Wednesday, 14 May 2014

mp3 blog!

 Mp3 blog Altered Zones, 2010-2011.
A ladder for lesser-known artists, it's arguably the
reason today's underground looks the way it looks.

I'm turning Rouge's Foam into a (part-time, intermittent) mp3 blog! Remember them?!

Over the past few years, my music-writing has kind of shifted from essays (mostly on my blog) that went into quite a lot of depth on famous artists to essays that bring together a number of less well-known artists who are doing new things away from well-known labels. I trace this shift back to the moment I realised that there was an enormous, almost entirely non-reported underground sitting online full of music that was not just fresh-sounding but often really good too. I haven't lost interest in writing on bigger names, but I ended up filling a niche covering emerging music as a columnist because I began to see the urgency in reporting those lesser known artists, and few other writers were doing so too.

The features I write on these schools of new artists go some way to bringing this new online underground some wider attention. But there are also plenty of artists and tracks that don't make it into these features, either because they stand a bit apart or because I already covered the artist or their style before. So in order to keep sharing the good stuff, I thought I'd start presenting tracks on Rouge's Foam in the typical mp3 blog style - embedded track and a little write-up for context (I won't actually be offering mp3 downloads myself, but the format remains). I'll still post links to the articles I've written, and write the occasional blogthing.

This might seem a little retro in a time ruled by sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, which have eroded the mp3 blog as a source for sharing new music. Mp3 blogs are a bit 2006. But what I like about them is that they're separate from social media in general and can be browsed as such. I don't have anything against social media per se, but whether it's other people's accounts or my own, interesting new tracks just come bundled with everything else - pictures, complaints, Buzzfeed etc. The share button world is also low on context - the few sentences written to accompany a track on an mp3 blog is hardly Journalism, but it does provide some valuable context: how the track works in relation to releases, geography, events, backgrounds etc. Well, they're not unlike the news pieces you see on larger music websites. But on Rouge's Foam, these tracks will not typically be the tracks these sites are posting (often after receiving press releases). They'll be weird unknown nuggets from the new online underground.

Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed a drop-off in the number of mp3 blogs I can rely on, or in their quality or regularity. In particular, I miss Altered Zones, which caught the wave of hypnagogic pop and broke the news of so many of the artists that are now huge in today's underground scene. With institutions like Altered Zones gone or drying up, a gap between new music and its wider success has emerged: it's no longer clear how young&weird artists get from Soundcloud, Bandcamp or debut cassette beginnings to touring whole continents (...unless they're rubber-stamped by the limited, more conservative capacities of older, richer, more established labels and websites). Since I'm now finding new music by the bucketload straight at the source - SC, BC, Mediafire - I realised I can help plug that gap once filled by mp3 blogs... with an mp3 blog.

I can't promise the flow of new tracks will be constant, regular, dense or everlasting (and the tracks might be a few months old), but I hope you like some of em!

1 comment:

  1. this is a great idea. will keep my eyes and ears peeled! jp