full albums

Atthletic Duddes Whole discography (2008-2009)

(This is a translation of Rémi’s text. Original french version at the end)

The recording of François Virot‘s LP “Yes Or No” (Atelier Ciseaux‘s first release) took more time than expected, so instead of getting impatient and considering a perpetually delayed future, I decided to re-record some tapes.

The idea was quite simple. We recycled abandoned tapes by having bands record their own tunes on A sides while keeping the original songs on B sides.. The result was a series of unlikely splits between experimental bands and Top 40 stars, classical music, oriental music etc.
It came up to me during a discussion I was having with a friend (who took part in the premices of Atthletic Duddes) about ultra-limited releases. I couldn’t explain what it was exactly that motivated me. It had something to do with this quest of rare objects and my own questioning of it. This project shortly became very important to me, nearly obsessive and vital, like something I needed to do. Painting A sides, cutting out the sleeves — and my fingers — hearing the tape unwind — or break. Over and over. The relationship with the object almost turned intimate, yet tinged with a certain nostalgia. Like many others, I discovered Music when I was a teen, by trading mixtapes.

At first I created a myspace page. Back then, we could still consider myspace as a form of revolution, and it wasn’t as saturated as it is now. I got in touch with bands anonymously because I wanted to keep the project unidentified. What really mattered was putting forward the idea and the urge that fuelled it.

The first answer came from Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, that’s how Atthletic Duddes became a label. I didn’t expect to get so much feedback from people who wished to participate on the artwork. People like Neil of Astral Social Club  or Laurent of èl-g wrote me and offered to make a tape.

I always knew this project would be short-lived — that’s what I wanted anyway. I ran it somewhat urgently, probably because it was necessary for me at that point in time. The spontaneity I would enjoy then is hard to perpetuate while working on Atelier Ciseaux: dealing with manufacturers, sharp deadlines and the fact that financial reality always weighs on small structures one way or another. While talking with Olivié of Amour & Discipline I realized it was a shame that these tapes (limited to 30-50 copies) had had so few listeners. So I contacted all the bands from the project. Asking if it was ok to put the entire discography of Atthletic Duddes online for free download. And they were all up for it.

After my hard disk crashed I lost most pictures of the tapes. All that remains comes from the internet’s feeble memory. You can download and discover all releases here or in the website which we created for that matter.

I often find myself thinking back and having fond memories of this project. So I’m taking this opportunity to thank all the bands and everyone who did some artwork, gave away tapes, shared their recorders and supported me witg their precious hands. And I’d like to apologize to Motherfucking for never releasing their tape.

 —

AD#01 | BLUE SABBATH BLACK FIJI
In a believer is still a liver
Download

AD#02 | THE POLLY SHANG KUAN BAND
Deeked with feathers and shells, a grass-skirted yap woman leads a folk dance
Download

AD#03 | SLASHER RISK
Rat body
Download

AD#04 | ASTRAL SOCIAL CLUB
Sank stacks
Download

AD#05 | PART WILD HORSES MANE ON BOTH SIDES
Fuck off massive ocean
Download

AD#06 | DUANE PITRE
Le, la, le
Download

AD#07 | DREAMCATCHER
Hangover Music
Download

AD#08 | èl-g
Comme les américains
Download
A collage of archives from different years/towns, of unreleased songs & new psychedelic “liants” recorded for the tape.

AD#09 | SINDRE BJERGA
Pretending to be confused
Download

AD#10 | DISCIPLINE
Tutti i colori dei buio
Download

AD#11 | FELICITY MANGAN
Piimdom
Download

 — Continue reading

Grazhdanskaya Oborona

 

Гражданская Оборона (English: “civil defense”, or abbreviated GrOb “coffin”) is the most famous and probably the most influential of the 1980s Soviet punk bands. The only constant member was Egor Letov, who was active right up to his death in 2008 (many of his friends, bandmates, etc. ended up committing suicide in the ’80s and ’90s). I don’t speak Russian, but the songs seem to be about anarchism, running from the KGB (they had Letov committed to a mental institution in the mid-’80s), totalitarianism, depression, feelings of powerlessness, and all that kind of stuff you’d expect to hear from a punk band from a country with an overtly repressive government.  Musically, it’s lo-fi punk (most GrOb recordings were recorded to tape on boomboxes in various apartments and kitchens) with chord changes and melodies characteristic of Russian folk music. Letov has an extremely expressive singing voice, and, like a good deal of other Russian punk musics, he communicates a desperate pathos commensurate with the fucked-up conditions in which he lived. Complete and total outsider music.

Egor was seriously prolific in his lifetime, with most of his earlier work coming in the form of homemade tapes traded among the Russian punks. My own collection of his stuff doesn’t even scratch the surface, but here is Optimizm (1985), Poganaya Molodej (1985), and a double album of two live performances (which, you must understand, were risky and infrequent events) from 1988 and 1989 in Novosibirsk and Moscow, respectively. It’s as good an introduction to GrOb as any, and the songs are all great. If none of this intrigues you, I have no idea what would. I’ll finish by saying this band is one of the inspirations behind Pink Reason (you can hear Pink Reason covering a Grazhdanskaya Oborona song on Freakout zine).

And here is a WFMU show on which Kevin Failure of Pink Reason plays GrOb and a bunch of other great Soviet underground bands, and shares some knowledge. The Russian sites linked below are pretty readable using Google Translate, so have at it.

GrOb official site (Russian)
GrOb fansite (Russian)
Polish blog with more GrOb albums

Most of their albums are long out of print; You can download some here :

Grazhdanskaya Oborona – Optimizm

Grazhdanskaya Oborona – Poganaya Molodej

Grazhdanskaya Oborona – Svet & Stulja

(thanks to Jerry from Creep Scanner for the links)

Others albums can be found on Soulseek.

our weeks on soulseek – 2

Two weeks ago, OSR tapes put out the first album of Better Psychics, twenty tracks of collaborative live mixing between Chris Weisman and Zach Phillips of Blanche Blanche Blanche, both international ambassadors of Brattleboro, Vermont.
It kind of sounds like a blend of early Psychic TV albums and Sebadoh cassettes, with sprinkles of woodsy experimental folk and acousmatic bossa nova on top. (it’s outstanding).
I never buy cassettes, as the closest tape player i could use is in the old family car, but I pre-ordered theirs as an inticement to finally get my driver’s licence and drive around while blissfully listening to it.
You can download the album (then consider doing a donation) and/or order it here.

This one is short but it kills me:
Better Psychics – I bet I can write one more (right click/save as)

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Better Psychics - What stays

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Better Psychics - With my attitude

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I guess I have a thing for every band John Dwyer plays in, as they cover the entire spectrum of genres that naturally stroke my ears, from garage punk to weird doo wop and drone psych pop. However it seems that, lately, The Oh Sees have been favoring their binary rock’n'roll side (close to Dwyer’s older band, The Coachwhips), to the detriment of the numerous other facets that made the superiority of their first records. But now their new album is out on In The Red and it’s quite a gem — great name, great artwork, wicked songs. The tracklist of Putrifiers II is somehow based on a chiasmus, with rowdy garage tunes both opening and ending the record. “Cloud#1″ provides a graceful contemplative transition towards the middle of the album, which is very 60s sounding, but in a way that freshens your bronchial tubes, spruces up your hair and takes you on a fuzzy journey where Nico and John Cale (“So Nice”) are striving to deprave the Everly Brothers (“We will be scared”) while impish voices fuse with Can-like instrumentals (“Lumpine Dominus”). Makes my day.

The Oh Sees – So Nice (right click/save as)

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The Oh Sees – We will be scared

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The Oh Sees – Lupine Dominus

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Natural Snow Buildings is an impressive French experimental duo who have released about 20 albums since 2001. They were/are mostly released on outrageously limited series, so the only way to listen to them is through culture sharing. Night Coercion Into The Company Of Witches, one of their best albums, was first issued in 2008 with 22 (yes, twenty two) copies, but people who love to manipulate cumbersome objects before listening to music can rejoice, as Ba Da Bing just made a three CD/four Lp reissue (yes, it is almost three hours long). Judd of Ba Da Bing speaks the truth: “Natural Snow Buildings make melodic, orchestrated, folk, droning compositions with layers of guitars, chants, woodwinds, percussive bells, distortion and delay. On Night Coercion, they push to extremes, producing layers of stereophonic sound both nuanced and grandiose. This record is the ideal introduction to the band’s sound, building harmonies upon noise upon harmonies, and providing a clear explanation as to why their albums (even the ones that aren’t so limited) sell out so immediately upon release”.

Natural Snow Buildings - Kadja Bosou (right click/save as)

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everything’s okay

Right before retiring from music and going to work with chickens and goats in a farm, Sir Jason Molina recorded eight songs with just guitar, rawness and his elegant voice from Desperate Land. I have to admit I’m not a huge supporter of his whole Magnolia Electric Co. era, but Autumn Bird Songs arouses the same kind of shivers in the stomach as his majestuous Lionness album with Songs:Ohia. We will always love you Jason.

Jason Molina – A Sad Hard Change (right click/save as)

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Songs:Ohia – Lionness (right click/save as)

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Death Grips stick their cock in the eye of sony music, release their new album for free, let anyone make money with it, then change their mind about it

Many people wound up on this post through various sources (Death Grips Twitter account, Brooklyn Vegan, Tiny Mixtapes, CorruptFork…). If you’re into weird hip hop, you should also listen to the amazing band Clipping. They are not this week’s epicentre of the Hype, but they do mindblowing music.

Don’t let machiavelian PR schemes fool you, the bear is the actual album cover.

Last february, I was disappointed to learn that Death Grips, a wonderful trio making angry fractured hip hop (with The Magnificent Zach Hill on drums, Andy Morin on keyboards and Stefan Burnett on vocals), had signed a major label deal with Epic/Sony.

Ex-Military Mixtape, their first album, was released under a Creative Commons non commercial licence, allowing people to copy, distribute, display, and build derivative works based on their music, as long as it was for non-commercial purposes. Consequence ? Ex-Military was shared hundreds of thousands of times. It turned Death Grips into one of the most famous indie band taking a real alternative stance on the actual copyright system, acknowledging people’s right to share. AND it is an awesome record.

Download full version of Ex-Military Mixtape (or instrumentals + acapellas version).

Then they signed with a Major. Obviously, it wasn’t just a greedy move (anyone who knows the bands members will agree on this), but rather a “we’ll have big distribution and total control over creativity” blah blah thing. Death Grips stated they would release two albums this year via Epic: The Money Store (last april), and No Love Deep Web (planned this October).

When the Money Store came out, Epic/Sony predictably barred them from using a Creative Commons licence. The band then decided to act naughty: they leaked the album on Youtube anyway, allowed people to download a bunch of tracks, leaked the instrumentals after an incredible hide-and-seek game in the deep internet. Death Grips also are the most legally-downloaded band on BitTorrent in the first half of 2012 (oh my god, 34,151,432 downloads of weirdo hip hop noise music). The Money Store truly is an amazing piece of music, but the whole album wasn’t released under a Creative Commons licence, so legally people weren’t allowed to share all the tracks, remix it, etc.

However, it seems the honeymoon between Death Grips and Epic is officially over.
Death Grips tweeted today “The label wouldn’t confirm a release date for NO LOVE DEEP WEB ’till next year sometime. The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you”.

Ten hours later, they released their new album for free. Tons of websites have already reported it, but it seems only a few (i say “a few” because i’m polite, i actually read nothing about it – edit: Death Grips and others have spread the A&D post you’re reading, thanks to them, and Consequence of Sound wrote a piece about it) noticed they didn’t just “release it for free”: they allow anyone to make money with it.

According to the Archive.org download link they’ve posted themselves, this album is indeed released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence, a veeery open one. Of course, it lets people share and remix the music, but contrary to the previous licence they chose for Ex-Military, it also authorizes commercial uses without asking permission, as long as the music is still credited to the band. Yes, you can use Death Grips’ music in a TV ad (for an energy drink maybe?), or in a big commercial movie. You don’t have to wait for a physical release date, you can start a record label instead, press and sell 10,000 copies of this album without even asking the band NOR Epic/Sony if they are okay with that. Well, if you’re not an asshole, I hope you’ll send Death Grips some money.

Some people (Hi Sean!) are wondering if the whole operation is a PR stunt. But the licence chosen debunks such hypotheses because it implies that Epic/Sony don’t have exclusive commercial rights on Death Grips’ music anymore (while a Creative Commons Non Commercial licence would have allowed Epic/Sony to retain exclusive rights on commercial uses). There’s no way a major compagny would accept such a licence as part of a PR scheme. Actually I think it is the first time a band signed on a major label releases an album on a CC Attribution 3.0 licence.

Anyway, i wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Epic/Sony for pissing off Death Grips and pushing them back to the arms of Creative Commons. Sharing is Caring, blah blah blah, Amen.

EDIT 10.4.12: Death Grips have now changed the Creative Commons Attribution licence into an Attribution-Non Commercial one. It means you can share or remix the work, but NOT use it commercially without permission. Several explanations are possible:
- They didn’t know what kind of licence they took in the first place (I doubt it, as it wasn’t their first Creative Commons release and Death Grips themselves shared this A&D post via Twitter).
- They changed their mind.
- Epic/Sony made them change the licence, so the Major Company can still have exclusive commercial rights on Death Grips music. As the Major Company has paid for the recording of No Love Deep Web, this scenario is quite likely.

Death Grips website was down for a while. I thought it was collapsing because of too many visits, but serious prominent yet corrupt press talked to Zach Hill, and he confirmed Epic/Sony took the website down! And then Epic/Sony denied it! And then the website came back! Then it disappeared one more time! Then it is here again! Woo! (my guess is their web hosting company had a problem with the penis cover)

Thank God/Santa Claus/Richard Stallman, you can also download the full album via Archive.org or via Bayfiles or stream it via Soundcloud (who didn’t like the album cover either apparently).

Dinosaurs, Norwegians and Epic Ensemble in the discotheque

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth – Jeans Shopping With Jesse (Made In Kansas)

More blown out fucked up fuzz from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Had been waiting to hear this one for a considerably long time once I knew it was coming out. Didn’t realize it was going to be as limited as it is though, apparently only 100 made of this mean piece of wax. And mean is most certainly the right way to put it. To anyone that felt the need to unleash the aural bleeding that came as a result of their previous release Peaced, then Jeans Shopping With Jesse (Made In Kansas) will undoubtedly be exactly the type of heaping trash that fills that need once again. Not as punishingly treble heavy as Peaced, but rather more so of a complete culmination of noise being thrown at the listener this time around. It’s hard to resist the comparisons to Rusted Shut, but this certainly fits the bill. No less filthy, that’s for sure, but maybe a bit less frightening. You get that these guys might actually have a sense of humor behind all that distorted crust…or maybe a big drinking problem. Who knows? Surprisingly though, Jeans Shopping for Jesse isn’t the type of monotonous trudge through noise that you might expect it to be. Some of the best moments here are the groups abilities to subtly let the tracks set in with a level of claustrophobic nature, eventually becoming an overwhelming amount of noise before either fading out or cutting off completely. That of which is often followed by brief tracks of full-frontal noise that approach the ferocity and pacing of noise-punk. Absolutely relentless and pretty jarring at that. Fans of the genre certainly should give this one a try.

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth – Jeans Shopping With Jesse (right click/save as)

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When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth - Jah Fingies

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+ their amazing previous record, Peaced, available for free download. In the bands own words: “This album was recorded in our practice space in the month of April 2010. We were very drunk, and very stoned. We’ve recorded quite a bit of stuff before, but this recording actually captures realistically what we do and how we do it. Cheap, loud, and drunk”.

You can buy last copies of these two Lps here.

Neon Blud – Discotheque Deathbed (Vinyl Rites)

The collective that just keeps on giving, that being the folks down south that have helped spawn projects like Cult Ritual, Merchandise, and so on. This LP comes from yet another outlet under the name Neon Blud. Those out there probably know them from their split with Diet Cokeheads or releases on Fan Death and Drugged Conscience that came out awhile back. Previously I had known them as more of a noisier pop group that had a very prominent early Sonic Youth thing going on, however things have changed up fairly dramatically with their new full-length Discotheque Deathbed. The label Vinyl Rites mentioned Live Skull in the description, which if you’re looking for my attention, that’s a fairly good way to get it. A track like “Tick” certainly channels this more than anything, but I’d be lying if I said this album greatly resembles the band. I certainly hear the connection though and I’m loving it. Neon Blud have more so driven their sound down the path of late 70’s/early 80’s goth heavy post-punk but spreading out amongst a far more abrasive landscape of feedback and atonal droning noise that seemingly cycles its way in out of this album in an unobtrusive and effective manner. This is a much darker and noisier band than I imagine people were prepared to hear, and more importantly its one that has stepped out from a more confined songwriting approach and really allowed themselves to take this in an interesting direction. Most of the tracks are rather lengthy, filling the spaces nicely with repetitive bass lines that develop the sort of “disco” beat that they are looking for. And generally on more than one occasion per song, things lead in and out of explosive waves of noise before dropping back into a locked groove. Vocals are present, but likely merely only for the added effect of the depressive and bleak mood the album seems to function on. Really cool stuff. Not sure if this is the last output that we’ll hear from the band or not, but if it does indeed happen to be, then this is a fine way to go out.

Neon Bud – Tick (right click/save as)

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Neon Bud - Temple

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This album is sold out, so you’ll have to look for it on Soulseek.

Staer – Staer (Gaffer Records)

Some pretty warped instrumental noise out of Norway from these three gentlemen known as Staer. Due to locale they are most commonly linked back to Noxagt, which actually fits quite well musically. Despite being a three piece, these tunes pack a thunderous amount of sludgy rumble. It’s hard to simply call these guys a “sludge” band though, despite these songs stomping along in a slow motion hulk like style. Things however tend to take on jazzy feel, but as if it were stuck in mud…slowly shifting from one atonal riff to another. Described as precise in execution, it’s much dirtier sounding than one would gather from reading that. It may be precise, but it certainly sounds the part of something that would be a destructive mess visually. Staer aren’t completely opposed to hitting a run of simple rhythm, as evidenced by a track like “Sex Varnish”, which basically focuses on one big bouncy riff throughout the song while surrounding it by free drumming and a multitude of guitar effects. That latter seems to be a recurring theme throughout this self-titled debut. The trio certainly have a good grasp of the fun things that they can do with their instruments and they make it very well known on this album by pushing sounds and effects that one would assume would require someone in the background twisting knobs and such. Maybe that’s the case and I just missed that somewhere, but no matter it certainly works for them. The songs are heavy and just about as wildly out of control/demented as a band that is said to be in control can be. Really nice debut from these guys.

Staer – Det Ar Nyar, Javlar (right click/save as)

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Staer – I Roll With Creflo

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This one is available through Gaffer label. Head on over there to grab yourself a copy.

V.Vecker Ensemble – In the Tower (Majorly Records)

 

V.Vecker Ensemble was spawned out member Keith Wecker’s idea to start the collective after spending time playing in Glenn Branca’s Symphony #13: Hallucination City and Anthony Braxton’s 2010 Sonic Genome Project. Having a fairly nice size of talent surrounding him already in the Vancouver underground, he enlisted the services of Brody McKnight and Andrea Lukic (Nu Sensae), Daniel Presnell (Von Bingen), Liam Butler (No Gold), David Rogers (Basketball), and Corey Woolger (Cowards). This LP is the first recorded output from the collective and features one long instrumental piece split on to both sides of the record. The first movement is a nice slow burn mix of psych and creeping noise. The use of sparse santur at the beginning of the track, as it slowly melds into a swirl of complementing sounds, gives the entire piece a bit of an exotic feel. This far less of the controlled chaos type of approach that I was kind of expecting with this, but rather it ends up being a wonderful tension building exercise of melody and subtle noise. The pieces eventually cools down, which provides the opportunity to flip the record to move on to the second piece of the composition. The second side continues a bit in the same way, but things get a bit more claustrophobic on it. The santur again provides a skeletal shaping of exterior sounds as a way to introduce the slow inclusion of guitars and bass, while both drummers keep things slightly nailed down with a steady beat. However, with this portion of the composition by the end of it the instruments all eventually reach the same atonal apex of noise to finish the piece off with a loud steady trance-like pound. Really dig this, look forward to more.

For those interested in picking up a copy of In the Tower can do so by hitting up Majorly Records.

Ejaculation Death Rattle

Ejaculation Death Rattle – O (right click + saves as)

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There are some things that never step out of the shadows. Some objective facts which remain confidential. Facts that no one knows about, or wants to know about.
It applies to the true essence of financial capitalism (i.e. to artificially create movement of values based on a monstrous nothing-system whose self-proclaimed autonomy seems to have no other purpose than going deeper and deeper into dehumanization), or about how a streaming service such as Spotify chooses to split the benefits made from its use of other’s people music (i.e. just try and ask them…), or to the sporadic activities of Canadian collective Ejaculation Death Rattle (i.e. brilliant and adventurous as their name suggests).

Ejaculation Death Rattle is one of those bands you come across at the very end of a too long wandering on the interweb, but only if you’re temporarily lucky. EDR never benefit too much publicity, nor were conveniently propelled by an influent music journalist into some fancy à-la-mode musical sub-genre. Too bad for them.

Freak folk, experimental electronics, weird improv… All those names could nonetheless fit them transiently. But EDR just doesn’t belong to a genre, it rather subsumes them all through each extreme “song”. Inside EDR, who cares about your service number, what only matters is the final electric cloud.
EDR is a a group from Vancouver, simply a true and dynamic improvisation/improvised collective who knows no boundaries.

Ejaculation Death Rattle – Valley Accent (right click + save as)

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Ejaculation Death Rattle – Pinkblueyellowstreaky (right click + save as)

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Heather, from their crew, sent us two other beautiful examples of what they do.

1. Ejaculation Death Rattle – Live At The Secret Location (right click + save as)

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“Live recording from a Spring Equinox party at a warehouse space in Vancouver called the Secret Location, recorded in 2009. It’s a bit old now, but maybe it is somewhat timely since I see that Grrrnd Zero was (and perhaps still is?) facing venue challenges in Lyons. Reading through the posting on the collective’s site, the troubles sound sadly similar to what’s been happening in Vancouver for a number of years – many groups that contribute so much to the city’s underground arts and culture have lost the spaces in which they work and host events because of zoning regulations and/or ridiculously high rents and little to no rent control. The Secret Location is an artist studio/jam space with an anarcho-feminist mandate that has run for 7 or 8 years now in varying states of stability. This recording is from one of the events that took place in the space.”

2. Ejaculation Death Rattle – Day-glo (right click + save as)

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“More recent – from Feb. 2012, and from a jam session for a Day-glo Mardi Gras performance at a downtown gallery/shop called Blim. I’ve attached a picture from the event with this email just for fun, because day-glo is fun!”

Get Ejaculation Death Rattle – Room 304.

Room 304 is an album released in 2007 by the courageous netlabel NoType.
There is a lot of deviant music to be found, freely shared under the CC BY-NC-ND licence, on their website.
An attempt to describe the sounds on Room 304 could be (assembling words from the album’s credits) : “ominous throbbing, buzzing of wasps, melodious deception, wailing spasms” + “screeching tires, low end rumbling, air raid sirens, herald of pestilence” + “amplified rust scratching, sawtooth scrapes, cheap and destructible strung plywood, ethereal string manipulation” + “the swelling of leeches, CPU shrapnel, microtonal dentist drill, pure waveform alchemy, transcendental pulsation”.
See?


EDR also released a series of Lathe cut in 2010, via the excellent Fluorescent Friends label.
Naturally, they also share all those contents. They rule.

So also get Ejaculation Death Rattle – Lathe Series.

EDR.
NoType + Panasopria.
Fluorescent Friends
.

An Interview With Jason Meagher, NATCH : A Series Of Collaborative Recordings From Black Dirt Studio

Basically, Jason Meagher of Black Dirt Studio is doing it right.  A fellow fighter against the evils of pale pop music.  He’s a sympathetic audio engineer by all accounts and it seems to me his time with No Neck Blues Band provides a unique window into the world of free-form improvisation.  

Meagher’s track record is admirable.  He’s made records for the Black Twig Pickers, Blues Control, Charalambides, Eleven Twenty-Nine, Expo 70, GHQ, Steve Gunn / John Truscinski, D. Charles Speer & the Helix, Stellar OM Source.  

He’s playing with Pat Murano as K-Salvatore (their first gig in a decade or so) as part of the Spy Music Festival at Death By Audio on Friday, July 6th.  

I got in touch with Jason to ask him questions about the fairly new and ongoing NATCH series.

Jason makes each NATCH session conducted at his studio available for free download on NATCH website. You can also stream and get them on Free Music Archive. Or even more simply, at the bottom of this post.

 

Play these while reading the interview :

Aaron Moore & Carter Thornton – Josef Ituk

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Dave Nuss, Rahdunes, Stellar Om Source & Aswara – Consolamentum

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Pat Murano & Tom Carter – Prophets And Martyrs Are My Witness

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Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon & Ethan Schmid – Trees Don’t Sleep

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Dave Shuford, Margot Bianca & Pigeons – Dickel’s Dream

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Black Twig Pickers & Steve Gunn – Sally In The Garden Sifting Sand

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What prompted the move upstate?

City living was something I’d done my whole life. My wife and I talked a lot over the years about moving up north and there were some circumstances that came about that allowed us to do that, so we did.

So the move wasn’t to start the studio. How did Black Dirt come about?

I’d been recording for years on a 4 track, but never with any real investment in it as a process. In the years leading up to the move I was involved in recording The Suntanama up at the Hint House on a Korg digital machine and I totally got the bug, bad. There would be weeknight sessions where everyone would split and I’d stay until the early morning hours, killing a bottle of rum, dicking around on the machine with little to no idea what I was doing, trying to make things sound good. There were mic sims on the machine that were named 57, 421, 87, etc and I had no idea what those numbers meant! Didn’t know the difference between an insert effect and a master effect… Of course, the great thing about recording is you can approach it from a very caveman perspective. What is this thing, what does it do if I put it here, move it here, turn this knob, etc. Eventually you get a feel for making things sound ok. And once you’re there, it is an easy jump to “I think I’ll start recording other people.” Which lead to Black Dirt. The timing was perfect. The bug had evolved to a full blown disease and there was nothing else I wanted to do than record music.

Black Dirt is situated in a rural area only 60 miles away from New York City.  Are you saying the shift in geography wasn’t intended to influence these potential recordings?

Well, it would be nice to say something like being in a rural area in a basement creates a vibe somewhere between Big Pink and Nellcôte, but I don’t think that is the case. From my perspective there’s not much of a difference between recording here and recording in a city, except there are less adult distractions in spitting distance. Most sessions start in the daylight and end deep into the nighttime darkness, there are few to no windows, not much fresh air in the lungs, etc. That’s kind of the same everywhere. I have heard from artists that being isolated is a great thing; that it is nice to get away from their lives, the routine, and focus on the music. For city dwellers I would imagine that seeing so many stars at night, or wild animals in the daytime, can be a nice feeling on a break, rather than a bodega or a delivery truck. That said, I have had people book time here based on the seasons – the strangling heat of August, the long nights of February, etc. Artists have utilized field recordings here as well – insects and frogs in summer, air pressure drops in late winter, rain, birds, etc.

I wanted to model the experience artists would have at Black Dirt on some of my own as a musician. One was to include a sense of hospitality that I learned from staying at Byron Coley‘s places in Western Mass over the years as a young man on tour. We built an apartment for the artists to stay in while they’re here and on long sessions (and even sometimes on weekend sessions, time permitting) we’ll cook a meal for the band, take a nice break, drink some wine, get away from the pressure for a few hours. The other was the laid back, not on the clock, homespun feeling I experienced recording at Paul Oldham’s Rove Studio in his farmhouse in KY and Jerry Yester’s place in AK. All of those places had a profound effect on me and so by virtue of transference, perhaps Black Dirt can have a similar effect on others, and perhaps wouldn’t have been possible in a city setting.

So, tell me what is NATCH all about.

NATCH is about recording people without focusing on the fact that people are being recorded. It is like an anti recording session. Get some talented people together, hang out, play some music. Music comes naturally. Without the concept of success or failure lurking in the corner of the room, if you give anyone an instrument, they’re going to make some noise on it. These sessions hopefully kinda get back to that feeling, even if the people coming here are really good players.

How did the series come about? How has it evolved after the initial release?

It got to the point here that when I wasn’t working, I wasn’t recording and I never started recording with the express idea that it would be a j-o-b type job. In the early days of the studio, Dave Nuss (NNCK, Sabbath Assembly, etc) would book these one off sessions where he’d get people together up here and just make music. He did one with the Family Underground that became the Christian Family Underground LP on Woodsist. Another with Jakob Olausson. One that became the band Amolvacy. The last one he did was with Rahdunes, Stellar Om Source and Aswara and nothing ever came of it. I had fond memories of the music they recorded and one night I decided to just start a mix and see what came of it. I was reminded of those sessions and how much fun they were. I was aware of the Daytrotter series and had recently been hipped to the Shaking Through series in Philly and it all just clicked. Why not set up some sessions that could be done fast, free and fun?

The first couple of sessions I booked were with people who had been to the studio before. Along with the artists, I had no idea what was going to happen at first. One thing that has changed is that I’ve begun inviting up artists who have never been here before, which has been amazing. Also, the sessions have begun to take on an internal rhythm – whether that is because there is a document of what has already happened, a watermark, and therefore a bit of an expectation on the artist’s part as to what they want to accomplish in the short time here, or if the walls are just vibrating a certain way when that energy of the first couple of hours of each session unfolds.

Collaboration is obviously a very important element to the series, could you elaborate as to why?

The main reason was to try and keep the sessions away from feeling like a demo process. If NATCH was a series of one artist or group coming up to do their thing, there’s a good chance it could become a testing ground for their next release. Or simply a promotional tool. With recording technology the way it is, what would distinguish a NATCH session from a recording done at home to a laptop or digital 2 track? By putting people together who have never played with each other before, the hope is to keep it in the moment, maybe find some middle ground between the artists that they might not go to on their own. There’s been a nice side effect of the series, in that some of the artists have continued to work with each other after their session.

What do you look for when pairing artists?

First and foremost, people who I hope will get along, socially and musically. I’m still waiting for the uncomfortable “clunker” session, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet. Also, the artists should share some kind of intangible thing musically, an aesthetic, a particular nuance to the way they approach sound, where they are in their personal arc in their relationship to sound. And I’m thinking about the pairings like a sonic jigsaw puzzle – what instrumentation might work in a traditional way, or non-traditional way. Lately I’ve been inviting larger numbers of people to a single session with an ear towards a kind of one off band experience rather than a pairing of two single artists. We’ll see how those sessions turn out.

What kind of hang ups do you see when a band comes in to record with a record deal already in place?

Well, there’s an obvious focus on getting it right, for better or worse. You know, someone is paying for the time and the artists want to maximize it and make it perfect. “Are we nailing it?” “Does it sound as good as the demo / rehearsal / live show?” etc. That is all important, but there is a lot of amazing music to be found in the cracks between those questions as well as in happy accidents. Most contemporary budgets don’t allow for much experimentation in the studio. I’m not talking about writing, but trying a different approach from the one that has been hammered out in rehearsals. Another common situation is the “Come and get me when it’s my turn” scenario. During a session, it is impossible for everyone to be committed to focusing on every sound the entire time, but a lot of doors are closed when half the band thinks that they’re done with their contributions and partially check out for the remainder of a session.

I also do a large amount of artist funded projects, where the goal is to shop around the recording after it is done. That brings along a more intense dose of maximizing in a different way as well as the specter of “Will anyone be interested in producing this?” hanging out over the artist’s head the whole time.

What is your most prized piece of equipment at this point?

The default snarky engineer answer to this question is always, “My ears!” The piece of gear I love the most right now is actually something I have on semi-permanent loan from Jimy Seitang, an Alembic Superfilter. It has really changed the way I balance across the frequency spectrum over the last couple of years.

Is there a pinnacle collaboration for NATCH?  Any artist, any band (past or present), who would you choose?

How about Allen Toussaint and Leon Russell? Or Michael Hagerty and the Kinks? D Charles Speer & the Helix and Kaleidoscope? AMM and the Dead C? Fahey and Jack Rose… I would’ve retired after that one!

What’s in store for the future of Black Dirt?  Any specifics on tap?

Well my advice to anyone considering starting their own studio is, don’t do it! At least not alone. The biggest drawback of being isolated is the lack of community around the studio. It would be great to host listening parties, summer cookouts, NATCH style jams, etc, here, but it is just not feasible without a local scene. I’d love to be able to move out of the basement in the near future to have some more flexibility with mic placement and live off the floor recording, natural reverb and ambiance, as well as having some more space to incorporate a machine room to get some of the noisier gear out of the control room and bring in a 24 track tape machine. There seems to be a scene percolating on both sides of the river between Beacon & Hudson including Rosendale, Kingston, etc, so maybe a move a little northeast might be in the future. Any readers out there looking for a similar setup and a partner, get in touch!

There are some exciting NATCH sessions coming up including Dave Nuss and Michael Evans, Michael Chapman with Steve Gunn, Jimy Seitang, Nathan Bowles & Marc Orleans (tentatively calling themselves The Woodpiles), Ben Chasny & Hiss Golden Messenger, maybe something with Betsy Nichols, Dan Melchior, Jon Lam, and the Helix rhythm section – Ted Robinson & Steve McGuirl. I’ve been talking to some other folks as well, tho’ nothing is written in stone, they are equally exciting!

You now deserve to download :

Dave Nuss, Rahdunes, Stellar Om Source & Aswara – NATCH 0

Black Twig Pickers & Steve Gunn – NATCH 1

Dave Shuford, Margot Bianca & Pigeons – NATCH 2

Aaron Moore & Carter Thornton – NATCH 3

Pat Murano & Tom Carter – NATCH 4

Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon & Ethan Schmid – NATCH 5

Adam of Northern Spy, responsible for this stimulating interview, also gave us his label’s plans for 2012 :

“. In August, the first Diamond Terrifier (Sam Hillmer of Zs) full-length drops.

. In September, we’re dropping a box set.  It’s four discs of material compiling the complete sextet works by the band Zs.

. Also, we’re putting out a new record by Dan Melchior called ‘The Backward Path’ which features overdubs by C. Spencer Yeh, Ela Orleans, Sam Hillmer, and Haley Fohr (Circuit Des Yeux)

. October, we’ve got a recording by John Butcher made at the new Issue Project Room space (110 Livingston).  It’s a solo performance in the empty room.  

. And we’ve got the epic follow up to Infinite Ease / Good God.  The record is called COL and it completes the Colin L. Orchestra trilogy.  This is Colin Langenus’ band. Colin was in USA is a Monster.  Now, he’s got the Colin L. Orchestra, CSC Funk Band, and Alien Whale.

In November, we’re putting out a collaboration between the duo of Loren Connors & Suzanne Langille with the painter MP Landis.  This will be the first record by this duo in about 2 decades.  The record was made in one day, live in the studio, with no overdubs.  We projected paintings by MP Landis.  Suzanne and Loren were seeing them for the first time.  They played to the paintings.  This will be out on CD later in the year.  Two tracks from the session are getting pressed on a limited 7″ which will be available this week with original art by MP Landis.”

Learn more here.

Hairdryer Peace: Electrical Outlets For Social Change


      The air conditioning is out at my destitute suburban townhome. Every ceiling fan is on. The jazz tobacco’s nearly gone. The sound of summer’s construction encroaches upon the neighborhood. Oftentimes, I find myself listening to music that corresponds to both my mood and environment, and I have a record for this sort of languid, humid day. Shuffling through a crate of LPs, I recognize the distorted, pixelated palm tree that adorns the cover of The HospitalsHairdryer Peace, perfectly foreshadowing the sounds to be heard. Imagery that evokes the spirit of being burnt-out and sun-baked has been en vogue over the past several years, but The Hospitals, based in San Francisco, were one of the few bands to articulate the dreary reality of life on the tropical living room sofa.

      Dropping the needle, listeners are soon greeted by Adam Whitestone’s strained vocals. “I feel queer”, he shouts, amongst blown-out guitars that erupt into the sort of psychedelia-damaged noise splatter that may one liken to Ramleh circa Hole In The Heart, but more ostensibly acid-fried. Following the opening tracks bout of noise is quite possibly the Hospitals’ catchiest jam, “Getting Out Of Bed”, an affirmation of the bands ability to make the distance between pop and noise almost seamless. “Getting Out Of Bed” isn’t Hairdryer Peace’s only instance of something that resembles a song; “This Walls” starts on a post-punk foot before fading into an assemblage of found sounds and grainy feedback. Besides the two aforementioned tracks, the Hospitals opt for episodic song structures, which pits the tape recorder against their inhuman wall of noise. Tape smear and manipulated feedback as song-craft becomes integral to Hairdryer Peace, yielding their most distinctive recordings as a band without  resting upon their amps. The miasmic tumult of “Animals Act Natural”, for example, marks the band at their noisiest and their most cathartic; Whitestone’s drums are frantic and the guitars are ham-fistedly pummeled, syncopating to the hi-end skree weaving in and out of the mix before ultimately imploding. “Rules For Being Alive”, the most psychedelic cut off the album, is nearly folky at the track’s onset before the Hospitals employ layers of noise, bringing the song to its paranoid conclusion. The last tracks on the album finish the album on a more abstract note, often opting for ominious guitar textures that rumble and scream throughout the mix. “Dream Damage” features a dilapidated chord structure that repeats itself, never straying from its staggering point of origin.

      Hairdryer Peace found The Hospitals in the sorts of territory occupied by noise rock deconstructionists such as Royal Trux, Jim Shepard’s Vertical Slit, and The Dead C. Not unlike the seminal rock terrorists of the past, The Hospitals managed to find a way to bridge absolute discordance and the lowest common denominators of rock songwriting, creating the sort of manic din of Twin Infinitives while managing to remain more coherent and succinct (which doesn’t happen quite often when bands attempt to flip the rock hierarchy of reason/communication over noise/ritual). Principally, the band is able to articulate their ethos perfectly well (the lack of a given fuck is palpable) while managing to proffer thematic tidiness.
Hairdryer Peace’s lyrical content reflects the same sense of disorientation created by the music, a mix of hazy comprehension and burnt-out bluntness. “BPPV” for example, is a delirious performance of several simple lines, “Where are you now?/ you’re upside down/your face looks smeared…/I feel dizzy/I feel stoked”. The band also shows an interest in the dichotomy between impulse and silence (“You’re afraid to do what you’re required to do”, “Animals act natural! It’s all been so hard for me”, “Kids, get out of bed!”), yet the band bends toward the discordance associated with noise music’s release of internal tensions. In this way, Hairdryer Peace functions as a primal scream, rendering the mundane (whether social or chemical) as a catalyst to complete disenchantment. Beneath the aforementioned disillusion, however, is a well-wrought noise that announces its presence as something urgent, important. Stockpiling and repetition continue to dominate the consumption of music, but Hairdryer Peace seems to want to point in the other direction. If, as Jacques Attali proposes, music is becoming more and more about silence (the exclusion of musical codes that don’t conform to the contemporary musical standard of hi-fidelity, intelligibility and perfection), an album as explicitly damaged as Hairdryer Peace explores the aesthetic of composition-contra-automation, the juxtaposition of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” against the terrifying backdrop of unorganized sound and tape shrapnel. The Hospitals might’ve created the manifestation of the arid, listless, monotonous afternoon that cannot help but to incessantly recur.

Download Full Album : The Hospitals – Hairdryer Peace (Right click/Save as)

Hairdryer Peace was self-released on vynil in 2008 and is now out of print. A cd version was later released by Meds (imprint of excellent Portland record shop Exiled). Some indie stores still have a few copies of this cd version (here or there). Other albums can be bought directly from Load and In the red Records.

Cedric “Acid Kirk” Stevens

The adventurous multi-modal label/blog/broadcast program Discrepant feeds us with another outsider gem. An introduction to the great work of Cedric “Acid Kirk” Stevens, member of 5-piece psychedelic noise ensemble South Of No North.
A 2×12″ LP impetuously named The Syncopated Elevators Legacy has just been released, and it’s time for you to start assembling the clues that will lead you to Stevens’ majestic territories.

Cedric Stevens – Glicerine Militante (right click + save as) – Juno 106, Analogue Modular System recorded in The Hermetic Garage in 2004 – (…a discrepant & subliminal toy crash collision)

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“The elevators were born from an urgent need to distance oneself from the techno pigeon hole and the already established Acid Kirk moniker. It was a turning point for me in the techno movement; I could feel it falling apart under the media hype and my instinct, as a composer was to detach myself from that scene.

1997 was the year I decided to start afresh with a strong intention of developing a different sound with more ambitious structures. It was to my great surprise however, that my simplest attempt, “Vanda”, became the definite turning point of my new musical career. The Apostasy EP was conceived to be the departure point from a convoluted, hyperactive style that was very much in vogue with the then burgeoning IDM scene. In fact, “Vanda”, because of its innocent nature and the equipment used (pure electric wave generators: VCO’s, LFO, ADSR), its simplicity in shape and intuitive creation (it was made in a few hours) made this track all the more authentic and personal. This undeniable fact made me realize that I had unconsciously laid down the foundations of my very own musical expression and that the emotions in that sound reflected my very own self-being with a melancholic nature that was (and stays) the essence of my personality.

It was a revelation, and the intensive use of home made analogue modular systems during my techno years gave me the experimental foundations that cemented all of the forthcoming SEL work. This same awakening pushed me to become less indulgent as a musician and the elevators story became the story of my very own development as an artist finding his own voice.

The next chapter on the SEL history was exclusively based on the auto feeding results of electric currents, serpent patching or infinity looping if you like. Because of the never ending patching possibilities modular systems can offer, I threw myself into an electrical current looping frenzy- the results, way mellower than you’d imagine, were released on The Siamese Level. First conceived as an LP, I constantly questioned the quality of some of the compositions and took almost three years before being completely satisfied of the result. I wanted the record to be so perfect that it eventually became an EP sacrificing more than 20 compositions in the process, settling finally for 3 main tracks and 3 interludes – the result was more than satisfactory.

After the release of “The Siamese Level” my life became somehow chaotic and the following record clearly carries the stigmas of certain wounds. In Still Between the Battle & the Sheet my aim was to incorporate more concrete elements into my electrics mixture. I organized several recording sessions with musician friends, both professionals and amateurs, so I could reach this more ‘musique concrete’ result. One of the sessions perfectly transmitted the sentimental anarchic state I was in; broken china, Tibetan gongs, fragmented toy sounds, a very wrecked and destructive approach. In addition I also wanted to transmit a more eventful side to my music, in contradiction with the more pastoral drones of “The Siamese Level”. The evolution of recording techniques through the use of computers also highly influenced my working habits and one can tell by listening to these recordings. The mixture of chaos with the constant desire to innovate perpetually connected with SEL, gave birth to this 3rd record. I was aware of the flaws at this stage, being more conflicted interiorly it transpired into the tracks and the mix had trouble finding a coherent whole. The title of the EP reflects this; it’s clearly a record “between heaven and earth.


The use of guitars and Larsen phenomena gave a new lease of life to the SEL dynamic whilst allowing me to pursue my fascination with electric circuits in conjunction with a more straightforward human intervention. This new path allowed me to create with more precision and serenity the mix between concrete and machine;
“Siam Electric Skyline” is, in my opinion, the perfect example of this fusion.

The constant evolution of my experimentations with SEL soon pushed me to create a real live band and it was natural for SEL to fade away as my need to melt into an ensemble and interact with other musicians became paramount.

It’s only since 2008 that the need to return to a solitary form of expression returned. The musical baggage accumulated with South Of No North radically changed my approach to composition and particularly its interpretation, pushing me from now on to use my birth name when working solo. Truth be said, the sonic excursions of SEL will always remain the foundations of my musical language, making this anthology a perfect introduction to my work.”

Cedric Stevens, Barcelona 2012
Unpublished text that should have been originally used as sleevenotes for the The Syncopated Elevators Legacy LP

 

Discrepant and Stevens also just put up for free download a magnificent EP called The Politics Of Weakness (right click + save as), showing the same taste for electronic mastery and complex sonic topographies. You have no excuse for not getting it right now, seriously.

The Politics Of Weakness

…a Discrepant & Subliminal Toy Crash collision
CAT: CREP04
released 31 May 2012
all tracks written & produced by Cedric Stevens
Artwork by Vassilis Economidis

 

Cedric Stevens - The Politics Of Weakness 01 – Dead Man (right click + save as) – Prepared guitar and analog modular system. Recorded to DAT in 2006, edited on computer in 2011

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Cedric Stevens – The Politics Of Weakness 02 -  Abstract, As My Failure Does (right click + save as) – Analog Modular System, Flute & TR808. Original material recorded on DAT in 2002 during the “Still Between & The Sheet” sessions. Edited on computer in 2009.

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Cedric Stevens – The Politics Of Weakness 03 – L’Ombilique Des Limbes (right click + save as) – Clarinet, Analogue Modular System, Digital Treatments, Contrabass played by Squeaky Lobster recorded in 2002

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NZ’s Kraus & Duckling Monster Are The Maltese Falcons

The Maltese Falcons is a duo featuring Duckling Monster (of Dunedin’s retro-futurists The Futurians) on keyboards/vox. The multi-instrumentalist Kraus rounds out the duo on bass, drums, guitar and synth.

The Maltese Falcons

Kraus hails from Auckland NZ and has been churning out top-notch experimental sounds since 2001. After founding The Futurians, he has gone on to form Olympus (with Stefan Neville of Pumice), Pouffe with vocalist Matt Plunkett, and many other projects while recording solo under the name Kraus. Much of his output is available at kraus.co.nz and on the Free Music Archive platform.

The Maltese Falcons -  Distress Signal (right click + save as)

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The Maltese Falcons – Hurricane And Tornado (right click + save as)

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The Maltese Falcons – Symphony Of The Devil (right click + save as)

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The Maltese Falcons – Supreme Commander (right click + save as)

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Originally released in a 20 edition lathe cut by Root Don Lonie For Cash, the self-titled debut LP by The Maltese Falcons is available for free download from Kraus‘ website or the Free Music Archive. So go get the whole album in one single file.

A selection from Kraus‘ acclaimed Faster Than the Speed of Time is below. The 2011 LP can be found stateside via Soft Abuse and in Europe via France’s Bimbo Tower and Metamkine

Kraus – Electric Cyan (right click + save as)

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See The Maltese Falcons’ page on the FMA.

Enjoy Kraus’ portal on the FMA.

Check Jason Sigal posts on the FMA.