Is 2017 the year of CC music departures? That is how things appear to be going. A number of artists that I have come to admire over the five to ten years have decided to end things. So, I wanted to write a small memorial about them, and talk about what the future holds.
Talk Less, Say More
Matthew Jennings has been around the Netlabel scene for quite some time before his Three Birds releases (England Without Rain, Violent, and Bonfire Night). Five releases before the Three Birds albums gave Matthew the space to produce some intensely personal work, and experiment with the ideas of what pop music could be. I won’t say that all of these earlier works were the most successful, however they definitely formed the basis for a the series of releases that I think are some of the finest pop music I have heard in many years.
So, what’s next?
Well, I don’t really know just yet. With the release of Bonfire Night Alex from Records On Ribs said that Matthew does have another project in mind. It sounded to me like it was still in it’s embryonic stage. That’s okay with me. I will miss the word-play of Talk Less, Say More lyrics (unless Matthew decides to surprise us with something new in his lyrics), and the surprise of interesting instrumentation choices for pop music, and numerous other things that I really love about the Three Birds albums. However, I know that artists often want to do different things, experiment in different areas, explore new ideas and possibilities.
Matthew is the kind of person that will likely make a new exploration interesting. For now, however, we can still listen to all of the Talk Less, Say More works from Records On Ribs.
Back in May I received an unusual message on Facebook from someone named Dominic Robertson. The message was an appeal for help with his crowd funding effort for The United Kingdom of Earth: A Brexit Opera, and was signed as “Formerly Ergo Phizmiz Enterprises, Unltd”. This was a real shock to me. Even more of a shock was that I apparently missed the “Death of Ergo Phizmiz” over a year ago! (To be fair, the last few moths of 2015, into 2016 wasn’t the smoothest of times for me due to a number of personal issues…)
Fortunately, this surprise has been tempered by the combination of (a) the request for crowd funding, and (b) the announcement on Ergo Phizmiz’s website Composter Of Music, the new home for Dominic’s artistic output. And, even more encouraging to me is the existence of a Composter Of Music BandCamp site.
I am going to miss Ergo Phizmiz. He was one of the first artists that inspired me to write Creative Commons / Netlable music via The Faust Cycle. However, I am greatly pleased that we have not lost him as an artist, long live Dominic Robertson’s Composter Of Music!
Make sure to check out all the links above for Ergo Phizmiz’s works, and all the new art being created by Dominic Robertson. And, read some reviews of Ergo’s works on CerebralRift:
The Fucked Up Beat
I was also stunned when I received a BandCamp mailing from The Fucked Up Beat announcing their final release: Insomnie, a collection of Piano pieces from the duo of Eddie Palmer and Brett Zehner.
The Fucked Up Beat set a standard for the concept of transformation. Basing many of their works on samples of audio from the public domain, they have masterfully crafted completely new works that definitely stand apart from the original pieces in every way. This is the standard I use when I consider works that are transformations of other works.
It’s worth noting that they are one of the few artists that I believe should be allowed to have their own genre: Noir Schizo-Hop. That is an accurate description of what they do, and is not just some marketing ploy.
I don’t know what the future holds for Eddie and Brett. Hopefully there will be some really new, cool projects that I will get to report on in the future. For now, check out all the cool releases on The Fucked Up Beat’s BandCamp site. And you can read a few reviews of The Fucked Up Beat on CerebralRift:
Last, but certainly not least, is Mystified. Thomas Jackson Park has been moving in a lot of different directions in the past few years. After establishing a vast catalog of ambient and experimental music releases, he found himself wandering into the visual arts with with his paintings. This work has lead to him being commissioned to do works, and being displayed quite prominently in several galleries.
He’s also taken the time to write a few longer essays on the arts. And he’s gotten married.
With all of these activities, his typical voluminous output of music slowed down a bit. Then recently, he started re-mastering and uploading many of his works to YouTube. Then in May he announced that he was retiring the Mystified project altogether. But, that doesn’t mean that he’s retiring from music altogether.
Thomas announced recently the start of a new project: Grid Resistor. Grid Resistor is a musique concrete project that is based completely on field recordings of machines that Thomas is finding in his environment. He’s already made several releases in this project.
I’ve listened to a few of the releases in this project, and I like the concept. The idea of taking pieces of our environment, and using minimal manipulation to transform what we think of as noise into something that carries an audio value is something that has been a long standing staple of music since the invention of the tape recorder, and artists like Iannis Xenakis and others started considering technology as a creative medium in place of traditional instruments.
Say “goodbye” to Mystified and “hello” to Grid Resistor. Make sure to check out the Grid Resistor Facebook page for links to his releases.
You can read some reviews of Mystified’s works:
And you can still get a copy of There Is No Wall No Nothing from CerebralAudio:
I’ve been quite stunned by the amount of change that has happened this year. Could it be there is something in the environment? Certainly I know that I feel different now than I have in the past few years. It seems like the changes that are going on in this world are getting more confusing every day. I believe there are forces acting on us on a global level all the way down to the personal level that we cannot fully understand and appreciate.
While artists are likely to change themselves and their works purely for the sake of exploring new territory, it seems to me that these changes are likely in reaction to all of the events that are going on in the world. It’s something that I believe history has shown us time and again: artists react in strange and mysterious ways to things that we don’t always see or appreciate.
Fortunately for us, many of the artists that have chosen to hang-it-up this year (or last year) haven’t completely left us. They’ve recognized the need for change to reflect something new in the world. Now they are just trying to show it to us in a different way. And for that, I am grateful.
Photograph from Unsplash.com by: