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Monday, July 26, 2010

Free free music

Especially in the newer regions of experimental music and avant-garde jazz, the internet offers great opportunities for promoting material that is difficult to get released by established labels. The self-promotion often coincides with a willingness to share the material freely, as a matter of necessity or of principle.

Here are a few "labels" from which you can download the material. The music is often minimalist, soundsculptures with electro-acoustic elements.

Zpoluras is the blog on which you can find different new bands, albums and links to the new labels and music. Several of the album are available for free download too. 

Paulo Chagas and Bruno Duplant - Complicity (self-published, 2010) ***½

This is a duo album by Paulo Chagas on woodwinds and field recordings and Bruno Duplant on double bass. The music is minimalist, with careful explorations of sound, quite respectful in the interaction, quite adventurous while being inobtrusive at the same time. The duo builds its sound around silence, and these sounds are often out of the ordinary. Chagas' wide choice of instruments leads to sufficient variation to keep the attention going for the whole fifteen tracks, ranging from flute on the first track, to the undefinable moan of the wind instrument on the last piece. Duplant's contribution is of the same high level, varying strongly between arco, pizzi and a whole array of uncommon sounds, including percussive ones that you can get out of a bass.

Rhizome Records is created by French bassist Bruno Duplant, and has released one album so far.

Astula Democratica - Illusio (Rhizome Records, 2010) ****

Astula Democratica is built around the same core musicians : Paulo Chagas on winds, reeds, violin & some electronics, José Oliveira on percussion and amplified objects, Bruno Duplant on double bass, violin, acoustic guitar with objects, and toy electronics. On some tracks the band is expanded with Fernando Simoes on trombone &amp voice, and Philippe Lenglet on prepared acoustic guitar &amp autoharp. The music is a not less intense than the duo recording, and equally unclassifiable, with some clarinet playing that sounds almost classical on the weirdest possible electronic background, full of doom and gloom. Despite the expanded line-up, the music is as minimalistic, yet it is all the richer for it. I'm not sure whether I can call it accessible avant-garde, because there are few points of recognition, but the band clearly stays away from noise or abrasive moments. They may need some help with their knowledge of Latin, but otherwise this is a fine album.

Array is a "label" founded by multi-instrumentalist Massimo Magee, with the telling mission statement "When we are no longer bound by the constraints of time, the past-present-future, the beginning and end, it is then that we must turn to concepts like arrays that allow us to consider all the endless possibilities that would be available to us simultaneously in that one endless moment outside of time".

Tim Green, Massimo Magee, John Porter - Of An Evening (Array, 2010) ***½

The trio of Tim Green on drums and mobile phone, Massimo Magee on sopranino , clarinet, piano, signal generator, laptop feedback, tape recorder with blank tape, walkie-talkies, field recordings, recordings of prior drum improvisation by Tim Green, amplifier feedback, and John Porter on soprano also works in the realms of minimalism. The two saxes enter into mad and excited dialogues, but in contrast to the two previous albums, at moments they raise the volume, creating mad interaction with the drums going full force. The second track, "Experiments In Hypnotism", moves a little beyond the level of the audible, with sudden peaks of madness. "In Which We Encounter A Groove", is - as its title suggests - the most jazzy piece. Have I sued the word "mad" three times? Well, it tells.

Zero Centigrade - I Am Not Like You (Twilight Luggage, 2010)

I am a little less thrilled by this duo recording by Tonino Taiuti on acoustic guitar and Vincenzo De Luce on trumpet. We enter the realm of sound collisions where the actual source of the sound no longer really matters. The sounds are raw and unpleasant to the ear, but that's obviously not a criterion for quality. That's what mainstream jazz fans will say about free jazz, or what classical music afficionados will say about rock music. Since it is all available on the internet, I will leave the evaluation over to you.

The challenge of breaking boundaries is that, while deconstructing the known, you have to create something new in the process, something that is worthwhile listening to - and not just fun to play.

You will need open ears for much of the material on these albums, and even if not everything works, some of the adventurous parts integrate moments of great playing - and listening - and we can only applaud the musicians for their vision and audacity in shifting boundaries, both musically and in terms of publishing their music.

© stef


Massimo Magee said...

Thanks for listening, Stef!

Really appreciate the work you do here....

Wolfgang Armbruster said...

Thanks for making all these infos available. Your blog is really a most valuable source.

Paulo Chagas said...

It's a pleasure to share our music with a community so special and sensitive!

Richard Henry said...

Thank you for the helpful info. More people need to have access to this material.

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