Alan Morse Davies

Alan Morse Davies

Life is full of reappearances and memories. Several months ago, I disappeared from some of your social media radars. No worries, I wasn’t ghosting you, but various issues of real life came up, both with difficult and enjoyable aspects. The difficult ones have disappeared, probably different ones will reappear, and the wonderful times still remain.

Long before that one of my favorite musicians Alan Morse Davies intentionally disappeared from the free music scene. Everything on vanished. This was his gig, I get it, everyone has got to do what is best for them at the time. His album Amusement Park Phases on 4–4–2 Music has been one of my favorite albums since it came out in 2007 and if the netlabel scene has some classic albums this would be one of them.

Over the last five months, I have been downloading and listening to lots of music. Lots. I’ve listened to over 300 albums with even more unlistened to. It gets daunting sometimes. 

As I was gearing up to write some more reviews, Alan quietly released some new work on his netlabel At Sea Music. The first was Recovery Songs. These three ambient tracks are laden with sweeping synthesizers and beautiful church-like vocals. The album feels like a requiem, but instead of death, the songs, guided by the album title Recovery Songs, point to a rebirth, “it is full of quiet joy” as Alan writes.

Alan Morse Davies’ “David”

The second release is a compendium of work that Alan completed between 2011 and 2013. How to Contact God When He’s Out of Cellphone Range is vastly different, most ambient and others out rightly experimental, but it is the loneliness of being an expatriate, a Welsh man living in Hong Kong, that ties these works together, whether it is “Ffarwel i Gymru” in this album or “Under Cardigan Bay” on Recovery Songs. Though I enjoyed the ambient works, I was more drawn to “The Adams Life Insurance Company”.

Alan Morse Davies’ “The Adams Life Insurance Company”

I’m back and, more importantly, Alan is back. We both have things to do. The free music scene will always continue to have reappearances, but hopefully we will always have the music. Alan has also released a work with Dave Seidel entitled Porch, Rain, Thunder back in March 2016.

Title: Recovery Songs
Netlabel: At Sea Music
Release Date: May 2016
License: CC BY-NC
Download mp3: zip

Title: How to Contact God When He’s Out of Cellphone Range
Netlabel: At Sea Music
Release Date: May 2016
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Download mp3: zip

C. Reider Benefit: Call For Submissions

C. Reider Benefit

As some of you know, C. Reider had medical issues at the end of 2015. His health is better, but he has been left with staggering medical debt. I am putting together a benefit album and I am looking for some submissions. Through much persuasion on my part, Chris has agreed to this project.

Chris has a wide variety of tastes in music, so any genre is game, from drone to vaporwave and from experimental to noise. If we receive more than 2 hours or music, I will be doing a blind selection. Experimental musician, Cinchel volunteered to master the album. Michael Gregorie of blocSonic volunteered to produce and design the album cover. Expect the album to be released around the beginning of March 2016.

Here are the submission requirements, such as they are:

  • Deadline is the end of the day of the 7 February 2016 where ever you might live.
  • Please keep the track under 5 minutes or so
  • Track must be in .AIFF or .WAV format
  • By submitting a track, you are allowing us to sell your music in this benefit album through out the year 2016.
  • All tracks will be licensed CC BY-NC-SA
  • Send your selection to

C. Reider is an experimental composer living in northern Colorado in the United States. He manages several netlabels and is an active supporter of the free music scene. You can download Chris’ music and view his netlabels at Vuzh Music or at his Bandcamp site. You can find him on Twitter as well, @vuzhmusic.

Thank you.

Martin Rach – Late Autumn Quartets

Martin Rach - Late Autumn Quartets

The New Year as arrived and with it some new releases like Martin Rach’s self-released Late Autumn Quartets. Martin Rach, whether he’s performing under an alias (Mons Jacet or Morten Rasz or Chtin Mara) or even with a fictional band, is always innovating new ways to craft sounds. For instance Late Autumn Quartets is a continuation of his November release, Early Autumn Quartets (suRRism-Phonoetics), but with Late Autumn Quartets, Rach has added more pickups to the zithers in an effort to capture more sound.

These quartets are pieces that capture Rach at his improvisational best with a heavy touch of what he calls sound surgery, which is I am assuming Rach coming back around and adding other sounds whether a bongo (don’t wince), a kalimba, or something else. However, Rach doesn’t lose the freshness of the sound after reworking it.

Late Autumn Quartets opens with “Double Swing” which begins mainly as a percussive improvisation, but then the zithers come more into focus which is probably due to Rach’s recording set up as the recorder is not stationary, moving the sound closer and then further away. “Squared Circles” is composed of zithers, a kalimba and a bongo (hey, don’t wince; it works). But just as you got comfortable with the first two acoustic tracks on Late Autumn Quartets, Rach swivels and begins “Raving Threads” with a Korg volca bass and then quickly enters the swirling noise of electronics. Wonderful. The four track album closes out with “Root Architecture” which begins with a wall of sound as the zithers and bongos are mixed back into themselves and into the realm of sweet, sweet noise.

All the tracks of Late Autumn Quartets are full and engaging, sometimes  trance-like, but always intoxicating. If you like it you can either download it for free at Free Music Archive or drop Rach a few shekels on Bandcamp.

Artist: Martin Rach
Title: Late Autumn Quartets
Netlabel: Self-Released
Release Date: January 2016
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Download mp3: zip

Artificial Memory Trace – Reprint

Artifical Memory Trace - Reprint

Back in 1993, Slavek Kwi, aka Artificial Memory Trace, was working in a print shop in Brussels, Belgium. During that time he recorded several of the machines as he must have been captured by their rhythm and their hidden melodies. These recordings are extremely clear and precise — the noise we here is the noise of the machine. There is some walkie-talkie squawking captured periodically which doesn’t take away from the recordings, rather it adds an unknown to the repetitions.

My first few listens through Reprint, I was not bothered that I was unaware what was creating the sounds. I assumed it was a factory of some sort, but what kind of factory, I did not know. In reading the liner notes later, I learned that this was a recording of a print shop. The liner notes also provide some specificity to what we are listening to.”Part I” is one 40-minute track, but it is broken down as such:

Part I.
1. Lift for paper 0:51
2. Air (suction) 1:13
3. Ventilation 0:25
4. Printing 26:06
5. Assembling machine I. 9:26
6. Cutting of paper 2:04
7. Photo-machine 1:10

“Part II” is eight minutes of an assembling machine.

What attracts me to Reprint is the repetition of the sounds, the rhythm of the machines. And as soon as I start grooving to a particular segment, Kwi moves me to another machine with its own metallic grind and I have to readjust. Kwi licensed Reprint so that it is available for remixes.

Artist: Artificial Memory Trace
Title: Reprint
Netlabel: LOM
Release Date: December 2015
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Download mp3: Bandcamp

Onde Poussière – Silent Rain

Onde Poussière - Silent Rain

Through friends of friends, Kecap Tuyul and Doedelzak get introduced at the XtetX, an improvisational experimental group that meets up in Paris, France. Doedelzak, a synth player, ends releasing the wonderful drone album, Wandering in Dust, on Eg0cide Productions back in August 2015, and then Doedelzak and Tuyul get together and record two tracks as the duo Onde Poussière. The end result of this October 2015 session is the newly released Silent Rain.

The liner notes to Silent Rain state that the duo’s music “relies on a careful mutual listening and a quite restrained palette. It gives a particular attention to contrasts, silences, subtle shifts – but can also be quite agitated and even noisy sometimes.” Tuyul has an extensive discography of working with other musicians and is known for his playing on prepared guitar, though thinking of him solely as a guitarist would be preposterous. His journeys in sound, whether solo or others, are always quite good. After finally listening to Doedelzak’s Wandering in Dust, it was no suprise that Doedelzak and Tuyul worked well together on Silent Rain.

The first track, “Skipped Slices”, begins quietly, directing us down an ambient path. But as Doedelzak calls out to Tuyul, Tuyul responds with an answer that in itself is a call to Doedelzak, and he repeats this call wrapped in an answer. The duo quickly turn our ambient journey into the subtle and not-so-subtle noises of daily life. There are interferences, jolts, and even some pleasantness. “Silent Rain”, the second track, begins even more quietly than the first, with Doedelzak on the synth. But at this point, the listener should not be fooled by this lull, as Tuyul and his guitar scrape into the soudscape like a wounded man walking down a dark alley. Somwhere around the 4 minute mark things begin to get even more weird which is never a bad thing. “Silent Rain” comes crashing down half-way through only to regroup itself for future strangeness. Doedelzak and Tuyul’s musical wanderings may be filled with indirectness, even randonmenss, but it is their response to the other’s chaos that brings the music into one sound and makes Onde Poussière’s Silent Rain worth your time.

Artist: Onde Poussière
Title: Silent Rain
Netlabel: Eg0cide Productions
Release Date: December 2015
Download mp3: zip

Best of 2015

Best of 2015

I dread writing the “Best of” post every year. Not because of the amount of work in listening to music or coding the page, it is the nagging feeling that I have missed a great release thereby slighting a musician’s accomplished work. But a “Best of” post is somewhat required. The list helps friends and other listeners of the free music scene find some music they have missed and it may add a bounce to the step of a musician or netlabel owner listed here.

This list has releases licensed under Creative Commons (CC) as well as the draconian All Rights Reserved. My small hope is that musicians will see other artists who use CC licensing and may even start to use Creative Commons for their own work in the future. (I can dream can’t I?) This year’s “Best of” list also includes some cassette releases, but all of these cassettes have a corresponding free digital release. Maybe more cassette labels can start doing this?

The one hundred albums listed below are divided into two sections: a Top 20 and Another 80 listed afterward. I wrote out the Top 20 just to see if I could and also make it easier on the more casual listener. On any given day, the Top 20 could be very different depending on my listening mood with albums moving from one section to the other.

Download, listen and enjoy.

Martin Rach - ArtebellumMartin Rach
Control Valve
August 2015
Bebawingi - BebawinginiBebawinigi
Strato Dischi
July 2015
Juan Antonio Nieto - Big MistakeJuan Antonio Nieto
Big Mistake
May 2015
Iris Garrelfs - Breathing Through WiresIris Garrelfs
Breathing Through Wires
Pan y Rosas Discos
January 2015
Mers - Click PussyMers
Click Pussy
Editora do Porto
March 2015
Gurdonark - Constellation BlackbirdGurdonark
Constellation Blackbird
We Are All Ghosts
May 2015
Cagey House - Cry One Best DemoCagey House
Cry One Best Demo
April 2015
Peter Wullen - Do You Dream About MePeter Wullen
Do You Dream About Me
August 2015
The OO-Ray - Empty OrcestraThe OO-Ray
Empty Orchestra
Lifelike Family
April 2015
Stinky Picnic - Hamster World
Stinky Picnic
Hamster World
March 2015
Willy Stamati - In Search of Noise (Parts 1 and 2)Willy Stamati
In Search of Noise (Parts 1 and 2)
February, December 2015
zip (1 and 2)
Dalot - LevellingDalot
January 2015
(dell.tree + Metek) - Lisergic Weird Funk(dell.tree) + Metek
Lisergic Weird Funk
Editora do Porto
March 2015
Ryukau - MuryokuRyukau
Etched Traumas
November 2015
Gavin Gamboa - Quartet ForensicsGavin Gamboa
Quartet Forensics
April 2015
Stephen Emmerson - Radio/TapeStephen Emmerson
Control Valve
March 2015
Hammer of Hathor - SphereHammer of Hathor
February 2015
Vasectomy Party - The Truth is IllusiveVasectomy Party
The Truth is Illusive
Control Valve
Feburary 2015
Graham Dunning - WoundGraham Dunning
March 2015
Jonáš Gruska - Zvuky SlovnaftuJonáš Gruska
Zvuky Slovnaftu
August 2015
Bastl Orchestra – Acetitic Syndrome (Signals for Arkaim)
Annie Kerr & Gus Garside – After thought (Spirit of Gravity)
Marcello Magliocchi – All in One & Duo recital (Plus Timbre)
METEK and Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt – The Beauty of Blasephemy (suRRism-Phonoethics)
Vziel Pojet – big brown balls (Genetic Trance)
Carl Kruger – Blip Service (Digital Minimum)
Miquel Parera – by Zero (República Ibérica Ruidista)
Matra Espectra – Cantos and Meditations (Self-Released)
Golgotha Communications Limited – A Certain Fondness (Haze)
C. Reider – Certainty Reducing Signals (Happy Puppy Records)
Lucie Vítková – Chorals (Signals from Arkaim)
Souns – Coastal (Panospria)
Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt – A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there (Kruk Records)
NOPOSORP – Concrete Gain (Etched Traumas)
Pavel Madurov – Day of Mechanician (Zenapolæ)
Jeremy Gluck and Michael Dent – Div Joyvision (Expanded Editiion) (suRRism-Phonoethics)
Lyn Goeringer – Dolly (for M.A.) (Pan y Rosas Discos)
Philipp Bückle – Drawings (Invisible City Records)
Edø Pistø Sømi – Error : dot: can’t open (Hortus Conclusus Records)
Microseq – False Awakenings (Inkilino)
Stella Velce – For a Flat ( Pan y Rosas Discos)
Shredderghost – Golden Cell (Power Moves)
Oneirich – Gruchte (Petroglyph Music)
AODL – Harborlust (Sunhill)
Dr Sparkles – Hello, Good Evening and Yes (Self-Released)
Splicey and Tracky – Horses, Horses … Horses! (Haze)
Michael Jackson Pollock – (Signals form Arkaim)
Compost Haven – Icky Vicky (Pan y Rosas Discos)
Porcje Rosolowe – Insects 4-7 (Crónica)
el owl – Invisible Predator (Lifelike Family)
mutanT.R.I. – Katacumoridako (Dog Park)
Phenotypo – Kings of Disco Vol. 1 (suRRism-Phonoethics)
Caroline Park – Less Than Human (Pan y Rosas Discos)
Mal Occhio – Mal Occhio (suRRism-Phonoethics)
Jaan Patterson – Music for Shadows (suRRism-Phonoethics)
Daniel Barbiero – Cristiano Bocci – Nostos (Acoustronica)
Liew Niyomkarn – OEL (Deep White Sound)
Derek Baron – Palmillas (Power Moves)
Stephen Emmerson – Letters to Verlaine (Deep White Sound)
Acryllic Drape – ph 12 (Deep White Sound)
People Skills – Pogradec Embankment (Self-Released)
psoph.OS – Polypodiaceae (Tape-Safe)
Rocheleau – Bussière – Couture – RBC (Pan y Rosas Discos)
Dead Peoples Records – Scheiße Kunst: ist tote menschen schallplatten (Self-Released)
Nat Grant & Furchick – Scrap Yard Lingerie (Dog Park)
Andrea Borghi – Sessile (Con-v)
The Shouts from the Sea – The Shouts from the Sea (Power Moves)
Phirnis / Katarrhaktes – Sleepers (Fwonk*)
Baptiste Boiron & Chris Sliver T – Soliloque (Ozky e-sound)
Brandon Cardon – Something About Tape (Deep White Sound)
Alexander Chernyshkov and Marina Poleukhina – Songs About Trees (Pan y Rosas Discos)
Jack Hertz and Jukka-Pekka Kervinen – Sonic Overload (suRRism-Phonoethics)
Robert Kroos – Sounds of Hokkaido (Green Fields Recordings)
Jazznoize – The Sounds of Power Lines (suRRism-Phonoethics)
Alejandro Remeseiro – Soundcapes from R’lyeh (Second Family)
Juan Antonio Nieto – Static (Plus Timbre)
Linear Bells – Tapology (Self-Released)
M.NOMIZED – Textures and Parasites (Hortus Conclusus Records)
Seth Cooke – Transfer, 3/1000 (Very Quiet Records)
Kecap Tuyul – Tunnel Songs (Eg0cide Productions)
Enrique Maraver – Underground Variations (Echo Music Recordings)
Aeristirvx – Untitled (8 ravens)
No Way Out – Untitled (Etched Traumas)
Olivier Dumont – Viscose (Con-v)
Pat Moonchy – Vorfeunde (Pan y Rosas Discos)
Retsevlis Sva – Warranty Certificae 8613219554 (Great Hedgehogs’ Records)
Alexei Borisov and Sergey Kostyrko – Watchdog Violation (ZeroMoon)
Neglect – Western Romance Novels (Lifelike Family)
Lezet – Whimsical (Cold Land Records)
Ogikubo Sex – 1 (Mayoware)
Memory Metal – 2 (Deep White Sound)
Martin Rach – 4 BACH/2 MF (Self-Released
Suzana’s Bauten – 8 bits de puro odio (Plataforma Records)

The photograph, 100 by duncan c, is licenced CC BY-NC.

Jeff Kolar – Doorbell

Jeff Kolar - Doorbell

The doorbell signals the arrival of someone or something, good or bad news, friend or salesperson, package or bill. Obviously the doorbell is not sentinent, but it’s sound in responded to so quickly that it seemingly takes on a life of its own: welcomed or unwelcomed. Our interpretation of this small electronic sound is now reworked by Jeff Kolar on his Doorbell release. Part of a permanent exhibition at the Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, Kolar spent two weeks exploring the sounds of the museum’s vintage Yamaha organ. Kolar then created twelve tracks of sounds which he incorportated with a reconstructed doorbell system that museum vistors can play.

Of Kolar’s three solo releases this past year, Smoke Detector, Car Alarms and, now, Doorbell, the latter is probably his most accessible work. These tracks are bursts of 20 seconds, but usuallly are not comprised of one sound, rather they are built on a duality of organ sounds that are in opposition or accord to each other. Using this constructed sonic polarity, Kolar’s work mimics the listener’s response to our own doorbells.

In social media posts, Kolar has suggested listening to Doorbell on repeated or random loops. While writing this review that’s exactly what I did, building a huge playlist of the four-minute album and then shuffling it so that some tracks repeated after each other, other sounds became familiar, and some seemed fresh or new. For the track I include with my reviews, I decided to randomly select twelve tracks and put them together as one four-minute track to illustrate what I have been listening to and, maybe, using Kolar’s guidenance, demonstrate the preferable way to experience his work.

Artist: Jeff Kolar
Album: Doorbell
Netlabel: Panospria
Release Date: December 2015
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Download mp3: zip