mfmlog :: thoughts & sounds from the netlabel and independent music scenes RSS
_101212 :: twenty-ten in ten net-releases

Albums:

Sleepy Pebbles by Naono (Archaic Horizon)
Beautiful, soothing tones on top of simple, yet unconventional rhythms. Great blend of purely ambient atmosphere and minimal, laid back beats. Absolute ear bliss.

The Nameless City by Third Person Lurkin (Dusted Wax Kingdom)
In just a couple of words: proper slow boom bap without words. Dusted Wax Kingdom is slowly becoming THE place for hip-hop related music in the netlabel scene and this release is one of its best.

Intelligent Toys: We Make Music by Various Artists (Sutemos)
Another massive compilation from Sutemos. Every Intelligent Toys release is announced as the last of the series, because it would be almost impossible to top it. But so far they have always managed to do so and this 51-track compilation is almost too good to be true.

Conscious Rasta by Guitoud (Fresh Poulp)
If dub music is the tree of life, this is one of its precious fruits. Original dub music as it should be.

Epicurean Swerve by Mormo (Bedroom research)
Mormo takes beat wizardry to another level. Each tiny click seems to be strategically put at exactly the right moment, with tens of them occurring in fractions of a second. Coupled with short bleepy melodies and masterful use of effects, this is the state of the art in IDM today compressed in 8 tracks.

EPs:

Pele’s Tears by Aydio (Dusted Wax Kingdom)
Trip-hop goodness in spacious mixes of processed jazzy sounds.

Timeless by Sardinia Bass Legalize (Aquietbump)
Dub aesthetics, with an underlying, deep 4/4 beat, induces a feeling of slow but steady propagation in time.

Kinematics by Hitori Tori (Panospria)
Insane beat mangling and frenetic synth lines, capable of causing a dance delirium among breakcore enthusiasts.

Knasterbas by CAF (Radio of the Pickled Gizmo)
Slow and minimal rhythms, with dub and jazz influences.

Holding Pattern by Overcast Sounds (Basic Sounds)
Sweet ambiance with soft rhythms on top.

_101031 :: The politics of netlabel music

Why did I put the word ‘netlabel’ in the same sentence with ‘politics’, you ask?

Well, simply because people nowadays seem to be talking for or about a netlabel or netlabels in general in a political way. Since this statement may seem a little obscure, allow me to elaborate.

Third Person Lurkin - The Nameless CityThe Nameless City [dwk066]
by Third Person Lurkin
(Dusted Wax Kingdom)

The internet offers several opportunities to spend time in non-creative and nonsensical endeavors. One of my favorite ones is ‘abouting’. Abouting is a term I coined (or maybe someone has done so before me?) to describe the act of browsing around on the www in order to find out how people or organizations describe themselves and their activities in their ‘about’ pages. The ‘abouts’ I’ve encountered during the last few years range from utterly boring to very well-written, from extremely formal to comedy gold and from honestly humble to plain arrogant. Being actively interested in the netlabel scene, I have spent some time abouting netlabels and I have found that there’s an interesting trend.

VA - Breathe 05Breathe 05 [breathe05]
by Various Artists
(Breathe)

Most netlabels’ purpose is ‘to distribute music for free’. Although the previous sentence is not quoted from a specific source, I assure you that there are many netlabels’ ‘abouts’ that contain it (almost) verbatim. There are some netlabels whose aim is that and only that, no style preferences, no QoS preferences, no presentation preferences. Although these cases are very extreme, in many other cases one gets the feeling that if they asked the owner of a netlabel ‘why is the music you release good?’ they’d smile and reply ‘because it’s free of charge!’.

Focusing only on the ‘free’ part of the deal is misleading. Netlabels are not here to replace commercial labels. There’s nothing wrong with selling music. Netlabel music is not only for people who can’t afford to buy a cd. Netlabels used to be a new, revolutionary way to distribute music freely – ten years ago. Most people in the alternative / underground electronic music scene have already got over this long ago. What is the role of netlabels in 2010 then?

CAF - KnasterbasKnasterbas [rotpg001]
by CAF
(Radio of the Pickled Gizmo)

I cannot give a general, authoritative answer of course. My vision of the future netlabel scene is one where people are presented with good music in new and exciting ways, in contrast to going to the record store and buying another cd or ordering mp3s via iTunes. Specifically, the main challenge in my opinion is to present each listener with their own, unique copy – physical or digital – of exceptional music. Even when identical, automatically generated audio files are distributed, attention to the selection of music and to the details of its presentation help the audience to get closer to the music and its creation. I think that’s what the musically-aware audience is craving for. I also think that treating the music in such a manner doesn’t only please listeners, but also induces the creation of good music. These two aspects of music distribution, when it is done for the sake of music, are of equal weight.

Sardinia Bass Legalize - TimelessTimeless [aqbmp024]
by Sardinia Bass Legalize
(aquietbump)

But no matter how good the methods are, in the end it all boils down to motives. And motives are easy to find out, if someone cares a little bit about what they’re putting into their ears. I’d argue that motives can be spotted even in the music itself and it’s presentation, but I think people would complain and would come up with examples of musicians who created masterpieces while doing it for wrong reasons. Still, I’d rather see someone supporting some not so good music because they truly believe in it, than someone who’s trying to create / maintain a name or a scene through promoting someone else’s decent music. That’s my own view and a matter of taste if you will, but it is a fact that the netlabel scene is (supposed to be) something more than that. Note that the word netlabel has acquired a distinctive meaning through the years. That’s why it is spelled as one word and not as ‘net label’ and cannot be substituted by ‘electronic label’ in sentences. It would be a shame to let that little extra meaning vanish.

Naono - Sleepy PebblesSleepy Pebbles [ah038]
by Naono
(Archaic Horizon)

Things seem to be evolving nicely though, so I feel I can be optimistic about the future. It’s a firm belief of mine that those in this game who are motivated by the appreciation of music will always find ways to stand out and give the word netlabel its proper meaning for the years to come, whereas those with non-musical, personal or ‘political’ motives will disperse sooner or later.

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