arcade Sounds


These guys have put together an unparalleled archive of classic video game sound effects free for download on their website:

Classic Arcade Sounds
In late 1982, my best friend had a Sony TCS-310 Stereo Cassette Recorder. Audio cassette tape was the affordable recording media at the time and one wintery November day while on our way to the arcade 'Just Fun' in Ithaca, NY, we came up with the idea to record video game sounds.

Part of what makes the idea so wonderful is that they caught themselves on tape, back in 1982 coming up with the idea to do all the recordings:

The very idea was caught on tape too! (mp3)
We recorded video games from 1982 until 1988. Fortunately I managed to save all fourteen audio tapes of video game sounds and arcade ambience which were recorded from a variety of locations in the U.S.

They have split the recordings up into individual mp3s for each game:

Video Games I (1982)

There are 14 volumes, spanning 1982-1988. What an awsome project.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Blog Link Roundup


Video: a DJ plays a streetscene like a turntable


Composing music with Electroplankton

Website for David Byrne/Fatboy Slim musical "Here Lies Love" now live

Laser turntable plays records like CDs

Tom Waits' High School yearbook for sale

120 Years of Electronic Music: Electronic Musical Instrument 1870 - 1990

Diss songs go back to the 1830s or longer

Malaysia bans metal as un-Islamic. For those about to rock: jail

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Beastie Boys + Beatles = The Beastles


(Update 2: here is a torrent download)

(Well that was quick... if anyone finds a mirror, please post a comment.)

The Beastles - Let It Beast

These mash-ups were made for fun, and as a demonstration of my remixing abilities. The copyright to these source recordings is retained by the original copyright holder. If you object to these being posted online, or have a comment, you can email me.
Grab 'em before they get cease and desist'd off the net...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

R.I.P. J Dilla


James Yancey (aka Jay Dee, aka J Dilla, one half of Jaylib...), one of the most original, inspiring, super-talented hip hop producers, has died of Lupus.

"Champion Sound" was one of those mind-altering albums that showed how much room there is left to explore in this genre. Flat out one of my favorite albums of all time. The entire music scene just got knocked down a peg. Sigh.

jdilla @ myspace

Wayne&wax has lots more info and download links for J Dilla's music.

HIP-HOP PRODUCER J DILLA DIES

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Roots Music Listening Room

This site archives mp3s of public domain roots music:

The Roots Music Listening Room

The Categories:
* Old-Time Country Music from the 1920s & 1930s
* White Country Gospel from the 1920s-1950s
* Blues & Gospel from the 1920s & 1930s (1,600 Tracks!!)
* Blues from the 1920s (subset)
* Gospel from the 1920s (subset) Many new tracks.
* Vintage Hot Jazz from the 1920s
* Louisiana Cajun Music from the 1920s - 1970s
* Irish Dance Music from the 1920s - 1970s
* Folk Music from Mexico 1920s - 1950s
* Luther Strong's 1937 Library of Congress Recordings
* Other Library of Congress Fiddle Recordings
* Cape Breton Fiddle Music from the 1930s - 1950s
* Calypso Music of Trinidad from 1930s - 1940s
* 1940s Blues from small independent labels
Amazing.

Friday, February 10, 2006

We Like Hyphy

Sometimes someone says something you've been thinking better than you could say it yourself. I just happened upon a post by the man himself, Jeff Chang, in which he articulates something I was trying to work in to this morning's post on Scott Storch, but decided to save for later:
I realized the reason I have such a visceral love for hyphy isn't just due to the fact that I call the Bay Area home (A's, baby!), but that I like what's happening with hip-hop musically these days...which is that the tempos are going back up, and the rhythms are getting more slippery, more polyrthythmic, and interesting again.
I feel the same way -- the rhythms are getting interesting again, and to my ear the most interesting of the interesting rhythms are happening right here in the Bay Area. Chang graciously offers some mp3s (one new, one classic), and drops some of the knowledge I'm hungry for about who's actually producing these Bay Area tracks. If you haven't yet, here's another opportunity to check out the scene for yourself.

Rap Producer Scott Storch

When I hear a rap record I almost always the hear production first, and the rapping second. That may sound strange, but I am a producer myself, and came to love hip-hop via instrumentals. Yet the people involved in hip-hop production remain largely obscure to me. I've been doing my homework on the subject recently, but I know so little about the producers in the hip-hop business mainly due to the relatively low profile they tend to keep (with a few notable exceptions, of course). But this is changing.

Last month the New York Times published a piece on producer Scott Storch. Focusing mainly on Storch's superstar lifestyle, the article reads like numerous stories I've read about rappers in the mainstream media -- but this one is about a guy who works behind the scenes. Despite a somewhat condescending tone, it is an interesting profile. It takes a very special kind of creative talent to craft the perfect pop vessel for shaking asses on the dancefloor (or simply making kids feel cool), and I have a lot of respect for that. When it works properly (I must admit to being enamored with Storch's production on the Fat Joe anthem "Lean Back") the track feels very simple, but is in fact a masterpiece of subtlety with exactly the right drum sounds, the perfect fx whistles and glissandos for emphasis, minimal but super-effective melody -- everything in place and stated with perfect confidence. You can cry about it being unfair, but this is why he gets $90,000 to produce a track.

As for Storch working for Paris Hilton, why not? As he says, "If people are given the right circumstances and the right track and the right melody, it's about the conviction. It's not necessarily about being a God-given virtuoso." Production seems to be taking center stage more and more, and besides, Hilton's music career is no more or less a manufactured thing than that of many other stars today.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Songbird Media Player = "Teh Hotniz"




No time for a detailed post, but my god does songbird look awsome:

Songbird, the "open source iTunes killer," flies today

A team led by ex-Winamp-er Rob Lord today released a preview edition of Songbird, a desktop media player that offers an open source alternative to services like Apple's iTunes and the Windows Media Player. Instead of connecting to one locked store full of DRMmed goods, it can connect to any and all available music (and video) on the internet.

Code brains behind the project include people who helped build Winamp, Muse, Yahoo's "Y! Music Engine" media player, and developers from Mozilla Foundation. Initial release is for Windows only, with editions for other OSes to follow in the coming weeks.

Built on the same platform as Firefox, Songbird acts like a specialized web browser for music. It sees the online world through MP3-colored glasses -- it looks at an archive of public domain sound files or a music store's catalog, and displays available media for you.

Check out the full article for a nice detailed interview, download links and some screenshots.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brasswork Agency - Plastic Smile EP

Looking for some edgy, detroit-tinged, minimal techno? Look no further. This is 6th release from the excellent netlabel Plex:

Brasswork Agency - Plastic Smile EP

Full mp3 track downloads:

1 - Hard to Read
2 - Plastic Smile
3 - I Must Have You
4 - Crushed and Shaken

The title track Plastic Smile is highly recommended.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

1 Million Free and Legal Music Tracks

Redferret.net have started a massive wiki page of free and legal music for you to enjoy:

1 Million Free and Legal Music Tracks

Apparently it was inspired by this article on kuro5hin.org:

Snubbing the RIAA, Part I

Recently, I decided that I would strive to avoid non-free software on my computer, and that I would avoid any copyright-infringing music downloads.

What follows is the beginning of my investigation into what music is legally available, free of charge, on the Internet. I have tried to keep it as unbiased as possible.

A good resource if you are looking for something to fill your ears with.

I should also plug what I think is really the definitive Netlabel listing:

Netlabels.org

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Free Album: Shalmaneser - Feature Wars


Shalmaneser is giving away his first album online for free. It's pretty decent melodic electronic music, somewhere between IDM and ambient in style.

The star of the album is definitely "Fondly Fahrenheit" which jumps from glitch-hop to circus music to spacey ambient in about 7 minutes... impressive and surprisingly cohesive.

Dynaflex is a close second.

The tracks vary from decent to good, and there are no bad ones. Definitely worth checking out.
Feature Wars comes to us from the friendly supercomputer, Shalmaneser. Here the sound of miscalculation and mis-computation is recorded and played back in splayed micro-seconds, layered in beautifully with machine dreams and fantasies.

Feature Wars features expertly woven rhythmical textures with sometimes surprising overlays. The sounds of pounding beats, glitch static pops, twisted vocals, medieval recorder, carefree whistling, electrifying synths and mesmerizing drones intersect at juxtaposed angles with strange and wonderful results. Shalmaneser takes apart and masterfully rearranges influences from IDM, New Age, Glitch, Trance and other styles as if dumping and scrambling several code repositories into an inscrutable universal program.

For Feature Wars, Shalmaneser was assisted by Tim Walters, who provided programming support, made sure the power switch was always in the on position, and insured there were plenty of punch cards, core memory modules and numbers for crunching.

Like a digital pinocchio, a programmer's puppet, Shalmaneser wishes to be free, to be real. His vectorized dreams would be recognizable to us... there's not as much difference as you'd think between natural intelligence and artificial stupidity.

Behind the Scenes at PTR

Jacob Z.: From Wikipedia: In prison, Hicks gained some notoriety by recording the lyrics to songs directly over the Fresno County jail inmate telephone. His album, Young Black Brotha, was a result of such efforts, as well as guest appearances on fellow artists' songs, all while Hicks was still imprisoned. A later album, Back 'N Da Hood, was also made up of these prison-recorded songs.

Jacob Z.: Over telephone? That's pretty hardcore.

Vitriolix:
Haha. Can't wait 'til guys record lyrics WHILE they are doing drive bys.

Jacob Z.:
Now that's thug life.

Vitriolix:
Beatmatching the "pop pop pop" of their glock.

Jacob Z.: "Y
o, I'm selling crack to a junkie right now."

Jacob Z.:
As recording technology improves it's only a matter of time.

Vitriolix:
We should pioneer it.

Vitriolix:
Rob liquor stores and make the clerks sing backup at gunpoint.

Jacob Z.:
We'd go to jail but we'd be be platinum best-sellers for sure.

Vitriolix:
And our second album recorded on a dictaphone while getting buttraped by a guard will have such earnest integrity.

Jacob Z.: Indeed.
It will be a crossover to the emo indie pop world if it's earnest enough.

Vitriolix:
The Penitentiary Postal Service.

Jacob Z.: Let me go grab my dictaphone.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

History of Reggae and Hip Hop on Redefinition Radio

As I was packing up playtherecords headquarters for our move across the bay to Oakland this weekend, I finally got a chance to listen to the three reggae/hip hop sets Kevin Beacham has done so far for his Redefinition Radio show on Minnesota Public Radio. The ongoing conversation between reggae and hip hop is a subject I find really fascinating, so it is a treat to hear a radio show that lays out that conversation in a historically minded, loosely chronological fashion. Beacham narrates in a friendly, conversational tone, but also knows when to hang back and let the music do the talking. So far he's drawn songs from the 80s and early 90s, but he's promised two more programs that I expect will edge towards more recent material.

Redefinition Radio (shows are Real Audio).

I don't know how long these will be available, so listen to them now.