After I posted a link to the (nearly) free ohGr track, I had a couple of people ask me what other music was out there. So here is my current top ten list (in no particular order) of free and cheap tracks. So get to downloading and get a jump-start on the weekend.
10) First up is Chicago’s subVariant Recordings label sampler, SubvaritraxTM. 17 tracks of glitchy minimal techno and IDM. It is also completely free. We like free around here. This comp has been out for a few years now, but doesn’t sound dated. That is a very difficult thing to pull off in electronic music these days, so good on them.
09) If you are into some old school industrial metal, the pioneering band 16Volt has released their entire back catalog for free. Some classic tracks in this clutch. In my youth, I spent a lot of time dancing to this. Good times!
08) Trent Reznor and his new wife (and apparently gestating new child) have a project called “How To Destroy Angels”. It is pretty good. Sounds a lot like some of the stuff that Colt is doing. The first release from them is free for 320 kbps mp3, but for a scant $2 you can get it in 24bit wav or Apple Lossless. If you like this one, you might be interested in picking up NIN’s Ghosts project. Primarily an almost ambient side project between Trent Reznor and Allisandro Cortini’s Buchla 200e, Ghosts has become one of my favorite albums since it came out. Part one is completely free, but all part (I-IV) can be had for $5. I highly recommend the full version. Some of the best tracks are buried in the pay version.
07) The way too hip and New York Brooklyn band, Dirty Projectors has done an experimental EP titled “Mount Wittenberg Orca” with my future wife Björk. Miss Guðmundsdóttir provides some lovely and disjointed vocals on a quite strange record. The EP is kind of like a sibling to Dirty Projectors’ last album, Bitte Orca. Mount Wittenberg Orca costs a minimum donation of $7 (up to a maximum of $100), but all proceeds go to National Geographic Society Oceans Project. Think of it as a gift from the swag bag at a charity ball, but without all the getting dressed up. If $7 dollars is too much, at the Dirty Projectors’ website you can download a free digital 7″ of two tracks from the Bitte Orca sessions.
06) Ambient netlabel Feedback Loop released a compilation called “Manifesto” in December of last year. I think it was my favorite holiday present. There is a lot of very good stuff on this disk. Don’t let the words “Ambient Netlabel” scare you away from this one. It is not bedroom quality sleepy time music. There is a good mix of ambient, drone, rhythmic noise and IDM (even some vocals) on hand here. All are done at a pretty high level of professionalism and competence. There is a good diversity to the tracks and a lot of care seems to have gone into this one. It is also free.
05) My friend Shawn Rudimen has a project called T.H.D. that I used to spin constantly when I was a teenager. If I had a dollar for every time I goth-fu’d to the song Matrix from Mechanical Advantage, I’d be a wealthy man. Let me tell you, sweetheart, those were the days! Anyway, last year Shawn released some new material under the T.H.D. brand. The “Subconscious Drip” EP is free here in 320 kbps mp3 (or for $9.99 in slightly less than 320 kbps at the iTunes Store). The opener, “Machine Edge”, is just what the old Rivet Head in me was needing. Also on iTunes is “The Evolution Of Our Decay”. Standard iTunes $9.99 rate, but well worth it. This disk has been in fairly steady rotation in my car since I downloaded it. I highly recommend (damn near demand if you spent any amount of time wearing combat boots and/or fishnet in your past) that you pick up both of these. Shawn is the real deal, and a super nice guy to boot. Support the true independents.
04) And speaking of independents, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Renaissance crew. If you don’t know who they are, it’s ok. You are probably not as big of a computer geek as I am. They were an early 90’s Demoscene crew who created the first 4 channel audio plus 8 channel FM synthesis tracker. With it they created one of the best demos ever, Amnesia. (Part 1 – here, Part 2 – there) This was my favorite demo back in the day. I ran it on a 386 DX2 with a Soundblaster Pro on tiny 2″ pc speakers. This demo just blew my fucking mind. The audio from this thing was unbelievable, and the graphics were so far ahead of the curve. Mind you that it was running in real-time. Nothing pre-rendered. Professional games at the time had trouble keeping up technologically. The audio tracks from the Amnesia demo can be found here. They are obviously free. I did a lot of music on trackers back in the day. It really was the beginning of my music career. I preferred Scream Tracker by the Future Crew. Future Crew did my second favorite demo, Second Reality. That one is absolutely classic as well.
03) If you want some more free music, you can’t go wrong with my friend Stretta. He has generously put up most of his music for free with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. That means that you are free to remix and sample his stuff for your own projects. And you will want to because he does some wonderful things musically. If you want to give him some money (and you should), you can go to his Bandcamp page and do so. Nothing over $5. My favorite things that he has released so far are the albums, “A Towering Achievement Of Indescribable Beauty” and “Brood XIV”. Both of these are based off of piano played during the free half hour in the morning that Stretta has after his kids go off to school. Talk about constraint composition! The Grids album is mostly Monome work, and Error Correction utilizes his analog modular synthesizer.
02) If you don’t know Torley, you should. The guy is fond of loud Hawaiian shirts and Second Life. He also is a great musician. He has a ton of demos and tutorials on his YouTube channel. My favorite is his Trance Party Trick. Good stuff. His Dream Journal project can be purchased at his Bandcamp page. At $14.44, it is the most expensive download that I am recommending, but there are nearly sixty tracks that you get. On a per track basis, that makes Torley the cheapest of the not free projects listed here. It’s also really, really good. This is timeless electronica. Torley doesn’t like to pigeonhole himself to one trendy style of music. There is a lasting quality to these tracks, that makes me think that I will be listening to them for years.
01) Last up is one of my favorite websites on the interwebs. The Avant Garde Project is an archive of 20th Century Classical and experimental music. It is all stuff that has been digitized from vinyl on a fairly decent system. None of these records has been released on CD, so you are looking at some things that are rarely heard these days. If you are not familiar with this kind of music, I suggest getting the two sampler disks. They are not too far removed from what most people think of as music, but are sufficiently “out there” enough to sound good to me. The top twenty most downloaded collections can be found here. The AGP has over 150 installments, all of which are roughly a CDs worth of music. All of this is free.
I should also use this opportunity to pimp my own wares. This year I participated in the RPM Challenge (whose website is frustratingly down). This is a project that asks you to make an entire album of music from writing to mixing during the month of February. I decided to do it about half way through the month, so I only had 14 days to do an album instead of the full 28. I still made it happen, though. You can find the Red Lauan Tree album on my Soundcloud page.
Enjoy yourselves, and enjoy the music!
EDIT: My boy, Chris Randall just released a new Micronaut EP moments ago. I’ve just finished listening to it, and I have to say that Chris has done another bang-up job on this one. Downtempo electronics with a slightly verse chorus verse song structure. Pay what you want with a $1 minimum. Go ahead and give it a few bucks more, because you are awesome! Micronaut – Resistor