This week saw the end of the most excellent bi-monthly Arthur , which has been throwing a spotlight on strange, avant-garde music for most of the last decade. The magazine’s founder announced via its website that “after years of service, Arthur departed the material plane today… He died as he lived – free, high and a-dreaming of love, ‘neath vultures’ terrible gaze.”Arthur’s demise leaves a fairly sizeable hole in the fabric of experimental music criticism, so if you’re left craving an experimental fix, here are ten places to investigate – some well-known, some obscure, all interesting. Did we miss any? Suggestions are, as ever, welcome.
The Wire The grand old daddy of experimental music magazines. It’s very male and very serious, but if you’re into the types of music that they cover, there’s still really no better place to find considered and well-informed, if perhaps a little po-faced, criticism. Their CD compilations are always great, too – as is the MP3 repository on their website.
Know Your Conjurer This LA-based blog is almost too good to be true. It’s a veritable treasure trove of everything from space jazz to obscure Krautrock to weird experimental noise to psychedelic drone to god only knows what else. The volume of music available is overwhelming, and it’s pretty much all fascinating listening. The guy behind the blog also does a fascinating show on LA radio station KALX, which streams online if you’re outside the city.
Signal to Noise Another venerable experimental music institution, Signal to Noise has been publishing quarterly out of Texas since 1997 and has distribution throughout the USA. It’s probably the closest thing in this country to The Wire. There’s also a blog, although it seems to get updated about once a year.
Altered Zones Whether or not you’re offended by the whole idea of a Pitchfork-sponsored blog on experimental music – and some people most certainly are — there’s no denying that there’s some interesting stuff to be found on Altered Zones, and that its contributors generally know their shit. The site draws together contributions from 14 bloggers, including the people behind 20 Jazz Funk Greats, which has long been a Flavorwire favorite.
Kick to Kill A decidedly strange blog that seems to specialize in obscure videos and documentaries (often about the Third Reich, for whatever reason), along with music – particularly the darker, heavier end of the spectrum, from metal and hardcore to techno and and nasty hip hop. There’s not a great deal of new material on here, but there’s still plenty to interest the open-minded reader.
Alain Finkiel Krautrock This French blog concentrates on the dance-y side of the experimental spectrum, and seems to have some sort of link to production duo Discodeine (i.e., Pilooski and Pentile, who amongst other things released the smack-videoed single “Synchronize” with Jarvis Cocker earlier this year). Quite who the eponymous Alain Finkiel is remains unclear – but anyway, even if you can’t read French, there’s plenty of interesting music here to download listen to.
Cyclic Defrost An Australian magazine that specialises in experimental music, Cyclic Defrost is printed in hard copy three times a year and also publishes a bunch of features and reviews online. As per their website, they cover “electronic music, avant-rock, experimental sound art and leftfield hip hop” and have “no interest in fashion spreads, alcohol or clothing advertising, nor do we accept advertising in the guise of ‘editorial.'” Word.
The Quietus This UK-based website has quietly grown into one of the most respected and well-patronized music outlets on the web. The site was started in 2008 as an “online music publication not in thrall to snarky one-upmanship, hype, or an overload of fast-click, low-quality content,” and has fulfilled that aim admirably, publishing well thought-out and well-informed reviews, erudite features and the occasional killer mixtape. [Disclaimer: the author occasionally contributes to this site.]
Dr. Schluss’s Garage of Psychedelic Obscurities Apart from sporting possibly the best name ever, this blog is a goldmine for anyone interested in psychedelic rock. Dr. Schluss pulls together all sorts of tripped-out psychedelic stuff, dating from from the ‘60s to the present day – and, amusingly, rates them on a Trip-O-Meter from zero to five. There’s also a great blogroll with links to a heap of other like-minded sites.
Boomkat We heart Boomkat, mainly because they stock an inordinate amount of fascinating sounds, and because they seem to genuinely like those sounds – unlike most music retailers, they actually write their own reviews of the stuff they sell, and not just with the express intention of convincing you to buy it. Also check out their 14tracks.com project, which is almost always downloading gold.