Since the advent of Napster - and all of the file downloading sites, .ftp file-sharing groups, and now Torrents - the question of how to promote and share music has become muddied. No longer can a musical group gain exposure through something as simple as radio airplay, hope finding success in a large market, and eventually disseminating to the smaller markets and to a national audience. Now, radio is in shambles. Only college radio stations and regional NPR networks (both notoriously located on the fringes of bandwidth) seem willing to even consider playing new music, and because each of their respective mission statements are usually centered around serving the community, new music can be hard to come by.
Radio has been replaced by the blogosphere, where we are drowned in the unregulated flow of new acts, genres, styles, and trends. This is both a blessing and a curse. No longer are we constrained by the curation of radio directors eyeing their bottom line, but now everyone seems to be vying for our attention to such an extent that it's hard to even decide what you like, and many of us have just given up. New music is discovered by the files we trade with friends. And 'new' is a relative term of course. It might be an opera recorded in the 1940s, but if I haven't heard it yet, it's new to me!
So, what's a band, a record label, a musician to do? Many groups release their music for free on sites like Soundcloud or Bandcamp. Others have their music released for free for them (unknowingly, or at least unendorsed) on YouTube. For listeners, this is great. You can listen to a band before you buy their music and there's no download time or any files to store... But if you can listen for free anywhere there's internet (nearly everywhere) do you really need to buy it? Many record labels subscribe to this line of thought and so the music they release to the internet is abridged or clipped. I HATE THIS. This is unprouductive and irksome. It's hard to listen to something that you know will end abrubtly. I humbly swear to never post a one minute fragment of something to this column and call it 'music.' It's wholly unsatisfying and wholly annoying.
Luckily, there seems to be a new trend emerging. Labels and musicians are working around this issue by making their releases tempting in their own right: as collectibles and as objects. Captured Tracks has recently posted the new and fantastic Beach Fossils' record Clash the Truth to its Soundcloud in its entirety. Not just a song or two or three, but all 14 of them. Their hope, I imagine, is that guys like me will take notice and post it to their blogs and then people like you will listen. Then, you'll be told how Captured Tracks is selling Limited Edition LP as well as a Limited Edition Cassette and how reasonably priced they are, and at least one of us will go ahead and buy one. Seriously, the cassette is limited to 200 and is only $8.00! I hope it works because this is a world that I love living in.
Kieran Hebden Keeps It Coming
Never one to rest on his laurels, Kieran Hebden of Four Tet will be releasing another 12" on his own TEXT records. This one is a slow building portal to a different dimension called 'Roseland' and will be b/w 'Metropolis.' The song was produced with Ben and Tom Page. They are billing themselves as RocketNumber 9 and Four Tet. Check Bookmat for it's release. Four Tet's previous release 0181 which we talked about in a previous column is already 'SOLD OUT.'
Even the Metal From San Francisco Is Weird
Bay Area metal three-piece Grayceon has a new EP out on Flenser Records Pearl and End of Days. The two long tracks are an embodiment of experimental jazz doom riffs, perfectly punctuated by Jackie Perez Gratz's cello playing and phantom-like lyrics. Their new EP comes in a heavy tipped-on jacket and is available in black or green vinyl for $14 or $15.00 respectively. Say you were there!
The Sound of the Softest Wave, Crashing
The press release for Fabio Orsi & Pimmon's new EP Procrastination begins with a quote from John Locke: “When ideas float in our mind without any reflection or regard of the understanding, it is that which the French call revery, our language has scarce a name for it.” There could be no better description of this music, as the slowly, but epically built 'I Wish You Were In Yallingup' will attest to fully. The way the waves of sound crash over the listener, especially if experienced through headphones, is to shoegaze as drowning is to water. This is a thick serious piece worthy of repeated listens (in an augmented state or not), and is available from Stashed Goods. Only 250 of these LPs were printed... they'll be gone before you recover from their wake.