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

Introduction to Experimental Netlabels

Introduction to Experimental Netlabels

Before I start, I need to write the perfunctaroy statement that musicians have the right to make music a financial art. Others choose not to have money taint their art. I side with the latter.

Simply, netlabels are music labels are an avenue for musicians to legally give their music away for free. This strange distribution system, where no money changes hands, was born out of frustration with the corrupt recording industry, “the demo scene, tape labels and in the DIY movement of the 1980s.”* In the free music scene, many musicians and netlabels have been using Creative Commons licensing in the distribution of their music. Creative Commons (or CC) provides copyright licensing that allows artists and the public to share works (words, music, photos, etc.) based upon conditions chosen by the artist: attribution, allow or disallow commercial use, and allow or disallow the remixing of the work.

For me, netlabels are friends that recommend music. They are the radio station DJ, the record store clerk and the music reviewer all wrapped up into one. They are not some big conglomerate pushing music out to the massess nor are they the small conceirge label that only releases music that they can sell. Netlabels release only music they like. There is no need for profit or breaking even. As a matter of fact, netlabels are a loss leader, usually in time spent and a few dollars here and there for websites and internet access.

Here are a list of a few experimental netlabels that release free works (hopefully, under CC licensing) and quite active at this time. Some of these netlabels are multi-genre, but they have a strong focus on experimental work. This is nowhere near a complete list, rather just a a starting point. For a much longer list, check out my netlabel list. Apologies to anyone that thought their netlabel list should be on this brief post and did not appear on it.

Buddhist on Fire
Buddhist on Fire: Run by John Tocher, Buddhist on Fire might be considered more of a dark ambient label, but there are always some experimental gems nestled in there. Tocher, who also does a podcast called Sadayatana, has run Buddhist on Fire since late 2011 out of Texas.

Control Valve
Control Valve: Run by Robert H. Smith aka Chefkirk aka _whALe_ pLAtE_, Control Valve puts out some fucked-up experimental music. Smith has been running Control Valve since January 2011, but before that he ran TiBProd, another netlabel, 2003 to 2009. Control Valve doesn’t care so much about copyright, but the music they release make my dogs howl.

Deep White Sound
Deep White Sound: Run by DB Amorin, Deep White Sound is part experimental music and part audio visual and all avant-garde. The netlabel is out of Portland, Oregon and has been at it since 2005. Each quarter or so, Deep White Sound drops a batch of releases, some sound, some visual, always interesting.

DMT Records
DMT Records: Run by Vito for the last year or so, DMT Records is an off-shoot of DMT Tapes FL. Though some in both genres might not consider vaporwave experimental, I do. If you haven’t listened to vaporwave this is a fine place to start.

Eg0cide Productions
Eg0cide Productions: Run by The Ghost Between Strings, Eg0cide, a French netlbel, has been in production since 2007. Most of the releases on Eg0cide are licensed under the derivative Creative Commons which allows other artists to remix the work.

Enough Records
Enough Records: Goodness, Enough Records seems to be the grandaddy of them all as it was founded in 2001 by ps, Fred, and H4rv3st. Since 2003, ps has been doing this on his own and releasing some incredible work over the years. Enough Records is out of Portugal.

Etched Traumas
Etched Traumas: Run by Joseph Ba out of Athens, Greece, Etched Traumas is a multi-genre netlabel since 2009.

Fwonk*: Run by Gordon Chapman-Fox aka Heskin Radiophonic, Fwonk* is a multi-genre netlabel since 2008. Fwonk* is out of England.

Haze: Run by Dzmitry Ladzes, aka Aortha, Haze has been releasing experimental works roughly once per week since mid-2007. All the releases are licensed under CC that allows remixing. Haze is out of Belarus.

Linear Obsessional
Linear Obsessional: Run by Richard Sanderson, Linear Obsessioal has been relasing experimental and improvisational music since early 2012. All the releases are licensed under CC that allows remixing. Linear Obsessional is out of England.

Mahorka: Run by Ivo Plamenov Petrov, Mahorka has been releasing experimental music since 2004. All the releases are licensed under CC that allows remixing. Mahorka is out of Bulgaria.

Pan y Rosas Discos
Pan y Rosas Discos: Run by Keith Helt, Pan y Rosas Discos has been releasing experimental and improvisational music since 2009. Pan y Rosas Discos is out of Chicago.

Panospria: Run by Constantine Katsiris, aka Scant Intone, Panospria has been released experimental music since 2004. Katsiris also has been releasing music on No Type since 1998, making it older than Enough Records. Panospria is out of Canada.

Petroglyph Music
Petroglyph Music: Run by Rune Martinsen and Øystein Jørgensen, Petroglyphic Music have released over 400 releases since 2012. Petroglyph Music is out of Norway.

Plataforma Records
Plataforma Records: Run by Max Chami, Plataforma Records has been releasing experimental music since 2013. Plataforma Records is out of Brazil.

Plus Timbre
Plus Timbre: Run by Chris Silver T, Plus Timbre is relatively new to the scene, though Christ Silver T is not. Plus Timbre, out of Athens, Greece, has been releasing music since late 2014.

Power Moves
Power Moves: Run by Kevin Cahill, Power Moves is an experimental cassette label that also releases its works under Creative Commons licensing. Power Moves is out of Canada.

Signals from Arkaim
Signals from Arkhaim: Run by Jan Faix, aka Count Portmon, Signals from Arkaim has been releasing experimental music since late 2012. Signals from Arkaim is out of the Czech Republic.

suRRism-Phonoethics: Run by Jaan Patterson, suRRism-Phonoethics has been releasing experimental music since 2010. suRRism-Phonoethics is out of Germany.

Tape-Safe: Run by Lorsen, aka Slo-Blo, and Rafael González, Tape-Safe has been releasing experimental music since 2012. Tape-Safe is out of Belgium.

Welcome Beauty Sounds
Welcome Beauty Sounds: Another vaporwave netlabel though much is not know about it. Welcome Beauty Sounds might be run by a guy named Rob and it’s probably from somewhere in the States.

* Netlabels and demoratization of the recording industry by Patryk Galuszka

The photograph, Steampunk gear, looking, is by Curious Expeditions and is licensed CC BY-NC.

Atlanteans – Cluster

Atlanteans - Cluster

From Hollywood North, the Canadian duo Atlanteans have released their second album Cluster on the netlabel Panospria, which happens to be a compatriot of theirs in Vancouver. Atlaneans is comprised John Brennan on drums and percussion and Bryce Janssens on saxophone, guitar, and synthesizer.

Cluster opens with “A Rude and Undigested Mass”. No track on the album features any particular member of Atlaneans, rather each track allows Brennan and Janssens to explore their instrument in the context of improvised jazz. “A Rude and Undigested Mass” begins with Brennan’s call on drums, his cadence out on his own, the rhythms gloriously chaotic. A minute into the track, Janssens enters into the fray with is saxophone. Not only is he going to be wandering around with his instrument, he’ll also be laying down loops to add some depth to the sound.

The middle track, “Heredity”, is also the longest track. No doubt that “Heredity” is the most subdued track of Atlanteans’ Cluster. If you are not a fan of free jazz, this track might be the one for you and touches on the ambient/drone genre. The track hangs round like the fog of a wet harbor drawing curtains of sound and space. It’s an extraordinarily lovely work.

The last track, “Grub” blisters and catches a hold of you as it builds a wall drums, saxophones, and other sounds. The Atlanteans might be able to chill the best of them with “Heredity”, but it is these tracks, “Grub” and “A Rude and Undigested Mass” that attract me with their wonderful chaos and ambiguity.

Artist: Atlanteans
Title: Cluster
Netlabel: Panospria
Release Date: April 2015
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Download mp3: zip

Dalot – Levelling

Dalot - Levelling

Dalot is one of the many expressions of sound for Maria Papadomanolaki. She has a comprehensive list of recording work whether as Dalot or as part of Kasetina or squetti. But Papadomanolaki is not limited only to recordings, she’s done work in radio, text, sound installations, etc. She’s recently released an episode on Radius. Dalot’s Levelling on the netlabel Panospria is her first foray into the Creative Commons netlabel scene. (Point of order: she has a track on one of the Sequence compilations.)

Levelling is an artistic exploration of a new instrument and is broken up into four improvised tracks, each having a different texture than the others. The first track opens with deep bass tones which slowly greet other accents. The liner notes say that the album is a “balancing between intuitive and attentive creative tendencies” and in the first track, even though there is a nomadic feel , the different sounds are supportive of each other.

The second track is the longest of all at 13:30. Though improvised drone recordings can sometimes be very difficult as musicians have a tendency to drag them out for much longer than they should, Dalot skillfully doesn’t fall into this trap. Each musical interlude of this extended track concisely delves into the electronic voices that Dalot is exploring. Given the breadth of “Levelling 2”, it should come as no surprise that that this track travels more thoroughly through the electronic musical spectrum, each phase though divergent are quite reciprocal working off of each other.

It is important to note that Levelling is much more than a drone album, especially if one only thinks of drone music as sustained or drawn out note clusters. That said, the third track is the most dronish of all. Instead of building up a wall of sound, “Levelling 3” takes on a more minimalistic and more successful approach to exploring drones.

The fourth and final track opens in the most electronica fashion. There has been glimpses of this musical genre throughout, yet “Levelling 4” is the most unapologetic of all the tracks in grasping it and extracting all the fades and reverb to a searing conclusion.

As I mentioned early, Levelling is Papadomanolaki’s first release in the Creative Commons music scene. Hopefully, this won’t be the last we see of Dalot’s music here.

Artist: Dalot
Title: Levelling
Netlabel: Panospria
Released Date: February 2015
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Download mp3: zip

Hit Any Key

I’ve been trying to write a review for the past week or so about a new Creative Commons album, but no matter how hard I tried the words weren’t coming out. And then I released that the reason why I couldn’t write the review − the album didn’t inspire me. So I trashed that attempted review and I am moving on to an album that does excite − Jeff Kolar’s Start Up/Shut Down on the netlabel Panospria.

Lately I’ve been enamoured with literal computer music, that is music generated from computer sounds and noises such as Valentina Vuksic’s Tripping Through Runtime (Zeromoon) (review) or Gregrory Chatonsky’s podcast on Radius. Kolar’s two pieces focus on the bootup and shutdown processes of computing through various OS’s — Windows (3.1, 4.0, NT, 95, 98, Me, XP, Vista, 7, 8) and Macintosh OS (10.0 Cheetah, 10.1 Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther). From my reading of the liner notes, Kolar takes the manipulate the sounds while  keeping them in real time to bring together two five-minute tracks of these processes. Not only is it interesting work, it’s beautiful as well.

[mp3j flip=”y” track=”Jeff Kolar’s “Shut Down”@”]

Freedom in Ascension

Amy Horvey, Isak Goldschneider & Jeff Morton - Mille Bayous

One of the things that immediately intrigued me about the live experimental work, Mille Bayous, by Isak Goldschneider, Amy Horvey and Jeff Morton was that it is broken up into several distinct tracks, instead of the one long track as usually done with work of this kind. Performed live at Moose Mountain Pottery in Saskatchewan (Canada), Mille Bayous is an improvised work that the liner notes say “references free jazz traditions and mistakes, contemporary/experimental composition, and other modes of improvised and found music to create an actuelle-folk-electroacoustic sound.”

The first two tracks, “Introduction: Creole Rhizome” (mp3) and “Scary Forest” (mp3) , greet the listener with their drones, twisted horns and other effects in a somewhat comforting way. It would be folly to call out any of these musicians for any particular work on Mille Bayous as they all move from instrument to instrument, though I am greatly interested in what is referred to in the liner notes as a magnet-motor guitar. The album moves along peacefully until “Bop Hunters” (mp3) which streatches ones imagination of what music is with its radial saw-like pronouncements.

After several listens to Mille Bayous, one comes away with three artists working in a very jazz-like structure as they walk along their own path, yet working toward one complete thing. Last year, I reviewed Jeff Morton’s work with Kirk McNally, And the Daily Life (Panospria), which was one of my favorite experimental albums of last year. It wouldn’t surprise me that this Morton collaboration will be one of my favorites at the end of this year.