Remember the Negative Sound Institute?
Looking Back 2006-2010


For a number of years this was the website for the Negative Sound Institute, a net label releasing artists and other music works released under Creative Commons or available in the public domain. The official launch of the Negative Sound Institute was on Wed, Nov 1, 2006 with an announcement by Gurdonark and Verian Thomas, a fellow mixter.

The new owners of this domain have rebuilt some of the original content from the site's archived pages in a tribute to Gurdonark, Verian Thomas, and all the artists who shared their music. Thank you.

Negative Sound Institute offers music that is available exclusively through free mp3 downloads; however, we do also plan occasional CD releases as well. All mp3 releases at Negative Sound Institute are released under the Creative Commons license so they are free to download and distribute as you wish, as long as it is not done for profit. The purpose of NSI is to release music, be it experimental or not, by a variety of different artists who feel that NSI can help bring their work to a wide and appreciative audience. NSI are not in it for the money, even if there was any to be had, and all rights of the artists and of their recorded material are reserved and all music and graphics are copyright of the respective authors

As NSI release the work of more artists we will add and mix up the tracks availabe, sometimes including tracks that are not available for download, sometimes tasters of new releases that are coming soon. Either way, there's plenty on there to be getting on with so click that mouse and have a listen!

Submissions

NSI are interested in receiving all manner of different types of submissions. Our genres fall loosely into electronica, ambient, soundscape and the like but we don’t restrict ourselves to those and will give most things a listen, and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can to let you know the status of your submission. We do ask that we are first to release work so that we have some exclusivity but after a while we have no problem with tracks being released elsewhere.

In the first instance links to submissions should be sent to verianthomas@negativesoundinstitute.com. Please do not send files to this address without prior consent as they won’t be opened and will be immediately deleted. Alternatively use our Soundcloud Dropbox, there's a link to the left there.

We are also interested in video work, as a host but also as collaborators with NSI artists. We will consider articles, photography and all manner of things if it seems interesting to us, so give us a try, you never know.

 

Released 2006 - 2010

Verian THomas - Median INew Release - Simon Waldram - Songs without Words

Simon Waldram hails from Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire, in the United Kingdom. In other releases, he writes conventional rock and acoustic pieces, featuring Simon singing intelligent lyrics. At Negative Sound Institute, we love a good conventional song, but we particular believe in the lyrical beauty of "Songs without Words". Simon Waldram's new release is, pleasingly, entitled just that "Songs without Words".

Released November 2009

Verian THomas - Median INew Release - Various Artists - Three

The trilobite, an extinct marine arthropod, featured bodies with three lobes. Trilobites began to swim in the Cambrian era. The last trilobites known to have swum in the Devonian era. The earliest trilobite fossils date from over 500 million years ago. The most recent trilobite fossils date from about 200 million years ago. When considered in light of the three hundred million years of trilobite evolution, the third anniversary of Negative Sound Institute appears might be deemed less than an enternal, earth-shattering event. Our compilation album, "Three", nonetheless seeks to celebrate our continued swim in the ocean of netlabels.

Released April 2009

Verian THomas - Median INew Release - Verian Thomas - Median I

Verian Thomas creates melodic ambient-infused guitar pieces which delight and inspire daydreams. His latest release explores new and modern realms of that very old-fashioned concept--the search for beauty.


October 23rd 2008

New Release -Pseudo: Gnostic Guitar ii
The search for truth proceeds in endless sequels. In ambient music, an idea turns into a line of melody, a wash of drone or a moment of silence. Pseudo's previous release, Gnostic Guitar Vol I, was a live improvisation recording in a single audio track. This prior release sought to find the truths in an improvised moment.

Gnostic Guitar Vol II introduces a spirit of compositional commitment to the method. Here one finds layered sounds, rhythm patterns, melodic phrases sometimes, voice speaking and whispers. A guitar, effects, and a speaking voice give rise to a melange of sound.

May 11th 2008

New Release -cHMa: Historia de Otoño

In Historia de Otoño, cHMa provides the listener with a survey of the autumnal moods which both soothe the listener and remind the listener that everything is in transition--a changing of the guard from heat to chill, from light to darkness.

 

February 29th 2008

New Release - ManB: Date

People speak blithely of "living in the moment". Self-help books and dayplan calendars speak of the "moment" as if it were an abstract idea and a mere policy for living.

In music, "living in the moment" can have a very literal, immediate meaning. ManB's "Date" arises from these literal moments.

November 20th 2007

New Release -David Stiernholm: Always--Ever

The thrill of sound moves us at NSI. We like music which recognizes the sheer joy in the experience of sound as sound. David Stiernholm, from Sweden, makes music which is the joy of the moment of sound creation. David's inspiration is speed--the quick creation and the intuitive experiment.


September 14th 2007

New Release -Hepepe - Tabula Smaragdina

Hepepe's calling card is that he makes eclectic electronica with a deep reverence for the traditional idioms which predate the harnessing of the diode and the capacitor to the cause of melody. Tabula Smaragdina is less an exploration of the jazz phantoms of the past, however, than a breathing set of electronica songs in its own right.

July 18th 2007

New Release -Pseudophone - Reach

Pseudophone strives to craft cinematic pieces that "tell a place"—a space so full of character a story will unfold there almost entirely by itself. Every tool in the Psueophophone studios—whether stringed or controlled by faders, whether banged on or dialed in—is musical. In Pseudophone's world every sound is sacred, and any sound can be composted. What is more sacred than a story?


June 15th 2007

New Release - The Thomas Nunnally Ensemble - The Tunnel at the End of The Light-

"The tired old saw proclaims that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Essayists and songwriters also explore the further paradox of the "tunnel at the end of the light". On this EP, the Thomas Nunnally Ensemble ride the hand-car down the rails in an recording about the way in which the process of living renders both sweet and bittersweet the transfers and railway stops that characterize coach travel in the human condition.

May 7th 2007

New Release - the Kirbi - Sunport

The Kirbi creates a series of melodic extravaganzas which thaw the winter cold. The title Sunport refers to a Spring awakening, when the sun comes out of its winter storehouse, removes its white veil, and whispers to all that life continues. Yet this album is not some entry into metaphoric sun-fantasy land, but instead are direct, accessible and yet not-at- all-obvious works of electronica fun.

April 15th 2007

New Release - NenTE - Eareye

Premeditation. Instinct. Improvisation. Design. ManB and Pseudo, from Italy, formed NenTE to explore the contours of spontaneity. They develop their live shows around a "leading theme", and then improvise upon that theme. The result, using this jazz methodology, is electronica of subtlety and power. Their music lives in the same spaces as Italian cinema--existential, complex and elusive.


March 16th 2007

New Release - Pseudo - Gnostic Guitar Volume 1

Just like the process of enlightment of the gnosticism, Pseudo composes with this "non-rational" approach. Within the sounds are the opportunity to work out different possible truths. The work revels in the process of receiving signals by the real world for further transcending, re-organizing them into instinctive systems capable to open new scenes of reality--maybe even to catch glimpses of a "supernatural project".


February 19th 2007

New Release - Verian Thomas- Massive

Behind every doorway, within or without, the place containing those things Verian Thomas titles "Massive" awaits. To enter it, one only need believe it is there. Within, light and dark are physical entities but the traditional rules of the good cowboy in the black hat and the bad in the black do not apply. Each is as flawed as the other. One must choose the right one to trust at the right moment to find the doorway that leads home.

NSI's own Gurdonark was recently interviewed by Bleepwatch about all manner of things.

February 13th 2007

New Release - Sascha Müller - Violet Dreams

In Violet Dreams, Sascha travels in the hazy, violet electro-horizons, where the colors shimmer as the sun rises and sets.




January 16th 2007

New Release - The Upside-Down Me- The Art Of War

So many times experimental musicians divide into the warring camps of noise and melody. The Upside-Down Me combines both strains on the field of chivalry for a jousting tournament which proves entirely satisfying. In a time when Satie, artificially adopted as the grandfather of ambient, has come to be given the reverence of a museum piece, the Art of War gives an original Satie-like attention to compelling melodies in the midst of atmospheric pads of intriguing light noise.


January 3rd 2007

New Release - Gurdonark - Tallgrass Canticle

This EP does not seek to address the literal prairie, nor the passing of scenic places and spiritual moments. Instead, the six pieces here seek to evoke the prairie within--the sprawling wash of inward fields, and the resonating hymn of presence in eternal life, in its mystery.




December 20th 2006

New Release - Verian Thomas- Miniatures

Miniatures seeks to open again the doorway into the pristine imperfection of childish things.

 

December 17th 2006

NEW - NSI Podcast presented by Verian Thomas & Gurdonark

December 15th 2006

New Release - Nakjaarna - Frozen Industries

minimal dark ambient, rendered with the vigor of an ecological hot spot. Featuring the following tracks:

Snow Temple
Winter Bliss
Frozen Industry

December 1st 2006

New Release - Mystified - Submerged Signals

Thomas Park, of Missouri USA, records as Mystified. He has contributed substantial work into the Creative Commons on respected netlabels. He has also had commercial releases, and been the subject of a feature in Spin Magazine. Mystified draws listeners because his work is neither easy nor difficult--but always intriguing.


A brand new NSI release featuring the following tracks:

Tootus Mootus
Cosmic Pow Wow
Submerged Signals
Pinpoint This

November 28th 2006

Dava Sobel's "Berzelli Park" 
was selected by indieish.com as their recommended track on the 26th November

NSI featured atEarhead 27th November

Coming in December: 3 brand new releases

November 4th 2006

New Release:

Artist: Dava Sobel
Title: Dava Sobel
Format: Downloadable E.P.
Release: NSI000004

Dava Sobel is a one man musical unit working with guitars, percussion, vocals and everyday household objects. 'It all began on a cold winters day on an old computer. The software and equipment was
basic but the ideas were there and so it all began. Different pieces attempt to capture a specific mood or atmosphere. The real aim here is to show that you don't need a full home studio to enjoy recording
music. Just look around your house or your garden to see that anything is possible.'

Track Listing:
Berzelli Park
Ramsay Sand
Street Five34
Red Horizon Jumping Blue Lights

 



 

ARTISTS

Dava Sobel is a one man musical unit working with guitars, percussion, vocals and everyday household objects. 'It all began on a cold winters day on an old computer. The software and equipment was basic but the ideas were there and so it all began. Different pieces attempt to capture a specific mood or atmosphere. The real aim here is to show that you don’t need a full home studio to enjoy recording music. Just look around your house or your garden to see that anything is possible.'

Dava Sobel hails from Exeter, England and this eponymous release is a blend of Experimental Ambient Acoustic Folk and his first for NSI.

  • Berzelii Park
  • Ramsay Sand
  • Street Five34
  • Red Horizon Jumping Blue Lights

~~~

 

 

Tallgrass Canticle

Variously described as found music, ambient music, weirdbient music or noise, the work of Gurdonark is different things to different people, but his skill lies in his ability to create a mood or a feeling that transports the listener to an entirely new place. "Tallgrass Canticle" uses the metaphors of prairie and praise to suggest the inward liberation of metaphoric endless fields. The term "canticle", a synonym, among other things, for "hymn", connotes here less a literal religious song than the sense of life and presence embedded in the fields. The religion, if that is the term, is in the seas of grass. Where the casual viewer might find only a landscape of green, the discerning searcher hears the songs of meadowlarks who nest among the grasses and see the kestrel's swift descent among the leaping grasshoppers. As one observer said in the 19th Century:

"Soul melting scenery that was about me! A place where the mind could think volumes; but the tongue must be silent that would speak, and the hand palsied that would write. A place where a Divine would confess that he never had fancied Paradise—where the painter's palette would lose its beautiful tints—the blood-stirring notes of eloquence would die in their utterance—and even the soft tones of sweet music would scarcely preserve a spark to light the soul again that had passed this sweet delirium.

I mean the prairie, whose enameled plains that lie beneath me, in distance soften into sweetness, like an essence; whose thousand velvet covered hills, (surely never formed by chance, but grouped in one of Nature's sportive moods)—tossing and leaping down with steep or graceful declivities to the river's edge, as if to grace its pictured shores, and make it "a thing to look upon."
--George Catlin

Gurdonark lives twenty five miles north of Dallas, in what is termed a "prairie transition zone", because the woodlands to the east complete their transition to the prairies to the west in his home area of Collin County.

Collin County serves as a southern border for the blackland prairie, which once covered thousands of miles with tallgrass plants, prairie flowers and wildlife. The ecological disaster which arose from unfettered cultivation of the soil reduced the prairie to isolated pockets, often a pristine hayfield left unfurrowed. Fields of bluestem grass supported a panoply of wildflowers, native birds and small mammals.

This EP does not seek to address the literal prairie, nor the passing of scenic places and spiritual moments. Instead, the six pieces here seek to evoke the prairie within--the sprawling wash of inward fields, and the resonating hymn of presence in eternal life, in its mystery.

The pieces here were all created with software readily available to the casual computer user. The freeware program Anvil Studio, from http://www.anvilstudio.com, supplemented by an inexpensive extension to permit VST plug-in synthesizers to be used with its workings, was used by Gurdonark as the sequencer upon which most of the compositions here were created. The VST plug-in Crystal, the wonderful freeware creation of Glenn Olander, is available for free at http://www.greenoak.com, and served as the voice for "Texas Rat Snake". Gurdonark made ample use of the much-beloved easy-interface sampler Slicer, from http://www.ixi-software.net in order to mold and morph the resulting wave forms. The recording studio programs used here were the reasonably priced Magix Audio Studio 10 and the nearly-free Magix Audio Studio 5, although the works here could easily have been created on Audacity or other freeware softstudios. Gurdonark used the freeware program by Ian Shatwell, "Wave Goodbye", http://www.btinternet.com/~irshatwell/WaveGoodbye/intro.html as a device to convert various wave portions back into MIDI pieces for further restructuring. Gurdonark lives in gratitude, because, among others, gifted software developers make freeware accessible to the creation of a truly sharing culture.


The songs were all composed and performed by Gurdonark, except for "Forgotten Fields", which is a cover of Verian Thomas' "Forgotten" from the NSI EP release "Down". Verian provided the general MIDI setting, and, of course, wrote the melody. Gurdonark reimagined the song, as released here.

The goal is these pieces is to provide small moments of simple delight. When Gurdonark stands on a small hill at Park Hill Prairie and looks down at a field of wildflowers, he sees an expanse of grass and wildflower. If these pieces give the barest hint of that sense of wonder, then this canticle shall have served its purpose as an indirect, and wordless, hymn of joy.

  • Endless Fields Of Grass
  • Roadrunner
  • Texas Rat Snake
  • Mexican Heather
  • Mint Marigold
  • Forgotten Fields

~~~

The Closet Ballerinas is an experiment in music from non-musician Chris Short. The result is sometimes pretty and sometimes abrasive, but it leaves a mark. Closet Ballerinas is inspired by other DIY recorders as well as more well known artists such as Flying Saucer Attack and Syd Barrett. Sometimes it is very clear that the action happens with little knowledge of the instruments being played, and at times all flows the way it should.

The other half of this experiment, Jack Cassada, is featured playing a glass jar on bass and chanting in the song “Roaring Silence.” Most of these songs were recorded within a couple days, very quickly, using a four-track and some instruments, with the sheer joy of doing rather than the burden of finesse. The Closet Ballerinas project has one simple aim: Learn a few things about music between now and the next song.

  • Sunrise, Thinking
  • Olya
  • Family
  • Roaring Silence
  • Louisiana Riverboat Blues

 

~~~

ManB - Date

People speak blithely of "living in the moment". Self-help books and dayplan calendars speak of the "moment" as if it were an abstract idea and a mere policy for living.

In music, "living in the moment" can have a very literal, immediate meaning. ManB's "Date" arises from these literal moments. Date is the plural Italian word for a sequence of Month/day/year events. In ManB's music, music is literally created "in the moment". ManB performs his electronica compositions "live", without the use of overdub or delayed indulgence. "Date" instead uses a compositional device of synthesizers and faders played without one pre-ordained sequencer scheme, but instead an enlightened expression of artistic integrity.

The unpremeditated moment--the early dawn within, when the birdsong arises, the jazz-club-haze exuberance of a sound that feels so right. When the making of music moves byond the rules of instrumental pre-destination into the oneiric architecture of the city of dreams.

The "Record" button can be a kind of pinning of a butterfly--a capture of a moment, robbing it of its fundamental life. In ManB's "Date", it is instead an emergence of emotion from the cocoon of thought. ManB fills the blank pages of a moleskine with detailed maps of unknown places and sensations out of space and time. The moth-flutter flight into a void held together solely by the changeable rules of sound frequencies.

We advise you to set your dayplanner to non-existent dates, and revel in ManB's moment.

  • 011907 
  • 032407 
  • 041307 
  • 072507 
  • 101007

 

~~~

Nakjaarna is the ambient musical project of Kris Tilbury, who hails from the border regions between the USA states of Texas, Arkansas and Louisana. Her work hails in spirit from the forbidden arctic places of the mind, where thought, idea, and barest hint all fuse together in a caravan of snow. She uses commonplace instruments such as a dulcimer, a voice and light percussion, processed into drone, to create ice palaces on permafrost. Her work is minimal dark ambient, rendered with the vigor of an ecological hot spot. She has previously appeared on a compilation on the wonderful intelligentmachinery.net netlabel, and writes for the webzine www.deepintense.com Approach her work like a sled team without dogs, and discover the true warmth of the mental winter within us all.

Her release on NSI, Frozen Industry, features long interludes of ambient drone, enlivened by non-assaultive noise in pursuit of a sense of ice and desolation. Remixing: Gurdonark, with whom Kris has collaborated on pieces as yet unreleased.

  • Snow Temple
  • Winter Bliss
  • Frozen Industry

~~~

Pseudo - Gnostic Guitar ii
The search for truth proceeds in endless sequels. In ambient music, an idea turns into a line of melody, a wash of drone or a moment of silence. Pseudo's previous release, Gnostic Guitar Vol I, was a live improvisation recording in a single audio track. This prior release sought to find the truths in an improvised moment.

Gnostic Guitar Vol II introduces a spirit of compositional commitment to the method. Here one finds layered sounds, rhythm patterns, melodic phrases sometimes, voice speaking and whispers. A guitar, effects, and a speaking voice give rise to a melange of sound.

Is there a “gnostic next step”in ambient language of guitar? Can one find new places within as a listener? Nothing is entirely new under the ambient sun, yet the spirit of minimal composition and the sense of transforming stasis has its virtues.

Gnosis and paradox go hand in hand. Song titles contradict themselves. Melodies are focused meditations, within aimless drones. We invite you to suspend your various disbeliefs, yet indulge your faithlessness, and find a release from Earth in these simple songs.

Lyrics to:
BOUND TO EARTH

All the love you could give
might be the less you'll receive
and the lands you may walk
and the people who talk
may breathe your own breath
may speak about depths

You should turn back your head
to what ancients been said

The spirit may fly
and drugs may take you high
all the gurus on earth
and the saints and their search
all this paths to the depths
make your soul feel upset

You could turn back your head
to what ancients been said

Bound to earth
bound to this earth
never frighten of depths
'couse depths here they are

~~~

Sascha Müller - Violet Dreams

"Shall I tell you my dreams? - To give an account of my time is doing, I assure you, but little better"--William Beckford (with thanks to Project Gutenberg)

Sascha Müller, also known as Pharmacom, hails from Uelsen, Germany. He participates actively in the netlabel movement, both as a musician and as a label-owner. Sascha Müller does not live merely by the code of the software synthesizer, but also uses a rich array of analog instruments and techniques in his recordings. His work crosses genre boundaries, from techno to ambient to electro and back again.

In Violet Dreams, Sascha travels in the hazy, violet electro-horizons, where the colors shimmer as the sun rises and sets. As with all equatorial border territories, the result is a rich melange of different styles and ways of doing things. The intersection of different netlabel cultures is a point of melding and melting, which takes place in the penumbra of song.

We live in a time of harsh divisions, when we all dream of violet fields in a land without borders.
Come join Sascha Müller for an exploration of the dream-power of sound to bridge the spaces between
us.

  • Interacting Darkness
  • Envelope
  • Speicherstadt

 

the Kirbi- Sunport

Denis A. Fomenko records as The Kirbi. Denis hails from Barnaul, in Altai, Siberia, in Russia. His music features electronica which refuses to be bound within the narrow fetters of electro-acoustic experimentation, but instead insists upon being experienced as songs and not merely as ideas. In Sunport, The Kirbi creates a series of melodic extravaganzas which thaw the winter cold. The title Sunport refers to a Spring awakening, when the sun comes out of its winter storehouse, removes its white veil, and whispers to all that life continues. Yet this album is not some entry into metaphoric sun-fantasy land, but instead are direct, accessible and yet not-at- all-obvious works of electronica fun. The Kirbi avoids the trite pre-set maladies that can bring the wrong kind of chill to this genre, and instead launches out with rays of sun which are naive in their detailed sophistication. We here at NSI tend to drift over toward the ambient side of the ledger, but we never resist a good thaw. We hope you'll step into the sunport, and feel the warmth the Kirbi provides.

Barnaul once served as a regional mining center for silver smelting. There's a similar sense of refining precious things into new electronica in this album. The Kirbi is not an academician,but instead a self-taught musician. He is someone who lives in the real world--whether a workplace, street scene, a sunny Siberian day, or even performing at the English Club.
We're pleased to release Sunport. We also mention that the Kirbi has another netlabel release on Vorbic, which may be found at: http://www.vorbic.com/releases/vrb004/

The Kirbi would be an excellent Myspace friend to have: http://www.myspace.com/thekirbispace

We hope you'll find, as we did, that Denis Fomenko is a sunny addition to relieve your cold, Siberian nights.

  • Lion's Heart
  • Round Dance With Singing Waterfall
  • Sunport
  • The Gold God
  • Laden

~~~

The Thomas Nunnally Ensemble -
The Tunnel At The End Of The Light

"The tired old saw proclaims that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Essayists and songwriters also explore the further paradox of the "tunnel at the end of the light". On this EP, the Thomas Nunnally Ensemble ride the hand-car down the rails in an recording about the way in which the process of living renders both sweet and bittersweet the transfers and railway stops that characterize coach travel in the human condition.

Dark/light imagery permeates the popular consciousness, with rigid notions of "good" and evil". Yet in the tunnel live the Good Samaritan, the dolphin in glacial waters who only looks like a killer whale, and the bat who will emerge to eat the malarial mosquito. My light is your scorching laser. My darkness is your cool Summer night.

TNE create music in juxtaposition---an ambient drone might be accompanied by an electro beat, a narrative about passing clouds might be married to an urban frenzy. In so doing, they seek to neither darken the light nor lighten the tunnel. They aim instead to provide a pleasing reality in the fantasy of divergent musical ideas. Life is not lived in neat packages, but rather in scarce liberations and omnipresent redundancies.

TNE take their contentment where they can, and share it, as they feel they must, with near-religious fervor,
with all inclined to download it. As ever, Verian Thomas brings to this album the foreground of the painted subject, while Robert Nunnally contributes the fervent atmospheres of a droning cloud-cuckoo-land. Yet the goal is not fantasy, but interconection. The music is not gamesmanship, but the game itself. TNE hope you find the game worth the candles the listener must burn to hear its catcalls. When the train reaches station, may the sounds and silences conduct you to the first class section of the TNE line".

  • Rail Trail Outside Sudbury
  • Perkancal
  • Five R's
  • Allen
  • Beep Beep

~~~

Pseudophone - Reach

Pseudophone. The word sounds obvious, and yet somehow obscure. It’s a complex idea to express an arcane instrument of little-explored science. It’s an actual device that folks who do auditory work esteem. It produces illusory auditory localization for the listener through the curious device of changing the relationship between the person receiving the sound and the actual direction of the sound. A curious bit of misdirection, this Pseudophone, based upon the idea that what you hear may not be coming from the place you think you are hearing it. In music circles, Pseudophone is sometimes used to describe the cinematic in music. The duo Pseudophone, however, are not mere visitors on Sunset Boulevard who long to flash forward, Gloria-Swanson-style, to the fleeting embers of fame. Pseudophone are instead good old-fashioned campfire storytellers, flipping the cards of sound to create evocative animated music.

Pseudophone strives to craft cinematic pieces that "tell a place"—a space so full of character a story will unfold there almost entirely by itself. Every tool in the Psueophophone studios—whether stringed or controlled by faders, whether banged on or dialed in—is musical. In Pseudophone's world every sound is sacred, and any sound can be composted. What is more sacred than a story? The Spirit moves across the water, and the words appear in the beginning, and in the end.

The original music and production work of Pseudophone, collectively or as individuals, has appeared in feature film, television, radio, computer-based multi-media and games, installations, as well as in the concert hall. We at NSI do not worry much about installations and infrastructure. Our hope is that the Creative Commons album Reach will download freely into the listener’s daydreams—as if the waking world were misdirected, changing the auditory localization of the listener’s inner experience.

Reach is a travelogue of sorts, but the destinations are unmapped. It is a sonic diary of places told, a soundtrack of possible journeys—both outward and within. Yet we hope you find it not so much a long voyage as a dreamy sail—no coins are required for the boatman.

Pseudophone is:

Hoby Ebert
Peter Koniuto

Individual 256kbps Downloads:

1. Walkabout
Ebert – electric guitar
Koniuto – Ace Tone electric organ, percussion, schemes & treatments, assemblage

2. Kainchi Tangent
Ebert – electric guitar, Ensoniq FIZMO
Koniuto - Ace Tone electric organ, schemes & treatments

3. Evidence of Things Unseen 
Ebert – electric guitar, ocarina, schemes & treatments, assemblage
Koniuto – Ace Tone electric organ, field recordings, schemes & treatments

4. R Finds the Factory 
Ebert – Korg EA-1 and ER-1
Koniuto – electric bass guitar, schemes & treatments

5. The Reach 
Koniuto – voice, schemes & treatments, assemblage
Kim Mitchell – voice

6. Kov-Ata -
Ebert – electric guitar
Koniuto – field recordings, schemes & treatments
* Recorded live to 2-track*

All pieces created by Pseudophone except: "The Reach" – created by Peter Koniuto
Recorded and mixed at:
Red Sun Soundroom www.RedSunSoundroom.com
MoonDogEast www.MoonDogEast.org

~~~

The Upside-Down Me- The Art of War

Alberto Dattilo, who records as The Upside-Down Me, hails from Calabria, in the southern part of Italy. He titles this release "The Art of War", which hearkens back to the Sun Tzu text on military strategy from circa 500 B.C. Yet this work is no tired tome on maneuvers or business genius. The album does not dwell on the damaged chariots of the past, nor the hyper-modern death gliders of the future, but upon the contradictions, survival strategies and defeats of the flower war we call living.

So many times experimental musicians divide into the warring camps of noise and melody. The Upside-Down Me combines both strains on the field of chivalry for a jousting tournament which proves entirely satisfying. In a time when Satie, artificially adopted as the grandfather of ambient, has come to be given the reverence of a museum piece, the Art of War gives an original Satie-like attention to compelling melodies in the midst of atmospheric pads of intriguing light noise.

Boris Spassky defeated the stalwart Tigran Petrosian in their rematch, to become the chess champion of the world, until Bobby Fischer, in his turn, defeated Spassky and then melted down in a tragedy of Icarus-like proportions. The piece "Spasskij" gives us neither challenger nor champion, but instead the thrill of the play--the complexities of the opening, and the inevitable calculation of the endgame. The king topples, or the position is drawn. "Wake Up/Make Up" evokes that ultimate survival strategy in the war which is love.

Noise and melody are the lion and the lamb. Mr. Dattilo, who has studied his art history, knows that
in our dreams they lie down together. The result is a fascinating blend of the acoustic and the electronic, and of the pristine tones of song with the necessary drones of noise.

We are pleased to release the Upside-Down Me, who, in turn, has helped blaze a new way for netlabels
with his new group to help netlabel fans come together, Netlabels' NET:

We believe that he comes in peace, and that these pieces may transport you to pacific wars among friendly stars. Is it a mirror of the world? Sadly, perhaps not. But let his interesting sounds be a mirror within your mind, until the day when all the wars are of the imagination only.

roads 
probably, sure 
spasskij
wake up / make up 

~~~

cHMa - Historia de Otoño

Gabriel Nieto aka cHMa, hails from Mexico, and has had prior releases on the Bumpfoot netlabel.

In Historia de Otoño, he provides the listener with a survey of the autumnal moods which both soothe the listener and remind the listener that everything is in transition--a changing of the guard from heat to chill, from light to darkness. Using the watercolors of minimalism and glitch, he paints with a firm brush-stroke creating soundscapes which soundtrack the passing of the seasons. Rather than being bound within one genre or set of ideas, cHMA explores a subtle variety of electronic moods and alternate universes.

A great divide has arisen between those for whom the music must eschew traditional beats and instrumentation, and those for whom the beat is at the techno heart of the beating beat of the matter.
Similarly, artificial distinctions such as "noise/drone", "dark/melodic" and "ambient/chill" create needless debates among specialized niches of listeners, as if two small countries choose to go to war over a slice of territory of little economic or political value to either.

After the fervent Spring of division and growth, and the warm Summer of complacency, the Autumn
brings the cutting away of what has passed. In this mood of change and things passing, one comes to appreciate the virtues in what one can hear, rather than to debate its genre or affiliations. In netlabel culture we learn that the traditional "flags" of the music industry no longer wave so briskly. In a time beyond national borders, we greet the coming of the Autumn, and we catalog its history amid drones and beats.

cHMA provides us with a soundtrack for things passing, for things coming into being, and for things yet to come. We invite you to join him as he catalogs a history of our future.

  • Historia de Otoño 1 
  • Historia de Otoño 2 
  • Historia de Otoño 3 
  • Historia de Otoño 4 

 

~~~

Thomas Park, of Missouri USA, records as Mystified. He has contributed substantial work into the Creative Commons on respected netlabels. He has also had commercial releases, and been the subject of a feature in Spin Magazine. Mystified draws listeners because his work is neither easy nor difficult--but always intriguing.

Mystified's music ranges across a wide gamut of experimental and ambient music. He utilizes found sound, processed sound, field recordings and various forms of aural manipulations to create a varied palette of sound and song. The listener to a Mystified song can be drawn into an experience as down-to-earth as the local deli, or as avant-garde as the most abstruse abstract. Mystified's music eschews the trained seals of humdrum construction, in search of a seawall beyond words. He visits places of pure sound, and reports on the submerged signals
just beyond the guidebook of tourist-weary watering holes, where the flowing fountains await.

  • Tootus Mootus 
  • Cosmic Pow Wow 
  • Submerged Signals
  • Pinpoint This 

~~~

NenTE - Eareye

Premeditation. Instinct. Improvisation. Design. ManB and Pseudo, from Italy, formed NenTE to explore the contours of spontaneity. They develop their live shows around a "leading theme", and then improvise upon that theme. The result, using this jazz methodology, is electronica of subtlety and power. Their music lives in the same spaces as Italian cinema--existential, complex and elusive.

ManB draws complex sonic texture and plateaux from the knobs and controls. Pseudo lends a haunting ambient guitar. The resulting sound dimensions explore change and flow. Too much is written about music and states of consciousness. Pseudo offers wordless maps to a listening experience more important than the weblog tags of overwrought thinking.

NenTe's members bring years of experience in a variety of electronica genres to the table, but they feast on the wondrous dishes of the moment. For this release, they take banquets of cinematic length and reduce them to tapas of divine morsels. They call this release “Eareye”, a rough transliteration of the name of an italian music TV show of the eighties, “L’Orecchiocchio. There is a visual, cinematic feel about these songs--an endless "jam session" for the ear and eye. We trust you will find NenTe an animated and delightful octet of filmic proportions.

  • Sub Conscius 
  • Criogenic 
  • Space Lollipop 
  • Lynne Psychedelic Notebook
  • Gas Diving 
  • Into The Twilight
  • TimBook 2
  • TimBook 3 

~~~

Simon Waldram - Songs without Words

Simon Waldram hails from Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire, in the United Kingdom. In other releases, he writes conventional rock and acoustic pieces, featuring Simon singing intelligent lyrics. At Negative Sound Institute, we love a good conventional song, but we particularly believe in the lyrical beauty of "Songs without Words". Simon Waldram's new release is, pleasingly, entitled just that "Songs without Words".

Perhaps jazz music best exemplifies the lyrical nature of instrumental music, as the instrumental solos "stand in' for actual singers. Yet the jazz spirit is not bound to a single genre--as in the truism, the definition of jazz is that it defies definition. In "Songs without Words", Mr. Waldram makes music in which he uses his Les Paul Epiphone replica guitar to visit places usually visited by synthesizers and sequencers. The music ranges from the slow-drive tones of "Elements" to the gentle ambience of "Elegy" and "Rowing Toward Hope" (the latter is a collaboration with Gurdonark).

The old song posited a kind of meaninglessness in songs that "ain't got that swing". We posit instead that the meaning in music involves taking the old beats and the old swings and putting them into songs without words. The lyrics are in the sounds of a gently pulsing guitar.

What are the things we say when we write instrumental songs? They cannot be written out as one sentence, or even as one page. The song's "speaker" and its listeners hear different words. In "Songs without Words" Simon Waldram provides a rich palette of paints for the listener to use to fingerpaint her or his own destiny and story. Too often music is described as "experimental" or "abstract', but in the release of "Songs without Words', let us praise music which helps the listener find her or her own narrative in its sounds.

  • Houston Sunday
  • Endless Blue
  • Rowing Towards Hope
  • Elements 
  • Maybe We're Almost Home 
  • Letter to Orkney
  • Elegy 
  • Displacement 
  • Only This Moment
  • Waves 
  • The Brightest Light
  • Memories of a Storm
  • The Bird That Flew Halfway Across the Ocean
  • Wandering Spirits-Houston Monday 

 

Verian Thomas - Median I

Verian Thomas creates melodic ambient-infused guitar pieces which delight and inspire daydreams. His latest release explores new and modern realms of that very old-fashioned concept--the search for beauty.

The search for beauty involves an endless series of intuitive calculations. The musician seeks out the moments (or seconds) in which beauty appears, even if only its creator recognizes its sleek sheen. Some share the experience that beauty channels fully formed from a deeper place, "manifesting" as a song.

Verian Thomas' Median: I deals with the creation of beauty in a more trackless land. The guitarist plays the guitar without a particular melodic goal or purpose, with the mind wandering. From the edges of the imagination (the curtilage of the "intellectual property"), a glimmer of an idea appears. Verian grasps that idea like an unmet friend, refining the initial thought and building upon it. Layer by layer, melodic idea by melodic idea, addition, discard, re-creation, a song appears. When the song no longer calls out desperately for change, it has achieved its equilibrium. Then the recording begins. Each song is in this small way presented in the median between despair and wild optimism.

Median I is the first of at least three E.P's that sit between the two previous releases Miniatures and Massive, being made up of tracks that are, in length, a median of the short tracks on the former and the long track of the latter. Each track has been recorded on a single guitar (Fender Stratocaster U.S.A) although, unlike previous releases, some percussion is included and a vocal on the final track. The working method has always been to accept first recorded takes and this method applies to the Median E.P's but more time was spent on composition before anything was committed to tape. Hopefully this will be evident when listening.

The final track, 'An Autumnal' (the artist's favorite) includes vocals by Mary Sarah.

About Mary Sarah

Noted as; "a voice of the world," by The Daily Record (NJ/NYC) and as," the voice which opens the heart and sows the seeds of generosity," -- Diane Simard, Publicist (Montreal, QC), Mary Sarah's work swirls around the musical globe. Spanning over fifteen years in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist, Danys Levasseur of Montreal, QC, Sarah has composed works for dance, theatre, soundtrack and produced five CDs. In writing, Sarah feels that whatever needs to flow through her, finds its way. "When we let it," she states, "the voice is an endless channel and vessel, with limitless worlds to express."

  • I lose all fear when you suck the breath from my lungs
  • That split second that turns into lifetimes
  • The scent of your pillow after you have gone
  • An Autumnul (feat. Mary Sarah) 

 

Hepepe.hu - Tabula Smaragdina

Hepepe.hu hails from Budapest. Because Budapest functions so often as a crossroads of cultures, it is tempting to write the standard liner notes in which the eclectic nature of Hepepe.hu's muse is neatly dissected and labeled as a product of place. We live so often in a time in which nationality or ethnicity or religion or gender leads to easy labels and smooth, if inaccurate, definitions. The reality about this release, as with the reality about larger things in a larger picture, is that the neat definitions are less important than the music itself.

The Tabula Smaragdina, or "emerald tablet", refers to a mystical idea from the Rosicrucian tradition. One can also try to fit this music into some mystical "honor box of designation", and glibly term it an electronica for inward practice. This, too, simplifies the music into words, when the music itself does not fit so neatly into paragraph-size packages. This "Tabula Smaragdina" is not a quasi-religious track, but a set of tracks for the listener to enjoy.

Hepepe's calling card is that he makes eclectic electronica with a deep reverence for the traditional idioms which predate the harnessing of the diode and the capacitor to the cause of melody. Tabula Smaragdina is less an exploration of the jazz phantoms of the past, however, than a breathing set of electronica songs in its own right.

Although hepepe.hu has often remixed fascinating blends at http://www.ccmixter.org, Tabula Smaragdina comprises entirely new material blended from within the artist's mind.

We at NSI swim often in the deep waters of the idea and of the evocative nature of music. We are less an ambient label per se than a label in which the experience of sound gives rise to an atmosphere in which ideas and emotions merge into music. We present Hepepe.hu's intriguing electronica without manifesto or dogma, as songs uploaded for your listening pleasure, in the inward mystiscism of the music. If "getting the holy ghost across" is here less a spell and more a set of songs, then so much the better. We invite you to leave behind bells, books, and candles and experience Hepepe.hu's tablet as music rather than commandment or myth.

  • Nucleorus 
  • NSI Dub 
  • Knowhereland
  • Tabula Smaragdina

David Stiernholm: Always--Ever

The thrill of sound moves us at NSI. We like music which recognizes the sheer joy in the experience of sound as sound. David Stiernholm, from Sweden, makes music which is the joy of the moment of sound creation. David's inspiration is speed--the quick creation and the intuitive experiment. The Japanese have the concept of wabi-sabi, which honors the imperfect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi). Music created from the creation of the pleasingly imperfect whole is the essence of David's music. In our time of virtual instruments and sequencer hosts, the execution of music runs the danger of a hollow, soul-less perfection. David Stiernholm, know as Puie on http://www.ccmixter.org , creates celebrations of the imperfect moment, largely eschewing the tools of the technician for those of the acoustic instrumentalist. He makes the most of analog instruments and physical objects, using the creative process invites chance and accept what I may first perceive as errors or mistakes, the possible artistic height is what I can achieve plus the infinite possibilities of the unknown, of chance.



Each piece on this release starts with a graphic idea, such as "what would it sound like if the soft oboe played a downward figure consisting of short notes, while the sharp nyckelharpa played a upward figure consisting of long notes bound together". Then, David picks out some harmonies on the piano, just to have something to work with, like a handful of fixed colors with which to paint. He kick starts the motorcycle of creatitivity with the flailing boot of self-imposed boundaries. Then he proceeds to dismantle the boundaries and create new.

Instruments on this album, such as the nyckelharpa, are not often heard on an ambient netlabel.
The point, though, is not novelty, but balance. The goal here is a sense of rightness--like a well cooked meal.

Melodies are the prettiest when they are the least overwrought. David's creative process trusts the first notion, the first sound, and the joy of creation.

We are glad to release David Stiernholm's acoustic explorations, and hope that you, too get caught up in the joy of first creation and novel ideas.

Credits for sample: For "Bombarde Indienne", features drums by spinningmerkaba, which is a Creative Commons sample.

  • Jubel Tone 
  • The Japanese Decision 
  • Bombarde Indienne
  • Numbingly Cold Brass
  • Farewell 


Gurdonark Interview

04 august 2008
Interview with Gurdonark
Reprinted from http://blog.emxr.com/2008/08/interview-with-gurdonark.html

He has a degree in physics, co-owns a commercial law practice, takes photographs, plays internet chess, writes poetry, publishes a blog, co-owns a net label, records and remixes ambient music. And that's just a partial list for Robert Nunnally, who hails from just a bit north of Dallas, Texas and is known to the ccMixter community as gurdonark. He recently joined me for a few questions and answers in the context of an artist's spotlight at ccMixter.

The interview ended up a bit longer than appropriate for ccMixter. However I thought it would be worthwhile to publish the entire interview here. I'll put a link to jump across the sections covered in the ccMixter interview, so those who have already read the part published there can jump across that section.

So here's the interview in 3 parts:
part 1: gurdonark about his music
part 2: gurdonark about videos and net labels 
(this section also featured at ccMixter)
part 3: gurdonark up close and about open music and sharing

Part1:

spin: Thanks so much for spending some time with us, Bob. On your ccMixter home page, you describe yourself as "non-musician ambient music creator". Depending on your dictionary of choice, this might seem to be a contradiction in terms?

Robert: The practice, as an ambient artist, of referring to myself as a "non-musician" involves a bit of affectation, as ambient pioneer Brian Eno described himself as a non-musician. Among noise artists, there is also a vein of "this is not music" spirit that people adopt, to allow sonic experimentation not to be restricted to "musical" ideas. I'm aware of those ideas when I use the term "non-musician". I aim a bit differently with my use of the term.

My use of the term recognizes that I am only somewhat semi-skilled at a few analog instruments. It's important to me that we develop a culture in which "making music" is no longer something on a "pedestal", in which only the chosen can participate. I make music. I am a non-musician. You can make music, too.

spin: Thus you're reminding us, that music at heart is a participation sport, rather than only a spectator sport. -- So how did you first get involved in making music?

Robert: I took piano lessons, with very limited success, when I was young. I took up the autoharp in law school, and the mountain dulcimer in recent years. In 2002, a guitarist and ukulele player friend of mine, Scott_M, and I began to discuss my idea of an album based upon one of my favorite child's toys, the electric football field.

We recorded a quick album of electric football field music on Scott's little TASCAM 4-track. We found, to our amusement, that the resulting CD, "Vibrating Electric Fields", could be sold on eBay, where electric football field enthusiasts bid to own it. It was the ideal kind of amusing DIY experience -- absurd, self-generated, and a good anecdote. We got airplay on the Odd Music Show, and that sort of amusing thing.

spin: Now that's pretty far out even for you! -- You've been a part of the ccMixter community from relatively early days. How did you first bump into the mixter?

Robert: I credit chess, ccMixter and a song called "Girl and Supergirl" for getting me more involved in music. I remain an extremely interested but rather mediocre (in relation to "real players') "B" chess player. I met my friend Lisa DeBenedictis through my weblog, and soon, we were playing blitz chess at freechess.org. Lisa encouraged me to come to this website called ccMixter.org. I caught onto the idea of collaborative exchange with enthusiasm. I had been into mail art, so I was all about sharing of art already. It was right up my alley.

My friend Lisa was the "star" of a contest sponsored by her record label at ccMixter. She had posted two a cappella tracks of her singing songs for the contest. I wanted to "play" in support of my friend, but I had zero mixing skills and zero software skills at this type of thing. I went on a quest. I wanted to find inexpensive ways to make music and remix. I found a website, www.ixi-software.net, where they invented all these cool freeware devices for making music very non-traditionally. I also picked up a software music studio program from Magix for 5 dollars. I did two remixes for Lisa's contest (not counting a third one so awful that I pulled it), both of which were very odd and unpolished. One featured Claire Fitch's wonderful work at magnatune, though I hardly did her or Lisa credit. I enjoyed doing those mixes, though, and people were kind to me about my style. The bug bit me, and I began to work on making a more digital form of music than my prior analog.

spin: So chess lead to a site starting with cc, which in turn led you to a lady named Claire playing the cello. I think I get it! :-) -- What did ccMixter mean to you during those early days?

Robert: ccMixter has been a great site for me. It offered me constructive criticism, and great examples from gifted remixers. I've never seen myself as a remixer, per se (though I am guilty of a remix or two), so much as a person who uses samples to create new songs. When I began at the mixter, a potent combination of lack of skills and a very experimental turn of mind led to very unorthodox mixes. I was so impressed with how accepting people were -- even those who were not into the mixes at all. I had offers of collaboration from early in, and people have always been very kind to remix my music. I made a lot of rookie mistakes -- I once took down a lot of mixes when I was embarrassed by a mix I posted where I could not hear how out of whack the sound levels were, and I nearly blasted folks away. Yet over time, I learned, but more importantly I learned how to grow in the directions I wanted to grow, rather than becoming some archetypal traditional remixer.

spin: I think quite a few of us have quietly pulled or re-posted a remix after listing to it a day later! -- What does ccMixter mean for you now?

Robert: ccMixter is still of critical importance to me. I am at a place now in which I would be able to get my music "out there" even if there were no Mixter. Yet I love the sense of community I find here. My music has expanded a fair bit over time, although one could roughly divide into one genre of "ambient" and another genre of "tinkertoy fun", with perhaps a third genre of minimalist techno. I sometimes will do a "traditional mix" of ambient elements by others, which has been the source of my infrequent editors' picks. Yet I'm normally more interested in sharing ideas in sound than in traditional mixing. I like the extended interchange, as when Zikweb or Hepepe or Anchor Mejans and I get into extensive exchanges. I also love that we have the sample library links. The Freesound Project is a very important resource.

spin: And for those of us, who have joined more recently: From your perspective, how has ccMixter changed from the early days?

Robert: I am very impressed that not only has the ccMixter "game" been elevated, in terms of amazing mixters like Loveshadow, but also that the breadth of styles and the acceptance of the outre' is much more noticeable on the board. This is healthy, I think -- in an earlier time, it was critical that the board "prove" it "got game" with strong traditional mixes. We're past all that now -- we're seeking out new places and sounds, while still revering the old ones.

spin: You mostly work on a computer with music software. What would you describe as current favorites in your arsenal?

Robert: I prefer to use shareware and freeware. Because I am so fond of the music of Marco Raaphorst, a Reason-master, I did buy Reason 3.0, but a year or two later, I finally gave it, unopened, to a pianist friend to use. My current favorites are Sawcutter 2.0, a simple stand-alone synthesizer and sampler from cuttermusic.com, Slicer 1.0, a sample slicer from www.ixi-software.net with an intuitive "points on a graph" graphic user interface, Anvil Studio, a simple sequencer with VST support, Coagula Light, the "industrial strength color note organ" which makes music from images, and Ian Shatwell's "Wave Goodbye". My kind of music involves a lot of morphing sound, so that converters and slicers and things to help me drone work well. I used to use the Musedit music notation program a great deal as well.

Sawcutter is about twenty five dollars, and an upgrade for VST for Anvil is not much more than that, so that the entire listed rig-out is much less than one hundred dollars to own. I am endlessly grateful to the free software creators, who fuel my creativity.

My softstudio is Magix Audio 10. Magix offers a lot of bells and whistles in a "value" studio, although I must admit that I have not learned how to ring every bell or work every whistle. I've begun to learn Bram Bos' Tunafish, a value sequencer, but I am still in the initial stages with that one.

spin: It's quite amazing how much creatively useful software is published for free or very inexpensively these days. -- How would you describe your creative process? When you start working on a new piece, what kind of things provide the initial inspiration? 

Robert: I am often inspired by an idea or a mental picture. Frequently, I'll work up a melody on Sawcutter and suddenly "see" a theme for the whole piece. The melody will "fit with" something I've been thinking, and I'm off to the races. People say I am "visual" when I write or make music, and I think the term is apt. I am certainly not "visual" when I draw, so perhaps it's one of those blessed compensations. My works are not strictly speaking just songs. I see the text and even sometimes a picture as part of the mix.

spin: Your work doesn't concentrate on some traditional musical cornerstones like, for example, chord progressions. Even melodies seem to play a different role in your work than in more traditional song based structures. What would you describe as the artistic cornerstones of a gurdonark production? How do you decide what fits and what doesn't? 

Robert: I own a lifetime scholarship to the school of thought of experiencing sound "as sound" and sound "as image". I am rarely interested in evoking the conventional notions in the listener as in the pop music tradition, although I love pop and rock music. I want my work to be evocative -- perhaps to create an imagined visual image, perhaps as a foundation for someone else's visual image, or perhaps as music that tries to fit a different way of seeing and hearing than the somewhat linear narratives of traditional song structure.

Whether I am a creator or a listener, a melody "fits" for me when it conveys a bit of an emotion or an idea -- not with a direct "this is this and this is that" of a wonderful Motown song, but with the sense of ambiance or whimsy that fits my notions. I love the way I can listen to Jamendo artist Henri Petterson, for example, and be transported to a downtempo yet cheerful sophisticated Europe of my dreams, or the way that the netlabel artist Cagey House can envelope the listener with a quirky, upbeat bit of instrumental fun -- a kind of new Americana world of familiar sounds, all strange and wonderful. I love the way that great jazz bands often come from Scandinavia or Japan, because people take these wonderful ideas and re-interpret them from an outsider place, to the delight of all.

spin: Do you ever record your own sounds?

Robert: I use self-generated samples constantly. Sawcutter 2.0 permits one to sample little 7 second wave files. Many of my ccMixter songs are created by running nose flutes, kazoos, the human voice, and other home-made sounds through the Sawcutter synthesizer. I love to add a child's water flute or a pennywhistle sound to my collection. I also have an extensive set of odd little percussion instruments, which appear in my work. I am apt to use home-made or odd instruments from time to time.

NOTE: The following part was featured in the Artist's spotlight at ccMixter. If you have already read that, you can jump directly to part 3

Part2:

spin: Your work lends itself very well to be featured in sound tracks for video or film and this has indeed occurred. Which ones of those are the most memorable for you so far? 

Robert: Viral video has been very good for my music. My music is natural background work, and both my mixter and my NSI work frequently is used as soundtracks these days.I am working with a friend on a soundtrack on a traditional "film festival" animated film, which is to be done any day now. I have made many friends through ccMixter, and ccMixter is directly responsible for me becoming a bit of an advocate for CC/open source issues.

Many dozens of fine videos and films have used my material, which makes me very happy. I feel almost disloyal to choose any favorites. I'm very fond of the "voodles" of Copenhagen film-maker Sam Rensiew. His "video doodles" eschew traditional narrative structure and focus the viewer on looking at what is there. My song "Moodle" is a tribute to his work, which has a "pataphysical" absurdist quality. He's used my work in dozens of his videos, and I'm particularly delighted that he liberally mashes and morphs my songs to fit his needs. This is what sharing culture is all about. Here is a video to "Moodle", accompanying a video of furniture -- truly a furniture music.

Film-maker and professor Jennifer Proctor does wonderful small films and has taken my mixter work for her soundtrack sometimes, which thrills me. Here is her delicate use of perhaps my favorite mixter song, "Longing for Home", in a film called "Lonely Balloon".

Norwegian film-makers Lomeg_rom make interesting voodles on the theme of contiguity. Here is a recent use of one of my pieces, "Innocence".

I love practical uses of my work as well as the more abstract. Here a cat, Patches Jeter, gives a wonderful lesson in how to make flipbook animation.

I love all the uses of my work, though, almost without exception. I also enjoy one-to-one-to-share-with-all collaborations such as writing 30 seconds of music for a video-maker in Spain's, nutxlago's, lovely youtube bird videos. This sharing of music can be really fun.

spin: In addition to creating music yourself, you have also co-founded a net-label, the "Negative Sound Institute" (NSI) . Many of our readers may not be aware of the thriving net label scene. A net label is rather dramatically different from a traditional record label isn't it? NSI and many others aren't in it to make money, so what's the purpose of a net label such as NSI? 

Robert: Netlabels seek to create a new culture of shared music as a clear alternative to the traditional commercial record labels. Almost all netlabels release under Creative Commons licenses, though a few use variants of the Free Art License or other schemes. Some netlabels have a commercial wing. Many of the early netlabels began life as indie commercial labels, whose owners came to realize the greater impact they could have by releasing for free download.

Netlabels are too varied and numerous for one simple description to encompass them all. Many of them work on principles similar to those adopted by the earlier mail art and tape exchange movements. These earlier movements had the common ground that institutional hegemony (whether by art galleries or record companies) created a culture in which artistic expression was challenged by the understandable desire of capital-providing people to commercially succeed. Netlabel owners came to understand that once the whole "make me a star and make me rich" element is removed from the equation, incredible shared experiences between artists, label and listener can result. Although in netlabel culture, only a few adopt mantras similar to the old "mail art and money don't mix", similar ideas apply for some folks.

We've seen a number of hybrid models arise which are not themselves netlabels, but which are instructed by the principles of netlabels and Creative Commons. Magnatune.com, a label I admire intensely (and buy from regularly) is a great example of such a hybrid model. It's literally a dream-label for its artists. It's not a "netlabel" in the sense I mean, but it's learned from the shared culture ideas and helped explore how they can make a business model work in a shared-music way. CASH Music is doing some impressive things with Creative Commons releases, such as the great Deerhoof decision to release the sheet music ahead of the album. This created a world of remix chances, and Lucas Gonze even converted it to MIDI for easy CC remixing.

When I speak of "netlabel culture", though, I speak of labels which limit or eschew commercial releases, and which participate directly in this sharing of music. At any given time, my mp3 player is roughly 85% netlabel music, and 15% commercial music. I think that the wonderful thing is that while a huge niche audience has been created for netlabels, the growth of the audience is continuing and is inevitable.

Netlabel culture is about removing the artificial barriers between artists and audiences. I love the music of the English chill artist Psonikadia. I know that not only can I get his music for free download, but also that I can drop him a line and he'll write back. When we put Verian Thomas' wonderful guitar ambiance on NSI, we're not rushing to the lawyers when someone remixes him and releases an album, as Pocka did. We're delighted. As my friend Cagey House says, it's a new culture of parlor music. The time is past for rock stars and Watchmen and faded heroes. The time is here for people who make and share music.

spin: Why do the people creating and maintaining these net label sites do it? What do they get out of it?

Robert: I can speak for myself about NSI. We meet fascinating people, who become our friends from afar. We get sent great music to hear, which we will release on NSI when it fits our "sound". Even the music we do not release we tend to really enjoy. We would probably release more if not for the call of day jobs. We are part of a dialog about sharing music and sharing culture which we value. For a cost that is remarkably inexpensive (thanks to Verian's web skills), our music and the music we like gets out into the wide world.

spin: Why would an artist want to be associated with a net label, rather than just having their own web site and/or a myspace page? 

Robert: That is a great question, and it goes to the heart of a current discussion. Lucas Gonze suggests that the future is in song pages, an internet address for each song. Another discussion suggests that an artist weblog, rather than an artist website, is the way to go. I see a lot of virtue in each of these suggestions, particularly as I reach the conclusion that the interaction we have with one another with music need not be so stratified as the old "recording-deal" world proved to be.

In the world before weblogs, many people believed that there was a group of intelligent people "out there", in London or New York or Paris, who were the best arbiters of our taste and reading. The self-published and the DIY were viewed with a bit of disdain. Now we all read authors we love whom we know are just the "same old ordinary people" we are, and yet we share these amazing interconnected literary experiences. We don't disdain published authors -- we love them. But we no longer grant them a monopoly on our thoughts.

Music is no different. We tend to see music as "look at me, look at me". This is the problem with some of the earliest internet music sites, such as two I like, soundclick.com and garageband.com. Everyone wants to be a super-hero. Everyone wants to be a star.

But imagine if music were a weblog post -- a thing one shares like one shares an essay or a poem or a personal note or a flickr image. Marco Raaphorst writes soundimages (klankbeelds) -- simple free downloads which soundtrack still images. Vlog artists eschew video-as-movie-madness for video-as-weblog.We as music makers can begin to see our work as ways of achieving inter-connection, rather than as ways to get record deals. I think that this need not be a commerce-free affair. I think that Calendar Girl is on to a very great idea, and I have the fond hope that her work proves not only successful but also remunerative.

I believe that the music world is evolving and I do not have a crystal ball. Yet I believe that netlabels have a place. They work more like collectives than like traditional record companies. When I go to webbedhand.com or Earth Monkey or Dark Winter, I know the range of genres I will find, and I know that the owners have done some curation. At NSI, for example, our artists are usually fellow travelers with ambient music, but not often "traditional" ambient. This sense of shared values and a "home" for the listener is valuable and should endure.

spin: How do the various artists and NSI find each other and decide to create this online togetherness? 

Robert: Verian and I formed NSI after being weblog friends. I had begun to get my bearings in making odd music, and I suggested we work together. We were very pleased with our resulting songs as the Thomas Nunnally Ensemble. He and I had both done DIY poetry (Verian's a very good poet who used to run a fine imprint, while I write just the kind of odd little things that get published in just the kind of odd little ways and places one might, hearing my music, expect). He's got web skills, which I nearly completely lack. We got our site up, and asked a few people we knew to submit. I handle publicity for us, and soon I helped "get the word out". Before you know it, we had artists approaching us, and other netlabel owners being very kind. It's like building something, promoting it a bit, and finding that one has joined this amazing community. Our main limitation is that we do not release as often as we might due to our day jobs, as we get some amazing submissions.

 

Part3:

spin: To change topics a bit, you're not only a "non musician", but also a business lawyer with a thriving practice serving corporations as well as consumer clients. Would it be fair to say, that not only in your art, but also in in your profession have you carved out a bit of a non traditional niche for yourself? 

Robert: I know that it is the fashion for people to say they hate their jobs and they cannot stand the engines of commerce. I rather like being a lawyer, though, and I enjoy being a co-owner of a small business. My practice is non-traditional in many ways, in that I work in a small firm in suburban Texas, and yet handle a variety of sophisticated matters. I like to be able to represent both corporate and consumer interests. My practice tends to challenges and problems which provide me with great intellectual issues. A few of my areas of practice are a bit arcane, and somehow that appeals to me.

spin: Now it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination, that someone working in corporate law writes often and well. But you also write creatively, don't you? And I don't only mean the legendary comments you leave for many a remix at ccMixter. You also create poetry and maintain a very active and well written blog, not to mention a myspace page and who knows what else. What drives you to be so creatively active? And how do you find or make the time? Do you have a magic formula you can share with those of us who struggle to maintain even a single website or blog? 

Robert: From time to time, when I read a weblog comment I made on someone else's weblog, without adequately proofreading it, I think I should be more creatively active about spelling and punctuation :).

I am all about interconnection. I keep a weblog to connect with others. I make music to connect with others. I post my flickr photos for that sense of sharing. So many of us long to express ourselves -- and weblogs and websites and mixter and flickr are places we can go to begin that sharing.

The whole thing is that we're all "always way too busy". I just finished my new netlabel release, "Slices of Oz", a set of child-like melodies which accompany librivox readings from the public domain novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". I had had the songs done for weeks, but somehow I was "too busy" to get them finalized and uploaded for the netlabel to use. Finally, I realized that my "busy-ness" need not keep me from the "business" of getting my creative work "out there". So often we are "too busy" to do the things we love the best. I am all about seeking to work my time out so that I am able to get things done.

The key, I think, is not to self-hypnotize oneself out of getting creative things done. They're not "something impossible to find the time to do"; for many of us, they are "things we need to do with our time".I work hard at my day job, and my family matters a lot to me. But I find time for these creative pursuits -- not just because I want to, but also because I know it's the way to connect with myself and with others.

I also think it's very important for we who do CC music to realize we are part of an international dialog about changing how music is made and experienced. We can be important parts of that discussion -- but we have to write it down, or put it in a song.

spin: As a lawyer you've done the big gig in L.A., California thing. What made you return to Texas and start your own practice?

Robert: My senior partner, who, like me, moved to California from Texas, wanted to move to Texas and semi-retire. The time had come for me to start my own firm, with a friend. My wife and I wanted to return to a part of the country nearer our families. I met with a friend and former partner about the idea of starting something in Garland, Texas. We did the proverbial business plan on a napkin, ran spreadsheets in MS Works, of all things, and next thing you know we had our practice. We've been here for eight years now. My wife and I loved the Crescenta Valley in California, and we love our life in north Texas.

spin: There are plans by the Creative Commons, who have founded and sponsored ccMixter to send the mixter off to the next stage of it's evolution, although we don't know yet quite what that will mean or be. If, as a longstanding ccMixter community member, you were asked to give a brief farewell toast to the Creative Commons, what would it be? 

Robert: I raise my glass of diet root beer high, and say with a smile:

"Here's to Creative Commons, who took an idea and a vision, and turned it into a song.

Here's to collaborative creation, a world-wide audience, and an unstoppable new music culture.

We know that ccMixter is not a final destination, but an important doorway, and thousands of us, artists and listeners, are grateful that you created this doorway for us to begin to walk through. We will come and visit you, and we will bring tunes".

spin: We started with an apparent contradiction, so we might as well end with one: You have professional accreditation and experience in patent law and intellectual property issues, yet you are a proponent and participant in open music and open licensing. On the surface that may seem contradictory. Some might even suggest, that open music is a threat to those needing and/or wanting to earn revenues from their art. How did you get to be such a proponent of and participant in open music? In your opinion, is there a contradiction between open art and making a living from art? 

Robert: I differ from some in the open source movement. I do not see patents and copyrights per se as an unworkable situation. I do oppose artificial term extensions. Yet I am perfectly comfortable with reasonable protections for artists and innovators.

I favor the "velvet revolution" of voluntary contribution of works into the public domain and the Creative Commons. I believe that the easiest way to create a framework for the collaboration that digital culture will demand is not the eternal fight between silly DRM and needless kids-pirating-Britney. Instead, artists in music, software, literature, photography and science will create for public use a new "sharing culture" of ideas and expressions.

I saw a flickr photo I posted CC BY of a beach I visited in Costa Rica posted on a Costa Rica tour company site, with proper attribution. Did I deprive an artist of a fee? Perhaps. But if my very amateur work satisfied the site's need, then perhaps the artist is liberated to earn fees from doing more interesting work than mine.

The assumption inherent in the anti-CC forces is that there is some wealth of artist compensation that will be lost if we have liberal use of CC. I find this assumption flawed. I spend as much on music as I did before CC. Now I am apt to buy directly from the artist, or to donate to a netlabel.

Record deals were mostly about corporate control over modes of distribution and really unfavorable financing of recording and tours. The world has changed a lot since record companies first came out. Capital can be raised in other ways. Markets are easy to penetrate. A good myspace site and 100 dollars spent on making downloads available at tunecore or cdbaby may be as effective as a record deal.

I believe that more artists will make a living in the world I envision, although I suspect that fewer artists will be "mega-stars". Yet in my world, music and the arts will no longer tread this tiring bright line between artistic "haves" who are business "have nots" and business "haves" who are artistic "have nots". This new world will involve people who work day jobs and play music at night. It will involve people who run their music as a business, and not as a way to get "a big record deal". A new parlor music is arriving, and we'll share songs in the way we read one another's weblog posts.

I get bored with people who illegally download from the majors because it's so unimaginative. There are worlds of truly creative people out there, on netlabels, on websites, and among us. Why give legitimacy to poorly-chosen music aimed at our lowest common denominator? Before, large corporations could dictate what we discuss at our water coolers. But now we own the coolers, and the softstudios, and the videos.We can create our own heroes, and share with our friends, including unmet friends.

I am all for voluntary open source, but I wish no ill to copyright and patent holders. The systems can easily co-exist. I can make my music, and liberally license it, and the walls of Jericho come down on a certain limited way of seeing music. That's a trumpet I can believe in sounding. The result will be a culture without certain walls -- and a chance for real connection.

spin: And making connections is arguably at the very core of making music. -- Thank you so very much, Bob, for this interview! Any final words for our ccMixter readers? 

Robert: Thank you for interviewing me!

To any readers, I'd say that ccMixter is not only a site and a form of Creative Commons culture, it's a communication. The mixters regularly intrigue and impress me. Those who work under Creative Commons attribution licenses often are, like me, completely unconcerned about fame in the traditional senses. We're part of a dialog about sharing culture and what a change this can be in the way we all experience and make music.

The listener and the reader need not be a passive recipient of the music -- you can be a participant. Aside from the obvious path of reviewing or saying a kind word in a weblog, you can step into the action. You can collaborate. You can get soundtracks for your videos. You can podcast. You can have free music for your website. You can even make a musician's day, with little more than an e-mailed kind word. The words of encouragement I've gotten, such as when people drop me a note about using me in their weblog or doing a remix album of my work, or even using me in a school project, make me feel like we're all getting somewhere. We're all in this together -- and the music and the culture will gain from our efforts. It's not an "if or maybe" thing. It's inevitable -- and there is still tons of time for early adopters.

Also, thank you to all those wonderful people I have never met who show up here and there listening to my music on the web. Download it, use it, enjoy it. It's free for you. I have a day job.

Also, if you'll pardon the stridency, don't spend your money supporting DRM. You can even buy worthy mixters, like the Calendarsongs Project, Kristin Hersh on CASH, and Fourstones' amazingly good "La Vie Chill" on Magnatune.

You are part of a dialog about a sharing culture. Sing out!

 


 

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