From Xiu Xiu and Twin Peaks, to freak-folk and makeshift shrines – My 2016 Moments In Music

Whilst contemplating some of my favourite music from 2016, I realised that a bullet list holds many secrets; that choices shared in public are often born of intimate moments. And so here a few such moments, tales that needed to be told, to cast much-needed light on the year gone by.


1. Listening to Xiu Xiu playing The Music Of Twin Peaks, whilst in Twin Peaks

When I decided to take a short trip through the U.S. northwest, I knew that I could cross something special off the bucket list – to make a pilgrimage, 25 years in the making, to Twin Peaks. The town itself doesn’t exist, but rather it’s an amalgam of filming locations around North Bend and Snoqualmie, forty minutes east of Seattle. I visited Salish Lodge, aka The Great Northern Hotel, atop Snoqualmie Falls (which provided the waterfall sequence in the opening credits); along with the location of the ‘Welcome To Twin Peaks’ sign, Twede’s Cafe (which doubled as The Double R), the Twin Peaks Sherrif’s Dept amongst others.

All the while, I was listening not to Angelo Badalamenti’s original soundtrack, but to the album of covers, Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks. This was a wholly appropriate choice given that Xiu Xiu had rendered Twin Peaks anew in 2016, just as I was witnessing the iconic locations a quarter of a century after the fact. The aesthetic of the rework brought to mind Ronette Pulaski’s lengthy flashback at the end of Episode 1, Season 2 – Killer Bob is astride her, beating down on her chest with gorilla-like fists, while Laura stands idly by, flashing vampire fangs in slow motion. It’s beautiful and disturbing, haunting and violent, revolting and compelling – the true essence of David Lynch caught in a moment, wrapped in plastic.


2. Stumbling out of the daylight onto Muscle & Marrow

muscle-and-marrow

I always believe that you should arrive early at a gig to catch the support bands. This paid off beautifully when I went to Marissa Nadler’s Portland show and caught the amazing Muscle & Marrow in the opening slot. Plaintive torch songs, spurned howls, brutal guitar – visceral and compelling work, neatly falling into similar Lynchian terrain as Xiu Xiu. I was an instant convert. The latest work from the duo of Kira Clark and Keith McGraw is called Love – a single word, which in their hands, promises a mesmeric tour of heartbreak and anguish.


3. Discovering the psych-freak-folk and voodoo reverberations of Sweden’s Goat

goat

In the latter half of the year, I told anyone who would listen about my love of Requiem, the most recent album from Swedish band Goat. It’s a record that somehow manages to combine psych-rock, freak folk, afrobeat, trance rhythms, and (yes…) pan pipes into a bizarre yet delicious cocktail, boiled in a copper pot over a roaring pagan fire. Goat claim that their home village, Korpilombolo, was cursed by a witch doctor many centuries ago and that the voodoo reverberations still resonate today. True or not, every possible outcome of that story is right there in the music, just waiting for you to sacrifice your scepticism.


4. Visiting the closest thing we have to Kurt Cobain’s grave

kurt-cobain

Kurt Cobain spent the last days of his life on Lake Washington Blvd in Seattle. It’s an affluent part of town, and the house is a stone’s throw from Seattle’s grandiose private tennis club. I visited the adjacent Viretta Park, from where you can see the top of Kurt & Courtney’s house, poking above the trees. The greenhouse in which Kurt took his life was knocked down by Courtney before she sold the place. He was cremated and his family holds his ashes, so the park – with its graffiti strewn bench – acts as a makeshift shrine. I was an admirer, rather than a fan, of Kurt and Nirvana, and thus I was quite taken back when I found myself momentarily overcome with emotion. I arrived there as an impartial observer, but something took hold of me, albeit briefly. Perhaps it was simply knowing that such a profound death occurred within a few meters of where I stood. Perhaps it was the reminder that Kurt was only 27 when he took his own life. Perhaps it was the knowledge that depression can be such a cloying, persistent and horrific state of mind for many of us and that there but for the grace of something, go I.


5. Marking the moment of Provenance with a vinyl test pressing

test-pressing

Two years ago, Sar Friedman sent me her album I And Thou and asked if I wanted to release it. I adored it, to me, it sounded like Bat For Lashes backed by Sunn O))) – a beautiful combination. But I didn’t have a record label, so I declined Sar’s offer. Another year went by, and Sar asked me again, telling me that she’d changed her artist name to Medicine Voice. I was reminded of just how incredible the record was. I thought “if no one else is going to release this, I’ll just need to start a label and release it myself.” And that was that. Provenance became a real thing.

The moment could have been marked by many events, but the arrival of the first vinyl test pressing of I And Thou was when it all hit home – this was different to all that had gone before. And it was also at that moment that I remembered why the physical music product was so important. The vinyl or CD or cassette is a self-contained and fully realised work of art. It is the finished jigsaw puzzle. We can marvel at the individual pieces and stream them with great joy and amazement, but it is in the realisation of the physical product where the artwork comes together into one glorious whole.

And thus Provenance was birthed, a new record label of left-field and experimental releases, commencing with I And Thou and followed by work from a beautiful family of artists – Paneye, Spartak, Lortica, Lovely Head, Aphir, KAIA and Kris Keogh. It’s been a challenging birth in some respects (read my recent interview with Who The Hell for a deeper perspective), but I sleep safely in the knowledge that the world is a better place with this music in it, and 2017 will be dedicated to getting that truth out there.


6. Pulling some pretty gritty music Out From Under

happy-axe

In 2016 I made 25 episodes of a new music podcast, Out From Under, a weekly hour-long program featuring eclectic and experimental Australian music, weaving documentary stories and interviews with new music specials and live performances. Out From Under was broadcast in the UK by Resonance Extra, a 24/7 broadcast platform from Resonance FM (home to Little Atoms and The Wire’s Adventures In Music & Sound) and podcast by FBi Radio in Sydney.

It was the first program that I produced ‘away from the desk’ – that is, all interviews were conducted in the field, and programs were voiced and edited at my home in the Blue Mountains. After thirteen years of paneling live radio, this was a fun and unique process, best encapsulated with the recording of the very first program, where I took a deep dive into ‘Pretty Gritty’ – an intimate experimental music event curated by Gail Priest. I interviewed Gail along with vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Astrid Zeman; Sydney sound artist Daniel Whiting and Canberra musician Happy Axe, who lulls beautiful and eerie tones from her violin and musical saw and presented them all in a final edit with live music recorded at the February show (listen back here).

Out From Under was a salient reminder of the eclecticism, originality, and talent that lies in the Australian underground, and the need for people, like Gail and others like her, to rise to the challenge and be their champion.


Further Listening

To close the year, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but indicative of where my love lay in 2016. 20 albums that you can add to the above, in no particular order.

  • Yves TumorSerpent Music (PAN)
  • Yama WarashiMoon Egg (Stolen Body Records)
  • AnohniHopelessness (Rough Trade)
  • EartheaterRIP Chrysalis (Hausu Mountain)
  • The NecksVertigo (Fish Of Milk)
  • Pye Corner AudioStasis (Ghost Box)
  • Elisabeth DixonLP1 (Trait)
  • Carla dal FornoYou Know What It’s Like (Blackest Ever Black)
  • EquiknoxxBird Sound Power (DDS)
  • CorinVirtuality (Wondercore Island)
  • Jenny HvalBlood Bitch (Sacred Bones)
  • Jóhann JóhannssonOrphée (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Marie DavidsonAdieux Au Dancefloor (Cititrax)
  • Nisennenmondai#N/A (On-U Sound)
  • Brian EnoThe Ship (Warp)
  • Fatima Al QadiriBrute (Hyperdub)
  • Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne CianiSunergy (Rvng Intl)
  • ScrapsTTNIK (Moontown Records)
  • Tomorrow The Rain Will Fall UpwardsWreck His Days (Blackest Ever Black)
  • VariousSpace Echo – The Mystery Behind The Cosmic Sound Of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed! (Analog Africa)

Discontent – The End

If you’re still regularly checking back on the Discontent blog, then I commend you – it’s been quiet around these parts for some time, and it’s certainly showing some signs of neglect. This is not without good cause however – my focus has been almost entirely on developing the ‘New Weird Australia’ project, with the blog, netlabel, event series, radio show and podcasts all projecting a wide array of eclectic and experimental Australian music.

Inevitably, with such a high degree of activity, something has to give – and thus it’s time to draw an end to Discontent. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to all of the mixtapes as much as I’ve enjoyed curating them. Additional thanks to all of the guest curators that have so kindly put a great deal of work into expanding our aural horizons with their own contributions to the series – please do take the time to leaf through the site and pick up on any that you might have missed.

Of course, the commitment to curating free music continues over at New Weird Australia – visit newweirdaustralia.com for our bimonthly free compilations.

Thanks for listening – see you on the other side.

Discontent – I Don’t Buy Records In Your Shop Now I Tape Them All (A Mixtape By Telafonica)

Telafonica are a Sydney band that operate more like an evolving, fluid collective rather that a rigid formation of players. Their original line-up has filtered into the diaspora, with core Australian members morphing into a four-piece that explore a long terrain, bordered by melodic pop on one side and experimental electronica on the other. Although the palate is broad, the influences are not always evident – hence, when Adrian from Telafonica suggested dropping a mixtape of tracks that acted as touch-points for the creation of their most recent album “Love On the Second Stair”, it was impossible to resist. Whilst many bands shroud themselves in unnecessary mystique, Telafonica take the opposite approach – here, by revealing their influences in such direct terms, and also at their web site, where work-in-progress conversations between members are carried out in the public domain. Stuart Buchanan

“In December of 2008, the Australian based members of Telafonica decided to specifically focus on the creation of a new album. They already had a handful of tracks in various stages of development that they had been playing in their live shows but were looking to see how to draw all these together, as well as create some new songs. One of the tactics used to give focus was the creation of half hour inspiration ‘mixtapes’ on CD to be shared around. In the end, only Blake and Adrian ended up compiling whole mixtapes, though Rebecca and Eliza contributed other tracks themselves as inspiration for specific Telafonica songs.

“The album was created and released in November of 2009 as ‘Love On The Second Stair’. This mixtape, developed especially for the Discontent blog, combines some of the tracks that were on the initial inspiration discs, along with other inspirations that came to the fore in the process of making the album, as well as some tracks from which samples were directly taken and used within the music that formed the finished album.

“There is obviously a wide range of things to be heard, from the most mainstream of mainstream to obscure side channels in the history of music. These reflect Telafonica’s bower bird approach to music construction, begging, borrowing and stealing from any and everywhere in order to compile their own postmodern, post-retro pop.

“In this mix, where a track appears in full, it has been either already made available by the original artists on the internet for free, or specific permission has been gained from the original artists to include their work. Obviously, a number of the tracks have not been made available for free and permission would be difficult (and costly) to secure. In those cases, the tracks have been used in a traditional sampling sense, with only very brief snippets occurring, and are generally processed in some manner.” Telafonica

DOWNLOAD: I Don’t Buy Records In Your Shop Now I Tape Them All | A Mixtape By Telafonica (69.7MB)

(nomo – all the stars)
(adam and the ants – kick)
(parts & labor – satellites)
(the martini bros – dance like it is o.k. (dj koze & the tease remix))
(the flying lizards – money (that’s what i want))
1. beem – RER
(the beatles – sgt pepper’s lonely hearts club band reprise)
2. balun – a surprise
3. whitewash – feather
(sigur ros – festival)
4. slareffenklang – you win
(bow wow wow – c30, c60, c90, go!)
(the jam – that’s entertainment)
5. ghoul – swimming pool
6. sufjan stevens – sister winter
7. hamilton yarns – newhaven to dieppe
8. go! team – junior kickstart
(the smashing pumpkins – tonight, tonight)
9. parades – exodus (telafonica treble remix)
10. underlapper – choking ibis

IMAGE: Cover Design by Telafonica

Vorad Fils

Video: Vorad Fils at Feral Media HQ

John Hassell aka Vorad Fils is a sydney-sider who has been making electronic music since 2006 in other outfits such as Seekae. With his style stretching between ambient and glitch-hop, Vorad Fils takes influence from a range of artists including Boards of Canada, Clark, Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid and Seven Ark.

On the eve of the release of his debut album ‘The Warmest Static’ in April 2010, Vorad Fils played an intimate live set for friends at the Feral Media HQ in Sydney, marking the last performance in the space before Feral’s move to the U.S.

Shaky-cam footage courtesy of me.

The KLF / K Foundation Radio Interview – Why They Burnt One Million Pounds

Back in the mid 90s, I edited a zine in Glasgow called Thee Data Base.  In 1996, my co-editor Alan and I managed to procure what was, at the time, a tabloid-bating exclusive: we published an exclusive interview with former-KLF creators, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty – only a short while after they had flown by themselves to the Scottish island of Jura and, in an abandoned cottage, systematically burnt one million pounds, note by note. The interview was carried out by John Dower, transcribed from a live radio interview he conducted on Glasgow’s Sub City Radio.  14 years later, John is now a somewhat renowned director with a string of excellent documentaries to his name.

Bill & Jimmy filmed the entire action of burning the money, and then proceeded to screen the footage, “Watch The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid”, at various locations across the UK. It remains today as one of the most confounding and confronting artistic statements ever made. The rationale? There were many given, but none were satisfactory – even to the artists themselves.

You can read the full story on Wikipedia, or hunt down their 1997 book, “K Foundation Burn A Million Quid”.

Last  month, Glasgow’s Sub City Radio contacted me to see if I had a copy of John’s original radio interview.  Somewhere in a box in my garage, buried under some old industrial music mixtapes, I found a Scotch C90 with (almost) the entire hour-long interview intact.  And in the spirit of free broadcasting, I’ve posted the audio below.

There’s some key moments here: journalist Jack McLean attempting to hold Drummond & Cauty to task for effectively mocking the poor, the embarrassing episode where the duo turn down a BBC executive’s offer a free hour of their own content on Radio One, the chastising of a local artist who is ‘just not trying hard enough’ and the admission that, sadly, even though a million pounds went up in smoke, “God didn’t show up”.

You can also read an introduction by John Dower and a full transcript at The Library of Mu.

Drummond gave an interview in 2004 where he finally went on record to say that he regretted the decision: “Of course I regret it. My children especially regret it, but I don’t regret it all the time. A long time ago, we realised that everybody wanted us to have the smart answer, and we felt we owed it to people, especially our families, to have this. After a while, we realised that whatever answer we came up with would not be good enough. It was more for other people to take from it whatever they wanted, whether it be ‘they obviously didn’t do it’ or ‘it’s a terrible thing’ or whatever. It’s for other people to explore.”

Alan and I later turned the entire global art world on its head by staging our own public ritual, entitled ‘Watch Thee Data Collectiv Burn One Pound’. I recall signing a burnt pound note and selling it to my mate Jerry for $3.30.

Discontent – We Are Experiencing Turbulence (A Mixtape by Filastine)

When presenting Fat Planet many moons ago, I was always keenly attuned to sounds that fused my two (then) primary concerns – broad internationalism and rugged experimental beats. Proponents of such a fusion were (and to a large extent still are) few and far between, but Mutamassik, dj/Rupture and Filastine stood out, stood proud and stood very loud. Often abrasive, and never compromising, they nonetheless married the promotion of global sounds throughout Western lands with an unfailing respect, collaborative diligence and due payback for the local artists involved. To herald the release of his ‘Extra Dirty Bomb’ EP (reworks and live tracks that “shits on geography & genre”, with mixes from Jahcoozi, Cardopusher, Phowa, Deep Throat X, Maga Bo and Electromeca), I’m delighted to post Grey Filastine’s new mixtape of insurrectionary bass music, and as an accompaniment, asked him for a few words on its genesis.

“Last year’s tour started in Oceania January 1st and ended at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in late December. I went there to do a sound intervention, broadcasting 5-channel noise collages from moving bicycles as part of the larger direct-action bike bloc. The state repression was massive, we were detained, searched, and had our workspace raided. Meanwhile the COP15 Summit itself was a fucking disaster, as the leaders of the world proved yet again that we can’t rely on solutions from above. While there I also did a Filastine gig, in a circus tent inside the free-town of Cristiania, which ended in teargas & police helicopters pounding overhead. On return to Barcelona I began working on this mix, it was to be a “promo” for a new EP of remixes, but the urgency of this moment shaped it into something else. I hope it triggers some reflexion, some inspiration, or perhaps even some action.” Grey Filastine

We Are Experiencing Turbulence – Insurrectionary Bass Music Sin Fronteras (A Mixtape by Filastine)

DOWNLOAD

Tracklisting:
– Infernal Noise Brigade- live in Mexico at street protest
– Jazzsteppa- AmeriCa B
– Filastine/Cardopusher – Discontinuities (Singularities remixed- from the EP Extra Dirty Bomb)
– Fnaire- Lalla Mennana
– Filastine/Jahcoozi- Opium Den (Desordenador remixed- from the EP Extra Dirty Bomb)
– Beats Antique- Oriental Uno (feat. Fanafara Kalashikov)
– Oro 11- El Cangrejo
– Arena & Etian acapella- excerpted from Voces Rebeldes project
– Filastine/Ill Gates- Pharma Sutra (Fitnah remixed- from the EP Extra Dirty Bomb)
– Filastine/Maga Bo- Batalha Cotidiana (B’talla remixed- from the EP Extra Dirty Bomb)
– Chancha Via Circuito- Calzada
– Foxdye- Foxdyechek Collision
– Frikstailers- Sudaka Invasor
– Tego Calderon- Diento de Oro acapella cameo
– Sonik Omi- Ye Jawani Hai Mera Jaan
– Simbad- Airport Beat 1008
– Jahdan Blakkamoore- Dem A Idiot (instrumental – prod. by Matt Shadetek & Modeselektor)
– Amir Sulaiman- Danger
– Sunship feat. Warrior Queen/ Sinden(remix)- Quits
– Filastine/Deep Throat X- Con Las Manos En La Masa (remixfrom the EP Extra Dirty Bomb)
– Madera Limpia- La Lenta (Schlachthofbronx remix)
– Bassnectar- Cozza Frenzy
– Venetian Snares- Sabbath Dubs
– Kray Twinz feat. Twista- What We Do
– Suckafish P. Jones- Caribbean Nightmare Agent
– Dubchild- Can’t Keep Me Down
– Caving- Slimthug
– Dog Murras (feat. Propria Lixa)- Vai Levar Galheta
– Brasil 96- Batucada
– Lightning Bolt- On Fire
– Rhythm Collision featuring- Indian Street Music #3 / Sein Sah Thin / Tabuh Winangun Marga / Venetian Snares /
– Filastine / Drumcorps
– Filastine- Como Fugitivos (instrumental version)

with words lifted from:
– UK newscasters
– Carl Sagan dubbed into castilian spanish
– ANC Radio Freedom BroadcastSouth Africa1969
– a US Military Commander
– Waking Life
– The Century of Self
– Slavoj Zizek
– and more sources of lost origin

BUY: Extra Dirty Bomb at iTunes | Additech | vinyl

Interactive Netball at the Now Now Festival

Created & “facilitated” by Jon Rose, this game of Interactive Netball take place at the Now Now Festival in Wentworth Falls in 25th January 2010.

The yellow ball is connected wirelessly to Rose’s laptop and emits an ever-changing variety of sounds, related to its movement and velocity. In addition, four Now Now performers (two assigned to each team) play short stabs of improvised music when their team is in possession of the ball. Spontaneous!

The Now Now: thenownow.net/

Jon Rose: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Rose

Discontent – In Teen Dreams (Mixtape)

Do you remember those teenage dreams?  For some it may be a recent memory, for others, it’s somewhat more distant.  To the latter, teen dreams exist simply as faint, fading memories –  idylls, fantasises, hopes and nightmares, never to be lived or experienced, destined only to be ravaged and degraded by time.  The nostalgia for lost teenage dreams is balanced by the fact that the actual shape and substance of those dreams can no longer be recalled – it’s simply a sense-memory, an instinctual belief that something has been lost, but with no recollection of what the ‘something’ actually is. This mixtape somewhat boldy tries to capture that sense memory – a hankering for a past, refracted through the eyes of the future.  Everything contained herein is stretched and strained over time, not so much hypnogogic as hypnotic, post-nostalgia – lulling us into the security of a place and time that is simultaneously familiar and unknown. We drift from Roj‘s Ghost Box intro, to Salem‘s screwed goth-hop remix of Playboy Tre and Tan Dollar‘s funeral wedding march, projecting via White Rainbow‘s astral tones, Kharkov‘s elusive and ultimately unobtainable folk melody and Ancient Crux‘s dark pean to romantic longing, dripping with echoes of music from half a century ago. It’s full of promise and mystery, yet it ultimately unsettles and perhaps never truly satisfies – the true mark of a real teenage dream.

DOWNLOAD: Discontent | In Teen Dreams (103MB)

  • 1. Roj – You Are Here / England [1:29]
  • 2. Black Vatican – Night Is Come / U.S. [4:18]
  • 3. Railcars – Cathedral With No Eyes (white rainbow remix) / U.S. [6:24]
  • 4. Playboy Tre – Sideways (Salem Drag Chop remix) / U.S. [4:48]
  • 5. Shlohmo – Couch / U.S. [3:34]
  • 6. Tan Dollar – Untitled / U.S. [2:36]
  • 7. Ancient Crux – In Teen Dreams / U.S. [2:33]
  • 8. Pina Chulada – Someone Like You / U.S. [3:39]
  • 9. Blastcorp – Last (Harp mix) / Australia [2:25]
  • 10. Syntaks – Sudden Dream / Denmark [3:00]
  • 11. White Rainbow – Mind Haze Is Clear Delights / U.S. [10:29]
  • 12. LJ Kruzer – Tam8+ei4 / England [1:02]
  • 13. Kharkov – Folkal / Australia [5:34]
  • 14. Mokira – Seven Ply / Sweden [7:16]
  • 15. Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood – Precognition / Australia [2:14]

img: Nyalee (via Flickr, Creative Commons)

Discontent – Americas Volume One (A Mixtape by Moses Iten)

Around three years ago (April 2007), Fat Planet featured its first look at the early shoots of a new crop of what became known, to some, as ‘digital cumbia’, or ‘nuevo cumbia’ with a post on Andres Schteingart, aka El Remolon.  Unbeknown to anyone reading it, least of all me, Schteingart would come to form part of the core nucleus of producers that took hold of a revitalised Central and South American sound, and took it all over the world.  You can now discover vast quantities of similar material via collectives such as Argentina’s prolific ZZK crew, or releases on labels such as Bersa Discos or Dutty Artz.  An incidental result of this sprawling genre development has been the way in which cumbia has been celebrated and adopted outside of the Americas – and here in Australia, one of the pivtoal players in the ongoing internationalisation of the sound is Moses Iten (a.k.a. saca la mois DJ!!).  I had the good fortune to DJ regularly with Moses back when we were both part of the Uber Lingua crew – he continues to DJ, to make music, to produce, remix and educate on music from the Americas, with performances next week as part of Tasmania’s MONA FOMA festival and the 2010 Big Day Out Festival. When we were discussing Moses’ mixtape for Discontent, we were both keen to push towards more innovative and experimental material – music that that we both loved, but perhaps didn’t get to expose often enough. Here, Moses presents a wonderful selection of sounds from ‘the Americas’, and – as he’s named in ‘Volume One’ – I’m hoping that we’ll see a sequel before too long.
Stuart Buchanan

“Americas Vol. 1 is sourced from the Spanish-speaking Americas, but there are many other languages spoken from Alaska to Patagonia. Exploring andean minimal, huarachegaze, nueva cumbia and other experimental genres hopefully never to be deciphered, Americas Vol. 1 is not about being a definitive compilation of “Futuristic Sound from Latin America”, but attempts to be a mixtape as platform for a dialogue of the past with the future. Also, while as a DJ, performer and producer it’s mostly my aim to make you dance above all else, I took this mixtape as an opportunity to expose other sounds I’ve been hearing, and digging, from the Americas. Although I travel as much as possible, much of my exploration of music is via internet from my home base in Australia, so it was only appropriate to also make this an opportunity to present some of the best music that is little represented even in countries of origin and can only be sourced via cyberAmericas.”
Moses Iten (a.k.a. saca la mois DJ!!)

DOWNLOAD: Americas Volume One, A Mixtape by Moses Iten (108MB)

1. EL REMOLON feat. SUMERGIDO Remoloneando – from ‘Cumbia Bichera EP + Remixes’ on Pueblos Nuevos, 2007 (Argentina)
2. MIKA MARTINI Iniciacion – from ‘Mestizo’ on Pueblos Nuevos, 2007 (Chile)
3. MARCELO FABIAN Negros y Serenos – from ‘NF0005’ on newfolder.com.ar, 2008 (Argentina)
4. TREMOR Viajante (THE CUMBIA COSMONAUTS Remix), 2009 – upcoming release on ZZK Records (Argentina/Australia)
5. KING COYA feat. TREMOR & AXEL KRYGIER Don Axelina – from ‘Cumbia De Villa Donde’ onZZK Recordss, 2009 (Argentina)
6. TREMOLO AUDIO El Ya Sabia – from ‘Random V 1’ on Mil Records, 2004 (Mexico)
7. KAMPION Primaveral – from ‘Invisible EP’ on Filtro, 2005 (Mexico)
8. THE PERONISTS La Cumbia Del Laberinto – previously unreleased, 2009 (Argentina)
9. ALDO BENITEZ Día Libre (CHANCHA VIA CIRCUITO Remix) – from ‘El Portafolio Sin Un Peso on Peaton, 2009 (Argentina)
10. EL REMOLON Cumbia Bichera (TREMOR Mix) – from ‘Cumbia Bichera EP + Remixes’ on Pueblos Nuevo, 2007 (Argentina)
11. CERO 39 feat. BETO Morenita – previously unreleased, courtesy of Cero39, 2009 (Colombia)
12. LOS AMPARITO Las Miradas De Magaly – from ‘Fonogramaticos Vol.3’ on clubfonograma.com, 2009 (Mexico)
13. CARLA MORRISON Buena Malicia (LOS AMPARITO Remix) – unreleased, courtesy of Carla Morrison, 2009 (Mexico)
14. DIEGO BERNAL Dusty Sanchez – from ‘4corners’ on Exponential Records, 2009 (USA)
15. MIKA MARTINI Why No – from ‘Mestizo’ on Pueblos Nuevos, 2007 (Chile)
16. LOS MACUANOS Alma – from ‘Fonogramaticos Vol.4’ on Club Fonograma, 2009 (Mexico)
17. KIXLY Surfline Coaster – previously unreleased, courtesy of Kixly/Moises Horta, 2009 (Mexico)
18. TREMOLO AUDIO Rosita (LUCRECIA Remake) – from ‘Visitas: a collection of remixed tremolo audio’ on Mil Records, 2008 (Mexico/Colombia)
19. SOKIO El Pueblo… (“Pueblo” GERARDO FIGUEROA Version) – from ‘Columbia Remixes’ on Pueblos Nuevo, 2009 (Chile)

img: Magdalena Pereza (Mexico)

Disorientation Session (Disorient’s Mixtape For FBi)

In June 2009, I gave away a free mixtape to new subscribers of FBi Radio during my ‘Disorient’ show. The mixtape, titled ‘Disorientation Session’, features a few tracks that you can find on the first two Discontent mixtapes (Mixtape One and Two), with additions from various artists that appeared regularly on the show’s playlists, or as earlier single posts on the Discontent blog. As an aggregator of the sounds found on the (somewhat short-lived) Disorient radio show, this will more than likely remain the only existing audio document.

I’m particularly fond of this mixtape as its sensibility stretches back to the earlier days of the Fat Planet radio show – a focus on more innovative and often experimental music from around the world, before the beats and bass kicked in.  I particularly like the way that Salem’s screwed, slow-core can nestle near Villa Diamante’s warped take on South American cumbia and AGF’s truly distressing cover version of Rhianna’s ‘Disturbia’.  An eclectic and surprising session, I hope you agree.

DOWNLOAD: Disorientation Session: Disorient’s Mixtape For FBi (105MB)

  • 1. Dalt Wisney – Sci-Fi Dot Fiends [Pakistan] 2:03
  • 2. The Craters – Samba Party [U.S.] 2:40
  • 3. Ghoul – Fuck Math [Australia] 1:54
  • 4. Salem – Brustreet [U.S.] 5:02
  • 5. 7VWWVW – Mammal Theme [Scotland] 5:55
  • 6. Villa Diamante – Tonolec vs Kromestar [Argentina] 2:56
  • 7. Berrettaz – Pense A [Côte d’Ivoire] 2:44
  • 8. AGF aka Antye Greie – Disturbia [Germany] 4:07
  • 9. Filastine – B’talla (feat. Rabah) [U.S.] 3:10
  • 10. I Buried Paul – Favola [Brazil] 3:17
  • 11. Fletcher – Dreadlox Dub [South Africa] 6:17
  • 12. The Peronists – Cumbia Maligna [Argentina] 3:39
  • 13. Atomhead – Unsuspecting Broken Receiver [Belgium] 2:09
  • 14. Growing – Green Flag [U.S.] 6:16
  • 15. Sleepmakeswaves – Exits To Nowhere [Australia] 3:41
  • 16. Rothis Bournias – Last Days Part Two [Greece] 7:07
  • 17. Inverness – Bats [Brazil] 3:13
  • 18. Flica – Mid [Malaysia] 4:53

Note: All music on the mixtape is licenced via Creative Commons or has otherwise been made freely available by relevant artists & labels. If you like what you hear, please support the artists -visit their site, buy their music.

Cover image by Irving Liaw (under CC Licence).

Discontent – China (A Mixtape by Shaun from Tenzenmen)

One of my most long-serving curatorial projects was ‘Fat Planet’ – a radio show and blog that ran from 2003 to 2008. The mission was simple – uncover new, alternative music from around the globe. Ignore the ‘western paradigm’ and dig around for non-traditional, contemporary, innovative music. Uncover the hitherto uncovered. At first I thought Africa would pose the greatest challenge, but in truth the hardest location to crack was China. Most of my research was carried out online, and – at the time – there was precious little posted online about Chinese music, at least nothing that could be uncovered without a roadmap or directions to follow. Thankfully, Shaun at Sydney label Tenzenmen proved to be something of a guiding light – exposing alternative Chinese music outside of its origins, providing us with a rare glimpse of the sounds that are actually stirring in the clubs, bars and bedrooms of one of the world’s oldest civilisations. When looking for curators for Discontent, for people that might provide a lifeline to something less ordinary, Shaun was top of the list. Stuart Buchanan

China – it’s the buzzword of the first decade of the 21st century.  Back in the last century I started learning about Chinese history and culture and in 2001 embarked on my first trip there (no doubt many if you have done the same since).  Quickly adapting the Chinese push and shove I was curious when I came across an article in an English language weekly newspaper that was documenting the very beginnings of the punk scene in Beijing.  What the hell did punk mean in a place like this?  I had no idea but armed with the scant information I went in search of these punks and couldn’t find anything.  It’s easy to be lost in the many millions of inhabitants of Beijing and all I knew was the train station near where these kids hung out.

Back in Australia I continued learning and discovered many other music scenes around the whole Asia region and then finally made contact with a new group of musicians building a scene in Beijing and expanding throughout the country.  Several more trips garnered visits to cool venues and hearing some great new sounds.  So impressed I began licensing releases for Australia through my label tenzenmen (www.tenzenmen.com).  But that is not what this mix tape is really about.  For this mix tape I challenged myself to find the new fresh bands, the second wave as such.

China has it’s own equivalent of myspace called Douban (www.douban.com) as well as a Chinese only myspace (www.myspace.cn).  Even without understanding the language it’s fairly simple to click around these sites and discover the motherlode of music you never heard before.  I had a few pointers of things to look for and gathered the results here for this mix tape.  It’s a wide and varied mix, expressing my own interest in different genres and highlighting the diversity of sounds coming from the underground there (we could probably consider even popular artists in China as still underground).

You can find all the tracks here at the various sites mentioned above and also keep up to date with news and info from China via various links at the tenzenmen website or ‘the MAYBE MARS series’ facebook fan page.

Shaun, Tenzenmen

Discontent – China (A Mixtape by Shaun from Tenzenmen)

DOWNLOAD MIXTAPE (119MB)

01 – Low Wormwood (Di Ku Ai) – Who – 5.11
02 – The Curry Soap – Little Northern Europe – 4.18
03 – Godot – No 4 – 6.26
04 – Demmy – Will You Remember Me Tomorrow – 6.42
05 – 21 Grams – 21 Grams – 7.58
06 – 8 Eye Spy – Live – 2.10
07 – Cover People – Trip To… – 3.07
08 – Snapline – Nice Dream – 3.11
09 – White – 47 Rockets (For Wan Hu) – 5.10
10 – Little Nature – Different World – 3.00
11 – Sonnet – A Nice Song – 3.10
12 – I.D.H. – Final Trial – 3.53
13 – Boys Climbing Ropes – Dirty Bots – 4.35
14 – Lava Ox Sea – Regnarts! Yeh – 6.15
15 – 24 Hours – Mr Stevenson (with Train) – 3.24
16 – You Mei You – All Talk No Action – 1.36
17 – Mortal Fools – Drink! Drink! Drink! – 2.04
18 – Muscle Snog – Think and Shit – 3.48
19 – Fanzui Xiangfa – Kill Your Television – 1.04
20 – The Curry Soap – You Keep Everything But His Heart – 1.06
21 – D!O!D!O!D! – A02 – .53

img: Steve Webel

Discontent – Paper Money (A Mixtape by Raphael Dixon)

Raphael Dixon is a broadcaster on Sydney’s FBi Radio. His show follows mine, which means that I always get the chance to listen to his selections when I’m hanging around the studio or I’m on the drive home. When I first heard that Raph was ostensibly presenting a hip hop show, my heart sank a little. There’s already an upfront hip hop show on the station (the perennial Stolen Records), and I remember thinking to myself, “do we really more of the same?”. And that’s when Raph pretty much blew my mind. His curation of sounds from the outer fringes of hip hop, includes innovative beat work and often radical production methodologies, but his real skill also comes to the fore in his ability to map that with other sounds, to cross-pollinate and thus recontextualise our often misplaced notions of what hip hop means in 2009. I hope this mixtape helps to add some critical mileage to Raph’s ongoing mission. Stuart Buchanan

“The genre of Hip-hop has a certain stigma attached to it, often rightly so. Personally, I have always been fascinated by the hip-hop sound and indeed it is the hip-hop sound that this mixtape explores. I say ‘hip-hop’, but I’m sure that there would be a lot of hip-hop  fans who would not enjoy this mixtape, moreover, I’m sure many a ‘purest’ would go so far as to call it “not hip-hop” (an insult of sorts in the hip-hop world). This mixtape is predominately instrumental, ranging from sample based downtempo works, to bassy, electronic, club-influenced glitch-hop.  The drums loops are often slightly wonky or glitchy, the samples brutally chopped or the basslines fuzzy. The idea is to strip down hip-hop to its basic form and rebuild it in a re-contextualised manner that critiques its mother genre. As the experimental hip-hop netlabel Error-Broadcast awkwardly, yet acurately describes it, the wonks, quirks and distortion is  “…the glitch that interferes with crept over mainstream Hip Hop, the increment of postmodernism”.

“Many thanks to the artists, I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do” Raph

DOWNLOAD: Paper Money | A Mixtape by Raphael Dixon (110 MB)

Raph’s Blog: thegetby.blogspot.com

img: Jade Cantwell

Three Heads Meet Messmer And Koo Koo

Mitch Jones & Michael Tee stand as two of the key figures in the history of alternative music in Sydney. Together they founded M-SQUARED Records – home to a cluster of now seminal local post-punk artists such as SYSTEMATICS, THE MAKERS OF THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST, YA YA CHORAL, PROD and their own band, SCATTERED ORDER. Nearly 30 years after the fact, SCATTERED ORDER reformed their original line-up earlier this year, and started both playing live and recording once again. I was asked to DJ at their second ‘reformation’ gig with THE MAKERS OF THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST and A SLOW RIP last month – a gig which also represented one of the last live events at the Abercrombie Hotel in Chippendale before it closed its doors.

This mix is essentially my DJ set trimmed to a neat 43 minutes, and features Australia music from the M-SQUARED heyday (1979-1983), both from label artists and beyond. Witnessing this music now, some 30 years later, I’m not particularly aware of the impact that each artist or track may have had at the time, instead I chose to respond to the sounds that still have resonance today. Indeed, listening end-to-end to this mix, this feels like the start of a much longer continuum, and it becomes clear (almost immediately) that there are many current local bands and artists that – wittingly or otherwise – are fostering a unique Australian tradition that began over three decades ago.

Tracklisting:

  • Severed Heads – Introduction / 1982 [from Adenoids 1977 – 1985 Disc 4]
  • Systematics – … And The People Are Blowing Their Minds / 1981 [from Boxed Brownies]
  • Ronnie and the Rhythm Boys – Hey Joe / 1979 [from Little Bands EP]
  • Ya Ya Choral – God’s Buzzsaw / 1983 [from Such A Dutch Man]
  • Yclept Dinmakers – I Think A Shell / 1982 [from Klinger The Blowies]
  • Hiroshima Chair – Reset / 1980 [from Reset]
  • SPK – Mekano / 1979 [from Auto Da Fe]
  • Severed Heads – Food City / 1981 [from Clean]
  • The Limp – Rony Club / 1981 [from A Selection]
  • Essendon Airport – Runway Rock / 1979 [from Sonic Investigations (Of the Trivial)]
  • Microfilm – Summer House / 1981 [from From Belgrade With Love]
  • Prod – Fish Hook / 1980 [from More Songs That Will Never Be Released]
  • Negative Reaction – Untitled A01 / 1980 [from Negative Reaction]
  • Zyé yé yé – I Want To Live / 1981 [from Primitive Calculators]
  • Laughing Hands – Two / 1981 [from Dog Photos]
  • Severed Heads – Much About Bones, Hello Donald Merry Xmas / 1980 [from Adenoids 1977 – 1985 Disc 1]

Discontent – We Sleep In This Cave (A Mixtape by Pink Priest)

Discontent is regenerating – and the key shift is a significant one. Discontent will no longer be a home solely for my own curations, I’m opening it up to other minds, other voices, other sounds. I’m opening the door ajar to friends and colleagues thus far, but may well open further as the experiment progresses. First up, an artist who appeared on the recent ‘All That Glitters Is Gold‘ mixtape, Pink Priest. He emailed to thank me for including his track on the mixtape, I suggested he might want to put his own together.  ‘We Sleep In This Cave‘ is the result – a singular treat awash with hypnotic tones and drones, punctuated by rough bursts of primal punk and lo-fidelty abstract pop.  It’s a genuinely beautiful curation, and one which I hope sets a benchmark for further guest-tapes to come.  Stuart Buchanan

“Recent days, months, weeks, year(s) have been a good time for music… at least, they have been to me. Over the past year to year and a half, I’ve discovered so much incredibly epic, gorgeous, utterly mind-blowing music, that it’s been hard to keep up with. I don’t want to go too far into detail concerning each and every track on this mix, but these are some musicians, peers, projects, and tracks that have really stuck out to me this year. There’s an aesthetic that flows through this music; it’s grainy, it’s reactionary, it’s radiant, it’s intelligent, it’s haunting, and it packs this intense vibe that you can’t help but take notice to. I won’t keep throwing cliché adjectives around, I’ll simply let this wonderful music speak for itself… Here’s some of my favorite music of recent days, months, weeks, year(s)…” Pink Priest, November 2009.

DOWNLOAD: We Sleep In This Cave | A Mixtape by Pink Priest (94.4MB)

Pink Preist: godofblues.blogspot.com |

img: Plamen Stoev

Discontent – All That Glitters Is Gold (Mixtape)

Looking back at the collection of mixtapes that adorn the elongated top shelf of my CD stack, it’s fascinating to watch genres, trends and styles come and ago. As much as the mixtapes pin down flashpoints in time and space, they also reflect a linear narrative of sorts. Buried in between the idiosyncratic choices that I’ve made, are signals that indicate a broader passage. Some genres bleed in slowly over months or over a sequence of multiple tapes, others crash in without much warning, overtaking everything in their path. However, it’s often hard to distinguish whether I’m being pulled, or I’m doing the pulling. Am I responding to signposts in the ether, or am I fashioning my own?

Certainly on ‘All That Glitters Is Gold’ artists such as Gary War, Cold Cave, Oneohtrix Point Never and Best Coast (a post-Pocahaunted project for Bethany Cosentino) are garnering an increasing recognition factor from blogs worldwide, however Australian artists such as Cabaret Callado, Pompey, Hi God People or the newly reissued Pelican Daughters (Itch-E & Scratch-E‘s Andy Rantzen in experimental / post-punk mode) remain almost entirely obscured from view, even in their home country. So, is this my story, or someone else’s? Truly, like all good mixtapes, it’s an eccentric combination of both.

What surprised me when pulling together this selection was the complete absence of remixes or covers. Instead, this is (with one slight exception) the original instance of all the tracks represented, not a reversion in sight. Perhaps the seemingly unstoppable glut of remixes and bootleg versions over the years has finally taken their toll on me – I need to return to the source. This theory is bourne out by events in my life – twelve months ago I was running down a clu-de-sac flogging ‘global ghettotech’ on Fat Planet, today I’ve reconnected with what drove my love of music in the first place: free experimentation, unbridled by a sense of scene, or notions of taste. Whether this is symptomatic of a wider condition is unclear, but I defy anyone to send me a bootleg electro remix via email and expect to see it cropping up on a mixtape anytime in the next era.

The title reflects this – these tracks shimmer and glow in their own right, with no need for spit or polish from any third party. It’s also a phrase culled from the closing track (the caveat mentioned above) – Buttress O’Kneel and Lucas Darklord‘s destruction of the Led Zeppelin classic. In Lucas’ own words, this is not so much as a remix, as a “ruin”. And it befits a mixtape whose underlying purpose (initially unbeknown to me) was to draw a line, to ruin the past, and to plant a signpost for a different kind of future.

Discontent – All That Glitters Is Gold | Download

  • 1. Pink Priest – Field Of Orgasms [U.S.] 2:02
  • 2. Teeth Mountain – Black Jerusalem [U.S.] 5:42
  • 3. Lucky Dragons – Power Melody [U.S.] 3:46
  • 4. Gyratory System – Cargo Cult [England] 4:34
  • 5. Blank Dogs – Set Living [U.S.] 3:18
  • 6. Peace In – Candy Rug Lizards [U.S.] 2:52
  • 7. Oneohtrix Point Never – Zones Without People [U.S.] 4:00
  • 8. Cabaret Callado – Ware [Brazil / Australia] 2:56
  • 9. Gary War – Good Clues [U.S.] 2:51
  • 10. Cold Cave – Life Magazine [U.S.] 2:56
  • 11. Flight – Flowers [U.S.] 2:51
  • 12. Hi God People – Thunder On The Way To Funan [Australia] 8:24
  • 13. Pelican Daughters – The Haywain [Australia] 3:38
  • 14. Zaza – Sooner or Later [U.S.] 5:06
  • 15. Pompey – Hands Miniature [Australia] 2:56
  • 16. Best Coast – Something In The Way [U.S.] 2:11
  • 17. Polyfox & The Union Of The Most Ghosts – Cross Boa Tangles Gently Around Polyfox [Australia] 3:02
  • 18. Fol Chen – Cocktails at Shadeland [U.S.] 0:59
  • 19. BOK Darklord – Stairway to Heaven [Australia] 2:12

img | anniewong

Discontent | Burnt By The Sun (Mixtape)

For a brief moment at the back half of last year, it felt as if dubstep was everywhere – that more common forms of what we might simply term ‘electronic music’ had been effectively backed into a corner by a swelling legion of producers (new and old) finding inspiration through the low end. There were two net results: one, the overall quality of the music being produced naturally become diluted and duplicated and it was all the worse for it; two, producers at the top of their game took their work off to one side, far outside the genre schema, and it was all the better for it. This collection isn’t particularly post-dubstep in any real sense, but – if there’s any commonality to be found – each of the producers here are creating new electronic music that sits outside the path of any genre juggernaut.

Kicking off the mixtape, Jay Bharadia and Gaslamp Killer plough a seam that points back to sample-delica and cut’n’spice science, but they too find something new to say inside an over-represented marketplace. Jay Bharadia‘s work was only recently introduced to me, although this cut is taken from his 2008 album, ‘The Yeti Cave’. More recently, he’s released a beautiful collection of warped remixes from Lone, Ochre, Implosion Quiet and two particularly sunburnt offerings from Airliner ’67. The Gaslamp Killer’s cut is ripped from his new debut EP, ‘My Troubled Mind’ released via Flying Lotus’ label, Brainfeeder. For once, the hype is right – and The Gaslamp Killer delivers a short but instantly compelling delve into his inverted beat alchemy.

Lest you feel any predictably in where this mixtape might head, there’s a few curveballs tucked inside. One is Ikonika, a female producer that has hitched herself to the right star in signing to the Hyperdub label, a dubstep collective that (much like its founder, Kode9) has found a new lease of life outside the main genre arena. ‘Phonelines VIP’ included here sounds as if it could have been ripped from an early Artificial Intelligence collection from Warp Records, updated with a two step sensibility. The second is Mochipet, whose endless productivity is matched by a consistently high and consistently skewed quality. Mochipet certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously, but in doing so, he finds seemingly endless freedom and flexibility. Having the space to move anywhere, particularly inside a single track, is not something that every producer can lay claim to and – on the new album, ‘Master P On Atari’ – that ability once again serves Mochipet well.

The mixtape closes with Paul White, a producer that has been prolific for many years – primarily as a ‘library music producer’ for British television. Inevitably, this overtly informs his work – this track from the album ‘The Strange Dreams Of Paul White’, with its wonky analogue sounds, hip hop beats and haunted snatches of Asian vocal, manages to tap into a leyline that straddles the last four decades of music. As with the rest of these selections, White understands that while embracing currency and futurism has its place, there still remains much to be gained from distilling that sensibility with choice fragments of the past. A notion that our bland, copyist dubstep fiends might be well advised to consider.

Discontent – Burnt By The Sun | Download

  • 1. Jay Bharadia – Mother Culture / England [8:21]
  • 2. The Gaslamp Killer – Anything Worse / U.S. [4:15]
  • 3. Various Production – Trycycle / England [6:58]
  • 4. Ikonika – Phonelines VIP / England [4:22]
  • 5. Jogger – Nice Tights (Nosaj Thing Remix) / U.S. [3:00]
  • 6. Bodycode – Subspace Radio / South Africa [6:10]
  • 7. Dalt Wisney – Smokey Daze Forever / Pakistan [3:02]
  • 8. Mochipet – Marshall Bass Stacks / Taiwan / U.S. [3:45]
  • 9. Fulgeance – Ann Arbor / France [4:44]
  • 10. Fletcher – Dreadlox Dub / South Africa [6:17]
  • 11. King Cannibal – So…Embrace The Minimum / England [4:02]
  • 12. Paul White – Burnt By The Sun / England [2:16]

img | tchola

Discontent – Hypnogogic Pop (Mixtape)

This mixtape is inspired by David Keenan’s ‘Hypnogogic Pop’ article in August 2009 issue of The Wire. Keenan asserts that the phrase refers to “pop music refracted through the memory of a memory“, drawing its power from “1980s pop culture into which many of the genre players were born, and which is now being factored into underground music as a spectral influence“.

I was drawn to this partly due to my admiration of Pocahaunted (featured briefly in the article), but also more particularly to the aesthetic – music drawn through layers of continual disintegration, indifferent to (and indeed almost entirely opposed) to clarity or crisp production, with instrumentation seemingly drawn from cheap, disposable sources. The packaging too is born of the same sensibility – many of these releases find themselves distributed via cassette, in limited runs, with photocopied covers and no hope for a simultaneous digital release.

In times when the printed zine is making a stand against the endless digital ephemera of blog culture, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a new generation of experimental artists would reject free and easy digital distribution in favour of lo-fi, corruptable, DIY recordings. But in this hypnogogic realm, looking back across the planes of over two decades, the time-scarred inspiration from that era is also corrupt, endlessly photocopied and degraded to such a point when it becomes almost entirely detached from the source. The natural result, as Keenan notes, is a sense of being “haunted by pop” – which also references “hauntology“, coined by Simon Reynolds in 2006 describing a crop of British artists who deploy “delectable morsels of decaying culture-matter”.

As with all material on Discontent, music found on this tape has been made available for free by the artists, hence it represents only a slice of the scene. Some of the artists on this collection are cited in the original article, others I’ve take liberties to include – such as Australia’s Cock Safari (whose new EP feels like the perfect bridge between continental scenes) and Salem‘s take on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’, which feels like a more direct coda to the abstract references peppered throughout these 72 minutes.

Discontent – Hypnogogic Pop | Download

img | Neil Krug (Licenced Via Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved).

Discontent – Music For Merce

Earlier this week, I read that Merce Cunningham had passed away. Whilst regularly lauded as one of the finest choreographers and dancers not only in America, but also worldwide, Merce’s contribution to music is no less profound. His avant garde approach to movement was matched directly with his work within sound. His life partner, John Cage, was the inaugural musical advisor for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and, between them, the duo forged an unparalleled relationship between music and dance, so much so that the repertory now reads as something of a ‘who’s who’ in 20th century avant garde music. Familiar names such as Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Brian Eno, Sigur Ros, Gavin Bryars, Pierre Henry, Erik Satie rub shoulders with composers and musicians who bent form, twisted genres and stretched definitions – and all of them sound-tracked work from a visionary artist, the like of which we may never see again.

It seemed fitting to construct a tiny tribute to Merce, utilising music and sound both lifted from artists within the repertoire (Pauline Oliveros, Sigur Ros, Earle Brown, Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, Yasunao Tone and, of course, John Cage), and those who were inspired by it. The latter is represented directly and indirectly. La Monte Young, who scored Merce’s 1964 piece ‘Winterbranch’, cited Ustad Abdul Karim Khan‘s ‘Jamuna Ke Tira Kanha’ as “one of the great masterpieces of music”. In addition to Charlotte Moorman’s realisation of a Cage piece, artist Mikrosopht also blends one of Cage’s many spoken words recordings into his own composition, where the composer’s influence on Nobukazu Takemura is more oblique – citing his “impressionist and objective conception” as key bearings on the creative process. I’ve also included My Brightest Diamond‘s variation of Radiohead‘s ‘Lucky’ from Stereogum’s OKX project – a puzzling hit and miss affair, particularly given the subject matter.

I was extraordinarily fortunate to have met Merce Cunningham a few years back – a close friend was working with him and invited me to lunch at his apartment when I was visiting NYC. I remember him being extremely warm, good humoured and incredibly genuine – it was one of those rare and beautifully uncommon episodes that will remain with me for life.

Discontent – Music For Merce | download

img | yan.da (Licenced via Creative Commons)

Discontent Phase Two | ‘Free Music’ Mixtapes

For over 20 years, I’ve been making mixtapes. Originally on cassette, briefly flirting with MiniDisc before landing now on the ubiquitous CD-R, there are just under 200 of my own mixtapes clogging up shelf space in the house. The first, titled ‘Aural Subculture’ (a vague reference to New Order) is dated February 1988 and includes tracks from The Sugarcubes, Cocteau Twins, Joy Division, The Fall and the Jesus & Mary Chain, amongst many other less notables.

For me, mixtapes serve two purposes – first, they are archival documentation that not only preserves a moment in sound, but that also ensure that I don’t lose pieces; that artefacts are catalogued and available to recall at any given moment. As a broadcaster, charged with identifying and promoting new music on a weekly basis, music can pass me by in a heartbeat – the average audition time for a track is less than ten seconds. It has to catch me in that time frame, otherwise, I’ve clicked on to the next. Without that dictum, I’d never get through the volume required in any given week. Thus mixtapes help me preserve the stand-outs, to ensure that they get played (often repeatedly so) on radio and remain on the shelf for a lifetime to come.

If that sounds a little clinical, then be assured – the second purpose is pure pleasure. The curation, collation and sequencing of mixtapes is one of my favourites pursuits. Even if no one else ever hears them, it gives me great joy.

Thus, when considering phase two of Discontent, it felt very much as if the time had finally arrived to put two and two together. Blogging and mixtapes, as one. Blogging about a single track in a single post certainly gives space and context, but the time allocated to writing is disproportionate to the length of the music itself. With mixtapes, I can get across a wider selection of music, but also create a context in a different way – by placing each piece in a sequence with a considered selection of other sounds.

Importantly, as always, all of the music on Discontent remains ‘legal’ or, more simply, ‘free music’ – that is, that the music in these mixtapes has been made available for free by artists, labels or other organisations. Perhaps they never considered that their music would be used in this way, but hopefully, the introduction of a new filter, a new context or a new curation will help distribute and ‘sell’ their work more widely.

To launch Discontent 2.0, I’ve posted two new mixtapes – the first is inspired by an article in this month’s Wire magazine on ‘Hypnogogic Pop‘ and features new music from Sun Araw, Pocahaunted, James Ferraro, Salem, Witchbeam, Yeti Scalp, Cock Safari, Jason E Anderson (also in his Brother Raven guise), Steve Hauschildt and Emeralds.

Although most of the mixtapes will feature new music, the second selection this week takes a more retrospective approach – in memory of artist Merce Cunningham, who sadly passed away on Monday. The mixtape includes musicians that have at one point or another featured in the repertory for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Pauline Oliveros, Sigur Ros, Earle Brown, Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, Yasunao Tone and, of course, John Cage) as well as music inspired by Cunningham’s artistic and personal partner, John Cage. ‘Music For Merce‘ is a small tribute to a great man and a timeless body of avant-garde work.

In addition to these tapes, I’ve also reposted recent mixtape selections: Discontent Mixtape Volumes One & Two, the first volume in the New Weird Australia project, and ‘Databass Eclectic Audio‘ – a 1997 collection of (then) new experimental Scottish music.

I hope you enjoy this new approach for Discontent and get just as much pleasure from listening to these selections as I had putting them together.

So it goes,
Stu.

img | eatmorechips

Jahcoozi | Watching You (Plastic Little Remix)

Jahcoozi. What to make of them? They squirreled into our psyche many earth-moon revolutions ago with their ‘fish fish fish’ inspired track, neatly titled ‘Fish’. Since then, they’ve chosen to run circles around their own narrative – whether through choice or fate, never hitching their wagon to any particular label for more than one release, and – with each consecutive appearance – always delivering a side order of unexpected mystery meat on top of their bass-heavy electro grill.

2007’s second album ‘Blitz N Ass’ was a tight, deep affair, perhaps not as loose and thus as experimental as their debut, but fascinating nonetheless. Since then, one-third – Robot Koch – has eschewed hibernation in favour of launching a label, Robots Don’t Sleep, and releasing EPs and mixtapes, whilst the group also found time to record the superb ‘Murder Us’ collaboration on King Cannibal‘s latest for Ninja Tune and pose for some delightfully bizarre photo shoots.

However, the door to the new Jahcoozi album has finally been kicked open with two singles – ‘Watching You’ (on Sugarcane) and ‘Namedropper’ (Batty Bass) – the former running mixes from Oliver $, Two Fingers, Plastic Little and Loose Cannons.

And whilst the original ‘Watching You’ continues to mine a bass-heavy seam for the trio, it’s Plastic Little’s remix that draws surprise – a genre-shifting departure from the source that teases out the tracks’s voyeuristic set-up and shrouds it in an ice-cold pean to suffocating love. When you’re daydreaming about to do with that boy/girlfriend that you can never have, this might well give you some dark inspiration.

Jahcoozi – Watching You (Plastic Little Remix) | mp3

img | cordlesscorey

Clubroot | Mary Anne Hobbs Mix

I’ve been cultivating a love of Clubroot‘s debut self-titled album this week, and dealing with my own response to the inevitable Burial comparisons. Ultimately, I feel sorry for Clubroot, but I tend to agree with them. And that said, I fear that every other review or mention is now destined to mention the ‘B’ word, and here I stand with a can of my own gasoline, adding fuel to the pyre.

Thankfully, Clubroot is no mere copyist. He may well be following the growing list of exiles that have now fully emerged from the dubstep cocoon, but he opts for a parallel route that seemingly taps into a concurrent junglist (rather than garage) vein. Whilst Burial arguably heads for the narcotics, Clubroot has a tentative hand on the amphetamines – not yet swallowing the contents, but hovering with an overstretched palm, threatening to let go at any moment.

This recent 20-minute mix from Radio 1’s Mary Anne Hobbs show gives you a crystal clear indication of what to expect from the album, available on Lodubs via Boomkat.

Clubroot – Mary Anne Hobbs Mix | rapidshare

Tracklisting:
Clubroot – ‘Orbiting’ (Dubplate)
Clubroot – ‘Lucid Dream’ (Lodubs)
Clubroot – ‘Nexus’ (Lodubs)
Clubroot – ‘Talisman’ (Lodubs)
Clubroot – ‘Sempiternal’ (Lodubs)
Clubroot – ‘Embryo’ (Lodubs)
Clubroot – ‘Birth Interlude’ (Lodubs)
Clubroot – ‘Toe to Toe’ (Dubplate)

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