Getting Played at BlandLamp Vol. CDM
Another day, another dollar, am I right, bros?
I woke up this morning to one of those always-welcome “Cha-ching! Another $10.00 for…” emails from Bandcamp, a sight (and site) that never fails to warm my heart. Your buddy Tyree is lying face down in a ditch or something so I’m gonna fill in for him this week. Before we move on to this installment’s featured bands, I want to give some love to everyone’s favorite music downloading platform.
I think we can all agree Bandcamp is about the best service around for music fans by a long shot. SoundCloud is poverty, iTunes is a trash heap, Pandora’s nice for your middle school classes and Spotify is the devil incarnate. For my money (no pun intended), Bandcamp is the most “democratized” site on which to share one’s music. Like SoundCloud, Bandcamp allows anyone to upload the sounds they create, but Bandcamp also allows me to indulge my inner capitalist. Free from iTunes and Spotify’s steep barriers to entry ($$$) and SoundCloud’s low quality streams and general shoddiness, Bandcamp offers creators and consumers alike exactly what they need in one convenient package.
Three years ago, Invisible Oranges published a piece by Cosmo Lee aptly titled “Every label should have a Bandcamp.” Lee gives three chief reasons for labels (and by extension, bands) to jump on the Bandcamp bandwagon: functionality, portability (or perhaps more accurately, accessibility) and control.
According to Lee, “recorded music as a basis for purchase boils down to two things: (1) getting people to hear music, and (2) getting people to buy it. Bandcamp offers both these functions with its streaming music player and capability to…sell digital downloads directly.” This is self-explanatory. Bandcamp fulfills the requirements of a music store: advertising the product and allowing customers to buy it.
Second, “Bandcamp audio players–complete with purchase links–are shareable in every meaningful content distribution network: email, Facebook, blog platforms, and so on. This changes the flow of energy from inwards to outwards. Before, labels tried to direct web traffic into landing pages that contained audio players and store links. Now each Bandcamp widget is a little landing page with audio player and store capability–and infinite numbers of these widgets can propagate throughout the Internet.” Casting aside the potential gray-goo-like implications of infinite widgets proliferating across the web, the draw for a band or label is clear. Bandcamp works in conjunction with any other site around. No longer is it necessary for bands to upload their music to every platform in existence when the options exists to simply put their albums up for streaming and sale on one site over which they have complete control.
Which brings us to Lee’s final and, in my opinion, weakest point. “The past year has seen an explosion in streaming audio as events on sites such as this one. Track premieres! Full album streams! Guess what: that’s not necessarily the best way to do things.” Lee cites the workload of transferring and hosting files as “a pain in the ass for all involved.” As our editor-in-chief will attest, he’s right.
Where this part of the argument fails is Lee’s claim that “when a website hosts an album stream, the website is the real winner, not the label or artist. The website gets tons of traffic that the label or artist could have gotten, and–assuming that the website is considerate enough to include a purchase link alongside the stream–fans have to go through an additional click to purchase the music. If you are selling music, you want fans to be able to purchase music at the same time and place that they hear it. Every displacement away from that will cause a drop-off in conversions, i.e., purchases.”
My disagreement is rooted only in personal experience, but since I’m writing about metal for a blog with “toilet” in the name, I really don’t care: as a musician who has premiered new material through a variety of sources, I can definitively say that each experience has led to significant increases in sales and publicity. Even the most informal coverage is a godsend to artists working in the underground. Lee is indubitably already aware of this and in fact makes just such a concession only a few paragraphs down.
The only other caveat Lee proffers is Bandcamp’s revenue sharing system. Yes, Bandcamp has to take a cut to pay for the servers that store your 20-minute white noise tracks. The revenue sharing is ultimately nigh-inconsequential: the rates are negligible—especially when compared to other platforms—and the service is, for all intents and purposes, free.
At the end of the day, Bandcamp offers the functionality of a merch store (for both digital and physical media) with the bonus of easy access across the web. In other words, bands: DITCH YOUR REPULSIVE REVERBNATION PAGES AND GET WITH A WINNER!
Now on to the reasons you’re all really here: to take in some sick new jams from this most holy of bowls. We’ve got you taken care of this week.
Dead Instrument – See Through Negative (Copenhagen) Raw Birth Records, 2014
Because I’m terrified of failing Tyree and his legacy (a little late for that, huh?), I wanted to start with some grind. Denmark’s Dead Instrument provided just that. These guys have their collective feet on the gas for the entire duration of this EP. This is the soundtrack to a Lindsay Lohan lookalike repeatedly jabbing a dirty knife through your abdomen. This is also the soundtrack to Tyree drinking copious amounts of beer and entertaining us with his selfie antics.
Piss Junkie/Brown Piss – Brown Piss Junkie (New York/Virginia) Chaotic Noise Productions, 2014
This split is thirteen tracks long. Eleven of those are under eighteen seconds long. STAY GRIND.
Uzumaki – Knowledge of a Language One Has Never Learned/yzordderex – Extraction (Mississippi) 2014
Uzumaki and yzordderex are two of the many projects undertaken by the obscenely prolific Jared Moran. Uzumaki lurch out from under a wet rock somewhere in the death metal realm. From beneath the production’s murky haze, guttural vocals and riffs laced with crushing chugs and shrill pick scrapes ring out across the blighted landscape. “The Verge of a New Dynamic” is disjointed to the point of nearly falling apart at every turn, but the band is so in sync that the song never careens too far off course—a feat made all the more impressive by the fact Moran is playing every instrument.
yzordderex sees Moran taking a decidedly different approach. While Extraction could ostensibly be described as death-doom, Moran’s obstreperous take on genre boundaries throws out convention for conviction. Time slows to a crawl for each of the five mini-epics presented here. The production is slightly clearer than on Knowledge of a Language One Has Never Learned, but I’d still like to be able to hear the layered guitars of “Inspiration Through Rejected Impressions” more clearly.
Weightlessness – Of Lachrymose Grief (San Diego!) 2014
For my final trick, I’ll pimp some local boys. For some reason Weightlessness’s Bandcamp claims the band is from Brooklyn, but whatever. This is some way-down-in-the-hole funeral doom, but as is far too atypical of the genre, Of Lachrymose Grief matches each moment of pained introspection with a crushing riff. Another attribute rare in any band that Weightlessness have in spades is legitimate catchiness. There’s nary a hopeful note through the duration of the EP, yet I still find myself stuck with the haunting strains of “Swallowed the Sun and the Moon” over and over.
Next, a few more friends are going to step up to the plate and help out. First up, Masterlord SteelDragon has some sweet jams picked just for you.
Sun Worship – Elder Giants (Germany) Sick Man Getting Sick Records/Dead Section Records, 2014
Sun Worship is a German band straddling the controversial line between 2nd wave and USBM. Though some of the more soaring passages on their full-length debut (which came out earlier this year) are clearly nods to Diadem of 12 Stars, they more often take an Ash Borer-ish approach. Still, they retain that icy darkness made popular by Fenriz & Co., and many of these riffs would be right at home on Nattestid Ser Porten Vid. The fourth and final song is an ambient track (something I’m becoming increasingly fond of) that sounds like something that Varg “everyone’s best pal” Vikernes would record on the synthesizers in his 5-star Norwegian prison. Stream Elder Giants above and like these dudes on Facebook.
Before we skedaddle, Edward Mehoineyhoin is going for one last hoedown throwdown.
Lord Time – Drink My Tears (Los Angeles) 2012
I got wind of Lord Time’s one man avant-garde black metal project sometime last year, from reading kvlter-than-our-readership-could-ever-hope-to-be blogs. Lord Time plays repetitive, hypnotic black metal, like traveling down a wind tunnel with a worm hole at its end. You can get lost in this and become surprised when strange melodies reach the surface. Drink My Tears was originally sold as a cassette with Andorkappen’s blood on the package, thankfully you can pick up this two track album, almost an hour of music, for $3.00 digitally. Andorkappen, Lord Time’s sole member, also plays in Harassor.
Send your love to the MasterBro and Eduardo and your hate to me in the comments below. Tyree will be back next week (presumably) so in the meantime feel free to tell me about how poor a surrogate I make.