New technologies have made former music listening methods close to obsolete. People always talk about the obvious changes-- the transition from vinyl to MP3 blasted on computer speakers, from hearing a whole album on your Walkman to playing that same amazing single on infinite loop from a streaming service. Yet less discussion has been devoted to the disappearance of radio as one of the main channels for musical discoverery. The Internet has rendered the magic that great FM or AM radio programs once provided superfluous, and unless you’re someone who drives to work everyday, it’s not very likely that you will seek them out— it’s simply too inconvenient. Despite these challenges, independent radio persists, both on the airwaves and on one of the many Internet-only programs that have popped up in recent years. These newer programs have managed to maintain the same ethos of discovery that characterizes many of the older, legendary free-form stations. Below you can read about some of Ad Hoc's favorites.
Backstory: Owned by New Jersey's Upsala College until the school closed in 1995 and the station’s license was bought by Auricle Communications
Years on the air: 1958-present
Liz Berg's show (experimental rock & pop)
Underwater Theme Park with Meghan (eclectic but lots of world music)
Reggae Schoolroom with Jeff Sarge
Mission: The oldest and probably most famous in the world of freeform, WFMU is an ad-free, listener-supported station. It broadcasts out of Jersey City, New Jersey, at at 91.1 FM, and Mount Hope, New York, at 90.1 FM, but its signal is strong enough to be heard through all of New York City, the Hudson Valley, Western New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania. WFMU's programming is driven entirely its roster of DJS, each of whom exercises complete control of his or her playlist. The shows on WFMU are not limited to certain genres, but instead touch on facets of experimental, world, and talk programming. The station also holds occasional board meetings that are open to the general public and are meant to build community. WFMU receives all their funding from listener donations, their annual Record Fair, and government grants. They also are one of the stations behind the Free Music Archive, which provides a well-organized slew of downloadable MP3s in every genre imaginable.
In 2008, Tim DeWit produced Saint Dymphna, arguably Gang Gang Dance's most celebrated album of juttering ethnodance-- then caught a near-fatal bullet in his Grand Rapids hometown that left him unable to continue drumming in the band. Since then, he's been rolling as Dutch E Germ, creating the kind of pandimensional bangers that would score a Hood By Air runway show, land a spot on a Ghe20 G0th1k line-up, or be sampled on Yeezus. And Today, the Germ has released his debut, IN.RAK.DUST, promising a spot in everybody's headphones for the foreseeable future.
Ad Hoc editor Ric Leichtung takes special note of the "next-level bagpipe solo" on "Black Sea".
IN.RAK.DUST is out now on UNO, available for download here
“Brooklyn: there are streams in its name, and flow is certainly part of it.” - John Fell Ryan
Before I knew about Excepter-- or much other music outside the sphere of things mentioned in School of Rock-- I had already satisfyingly mapped out, in my head, a timeline of New York bands that seemed representative of the city, at least according to how it was viewed by a tween-age kid from Chicago. It all started with The Velvet Underground, who I didn’t necessarily love but knew were objectively “cool” and “New York-y.” Then, The Ramones. Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, and then ‘90s Sonic Youth. The Strokes took this timeline into the twenty-first century, and it all ended, firmly, with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “Cool,” for me, didn’t exist outside downtown Manhattan, and by 2004 or so, it seemed to me like cool bands were on their way out of New York altogether. But then, yeah, I found Excepter.
I’ll cop to learning about the group from Dominique Leone’s Pitchfork review of KA, which gave the record a Best New Music tag and which was published shortly after I discovered that site while searching for information about this incredible new band my sister had shown me called Animal Collective. Leone used a lot of big words and concepts that flew over my head, but what I took from the review was that there was some sort of subculture now that sounded a little bit like how I pictured downtown New York in the ‘70s to be: all destitute and violent and drug-fueled, but maybe even weirder. The “songs” on KA were like depraved, self-contained landscapes, equal parts harrowing and inviting. Each one was just an expansive mess of sound; there was no structure, and if there was a beat, it was distorted and inconsistent. The vocals were gargled and mumbled and moaned rather than sung. Every new sound that would enter the landscape was foreign and mysterious to me, and I was forced to imagine where each of them might have came from, which gave the listening experience visual and tactile components. As far as I knew, there’d never been music like this. It wasn’t long before I discovered Excepter’s predecessors and contemporaries, but for a time, their music-- and theirs alone-- seemed to come from some perpendicular universe, light-years away from my quiet north Chicago neighborhood. So where was all this happening? And how?
M. Sage always seems to be at work on something new. On top of putting out three exceptional tapes just last year, the Colorado-based experimentalist also had a feature on that incredible Meili Xueshan I&II compilation that came out last month. However, his latest release-- a new double-LP titled A Singular Continent that has been in the works since early 2013-- is perhaps his most staggering effort yet. The album, which features extensive collaborations with visual artist Nathaniel Whitcomb and poet Grant Souders, is subtitled “The Imaginary Landscape,” an apt description given the sort of magnificent natural vistas that the music on the record so effectively evokes.
Songs like “Three Bashful Stallions” and “Gulls Over Landfill Caldera” feature slowly evolving, organic soundscapes built from smeared synthesizers, field recordings, and heavily processed violin and cello parts. It's an absolutely gorgeous album, and to celebrate its release, M. Sage has put together an exclusive mix for Ad Hoc. The nearly hour-long mix, titled Holodeck Scenario, features tracks by experimental producers Ahnnu, D/P/I, Foodman (the three of which also appeared on that aforementioned Meili Xueshan I&II comp.), and Co La, as well as compositions by a number of jazz musicians and ensembles. You can stream the mix in its entirety just below.
A Singular Continent is available now on M. Sage's own label Patient Sounds.
Palberta are a three-piece group claiming to hail from "upperstate" New York. They make terrifying and weird rock music that draws from the fertile intersections of the demonic and childlike. This combination is illustrated well in the crudely edited picture of a smashed doll on the side of a street which serves as the cover to last year's slept-on full length, Pal Berta. The band screams, whispers and coos over loosely structured riffs that call to mind the arty, mischievous post-punk of The Fall or Swell Maps as well as some of the more carnivelsque noise bands to emerge from Boston in recent years.
You can stream Pal Berta in its entirety below. The album is also available on cassette via OSR Tapes.
Let's keep this one short and sweet, just like the material at hand. Tiny Mixtapes hipped us to the fact that everyone's favorite man, Foodman, just released his first work since two excellent cassettes last year on Digitalis and Orange Milk each. Hamakko follows suit with Shokuhin Maturi's typical mirth of exploration, employing all sorts of joyous bustle. As evidenced by "AWATARO," he has not lost his footwork infatuation. While this EP is out on Paisley Parks' digital label, Бｈ○§†, Foodman also has an LP coming out this year on Orange Milk.
Another day, another enigmatic transmission from Dean Blunt. The experimental producer and vocalist-- responsible for two exceptional albums last year-- has just released “Mersh,” a new song and video. The track is built around a rigid, skeletal beat, occasionally punctuated by downcast organ chords and spoken-word incantations by Mr. Blunt himself. Meanwhile, the song's video shows Blunt smoking and hanging out on a couch with a woman wearing sunglasses, bathed in flickering, seizure-inducing red and white lights. You can check out the song and video just below.
The "Mersh" single will soon see a physical release. In addition, the "About" section of the video says "BLACK METAL" / ROUGH TRADE / TBC 2014,” leading some to speculate that Dean Blunt will soon release a full-length album on Rough Trade Records, though this has yet to be confirmed.
New Englanders by way of Florida, The Ukiah Drag are a post-punk band that draw from the sinister and aggressive vibes of seminal groups like The Birthday Party or feedtime. On "Poison Ivy," a B-side to their upcoming 7" Dirt Trip, The Ukiah Drag reinvent the Leiber and Stoller classic by slowing it down and relishing in the murkiness of monstrous basslines and reverby drums. The result is a leaden, careening anthem as frightening as it is fun. The 7", their first studio release, was recorded by Ben Greenberg of The Men, with whom the band will tour following the single's release.
Dirt Trip is out March 4 via Wharf Cat Records. Check out their tour dates with The Men below the jump.
This May, the Ende Tymes Festival of Noise and Experimental Liberation will return to New York City for its fourth consecutive year. Some of the more notable acts performing at this year's iteration of the festival include Hiroshi Hasegawa, formerly of legendary Japanese noise band C.C.C.C.; illustrious noise-maker and perennial Ad Hoc-fave Kevin Drumm; MV Carbon & Bill Nace, the latter of which recently teamed up with Kim Gordon as Body/Head for one of our favorite records of 2013; and forward-thinking electro-noise stalwart Pete Swanson, who will be performing with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma of Root Strata. Ende Tymes has started a fundraiser page to help with the costs of the festival, offering a variety of merch-- including archival recordings and weekend passes for the festival-- to those that donate. The festival is also accepting submissions of video art to be displayed during the concerts.
Ende Tymes IV will take over Silent Barn and Outpost Artists Resources from May 8-11 this year. Peep the full line-up, then head over to the festival's fundraiser page to donate. Below, check out a promotional video produced by Ende Tymes.
And we don't know
Just where our bones will rest.
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the Earth below.
Billy Corgan, "1979"
If you were lucky enough to be online for the right eight hours on Friday, you would have had the chance to watch a YouTube live stream of Blinking with Fists author Billy Corgan performing a modular synth improvsation for eight hours, set to a British male voice reading Herman Hesse's Siddhartha. For eight curt hours, existence was imparted with the kind of meaning that earthly pleasures and embraces from loved ones could never lend. Oneohtrix Point Never tweeted the splendor of this drone music.
If we are living in the after life, is this Heaven?