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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 11th May 2015 at 10:00 am
The music industry has faced a continuous barrage of blips, bumps and bruises, from the richy rich artists like Taylor Swift pulling back catalogues from Spotify because they don’t need the money and don’t mind screwing the fans, to Jay-Z’s setup of the polarising Tidal stream service that now appears to be floundering and trying its best to keep its head above water. The latest development will be specifically of interest to electronic music fans, and the move seems completely and utterly unselfish and is A Nice Thing after the general election.
Electronic visionary Richard D. James, better known by and going down in musical history by his stage name Aphex Twin, along with other Sony artists, removed all his tracks from his SoundCloud; the Guardian has reported that this is probably related to the streaming service’s problems with monetization. Whatever or however this has happened, James has turned around and decided to offer up this ZIP file of over 200 tracks and demos for free download. This Google Doc provides the track listing. Happy hunting and listening!
Editor’s note: This commentary by Martin is the first in a series by the writers of TGTF in response to the horrific and heartwrenching loss of thousands upon thousands of physical pieces of music by fire in the London riots earlier this week. This article by the Guardian provides a comprehensive list of the independent record labels affected by the SONYDADC warehouse fire, as well as current releases that already have known physical stocking problems including Arctic Monkeys‘ new 7″ single ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ (from the band’s recent album release, Suck It and See’ [review by Skint and Demoralised‘s Matt Abbott here]) and Charlie Simpson’s debut album ‘Young Pilgrim’ to be released on Monday (reviewed by John on Monday). You can still purchase digital downloads, and we wholeheartedly encourage you to support your favourite indie labels by giving your support, however many quid you can afford to part with. And with that, I’ll let Martin take it from here…
For those not living in London, limited to experiencing the shocking riots through the familiar, two-dimensional 24-hour rolling TV news prism, events can seem distant, remote, almost virtual. Our eyes are desensitised through countless dramatisations of fire, explosions and death on film that they cannot distinguish the real thing when they see it. It takes an element of the personal to break through the fourth wall and generate real empathy. Those of us with family members in London will already have felt this through emotionally-charged, first-hand accounts of the destructive rage of the paradoxically consumonihilist rioters. Their inchoate actions have very little to say about current politics, and are far too extreme to be a reaction against a few less pennies in the welfare pot. This is the stench of entitlement culture, of spoiled children and ignorant parents destroying what others have built; they have never achieved anything themselves and therefore are unaware of the value of things.
However, there is a silver lining: these people are identifying themselves. Their selfish worldview is laid bare, as are the lengths to which they will go to in its cause. They cannot now be ignored, and those who previously denied their existence are forced to discard their blinkers. For those music fans without any other connection with the capital, the news that the PIAS warehouse was torched in the melee, destroying vast quantities of media, provides that personal connection, that emotional reaction of disbelief and loss that is required to understand the extent of the destruction. The PIAS distribution list is a roll call of the finest independent labels in the country – imagining the excellence in the music which has gone up in smoke, and the effort required to produce it, is enough to bring a tear to the eye.
Good people must fight back. Those in London can give the rioters a literal bloody nose or knock a few teeth out. But those that must watch from afar can do something to offset the loss some of our favourite labels have experienced – buy a few quids’ worth of MP3s from the labels who have lost so much potential income overnight. Given the variety of PIAS’ clients, there are thousands of tracks to choose from: there literally is something for everyone. But in case the last few days’ events have suppressed your mojo, permit me to suggest 10 apposite tracks from the labels concerned. Buy these, buy something else, but please buy something. It’s a small gesture that says, “creativity will always beat destruction. It just doesn’t look that way all the time.”
Tune-Yards – ‘Gangsta’ (Beggars Banquet / 4AD) – buy it from iTunes here
Anna Calvi – ‘Blackout’ (Domino) – buy it from Domino Records here | read single review here
The Lords of Altamont – ‘Let’s Burn’ (Fargo)
Theoretical Girl – ‘Red Mist’ (Memphis Industries) – buy it from Memphis Industries here
Dan Sartain – ‘Bad Things Will Happen’ (One Little Indian) – buy it from iTunes here
The Besnard Lakes – ‘And This is What We Call Progress’ (Jagjaguwar) – buy it from Jagjaguwar here
Mr Oizo – ‘Monday Massacre’ (F Com) – buy it from iTunes here
Maps – ‘Everything is Shattering’ (Mute) – buy it from iTunes here
Stateless – ‘I’m on Fire’ (Ninja Tune) – buy it from Ninja Tune here
Aphex Twin – ‘Windowlicker’ (Warp) – buy it from Warp Records here
I’m not going to lie to you – my music tastes are pretty mainstream, sometimes a bit off-kilter, but generally I don’t go too much to the extremes of any genre. Most experimental electronic music has long been off my radar, with me thinking it was largely unlistenable blips, clicks and thumps with little melody made by bearded middle aged men. However, tonight in the first of a two part documentary, Radio 1’s Dev receives an education in the history of the genre and tries to make his own track in an attempt to get Mary Anne Hobbs to play it on her cutting-edge show.
Many of the names mentioned in the show were familiar to me (Autechre, Aphex Twin (pictured at top) etc), but I couldn’t tell you anything about them or their music, so the hour long show is a great overview of the whole scene, both historically and at the moment. I was surprised at just how much of the stuff played I liked, and Dev’s easy going daytime ways made it all easy to digest. Understandably, some of you will hate that a massive scene is being turned into a one-hour overview, but for the casual listener it’s a great start.
Some of the music (towards the end of the documentary form Wrong Music) is rather, erm, “different” (okay, an all-out assault on my ears) and not what I would choose to listen to at all, but like all genres, there’s stuff you like and stuff you’re not so keen on. Some of you will love it no doubt.
The underpinning theme to the show is Dev’s challenge to make a track decent enough for Mary Anne Hobbs to play on her show – in just two weeks. US artist Starkey did it a few weeks ago on Mary Anne’s show when he made a track it in just two hours, but he’s had years of practice so Dev had to learn quickly about what makes a good experimental electronic track.
Next Monday, Dev explores the live experimental music scene – going to large festivals ATP and Bloc, and smaller more underground nights around the UK. If you’re adventurous in your music tastes, but not sure where to start, you certainly could do a lot worse than checking out this documentary.
You can catch Radio 1’s Art of Noise tonight at 9pm, or on the iPlayer after the show has finished.