Albert E. Trapezoid

 

NETLABELS

For this page of my site I’ll cast my fishing net wide across the vast ocean that is the internet and see what I catch (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say what catches my ear). I’ll share the keepers with you here. And...I’m out of fishing reference...wait, I need to work "hook" into this...but anyway…

I love netlabels for many reasons, but primarily because they involve people being creative and sharing their music. Some are small, while others have scores of musicians on their site. Some post new music only on rare occasions, while others frequently update. And yes, they sometimes appear and then disappear. The music is usually free (sometimes donations are accepted) and sharing is encouraged. Explore and enjoy!

nobodisoundz

What: “Isolation” by nobodisounds

Netlabel : Etched Traumas

Nobodisoundz, from France, presents us with “Isolation.” That title may make you think of sadness, being singled out, or perhaps loneliness. After listening to this EP (released in July 2014), I’m going to add creepy and paranoid to my list. This is some good stuff, and the experience is especially enhanced if you pull out the headphones for a close listen. Just don’t listen alone in the dark.

The title of the first track, “apparition from woods,” provides the first clue as to what you are in for. These five songs are full of lots of sounds, including weird electronic noises, mysterious and indecipherable voices, and mostly subtle guitar distortion. You can try to pick out individual elements (a guitar picked below the bridge here, sounds from a television there), but it’s the overall mix that makes this so intriguing. Each track is packed with muddled and murky sounds.  It’s a dense soundtrack to an unmade horror film.

I particularly liked the last two tracks. Despite its name, “wind movements” actually sounds like some sort of troubled hospital setting, with whispered sinister vocals and off-kilter medical machinery. Final track “abstract bird tension” is full of chirping birds and distorted guitar (the most aggressive guitar on any of the tracks). I’m not sure what’s going on…but I’m worried about those poor birds.

Etched Traumas is a label out of Athens, Greece. They list numerous types of music they focus on including noise, electro , and experimental . But even better they say: “Our model is sound so let’s go down and burn the road. Leave your etched traumas behind.”

Flooba

What: “Crepuscular Borders” by Flooba

Netlabel: batenim netlabel

Last week I posted a story about an artist on the Nostress Netlabel. Afterwards, Nostress reached out to me to let me know they have another label called “batenim” which they described as “a small netlabel for artists interested only in digital publications of album...no live events or performances offered.” Of course I checked it out. I’m so happy they clued me in because it led me to their latest release by Flooba.

Flooba (actually, Adriano Sorbello) is an electronic ambient musician based in Bologna, Italy. I’d describe his album “Crepuscular Borders” as uneasy ambient. It’s filled with natural sounds (some treated) along with pleasant instrumentation, but there are also elements throughout that are slightly abrasive or aggressive. It’s a nice juxtaposition.

The track “Private Departures” is a perfect example of this mix. Beautiful bell-like keyboard notes are tapped out slowly and mixed with treated background noise of city streets? Airports? I’m not sure what the sounds are but it’s a bit of an unsettling combination. “Bells of the Riot” is another good one; it sounds like an outdoor metal wind chime being pushed around by the wind as birds are singing, until some sort of machinery asserts itself. Then, half way through, a subtle but persistent electronic rhythm pattern emerges to drive everything along to the song’s conclusion.

The last song is “Quiet Days in a Domestic Context.” It features slow metallic synth washes and notes combined with what mostly sounds like wind through the trees, with perhaps some water mixed in. Electronic sounds dominate while water/wind ebbs and flows throughout this long, slow piece. It may be the calmest track in some ways, but still has an edge. The wind really picks up at the end and takes us out. Is a storm coming, or just the calm after?

This netlabel focuses on “meditative, relaxing, dreamy ambient music; soundscape for indefinite and abstract places. Organic, ethereal, and mind altering… where the expressive power lies in the ability to create surreal atmospheres.” batenim, by the way, is an anagram of the word ambient. And who doesn’t like a good anagram? Ambient pioneer Brian Eno does (“King’s Lead Hat,” anyone?). Just sign me “Bat Leer Opera Ditz.”

Andrey Kireyev

What: “Le quattro stagioni versione drone” by Andrey Kireyev

Netlabel: Nostress Netlabel  

Translated to English, the title of this one is “The four seasons drone version.” Maybe a tribute to, or perhaps inspired by, the original “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi. But be forewarned - this ain’t your parents Vivaldi.

Russian artist Andrey Kireyev presents us with four 16-minute tracks, each named after one of the seasons. It’s full of drones (big surprise, right?) and either electronically treated natural sounds or electronic facsimiles of nature. It does a great job of acoustically representing each season.  “La Primavera (Spring),” for example, welcomes us with chirping bird sounds before some drones are added to the mix. The sound of children playing enters about half way through, completing the scene. There is a very nice lightness to the sounds on this track. On the other hand, “L'Inverno (Winter)” is ushered in with a cold wind and more harsh drone sounds. The sounds of dead leaves blowing and crunching snow also make appearances; I got cold just listening to it.

Overall this is a nice concept that is very nicely executed.  It’s tasteful from the cover art down to the last note of music.

This piece was released in June, 2014 on the Nostress Netlabel out of Palermo, Italy. Since 2011 they have released albums under a number of genres (Psychedelic, Post Rock, Avant-garde, Electronic and Electroacoustic). They also offer some limited edition CD and vinyl of some of their releases, also periodically offers opportunities for artists to play live.

Becuz

What: “Epilog” by Becuz

Netlabel: KANAL30 Netlabel

I believe I may have stumbled on to Indonesia’s answer to one of America’s alt-rock icons. This July, 2014 album from Becuz is full of odd tunings, distorted guitars, and epic tracks. It grabbed me right from the opening notes.

“Ambigu” (“Ambiguous”) starts strong with a loud flanged guitar intro, which leads to spoken word verses and wordlessly sung choruses. Listening to new music I find I’m always playing the “What does this remind me of?” game. By half way through track 2 (“Sudut Diam” or translated as “Silent Corner”) I had decided Becuz sounded like PJ Harvey (you know, if she was Indonesian) backed by Fugazi.

However, the third song “Difusi” (“Diffusion”) starts off sounding like Sonic Youth, albeit with some unexpected melodica. The bulk of this track, and the rest of the songs beyond this point, moves into a more obvious SY vibe. Eventually it occurred to me that this band is likely named after the Sonic Youth song of the same name. They have learned well the skills of what must be their main musical influence.

I’m at a bit of a disadvantage with the language barrier, but the band Twitter account (@becuz_noise) seems to indicate they have five members (each of whom has his/her own linked Twitter accounts), but that’s about all I can tell you. This music piqued my interest on first listen – great production, great playing, and great songs. Great job Becuz.

KANAL30 Netlabel is based in Malang, Indonesia, and is run by Eko Marjani. It looks like they started releasing music in 2013. I’ll be keeping an eye on this site for sure.

DAVR

What: “Monsters Vol. 1” by KDAVR

Netlabel: GodHatesGodRecords

Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium’s own KDAVR brings us a bit of a multimedia project with “Monsters Vol. 1.” You get some great music along with supporting original artwork. GodHatesGodRecords, his label, calls him “a weird guy who makes electronic sounds unkind” who also makes “monstrous drawings to illustrate.”

So this presentation, in sight and sound, indeed could be the soundtrack to a nightmare. You get the instrumental music which, for me, sounds like it could be a good Nine Inch Nails album. Strong beats, industrial noises, crunchy rhythms, sinister overtones…it’s got it all. The tracks are somewhat impersonally named (“Monster #01”, “Monster #02”, etc.), but they reveal their personalities with repeated listens.

But apparently the music is not enough for KDAVR. Hop on over to his site and he’s got illustrations to go along with each track or, as he calls them, “the top 10 monsters gathered.”

The GHG netlabel is also located in Belgium and they call themselves an “Eclectronic Netlabel.” Note for people who read too fast - that’s a mashup of “eclectic” and “electronic,” a good combination for sure.

Herr Doktor

What: “199X” by Herr Doktor

Netlabel: Enough Records

I can only guess, but Herr Doktor seems to be a man out of time. And the time he is out of would clearly be the 1980’s if this eight song EP is any evidence. Even its cover conjures up that very eighties TV series Miami Vice.

But, oh man…if you really want to get your 80’s on this is the way to do it. These songs (all instrumental except for one very brief vocal sample on “Interlude”) definitely take you back. This sounds like it could be a decades lost soundtrack; this is synthwave at its finest, from the packaging and the track list, right down to the music. Included in the mix is a cover version of College’s “Can You Kiss Me First” which is more intense, and arguably better, than the original.

Herr Doktor is Renan Alves out of Coimbra , Portugal, and conveniently Enough Records is located in the same place. Enough is a netlabel that has been active since 2001, and when I say active I mean there is a lot of music available on their site. They say they release “laidback electronica, indie, idm, 8bit, industrial, harsh electro, dark ambient, post-rock, noise, and more.”

Now where did I put those Nagel prints?

Pirata

What: “Desde otra perspectiva” by Pirata

Netlabel: Tropic Netlabel

Chilean musician Antonio Díaz is Pirata, and gifts us this five track album through the Tropic Netlabel. When you think of the beaches in Chile where Antonio lives, and hear the word “tropic,” your mind naturally goes to… Frankfurt, Germany. Well, at least it will now, as that’s where Tropic Netlabel is located.

 

Tropic has been serving up free electronic music since 2005. They say they are open minded and “no matter if it’s House, Electronica, Ambient or Techno, it has to be special with a warm feeling.” Pirata certainly fits that bill.

Opening tracks “Mata cola” and “Perdido en el espacio” bring to mind late-period Cabaret Voltaire (circa “The Conversation”), with their overall cool vibe but with also some slightly unnerving underpinnings of elusive vocal samples and sounds.

My favorite track (“Tropico”) is also the longest, although at over eleven minutes it doesn’t seem long enough…I wish it would just go on and on.  It initially sounds like a cross between Kraftwerk’s “Tour de France” and early Depeche Mode, but evolves into its own great groove.

“Luciernaga” is the final song here. It starts with sort of an echoed industrial noise and builds electronic sound layers up one-by-one until, half way through, it strips back suddenly.  A very processed and manipulated vocal sample then joins the mix, while the second half of the song weaves different sounds in and out. It’s an upbeat track to round out this release.

DERTHXY

What: LHD EP by DERTHXY

Netlabel: Bump Foot

Japanese musician DERTHXY presents us with a great three song EP of techno-based music with some extra spices.

Track one is called “Oon” and sounds to me almost like it’s trying to be an electronic version of heavy metal. I’d more completely describe it as the genre “techno-metal-film noir soundtrack.” Is that a thing? Next up is “LHD MMXIV.” Again techno at its base but driven by a heavier, darker sound with a two syllable voice sample repeating throughout. The final song is called “Tunes” and is more electronic and beat focused, but with a buzzing keyboard appearing often, almost following a sine wave pattern. All in all some mind blowing LHD.

Bump Foot is a netlabel run by Tatsu Suzuki who, like DERTHXY, is also from Japan. The label has been a going concern since 2005 and has hundreds of releases to hunt through. They have what they call their “bump side” which consists of techno and house music related items, and the “foot side” which consists of ambient, IDM, or I guess whatever doesn’t fit on the bump side. Let’s not take sides though, let’s just bump and foot.

Studio Noir

What: “Sunset Boulevard” by Studio Noir

Netlabel: Nulogic Netlabel

This January, 2014 release is a really interesting concept that succeeds in its execution with very cool musical results. Studio Noir (New York City musician Eddie Palmer) presents a musical vision of Hollywood behind the façade.

Even that cover helps present the concept – some old-time visions of LA mixed with the famous (but here, decaying and shaken) Hollywood sign. Eddie uses samples from 1920’s era jazz tunes (with scratchy record static and all), creates loops and adds some electronic touches to create a melancholy group of tracks named after early 20th century actresses who met with pretty sad ends.

Each of the 16 tracks (mostly running about 2 minutes) simply carries the name of one female star of yesteryear. It’s difficult to separate the concept from the music, but overall it creates a somewhat somber mood even without the back story. If you want the full sadness effect, look up the stories of these women as you listen…but you may want to keep some tissues nearby.

Nulogic Netlabel is based in London and you can conveniently read each page of their site in English or Spanish with the click of a flag. They say they are “open to all projects. Innovation, risk, amusement and passion. A meeting point for creators and tasters of sonorous textures.” It looks like they took a bit of a break in 2012, but have had a fairly regular release schedule since. Keep ’em coming, Nulogic.

Swagman Didgeridoo

What: “Magic Tree” by Swagman Didgeridoo

Netlabel: Free Range Beats

This EP was released over a year ago (December 2012) but it’s a recent discovery to me so I’m declaring it new. (I’m allowed to do that, right?) The five songs on “Magic Tree” feature didgeridoo, which I’ve always liked; it is used here by the Swagman in several interesting musical flavors.

The first track “Healer” is a stand out, but is also somewhat out of character compared to rest; it’s sort of funky in a way:

 

The remaining tracks are of varied style but tend to be a bit mellower than the first. The title track and “Mist” are almost ambient drone, with the didgeridoo and nature sounds mixed with both electronic elements and acoustic instruments. “Autumn Day” has a strong Chinese feel to it with plucked strings and flute, while closing song “End of Time” is the most experimental and sinister sounding of the bunch. It features a horror movie piano line mixed with murky and distorted voice samples. It’s nice hearing the didgeridoo in such a mixed bag of musical styles.

Free Range Beats was founded in 2009 and they say: “Our philosophy is to encourage experimentation over outright imitation.” I would say they are genre-neutral. The label has been fairly quiet over the last year while they transition to a more self-controlled platform, but they promise more music will be coming…here’s hoping it’s soon.

Chip Folk

What: “Chip Folk” by various artists

Netlabel: 56KBPS Records

56KBPS is a netlabel from Mexico, promoting chiptunes (that is, music made with sound chips from old computers and game consoles). I previously wrote about chiptunes in a reggae context (hello Natty Droid!) but this compilation offers something a different.

“Chip Folk” offers eleven tracks of Mexican folk songs and rhythms while still adhering to the familiar chiptune characteristics and sounds. The motivation, as described by the label, is "the need of returning to oneself’s roots…” Fans of Mexican music will find a lot familiar tunes here, but many offer unique twists from the individual artists. Some songs are more straight-ahead version, while others more generally hint at their source material.

The netlabel is run by artists Atoms or Faeries and Chema64, both of whom have tracks here. In fact, Atoms or Faeries has two and both are standout upbeat tracks - “Adoración al Sol” and “Xochipitzahuatl.” The rest of the songs cover a range of interpretations; you get everything from Anwar Sánchez’s “Guadalajara,” a very familiar song and excellent example of applying sound chips to this album’s concept, to “La Cumbia de Pustulio” by Eme7h, which is virtually techno with an industrial edge.

While this album was released in November 2013, 56KBPS started in 2009. You can listen to all the label music for free, but can also buy a limited edition cd of some of the releases for very reasonable prices. With my limited Spanish I’ll close with a “muy bueno” for their efforts and a “¡Viva cincuenta y seis!”

Dub Machine

What: “Orient Illusion” by Dub Machine

Netlabel: Fresh Poulp Records

Dub Machine is actually one man - Tunisian Ilyess Mahfoudhi. Based on the musical evidence he presents here, it sounds like a night in Tunisia might be filled with dub and dubstep.

This five-track record is all built around electronic based instrumentation. It’s full of fantastic sounds and each song here has its own definite personality. Opening track “Darwish” starts with a slower dub groove and a spoken word sample (possibly of poet Mahmoud Darwish?) but then explodes about a minute in. The track “Ragragui” samples what sounds like a call to prayer, but the human voice gets twisted into something more recognizable as an electronic beat at times. And for something different, final track “Orient Illusion” equally mixes dub with some Asian musical influences.

Fresh Poulp Records is a netlabel featuring various styles of electronic music. The site says: “Sailing through dub, techno, electronica and drum’n'bass, the poulp’s tentacles also lead to other musical style fiting with the electronic domain and all its crossovers (hip-hop, jazz, oriental music).” The label has been around for ten years, and you can see the evidence of that on their releases page.

And for the record, I love their badass logo:

  

hico

What: “Modus” by hico

Netlabel: Totokoko

“Modus” is a five track EP by hico (a multi-instrumentalist from Osaka, Japan). If you are suffering through some winter doldrums, this music might be just what you need to turn things around.

The structure of these five songs are similar in that they all start with fairly simple statements and build with instruments added as each track rolls along. The songs are mostly driven by acoustic instruments (piano, banjo, guitar, etc.) and are subtly supplemented by electronics. Each tune seems to have a slightly different instrumental focus, but overall presents music that is pastoral and pleasing.

For me these tracks evoke a peaceful springtime morning. The first track, entitled “Banjo and Contrabass” includes a nice little pipe melody and the sounds of children playing to help cement that vibe. Overall the music is so darn pleasant it just puts calmness in your heart.

The third track is entitled “Fushigi.” Online translation resources translate that word as “a wonder”; that’s as good a description as any of this music.

The Totokoko label is located in Japan and is run by Yohei Kamei. Started in 2010, he describes it as a “music and art netlabel.” As you would expect there is a fair amount of music to enjoy, and while you are listening you can also check out the photos, drawing and paintings they have posted.

Wolfgang Merx

What: “Security” by Wolfgang Merx

Netlabel: weareallghosts

This is a really varied set of (mostly) electronic music; I find I get a little something different out of it every time I listen.

Some of the description from Wolfgang about this music, along with the cover art, let’s you know it’s at least partly inspired by the current surveillance environment we live in. The first track “Drone State” really captures this theme well. It starts off with jarring drone and alarm/siren sounds, then lulls into a more peaceful place with some quiet keyboard, before that calm is broken again at the end.

The rest of the album is not as strictly on point. Sure there are ominous drones at times along with some instrumental distortion, but there are also some more light and airy moments. Sometimes the tunes are more melodic, sometimes more abstract (and sometimes both in the same song). You can pick out hints of influences of early electronic musicians and, although this music is not jazz, at times the synth playing reminded me of Sun Ra when he first discovered the electronic keyboard and would noodle around in some of his pieces.

The (literal and figurative) centerpiece is a track called “Ten Thirty.” There could be some deeper inspiration for the title, but it also happens to be the exact length of the track. This track meanders along, following different trails over a fairly consistent beat. It sounds like it could be a lost Holger Czukay track. To summarize it in one word: Outstanding.

Final track “Volterra” ends things on a slightly lighter, almost ambient note. It sounds a bit hopeful to me, perhaps letting us know things will be OK as the track gently floats off into nothingness.

The weareallghosts netlabel was started by Thomas Mathie "as a means of giving back to the independent music community." Based in Motherwell, Scotland, the site says the label specializes in "ambient electronic soundscapes but is open to other styles of music." It looks like they have been releasing music since 2012 and have been very active; there are already over 60 releases to explore. In part of a comment on this particular release Thomas says "My intention for weareallghosts was to be a hub of 'out there' creativity..." I'd say mission accomplished with “Security.”

Quick Hits: "Mystic Roots" by LD Dub

My friends at Svaha Sound have let me know they are releasing some new dub tomorrow (January 14, 2014). I’ve just had a chance to preview “Mystic Roots” by LD Dub and it is wonderful. You might even call it “Dubs with Quality.”

There are seven tracks on this album and each has a unique personality, but it’s also an album with a nice overall flow. LD Dub (from France) has done a great job with the production touches throughout; he uses a lot of tools to build these tracks, even throwing in a little hint of the Eastern influence Svaha is known for on a couple of the tracks. All you dub fans (and you know who you are!) must check this.

deef

What: “Genealogy of a humble BeatMeister” by deef

Netlabel: rec72

Talk about straightforward labeling. There is not too much mystery as to what you get with this release from deef. That doesn’t mean it’s not interesting, though.

“Genealogy of a humble BeatMeister ” is full of tracks with titles like “vintage chillbeat anno 2010 and deconstruction” and “this classic in the face beat anno 2010.” And you know what? The titles pretty much tell you what you are going to get. But don’t let the simple descriptions fool you. This is chock full o’ chill beats and cool production. The music is somewhat minimalist; there are lots of sounds and samples added throughout but deef doesn’t cram too much into these tracks at any one time. He selects carefully and embellishes where needed. Late night – headphones – go!

deef hails from Vienna, Austria, and this is his fifth release for rec72. These tracks were apparently created over the last five years. It’s all explained at the site, and there’s even a cute cat story as a bonus.

rec72 is a netlabel based in Cologne, Germany and has been online since 2007. They say: “We deliver Electronica – IDM, Breaks and Downtempo and visuals, too!” On that last note you can find a clip for one of the deef tracks from this release, along with other videos.

Bristophe

What: “le fils de la prophétesse” by Bristophe

Netlabel: Pan y Rosas Discos

With this release you get a total of about 2.5 hours of free improvisational music. That’s free as in the usual no-cost Creative Commons music you can download, but also free as in free-spirited.

Bristophe is a duo: Brice Catherin (based in Switzerland) and Christophe Schweizer (based in Germany). This release is actually two albums. The first “le fils de la prophétesse” is made up of over 50 short pieces, mostly clocking in at less than two minutes. However, if you’re not fixated on the clock, it really flows together as one long piece. The second album is “Ειρήνη, Χρόνος” and is made up of longer pieces. The tracks on this second album generally sound more individual to me than the flow of tracks on “la prophétesse” but definitely have a similar feel.

The PYR website says of Bristophe: “They improvise. Occasionally both halves meet in one place, and that’s when sound happens.” They play numerous instruments from the classic (cello, piano, flute, etc.) to the less traditional (toys, bird calls, etc.). Bristophe also says “We can’t always promise exactly who is going to play which instruments.” Check out this photo of their “tools”:

So, I guess everything but the kitchen sink (although I think there may be one of those in there too).

Overall this is quite good if you enjoy improvisational music. At times things are very quiet and you almost have to strain to hear what is happening; at other moments it can be quite jarring. It’s a fun ride that keeps the listener on his/her toes. There is even humor evident in some of the titles. The longest piece, clocking in at 22:55, is entitled “presque vingt-trois minutes auront passé.”  This translates to “almost twenty-three minutes will pass.”

Chicago-based Pan y Rosas Discos is pretty adventurous label based on what I’ve sampled at their site. They focus “on experimental, noise, improvisation and weirdo rock.” If that’s your thing there is an awful lot here; they have been releasing music since 2008 and it looks like their next release will be their 100th. And I have to give kudos because this is another netlabel that provides lots of excellent information on their artists.