The Free Music Archive -- WFMU's interactive library of curated, legal music downloads -- is in pre-launch-blog-mode until November while we continue to build the site and grow the library. In the meantime, here's a sampling of some participating artists from the Chicagoland area.
The original idea for these Free Music Archive regional previews was to highlight just a few of the participating artists from each city. Like less than ten. But so far we've done Providence RI, Baltimore MD, Philadelphia PA and Columbus OH, and as the library grows, it's more and more difficult to narrow things down. We'll try to streamline our upcoming west coast posts, but I dunno, there's a lot of good music out there and almost all the artists/labels we've asked have been happy to share at least a few free mp3s. I hope you enjoy this batch of great Chicago music. And please let us know [fma at wfmu dot org] who else you'd like to see on the Free Music Archive when the full library launches in November.
MP3s from Bird Names, Black Math, Olivia Block, Cave, Chandeliers, CoCoComa, EKG, Mike Hagedorn's 4boxs.com, Illusion of Safety, John Kannenberg's Stasisfield.com, Little Howlin Wolf, Loto Ball Show, Lovely Little Girls, Lozenge, Mahjongg, Mayor Daley, Oh My God, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Stress Ape, TV Pow / Kuro Neko Music, Vertonen, The Yolks and more after the jump!
A lo-fi avant-pop troupe led by the prolific David Lineal. The first time I saw Bird Names, they were holding some sort of picnic on the floor of AS220 in Providence. The potluck was not well planned. Somebody forgot the bass amplifier. But everyone seemed to be having a good time, blowing their horns, strumming away, and singing even if there weren't any words. A warped playfulness, simultaneously joyous and disturbing, inhabits Bird Names' music. Here are a few samples from their "inscrutable discography of increasingly available music":
Bird Names - A New Map For Kissing (mp3), The Indefinite Time Yet to Come (mp3), Its Becoming a Stranger (mp3), and We Want to be Old (mp3) from On Opaque Things (Pecan Crazy 2006)
Bird Names - Ghosts (mp3), Smoovebiz (mp3), and Nobody Love Me (mp3) from Wooden Lake, Sexual Diner (from Portland, Oregon's Unsound Records, 2007)
Bird Names - Referents (mp3), New Life (mp3), and Masters of Enjoyment (mp3) from Open Relationship (Unsound Records, 2008)
Dark-wave buried in tape hiss, with grinding synth, electric cello, and drum machine. The three piece lists Depeche Mode and Big Black as influences, but they're not straight up 80s. On Black Math's myspace page, where the physical tape can be purchased, they also provide a link to a free .zip download of the whole thing as mp3s.
Black Math - Carry That Weight (mp3), Walking at Night (mp3), I Keep on Saying the Same Thing (mp3) from the Black Math demo cassette #1
Electro-acoustic composer Olivia Block moved to Chicago from Austin, Texas in 1996. Her work blurs the line between music and sound, organic and inorganic. Block joins the sound department faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this fall.
A piece for piano and electronics performed live at the Music Gallery in Toronto on June 26, 2008:
Olivia Block - Live in Toronto (mp3)
Fuzzy, hypnotic kraut offshoot of Warhammer 48k and Waterbabies. Local record store and label Permanent Records recently compiled their two EP's Hunt LIke Devil and Jamz, which Brian posted as a recent fave from the WFMU new bin: "If Oneida were devoid of a bit of their precision and sprawled in a way to let figures tumble over into each other more often you might get an idea of what Cave were up to rhythmically, but it's when the guitars start to go into acid rampage mode that I really get interested."
Cave - Hunt Like Devil #4 (mp3) from Hunt Like Devil/Jamz (Permanent Records 2008)
Cave - Machines and Muscles (mp3) from 7'' (Trensmat Records 2008)
Pristine abstract electronic funk featuring Dan Jugle, Scott McGaughey, Harry Brenner, Cameron Brand, and Chris Kalis. McGaughey plays in the 18-piece Bronze. Brenner and Brand play in The Killer Whales. Kalis co-runs Chicago's Obey Your Brain label along with Griffin/Blue Hawaii/Tombstone G of Icy Demons (formerly of Need New Body and Bablicon). Obey Your Brain's just getting started, but it sounds like they have neat stuff in store from all of these artists, including the Chandliers' debut album The Thrush this fall.
Three-piece garage punk with Bill Roe on drums/vox, Lisa Roe on guitar, and Mike Fitzpatrick on bass/farfisa organ. Fitzpatrick used to play in The White+Outs. He leads another great local punk band, Headache City, which now sports Lisa on drums. Adding another dimension to the Headache City connection, former HC keyboardist Norah Uhtley released CoCoComa's debut 7'' on her great all-vinyl label, Shit Sandwich (M.O.T.O., Final Solutions, The Marked Men) back in 2006. CoCoComa followed up with a 10-nugget full-length released by Goner Records last year. Bill says CoCoComa have a new batch of songs ready to record this winter.
The improv/electro-acoustic duo of Ernst Karel and Kyle Bruckmann. Karel -- who has collaborated with just about everyone in Chicago, from Weasel Walter and Ken Vandermark to David Grubbs and Bobby Conn -- plays trumpet and analog electronics. Bruckmann -- formerly of Lozenge (see below) -- plays oboe, english horn, suona, and electronics.
Mike Hagedorn's 4boxs.com
Mike Hagedorn might be best known for his work with the Ridiculous Trio, rendering Stooges songs on trombone with Shannon Morrow on drums and Rob Pleshar on tuba. He's recorded with countless other improv/jazz/noise-rock projects, from "The world's only trombone-led freak/metal band" Typewash to the "Total Improv" collective 1,2,3,4. Nine full releases, formerly available on CD-R, and two Slovenly Records-released EP's, can now be downloaded in their entirety from Hagedorn's website, 4boxs.com. Under the heading "Your home for Pimprovisation" since 2001, the 4boxs netlabel provides comprehensive info for each release plus .zip'd downloads w/ album art enclosed.
To start, here's some bizarrely swingin free-jazz from the quartet Temeritorium, featuring Ken Haebich on bass, Jim Gailloreto on various things, and Thymme Jones (of Cheer-Accident, a group to which Hagedorn often lends his trombone skills) on drums.
Illusion of Safety
This is the 25th anniversary of Dan Burke's ongoing solo/collaborative project Illusion of Safety, which defies categorization but "has been called ambient, post-industrial, electro-acoustic, electronica, sound collage, improvisation, and power electronics" according to illusionofsafety.com: The project "intrepidly charts the terra incognita where sound, silence, noise and music intersect. Using conventional instruments, sound generating devices and random objects, IOS hews sonic sculptures that deliberately provoke, mesmerize and even affront listeners". In 1986, Burke founded the Complacency label with Thymme Jones, one of many collaborators over the past quarter-century (including Jim O'Rourke, Ben Vida and Kevin Drumm). After a quiet few years, IOS now has a new CD coming out on Moscow's Wastyx Records, and a new 10'' on Vertonen's C.I.P. label. He's made 60+ files freely available from his myspace page, here's a few:
Illusion of Safety - Gravelvoice One (mp3) and I Could Be Wrong (mp3), Bad Carnival Acid (mp3), Cancer Track 5 (mp3), Immanent (mp3), Immerse (exc) (mp3), Live Lisbon two 2-19-08 (mp3), Live @ L'emobineuse 2-22-08 (mp3) Time Remaining (mp3)
John Kannenberg's Stasisfield.com
Chicago sonic and visual artist John Kannenberg founded Stasisfield.com in 2002. Many of the label's releases are available for download from the Stasisfield mp3 section, while the Aux-in sublabel presents free live recordings, all under a Creative Commons license, with album art and liner notes. The site also hosts virtual art exhibitions at Stasis-Space.
In 2006, Kannenburg curated an "exploration of the acoustics of art museums" for London's Resonance FM. The compilation, titled The Sonics of Art Spaces, makes for a good introduction to the label. For more information about the release, or to download it in its entirety with artwork and liner notes, follow this link. Here are a few mp3s to get you started.
1. John Kannenberg - Sketching Notre Dame's Facade (mp3) 7. John Kannenberg - For Mark Rothko (mp3) 8. Glenn Bach - MCASD (mp3) 12. My Fun - Test Site in the Turbine Hall (Carsten Holler) (mp3) from The Sonics of Art Spaces
Little Howlin Wolf
"Contrary to what his name might conjure up in one's mind, Little Howlin' Wolf is indeed James Pobiega, a 6'9" Polish fellow from the South Side of Chicago whose past activities have included being a bounty hunter, secret agent, diving instructor, and kids' pirate entertainer. As a street musician, he also has created a body of free-flowing music from another planet ranging from demented voodoo-blues, junkyard calypso, fractured free-gospel and other uncategorizable sound forms that call to mind the greatest moments of Abner Jay, Albert Ayler, and Don Van Vliet. He opened the floodgates with a stunning pile of 7"s and LPs through the late 1970's and 80's that are being compiled today by the likes of Baltimore fans Nautical Almanac and Ehse Records. He's performing in studio today joined by Max and Twig from Nautical Almanac plus Jason Willett." -Brian Turner, from his playlist for Feb 14, 2006 featuring the following live set from Little Howlin' Wolf band. Be sure to listen to the post-set interview to learn more about Wolf's past activities.
Download Little Howlin' Wolf's album Brave Nu World as free mp3s, and/or order the LP, from Ehse Records.
Loto Ball Show
The new project of vocalist/ trumpeter Loto Ball, formerly of the Bay Area's new wave/death rockers The Phantom Limbs. Loto Ball Show recently played live at WFMU, featuring Grace Kulp on Vocals, Clyde Rourke on Drums, Taylor Hales on Bass, Maria Jenkins on Keyboards, and Matt Schwarz on Guitar.
Loto Ball Show live on Diane's Kamikaze Fun Machine, broadcast July 3rd 2008, engineered 6/23/08 by Diane w/ assistance from Trent Wolbe [playlist] [full set (mp3)]
I Can Be Your Eyes (mp3), Hoodlums (mp3), Poseidon Waltz (mp3), I Saw Your Lines (mp3), Oriental Danzig (mp3), Dead Kiss (mp3), I Chose You (mp3), Loto Ball Show (mp3)
Jenkins sings and plays in punchy electro-punk 3-piece Parsley Flakes
Parsley Flakes - Dead Living (mp3) from the Hewhocorrupts Inc. 7'' (2008)
Parsley Flakes - Lady Love (mp3) and Remember, Forget (mp3) from 2007
Clyde plays in shoegazing shit-punk duo Rok/Paper/Disco
Rok/Paper/Disco - Not Consumers (mp3) and Scovil (mp3)
Lovely Little Girls
The musical project of WFMU and Beware of the Blog's "Listener Fatty Jubbo". If you've ever seen his artwork, this is the musical accompaniment. The Lovely Little Girls perform in costume, with props. Totally disturbing and fascinating.
Lovely Little Girls - Wide Mouth Penetrated Makeshift Mustache Man (mp3), Muscular Sac Structures (mp3), Grotesque Fleet of Garbage (mp3), A Faint Pungency (mp3), Pale Pink Pancake Punching Bag (mp3) - from Dilapidated Head & Torso Aggregations (self-released 2008)
Free jazz/improv/Eastern-European-informed bang-on-a-can rock. Featuring Kyle Bruckmann (of EKG, see above) on accordion, keys, vocals, oboe, and english horn; Kurt Johnson on bass; and percussionists Philip Montoro and Mark Stevens on drums & scrap metal. Lozenge is now semi-defunct, with Bruckmann relocated to San Francisco and Johnson in Texas, but "will reconvene for performances at the drop of a hat" according to their myspace page.
Lozenge - Credo (mp3), Numbrcrunchr (mp3), and Fuck The Man (mp3) from Doozy (Toyo 2000)
Lozenge - Mr Fancy Pants (mp3), Eyeteeth (mp3), No Fair (mp3), and Undrbelly (mp3) from Undone (released by Chicago's own Sickroom in 2005)
Lozenge - Exasperanto (mp3) recorded live at the Bottom Lounge, Chicago, 9.13.03. "One of our more ridiculous tunes, never recorded in the studio, offered up here to those sufficiently curious as Part of the Puzzle, particularly illustrative of our antiprog compositional techniques and singularly perverse penchant for self-sabotage in performance. Listeners are cordially invited to compare and contrast with the live version on MISHAP." -Kyle Bruckmann
This 6-piece migrated to Chicago from Columbia, MO a few years back. Kontpab is one of my favorite albums of the year; an eclectic, dense album of interlocking unconventional tribal rhythm and humanoid/robot hybrid electronic experimentation. Not what you'd expect from K Records, a label that tends to focus on northwest music. But I can't imagine anywhere that Mahjongg would really fit in. Their previous releases for the now-defunct Cold Crush label were sometimes compared to Gang of Four, but such clarity is no longer possible, and I'd say that's a good thing. Their live show involves two drum sets, a percussion station, guitar, bass, several electronic workstations, a vocoder, and a smoke machine. Last I saw them earlier this year, they played a song inspired by a Cambodian folk tune, which was apparently just recorded at Calvin Johnson's Dub Narcotic Studio, and I can't wait to hear.
Mahjongg - Tell The Police the Truth (mp3) from the K Records release Kontpab (also available on our Free Music Archive Sampler CD)!
Mahjongg - Jamdek (mp3) and Bishop Desmond Tutu (mp3) from the Machinegong EP (Cold Crush Records 2004)
No, not that Mayor Daley of Chicago. This is Mayor Daley the band. A screaming-female-fronted, Coughs-inspired noise-rock band. From their self-titled EP on Chicago's Hard Scrabble Amateurs cassette label, HSA #13: Mayor Daley - Up With People (mp3) and Song 3 (mp3)
Oh My God
Billy O'Neil, Ig, Bish and Matt Lenny have been playing since 2000. Sometimes they remind me of the Foo Fighters, not in a bad way, but my absolute favorite song is "Fools Want Noise" (mp3), the title track to last year's full length on Split Red Records. "Fools Want Noise" is not about noise music, but about people foolishly wanting maximum noise stimulation in the form of alcohol, tv, radio, going to the bar, yelling, that sort of noise. The group suffered injuries and setbacks due to a van accident in late 2007, but are back in action recording new material in anticipation of a fall tour.
Plastic Crimewave Sound
I think their myspace page sums it up well with the tagline "face melting acid punk since 2001". Plastic Crimewave, aka Steve Krakow, "also does the Galactic Zoo Dossier mag, soundscape duo Goldblood, Secret History of Chicago Music strip and radio show, Million Tongues Festivals, sits in with ensembles like Scarcity of Tanks and DRMWPN, yadda yadda. Mark Lux was in the formative Temple of Bon Matin and twiddles knobs with Folk and Violence. Nick Myers also heads up street toughs Vee Dee. Lawrence Peters does everything, including swell country bands like Hardscrabble and the Lawrence Peters Outfit. Andy Ortmann is Panicsville, runs the fine Nihilist label, and does a zillion other sick things." - from PCS's myspace page.
Plastic Crimewave Sound - Caged Firetheme (mp3) from Flashing Open (Eclipse Records 2003)
Plastic Crimewave Sound - Supreme Husk (mp3) from the straight-to-handheld-cassette Live Boombox Explosions (Galactic Zoo Disk)
Plastic Crimewave Sound - The Decadent Streak (mp3) from Projection ("the lost record", from 2001/2005, Galactic Zoo Disk)
Plastic Crimewave Sound - I Feel Evils (mp3) from Painted Shadows (forthcoming release via Italian label A Silent Place)
Plastic Crimewave Sound - Blistering Black (mp3) live version of a new hit
Spires That In The Sunset Rise
Avant psych-folk that falls into the cannon of timeless mystic musics of the world. Spires is now the 3-piece of Kathleen Baird (aka Traveling Bell), Taralie Peterson (aka Tar Pet, with an LP on Eclipse/Galactic Zoo Disc called The Artist Revealed is Taralie Dawn) and Georgia Vallas. They started in Chicago as a 4-piece, but have since spread out towards Madison, WI.
Spires That In The Sunset Rise - Java Pop (mp3) and Underscore (mp3) from Curse the Traced Bird (Secret Eye 2008)
Spires That In The Sunset Rise - Clouds (mp3), Morning Song (mp3) from This Is Fire (Secret Eye 2006, newly reissued on vinyl)
Spires That In The Sunset Rise - Little For A Lot (mp3), Imaginary Skin (mp3), The May Ham (mp3) from Four Winds the Walker (Secret Eye 2005)
Brutal ape-y noiserock. Members include Jesse of the Hardscrabble Amateurs cassette label (see Mayor Daley above). Also, Rotten Milk of Rotten Milk vs. Bubblegum Shitface, and Cave (see above).
TV Pow / Kuro Neko Music
TV Pow is the electroacoustic trio of composers/free-improvisers Michael Hartman, Brent Gutzeit, and Todd A Carter. Brent Gutzeit ran the BOXmedia label, and has also released a couple records on Chicago's Kranky label (including a 1999 collaboration with James Plotkin, titled Mosquito Dream). Hartman helps curate the annual Chicago Sound Map new music festival, and runs the netlabel Kuro Neko Music.
Specializing in "Bands with Weird Electronics 'n Shit", Kuro Neko features free mp3s and video, downloadable under a Creative Commons License, with a Pay What You Want system to support the artists. Kuro Neko's archives range from sludge-rock group The Mel Bay to the haunting, sparse twang of Sherry Diaz and Her Devoted Lovers (songwriter Sherry Diaz backed by TV Pow).
Sherry Diaz and her Devoted Lovers - Siegfried (mp3) from Sherry Diaz and her Devoted Lovers
TV Pow - What's Up With Kevin Drumm? (mp3) from MH Mixes
TV Pow - Feel How the 4 Slides into the Six (mp3) from Gas Money 2008
TV Pow - Terran Time-Slip (mp3) from The Midwest in '08
Blake Edwards has been making drone/noise/ambient/electroacoustic sounds under the name Vertonen since 1991. In 1999, he moved to Chicago and expanded the focus of his Crippled Intellect Productions label. Originally founded in 1989 to release chapbooks and cassettes, the CIP discography now includes releases from Z'EV, KK Null, Illusion of Safety (w/ mp3s above), Wolf Eyes, and Hafler Trio
Vertonen - Stone Oceans (mp3) and Failure (Graywater Terminal) (mp3) -- from Orchid Collider (C.I.P. 2005)
Vertonen - Hands Up, 1974! (mp3), Face Grab With Chlorine (mp3), Turntable Souffle #1, and Chatterboxer (mp3) -- from Stations, culled from live performances 2003-2006, (C.I.P. 2006)
Vertonen - the Medicated Turntable Variations: a) A Glimpse of the Oasis (mp3), b) We're In The Wrong Piano (mp3), c) Deplete to Ruination, The Wide Shift (mp3) -- from Return of the Interrobang (C.I.P. 2004)
Rreal rock and roll, 60's-infused mid-fi garage-punk. The Yolks are the self-proclaimed "Kings of Awesome" to the Mummies' "Kings of Budget Rock". And they cover the Gizmos [link] via Chicago-based garage-punk homebase Victim of Time.
The Yolks - Wandering (mp3) from the Wandering 7'' (released by Austria's Bachelor Records, 2008)
The Yolks - I Do What I Do (mp3) I Found Love (mp3) from the Introducing the Yolks 7'' (reissued by Chicago's Criminal IQ Records, 2008)
That's all for now, but there'll be plenty more tunes from Chicago artists (not to mention music from the rest of the world) when the Free Music Archive launches in November. Thanks to all the artists and labels for letting us post their tunes. If you like what you hear, please give them your support. Also thanks to WFMU's own Uncle Woody Sullender (of the Dead CEO label, formerly of Chicago) and Gregory Jacobsen for their Chicago music tips!
Unless otherwise noted, all audio in this post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license