Free netlabel music may not have penetrated the orchestral hall, or been streamed in luxury hotels. But one purpose it has achieved– it has supplied a lot of fun music for people with open minds. For me, chiptune is a bit of an anomaly– why go back to primitive electronics, when it comes time to create songs? The resolution is lower– everything sounds gritty, and well, ’80’s– so– why?
In Rolemusic’s “Straw Field”, I believe I have found an answer to this question– sheerly for fun. There is something very entertaining about these pieces. They are not without complexity, but have absolutely no pretension.
It all reminds me of watching a friend’s young son huddled over a portable Mario game last year. My imagined question, “Why”, is met with the equally, if not more appealing response, “Why NOT”?
Are you a fan of chiptunes? Not sure what they are? Either way, definitely check this release out, it is a sheer pleasure.
This is a response to a recent article titled Speaking Free, written by my friend Dylan Orchard, on the uncertainty of the direction and focus of the netaudio scene.
In respect to order and chaos
A scene or movement is always a dynamic entity, it forms itself out of people with different backgrounds and interests that atoned to a common goal or characteristic. It doesn’t mean they’ll all play by the same rules. It definitely never implied they shall all get along and share the same visions and values.
But this is a good thing. Diversity implies a greater ability to rapidly adapt to changes. Considering how fast technology evolves and how transient the human interest in new music can be, these characteristics bode well to the indie music scene. Which explains the exponential growth the netaudio scene has had and why so many models that have been prototyped first in the netaudio scene are only now getting adopted by the mainstream artists and indie label owners tired of the old models.
I don’t see the netaudio scene as having lost focus or a common ground at all. Just an ever-increasing expansion and sustained evolution and reanalysis, which every label and artist has to do for themselves and try things out to find their soft spot.
But one thing I do entirely concur with is that there is a lack of audience reach within the netlabel scene, and that we seem to cultivate a certain underlying fetishism for the introspective underground. Which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me since we don’t even know each other all that well and probably never will, since there are so many labels and artists out there. Yet we keep focusing on releasing more of the unknown to an unknown “cyberspace” audience. Casually ignoring the lack of feedback on new releases as a personal stance holding the flag on the democratization of music releasing.
Yeah, it’s a lot easier to put a new release out there these days. But you still have to build a reputation for yourself, get a network and promote the releases if you want to get anywhere beyond your circle of friends.
Free music is free
Amidst it all we have the freeness of it all, which, rightfully noted, has different meanings to different people, and for some they even change with time, i’m sure some folks can think of a few artists and netlabels who suddenly forgot their netaudio roots in a fleeting ephiphany that they might be able to achieve more notoriety if they renounce the cult of the free.
Guess they slightly ignored how many indie labels and artists have done the exact reverse path, but that’s subject matter for a whole other series of articles.
More important then the discussion of whose version of free is the most accurate and should be scribbled down on all our guidelines of standards and rules that only a few in our scene would actually abide to; is the subject of why should members of a scene atone to a single definition to begin with? Different people release in different ways, if they still have a download for free, it’s netaudio else it’s not. Each label and artist must follow their own path of figuring out what works best for them.
There are several views on whats free, some more legal than others. Some legalities more moral than others. But people will keep making, listening, promoting and distributing music regardless of all that. Monetization is a parallel paradigm. Netaudio simply removes that issue for the listener.
Free but not netaudio
Another interesting phenomena are artists, labels with albums that despite being free for download don’t like using the term netaudio applied to them. It has a negative connotation. As if the release being announced in those channels as opposed to the authors social network would suddenly get lost in a sea of unknown authors and confused for something which might or might not be mediocre.
I think this is symptomatic for the lack of trust in quality the general audience and media still has in netaudio releases, despite lots of very good efforts against that image having been made in the past few years. And this is serious food for thought which unsurprisingly ends up influencing netaudio artists and labels to try out “the dark side” once again.
[originally written for netlabelism.com]
Out of cold Russian Siberia Muhmood was formed as an experimental music project by Alexei Biryukoff. Mixing together visual influences from dark nature and abandoned civilization into sound bridging the dark ambient, drone, doom metal, experimental and noise.
Muhmood music is inspired by the foggy mornings in the forests and swamps, by the blasts of the wind blowing heated sand in the deserts, by the sound of cranky engines in the factories and roaring electricity in the huge power lines. Sound is like emotion, it ranges from rage and sorrow to love and joy, i am not here to impress you with some concept or exquisite musical terms, i hardly know why i am doing this – i just follow my instincts and enjoy myself making this noise…
We have two releases of Muhmood available free for download at Enough Records.
Muhmood – Tamara and Demon [enrmp174] – Cinematic dark ambient soundtrack of the 3D cartoon created By Nikolay Aladinskiy and Petr Bobryshev – St. Petersburg, Russia.
Виктор Iванiв & Muhmood – Rùt [enrmp216] – An EP collaboration with Виктор Iванiв (Victor Ivaniv) a futurist poet. They met in November 2007 when Victor came to Barnaul with a presentation of his book “A Glass Man and the Green Record”. At that time they decided to try to do 2 or 3 tracks to see what would come out. By June 2009 the four tracks EP is done. They continue to work on a long playing album that will include Victor’s poems and prose.
One outstanding feature about Adamned Age is that her brand of IDM/jazz/ambience has inspired both people I agree with and people I don’t. What I mean to say is, there is something transcendent about Hanne Adam’s musical project. And of all the many acts I have heard online, she is perhaps the most worthy of some kind of professional recognition.
“Fragile”, released on the excellent Camomille Netlabel, takes some familiar sounds and extends them nicely. Synth bells, glitchey sounds, washes, and other elements are familiar to fans of Adamned Age. But in this release, the composition sends the sounds into a spacier realm, where tension is manifested and released, and where swirls of sound relate magically to one another in ways that are pleasing to the ear. I often found myself, while listening, thinking, “Did THAT work? Yes, it DID!”.
Where some artists have resorted to cheap tricks or machismo, Hanne Adam contrinues to sketch her portrait in the world of music with painstaking detail. She is a worthy artist, and one who unites critics, until all or nearly all agree that she has achieved something noteworthy with her work. Listen or download now:
‘To push into other audiences.’
Know your enemy
In the final part of the Enough Records Manifesto series I’m pushing into what, to some, is the most contentious point of them all – ‘to push into other audiences’. As a general rule this one should garner fairly obvious approval – no one, no matter how in love with the intricacies and eccentricities of tiny hobbyist corners would deny at least some desire to spread the word of good music to ever more people and on that level this part of the manifesto doesn’t bear up to much scrutiny. That said though there are arguments brewing around it, not because more people listening can ever be considered a bad thing but because the source of those new listeners can always draw a line between two major schools of thought within the free music movement.
On the one hand you have those who look at the scene and, finding it to be a very good one, want it to exist in isolation from the rest of the cultural world – not isolated from new input and influences but very definitely not attempting to usurp existing models, the most notable of which is the commercial mainstream. For those in this camp the main message seems to be that what we’re doing is good, undeniably so, so why frame it in any relation to the opposition? Why even call the mainstream model ‘opposition’ in the first place when their existence and ours are so obviously juxtaposed? Even if business led systems garner more listeners and more influence in most peoples cultural lives our mere presense as an alternative, albeit an understated one, proves that there are other ways and that, vastly succesful or not, those other ways are always valid in their isolation. It’s an approach which I can understand and it’s certainly the more comfortable option as far as most aspects of what we do goes; it allows us to negate the demands of competition and focus solely on the music without worrying about the wider context it takes within society. We don’t have to proselytize, promote or compare ourselves to the work being pumped out by those whose main motivation is profit and through that we don’t have to compromise an inch in search of wider acceptance. That most people beyond our still very insular world will never hear much of the music which we love is a side note, in time those who want to hear something new will, perhaps, come across it on their own or by the actions of a self-sustaining movement without our having to move into enemy territory to spread the word. And it’s a belief which will always hold sway within the movement because, as ever, no one ideology can dictate the progress of such an incredibly diverse community of musicians, listeners, writers and miscellanious others. But – and there’s always a but – there’s at least one other school of thought working away on the issue. And it’s the school that I belong to. Read more…
‘To push into other models.’
There are half a dozen different ways to look at today’s point from the Enough Records Manifesto, whether you head in the direction of expanding netaudio into other structures and models of distribution, sharing and community; to create new sound structures under the aegis of absolute freedom offered by the basic concepts of what we do or, as I myself am probably most enthusiastic about, taking the free model that we’ve created and extending it beyond the boundaries of music and into, well, anything and everything.
It’s easy to see why music stands at the forefront of the free and open culture movements – after all the technology which makes these new structures viable is the same technology which has opened up the creative process to a vast swathe of people who, previously, faced the choice of either investing endless amounts of money into the equipment and training required to put together even the most rudimentary of sounds or accepting the limitations of traditional instrumentalism, learning to use one tool at a time and, more often than not, defining your musical evolution by that initial path. The latter of course still applies as even the technology we have today can’t offer absolute mastery over sound even if it makes the process of learning vastly more egalitarian and open. At any rate, the musical revolution of home producing hit just at the right time to make this vast scene of ours an inevitability – a sense of timing which hasn’t extended to other arts for whom digital mediums, especially in their free or open form, remain something of an odd fit. Read more…