Reviews of Independent Music
Software and Services
I believe that one of the ways the web can work
to liberate art and artists is through providing a direct connection in
any direction. Reviews are
one tool for pointing the way to a possible connection.
Once artists and audience can connect and exchange directly, then the web will have justified itself in the music wars.
There's always a twist – in this case, of the
rule that supposes some distance between reviewer and artist.
This page is devoted to reviews of work by people I’ve met and
corresponded with exclusively over the internet -- usually because they posted
the music for download and then mentioned that fact where I could find it.
Go to the Charts page for reviews or comments about releases by artists who have label support (who
aren't independently hustling their stuff to an internet audience.)
In the "pardon my dust"
category, this is one page that needs substantial updating as part of the
new look for 2006. For anyone who enters here during the site update
shake-out period in early January, , this note is just to let you know that
changes are intended, but not yet in place ... revisit the page as the month
rolls on to see what's new... Thanks for your patience and
month of August 2004 was incredibly rich in
new music, as I heard from numerous artists who invited me to listen
to their independent releases. I was knocked out by the overall high
quality and many of these excellent tracks were incorporated into the
BeatConscious mixes on mmRadio and the Live365 stream ... here's a short
rundown on the new stuff:
|The Modus Vivendi
Music Collective. Their first CD sampler, "Vol. 1", is
a solid collection of complex and absorbing tracks ... no fluff here,
no moments when the mind wanders ... this is music to attract and hold
your attention. Label-mates B.N. Loco, Sanchez Dub and Julian
Brody all distinguish themselves, top tunes (to my ears) being B.N.
Loco's "Buen Ambiente" (a slight return of Basco's "The
Beat is Over" is audible in there), Brody's "Greensleeves"
and "Soula" from Sanchez Dub -- gorgeous downtempo vibes
goin' on here. More information available at www.modusvivendimusic.com
and the above-mentioned tracks soon to be featured on the
BeatConscious streams.... In addition to the sampler, there is a
Sanchez Dub EP, and trust me, ya gotta hear "DVDs (Through the
Wind Mix)". Also part of the Collective is Plan B ...|
|Dr. Echo. Dub
today with deep respect to the dub foundations of yesterday ... this
all-organic set (live percussion, trumpet and vocals, no samples)
looks back to the legacy of King Tubby and Lee Perry while creating
timeless sonic imagery that is deeply sensual and strongly spiritual
... In addition to including the Dr. Echo tracks on upcoming dub sets
for the BeatConscious streams, I eagerly anticipate the chance to see
a live performance when Florida hosts them in December. You can
check the web site: www.doctorecho.com
for performance news and also for purchasing the Doctor Echo CD.|
A solo artist spinning ethereal, deeply moving melodies, Luke sets the
controls to GLIDE and invites you to join him for the ride. Do
it ... your mind and your body will be delighted. In a jazzier
vein, Luke's Brise de soiree d'ete opened a recent
BeatConscious set (VooDoo
Child's Slight Return) ... catch that one on mmRadio.|
|K. Remixes of
extraordinary vision and originality ... not available commercially --
due, no doubt, to the difficulty of licensing all the elements used to
create these amazing tracks ... simply a record of one musician's
skill and devotion. Listen at the newly-redesigned DigitalEvolution site
or you can hear his JimE close out the above-mentioned VooDoo
Child's Slight Return on mmRadio.... May
me update this just a bit: A full-length CD of K's original
material has just been offered for limited release this month ... hear
the entire album stream from the DigitalEvolution site and also check
out the downloads page, where a new track will be available each
month. There is beautiful, dazzlingly beautiful music to be
heard here....visit soon.|
Stereo. Nom de musique of Greg Vickers (see below), an
exceptional talent ... just about every set I've done this
summer has included an AiS track (or two) because Greg's inventions
are among the best: wickedly intelligent, solidly rhythmic,
captivatingly melodic -- totally absorbing. |
(label). Not sent to me personally, but a regular update on
their new releases is supplied to the downtempo.com list ... this
label is shockingly hot ... Check out their freely-downloadable mix
sets and ponder this: all selections used on these mixes are by
Tokyo Dawn artists, and there's not a bad track in the pack.
Hiphop, downtempo and basically any other style that catches their
interest ... stellar production and a distinctively fine web site in
support of it all -- this German label has the juice ... can't
recommend them too highly. Because of their generous download
policy, you will hear numerous tracks from the Tokyo Dawn catalog on
the October 2004 BeatConscious set "You Know Me Now" ... a
compendium of recent independent music featuring music from the
artists in this review.|
And that's just a
sampling of the very fine music people have been sending my way this
summer ... in the table below, you will find all the original reviews
of independent music that I worked on in those first heady days of
exploration on the internet ... a number of the sites referenced have
disappeared in the intervening years (and perhaps the musicians
responsible for those sites have disappeared as well, which would be a
shame ... ) At any rate, if you read of someone who interests you
and can't access their site, please try searching online using Google or
something similar ... you may still be able find the music you seek.)
long-time contributor to thedownbeat.org forums, and fellow Washingtonian,
Chauncey Canfield is part of the group Aubergine3, which I first
became aware of through the online version of The Washington Post -- they
had a section for local bands to post tracks, and I downloaded a number of
Aubergine3's back in 2001.
Chauncey let me know he would be
attending WMC as the guest of Shure, having submitted an original track in their "DJ Biology" competition which ended up winning the Grand Prize. In addition to lots of Shure gear, the prize included a trip to Miami,
where we (including Laura, Chauncey's wife, and Christine Moritz, a
DC DJ) got to hang out and hear some music together.
While in Miami, I got a copy of Aubergine3's
new release on Transistor Recordings, In All Things Modulation,
and it's good to hear the group's solid progression from those early
tracks. If you are a DC resident, I can only recommend that you
catch them live ... for a schedule of dates, you can contact www.aubergine3.com
and get the details.
considering a couple of tracks from the "...Modulation" CD as
candidates for the set-list: Panderthal Redux and The Pickup
should show up on the stream in due time.... They do the
"electro-organic" thing with style and invention -- an
Aubergine3 track would elevate any downtempo mix.
the waning days of thedownbeat.org, Marius Melleby posted a notice about
his music, inviting us all to check out his tracks on mp3.com. It
took me a while to sit down and listen, but it was definitely my pleasure
when I finally did ... Marius, a 20-something musician from Oslo, Norway, had a couple of dozen tracks available and
the range of styles is respectably broad, but the sound is consistently lush and
inviting, and the musical skills are strong. Don't let this one pass
you by -- outstanding music!
set of tracks which, at the time of the review, was too new to me to have
been included on a mix yet, but there's fantastic potential here ... check
back to see where Marius takes me....
newest indie music in the door is from Greg Long, who has a sampler CD out
right now (FEB 2002) on the Shadow label. Christina Long, a
community member of thedownbeat.org, put me in touch with this three-track
sampler, as well as pointing me toward some MP3s to download. On the
CD, it's the cut Tease which I like the most -- for its beat, its
horns, and its subtle touches of electronica. From the downloads, I
pick Glimpse, which has a darker, rougher feel to it.
Update, Dec. 2002:
Greg's label, Citrona Recordings, continues to push out gems, and you'll
find him wearing both musician and remixer hats on the latest
releases. Greg's nom de musique for The EP CD is Canton,
and his style is deepening and becoming increasingly confident, employing
a tight balance of electronic and organic sounds. "Focus"
suggests a Thievery Corp influence, which is a fine space to find yourself
in. "One Day" is a study in dubwise vibes.
Clearly, Citrona is the
place to look for your musical refreshments in 2003.
this is still too new to have made it onto a set, though for my money, Glimpse
is the one to work with ... but I know there's more of Greg's music to
hear before I make a selection.
Urban Phunk Society
This German group was one of the brighter musical
delights I found at www.besonic.com
checking out their Electronic Dance Music categories. As the group's
name implies, Urban Phunk Society are all about bringing smooth, bumpin
grooves to your listening experience. They have a solid professional
sound and they're not afraid of adding a luscious layer to their
tracks ... perfect for gettin' your lounge on!
the captivating track Body Waves made it onto the Oddstep
Culture mix. More to come? Watch this space....
I discovered Sub City while checking out the links on the Angina
P. page -- I figured that the lady had such good musical impulses
she'd probably be attracted to some equally talented folks. Sure
enough, this Vienna-based group makes chocolatey-rich triphop tracks,
great moody grooves. There's not a huge amount of information on
their mp3.com web page, so don't expect to get friendly with them unless
you strike up an email correspondence. Their music, however, will
give you that warm welcome feeling -- and, like chocolate, leave you
wishing there was a bit more.
far, just an unmixed compilation of Sub City, Angina P and some tracks
from the Kahvi Collective ... but a fresh new triphop
mix would be a good thing, and they will surely be part of it.
Another gem from the pages of mp3.com -- prolific production from
this duo, reflecting their stylistic connection with the triphop'n'funk
of K&D and Nightmares on Wax, and influences they claim range from
George Benson to Alex Patterson.
Just as their influences span genres, so does the variety of music they
have available for download. There's something for every mood
-- dig in and enjoy 'em....
In fact, one of the most popular downtempo sets I've made is titled in
honor of the Trancenden track that appears on it -- Downtime:
Dig This. Recently completed is another mix (Oddstep
also has a few Trancenden tunes on it -- hey, these guys make fine
The Link: http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/70/angina_p.html
I needed to get on over to the Angina P page on www.mp3.com
to satisfy my
curiousity about the unusual name and learn something about the author of
these emotionally compelling DnB tracks, originally recommended to me by
Greg Moreau of Radio Samizdat.
She turns out to be a single artist, Austrian, with a slender catalog
of tracks and lots of fans. No wonder -- she crafts richly minimal
tracks, highly listenable stuff. There's a particularly nice
interview with her posted on the Radio Samizdat site (http://www.aisllc.com/apinterview2.html)
that will give you the necessary introduction. A bonus for
visiting her site was grabbing her link to SubCity, an outstanding
Viennese downtempo outfit reviewed elsewhere on this
Tokyo 6PM and Grayday are the obvious choices to grace any
mix of atmospheric Drum'n'Bass tracks.
The most recent connection I've made has been
with Steve Branson, who records as Saru. Steve is a fellow staff
reviewer for thedownbeat.org, where we both contribute to the effort to bring the world to fuller
knowledge of fine music. Steve got my attention with a thoughtful
posting about what it means to be a musician in the age of Napster.
He kindly satisfied my curiosity about his music with a sampler and links
to his tracks online.
This is some delicious music, moody and deep,
melodically rich and exotic -- everything I like best about downtempo and
triphop. As I listen to Subterra, I'm at a loss
to put a name to the sense of the familiar it gives me ... maybe
that's just the essence of liking something at first listen....
Look for Saru's Downtempo Dojo on the Shadow label, and check
out his website for information on the next release.
The Link: http://www.downtempodojo.com
Saru's radio station: http://www.realtime365.com
Well, it's only just come in the door, so I haven't used it in a mix yet,
but I would like to build a set around Subterra....
Downloaded a dozen tracks from Greg’s Vitaminic page and other
online storage, after he posted to thedownbeat.org forum inviting us to try ‘em.
From exchanging emails, I’ve learned that G is Canadian,
articulate, passionate about music. He’s a musical omnivore whose tracks span a number of styles – like a resume showing all the
moods he likes and can create.
He’s a dab hand with funk and downtempo, but seems really suited
to upbeat stuff … no apparent dark side here as yet, though he's
flirting with atmospheric drum'n'bass and that could lead anywhere.
I particularly liked his RMX of KC and the Sunshine Band’s
Your Boogie Man and his downtempo twins Lemon and Lime and
Martini – those are not only my personal preferences, but I think
they show off G’s musical intelligence best too…. He seems
out new material at a steady rate, so I know there'll be more to consider soon.
REVIEW UPDATE 23 FEB
As anticipated, remixed, release-ready versions of
four of G's tracks have been gathered together as The Afternoons
in Stereo Electronica Project. The results
of the smartly polished production treatment has been to work a change on
the selected tracks that's really stunning. When I reviewed the
original demo versions (above), you'll notice I didn't mention It's A New
Dawn, New Day -- it just made no impact at all. But with the capable production contributions of
JAF, working at Chateau Forest, this has turned into a bit of vocal driven
funk that incorporates some irresistable house rhythms and dub touches--it sat me back in my chair and had me taking notice.
Modernist Abode has had a similar
deepening and phattening. This stuff sounds awfully good, and now I
understand Greg's disclaimers when I put the demo version on a mix ... he
knew what it COULD sound like once the production work was finished.
Two versions of the
very jazzy Esquema da Sophia grace the Afternoons in
Stereo EP: The first is defined by some moody swinging and
smooth horns ... the second version (and closing track on the EP) seems to
spring directly from the bandstand of a small jazz club, bass lines played
off against a horn's bright
upper register. I'm partial to the opener ... but you listen and
find your own favorite.
In addition to the music of Afternoons
in Stereo , look for the launch of www.gregvickers.com,
which will showcase G's art and music portfolio.
I gave G his own compilation
CD, because of the volume of his output. I'll be using those
downtempo numbers on a mix that will be posted here later. In the
meantime, his Boogie Man RMX adds a stellar moment to the
Modernist Abode (the "demo"
version) appeared on East Coast Basis, along with Abstrakt Jazz, another
demo (which was edited out of the BeatConscious radio show that aired in
The Kahvi group: Xhale,
Vae, 4t thieves, and
Big big thanks to Vae who sent me a note suggesting I check this
site out … right you are, it’s brilliant: totally crisp, blond wood
site w/ spare, elegant graphics and
great links to the Kahvi Collective:
I visited the sites for miasmah, choqolate, theralite
and others. There was great music on every site and I strongly recommend them for
all varieties of electronic / dance / IDM tracks.
Plus which, there's good strong funk going on in this northern
consciousness -- actually, the bands are from Finland, Norway, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Australia, UK…quite
global, really…but because it was Vae that contacted me, the association
created in my mind is northern.
There was enough material amongst all these links to give
the Kahvi collective a couple of their own compilation CDs. As I
identify my favorites, I mean to move them onto other mixes.
Downloaded the tracks from their Vitaminic page after Toby Webb
mentioned in an email exchange about Black Science Orchestra that he had
tracks posted there. He provided this background on the group:
Mahogany Halibut are Tobias Webb and Mark
Billyeald, two layabouts from the UK who got some cash together in 1996 to buy a Roland Mc303 and spend a year
learning what the buttons did, then wrote 3 albums on it by 1999.
Albums to date include:
The Epic (1997, 34 minute piece)
Dead Fishy Ramblings (1998)
A Squabble of Collective Nouns (1999)
Kickin Chebab (presently under production)
Early Sampling was done using BBC sound effects records, Indiana Jones tapes
and Korean folk CD's, not forgotting a confusing dabble with a Korg Prophecy, which achieved about one note, literally.
Stuff in the pipeline includes a mahoganyhalibut.com website, a new album and more tunes to go up online.
M-H is on one of Vitaminic's ambient pages and that’s fair enough, but
really there’s a welcome funk component in a couple of these tracks: Balloon Man has just a bit of that bumpin thing goin on; Bone Merchant has a Morcheeba feel as it gets underway –
this triphop number is the most impressive track for me.
Of the Mahogany Halibut tracks I've heard so far, I'd put
Bone Merchant on my next triphop mix. But there's more in the
pipeline, so check back on this review later....
I originally followed a link in a newsletter from
thedownbeat.org to the drm tracks on www.mp3.com
and corresponded with him because he
was located in the same part of the world I’m in, and I figured he’d
know about the music scene here. I
downloaded his tracks from mp3.com, and also went to a downtempo club in
Tampa’s Ybor City to hear him do duty on the decks.
Now here’s an example of a
both as a composer and a DJ, playing the sounds I’m just naturally drawn to, that minor key dark
side stuff, persistent funky beats, spare and relentless. He could take this style in any direction really and I’m
curious about which one he’ll choose once he heads north to
pursue musical possibilities.
For now, his tracks Triple-eyed and Breathing Signs deliver the mood and
the beats, and Green in Blue kicks it up to the next level of complexity
by virtue of the jazz threads runnin thru it.
Likewise It’s the Truth is focused and narrow, very compelling
funk twist on this minimal sound …
DEC 2002 Update: Since the time
this review was written, DRM has relocated to NY and helped to start the
Bastard Jazz label ... the good folks at Citrona Recordings hooked me up
w/ this fall's release, Shaeed -- a 4 track EP featuring the title track
in its original and remixed forms. "Shaeed" is a
gorgeous number, rooted and ethereal at the same time. The original
version is supplemented by two remixes -- by Greg Long and by
Greg-as-Canton, increasing the tempo and the presence in the bottom end
and re-emphasizing the melody.
Check out the Bastard Jazz site (link
provided on the right....) for up-to-date information on their releases
and future plans.
DRM's moody tracks make perfect mix material, and I'll be
adding them wherever there's a need to downshift in a mix.
At about the same time I
found the drm tracks, I got tipped off to Radio Samizdat … when one of
the band members posted a BSP to thedownbeat.org forums. Turns out Greg is a Washington, DC
artist, and I’m curious to know what kind of electronic music my
Radio Sam describes its work
as Atmospheric Electronica, which was a bit different than what I'd been listening to
at the time … not so sly and knowing as a lot of downtempo, but spacious and embracing
as you might expect from the ambient / trance tip … it’s a change I’m enjoying as I
sit listening to 3rd Tiger.
get really spatial with All In Life Is Sorrow which gives me a vision of
Radio Sam waves beaming out into the icey universe … but this is less
impressive than the track that follows: Inshallah delivers anthemic, uplifting trance …. Ah, and then, something else to like:
Trespasser gets into the dark /minor key range.
Haven't mixed with any of the Radio Sam tracks yet, but again, that's my
fault, not theirs.... Their epic uplift is a mood I need to get into
once I'm tired of my same old same old.... Meantime, I foresee
Trespasser appearing on a mix shortly.
Well now here’s a classic music biz story … I
hear this group on www.besonic.com
and even tho’ I initially pigeonhole it as earnest pop fluff, really,
the hooks are effective and the vocalist indisputably does the trick for
me … I email to them to say “Great stuff” and learn from band member
Ben Rush that 1] they are being courted by a major label and 2] they are
re-recording everything because they’ve changed vocalists!
So I guess I’m reviewing a group that doesn’t
actually exist now – though perhaps these tracks still remain on Besonic
to represent them – and I remain curious to know whether they can get
themselves another vocalist this good effective. Listen
while you can.
I'm looking for opportunities in the generally darker sound
that I tend to work with, to slip in a Breeze track. Their hooks
will make any mix they appear on one to hear over and over.
I'm a little hazy on how I found www.bristolsound.co.uk
-- you've had the same experience, wandering around the Internet, I
know. But I found excellent music there, including a few drum'n'bass
tracks by Sequel. The most intriguing number, "Like This",
had disappeared from the website by the next time I visited and if I
hadn't downloaded the track, I might have thought I dreamed it. I
contacted the site, asking about it, and was referred to Sequel's CD --
but my favorite track didn't appear among the titles.
This is one artist I'd like to know more about, especially whether any
future releases are planned.
Yep, there's tracks by Sequel on a couple of my mixes --
"One Style" on I
and I Dub Stylee
"Like This" on Funktional
Sharee is one of the many Amazon wonders of the sisterdjs
community. She DJs, obviously, but also produces original music,
designs for and contributes to the junglevoodoo collective's website, and
then does all that regular stuff like you and me: have a job, have a
relationship, have a life. Multitaskus maximus. Because
she posted to the sisterdjs group about new music she had available for
download from www.mp3.com, I discovered
her tracks and a whole lot more besides. Since that time, I've also
received a sample of her DJ skills in the form of the CD
"Meridians" -- it features not only impeccable mixing, but also
some of the finest cover art I've yet seen come out of the DIY music
Sharee's style reminds me of the music on the many fine mixed sets I
used to get from www.pureacidmixtapes.com
-- what I think of as the So. California jungle sound: menacing,
relentless, dark. If you're after muscular music, Sharee and the
Jungle Voodoo Collective have what you need.
I would need to be very bold indeed to venture into
mixing Sharee's style of jungle ... maybe someday.
The Link: http://piescream.org
Domino / Chaos Theory
Pixel posts to the sisterdjs group which is where I saw her mention
of new music that she created along with her partner Mekanik. She kindly sent me a
CD to listen to, along with this comment: Domino is poetry and
electronic music arranged by the artists Mekanik and Swexel. Although
most of the arrangements on Chaos Theory (their first release on Gray
Recordings) have an industrial feel ... Swexel and Mekanik are multi-genre
producers. On their latest release, they appear as M45.
Chaos Theory is for when you want to get yr gritty on, seriously. Spoken word and an austere, grinding library of sounds …
touched every so often by a danceable beat … I think they’re playing
hard to get. No, actually
this is more like hardcore IDM. I
had a good friend who objected to punk bands back in the day, on the basis
that they sounded so urgent but were largely unintelligible … they
demanded your concern and then prevented you from focusing that concern on
anything. There is an
argument to be made for verbal clarity, but a sound experiment is not the
place to do it, I think. Mixawhirl
was the track that broke down my resistance….
The group was kind enough to send me
their next, self-titled CD (also available on MP3.com) and this one moves
on toward danceability without forsaking the experimentalism that is their
driving wheel. The tracks that really caught my attention were Parabola,
Hardware and I Don't Belong Here. I think I understand
the decision to muffle or otherwise dilute the vocals, a technique used
often on this set, but since I'm fond of the effectiveness of voice in
raising music, especially dance music, to the next level, I hope M45
moves on to that level, too. I understand there are new tracks
available on their MP3.com page, and urge you to hear these women for
Couldn't mix with this one -- sui generis and all
that. But if and when they pop out the intended dance-friendly next
release, they could enliven a techno set.
The very first band whose music I downloaded once I got
an internet connection – and , o what a time we had, getting me something listenable
got a screenload full of code for the first couple of tries…)
Eventually, when they got their album out (Reversion was
self-published once they got tired of trying to strike a deal with a
label) I bought a copy direct.…
Brian Eno is the influence on this group … in fact, I found
them while following Eno links in one of my first-ever
internet searches. They do an
excellent job of honoring this influence, too.
Stately and rhythmic tracks like Under Dark Skies remind me a
little of the Eno/Byrne collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts….and
you can’t beat that. Michael
Brook is another name that comes to mind … If you like elegant ambient
guitar and beats, these guys provide f’ya.
Stone Idols is: Rob Jenkins: Synths, Guitars, Percussion, Production; Martin Smith:
Synths, Percussion Co Production;
Neil Cowley: Synths, Percussion
Another group that's easy to work into an ambient set, or as a bridge
in a downtempo set.
These reviews are posted to help bridge the
gap between you and some interesting music. Let me know if they
accomplished that purpose; if there's an addition that would make them more
useful to you, tell me what it is; if you have music posted on the internet that
you'd like to have reviewed (or if you have a recommendation to make) here's the
opportunity to say so:
There used to be a form you could use to
make your suggestions, but spammers have hijacked it too many times ... please
feel free to email your suggestions to talkback at beatconscious dot com and
including the following info:
|Suggestions for adding a new feature
to the reviews page|
|Suggestions for artists that should be
reviewed, along with their website, if possible|
|Your email address, if you would like
Your feedback is welcome and it is
important to make the reviews page better -- thanks!
SOFTWARE AND SERVICES
MixMeister (v. 3) available from www.mixmeister.com
A friend recommended MixMeister and, since a trial version was
available as a free download from the MixMeister site, I decided to give
it a chance -- certainly my beat matching skills could use an assist
from time to time, and since I'm not a "working" DJ, I don't
need to be concerned about misrepresenting my abilities by producing
bedroom mixes that I can't duplicate live. So, yes: help me
out, lil' MixMeister!
I decided to sequence a mix, and pick one thorny cross-fade that was
obviously too difficult for me to do well as a candidate to run
through the MixMeister mill. In addition, I worked up a true beat
matching segment that required two tracks to play simultaneously and not
sound grotesque. My concept was to make these two segments with
MixMeister, then export (burn) them to CD and use the resulting mixed
tracks along with my other selections to finish off the set in the usual
way (I normally use a Tascam CD302 dual deck and a Numark 2002X mixer to
work my magic.)
Like many another sound editing program, MixMeister gives you a
visual presentation of your tracks, and for us visually-oriented folks,
that's a real thrill. However, just being able to "see"
your music won't entirely compensate for a tin ear, so be prepared to
listen and listen and listen to every adjustment you make -- it might
look good and yet not sound quite right.
You can set MixMeister to automatically beat match for you, but in
doing so, you'll lose some ability to fine tune the start and stop
points of the cross-fade. I had some pretty definite ideas about
where I wanted these tracks to begin and end, so I chose to use the
manual functions of the program (adjusting the tempo, the bass volume,
etc.) to create the effects I needed. The primary benefit, of
course, was not having to do this work "live" and in one pass,
but being able to tweak and re-tweak it until I felt satisfied.
The end result is far from perfect (well, thank goodness, or it would
make all my other mixes sound pretty rotten!) I passed on
perfection partly because I realized at some point that, while I could
play with it endlessly, I really needed to finish up the project and
move on. I think there's plenty more for me still to explore with
MixMeister, and I believe it's possible to become really handy with it
... if the goal is to make yourself some close-to-flawless mixed CDs of
your favorite tracks, you could get there with MixMeister. And,
another blessing: the price for this dynamite little program is
currently just $39. I would recommend the program both for its
functionality and the fun you'll have making those mixes sound tight!
By the way, if you're interested in the mix project described here,
check out Oddstep Culture
for the complete set list. This mix has not yet been posted to my
Live365 show, but if you're curious about the results, contact
29 SEP 01:
The fine people at MixMeister hooked me up with an evaluation copy of
the Pro version of their excellent software. You'll
find my write-up here.
Legal downloadable mp3s by subscription from www.emusic.com.
The past few months have given lovers of free music plenty to groan
about, with the demise of Napster's file-sharing service, the co-option
of MP3.com, and the apparent end of the great big internet music goodie
bag. While other programs and services will seek to fill the gap
and continue to help you find your music, the subscription model for
downloadable music is worth testing out, since it's very likely to be
the future we all have to live with.
I chose emusic.com because I've already been to their well a time or
two -- they took over the old blend-your-own CD site, CDuctive, and sent
offers to all the old CDuctive customers (that would be including me)
that promised free MP3 players in exchange for spending a few bucks on
their mp3 downloads. The music selection was really quite good,
but downloading via a 56K modem takes some persistence.
Lately, emusic.com has been flooding the old inbox with yet another
special offer: trial subscription, download 100 tracks for free,
and if you think you like the experience, sign up for the real deal:
unlimited downloads by subscription. They offered two flavors for
unlimited downloads: 3 months at $14.95 per month or a year at $9.95 per
month. My decision to try them out was based on access to a
friend's cable modem set-up, and since I couldn't depend on that being
available forever, I chose the 3 month subscription once I'd bagged my
100 free tracks.
With cable, the process is pretty painless ... you can choose to download an entire album at a time
but this will require you to either have or obtain RealPlayer or a
similar aplication called FreeAmp. I chose FreeAmp, and clicked on
the Download Album button which sent an .rm file to my hard-drive.
As long as you remain connected to the internet, FreeAmp will then
process this file and save individual song mp3s to your hard drive.
For those of us looking to plump up the CD collection, this is about as
quick and easy as it gets. You also have the choice of grabbing the albums
you want track
by track -- for instance, if your hard drive space was limited and you
wanted to cherry-pick. But to do that effectively, you'd
have to preview each track and depend on the 30 second preview to tell
you what you needed to know to make your decision. This could take
forever, and besides, it's not my style -- I preferred to gut it out,
choosing albums based on familiarity with the artists or the blurb
supplied by the emusic folks (not every album gets a blurb, BTW.)
By this time, I may have accumulated 50 CDs worth of music and I can
say that I'm happy with at least 85% of it -- some selections, of
course, are just never going to get burned on a CD (I wouldn't waste the
media.) As I determine which ones are my favorites, I'll be
reviewing them elsewhere on this page. Call me easy to please, but
my verdict is: there's an awful lot to like on emusic.com (and remember,
I really only scouted the electronic music sub-categories: downtempo,
acid jazz, remixes, dub, ambient, house, and the like. They have
much, much more to choose from for those of you interested in Alt-Rock,
Pop, Jazz, etc.)
But a cable connection (or other broadband delivery) is the key here,
unless you've got absolutely nothing else to do with your life but click
that "download" button and wait for the process to
complete. And the entire world is not yet kitted-out with
broadband ... so emusic.com will need to survive until this delivery
system becomes the standard. And I guess that means they will keep
on offering enticing deals in the meantime. If you've ever wanted
to try this concept out, now might be the right time.
For a review of the music (the enormous amount of music!) go
here. To see some of the mix possibilities, check out the
|For a service of another sort, there are
numerous file-sharing applications. I've checked out a couple, and
you can read the review here.