Monthly Spins

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Joe Surdna  |  Nov 14, 2017
What exactly is a ghost record? It’s a recording that remains elusive and has perhaps taken on an outsized place in your archivist’s brain. It’s the lost record that you’ve forgotten the name of and, perhaps searched for over the years to no avail. This is not any ordinary album that can be easily searched for on Google, cross-referenced and or found with easy emails and answers from forum posts. I think every music lover has a ghost record in their life and memory, a record that they heard once at someone’s house, maybe when they were stoned, or once owned but then lost in a basement flood or gave away, an album they can still hear in their head but somehow it’s slipped through the cracks and gone down the wormhole of memory.
Joe Surdna  |  Nov 01, 2017
What an extraordinary month October has been for the release and discovery of great new music. I had to make a new section entitled Honorable Mentions in order to include all the music that deserved to be reviewed. Not that any records on the 2nd tier list are of any less quality than those given longer reviews. Rather than review an artist (see St. Vincent) that every single other site has posted about I prefer to highlight less well known but quite worthy artists that may get short shift when the heavyweights are getting all the ink.
Joe Surdna  |  Oct 17, 2017
Are you dreaming when you listen? Is there a concomitant reflection of inherent desire manifesting itself within yourself when you go into this system of sound that you have meticulously created, or recreated? Perhaps, as Francois Bonnet suggests in his densely considered book The Order of Sounds there is a predilection when listening to accede to a form of conscious hallucination? What you are looking for is what you hear? A conjuring takes place on an antediluvian, reptilian part of your brain that simultaneously searches for and places music into a predetermined organization? The idea here was to navigate the supposedly passive act of listening and to consider how and when that began for me. When did music crawl out of its realm of being simply aural wallpaper and become something tactile and palpable in my life? Well, it happened when I was 11 and I remember exactly how I felt at the time.
Joe Surdna  |  Sep 13, 2017
Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988)
File Under: old-school, mind-altering, radical hip-hop
It came caterwauling out the windows of passing Old's 98's, screeching and scratching with abstract samples of James Brown's funk and Coltrane sped up until he sounded like a siren wailing, Slayer's and Anthrax's buzzsaw guitars, with trunk bass booming enough to rattle the windows in my first floor apartment; it's vibe was aggressive, menacing and overtly political as it spread bespoke: passed hand-to-hand on bootleg cassettes, many recorded directly over something else, hitting the streets before it's official release date in June of 1988; it was a revolution that was not televised and, at least in the beginning, took place virtually outside the structure of the mainstream system of distribution of record stores, radio, television and magazines, or MTV, a radical collage of black sounds that was suddenly everywhere at once, a viral social-cultural and political experience spreading its message across the city where most white people like myself only felt it but didn't really get it.
Joe Surdna  |  Sep 01, 2017
It all happened so fast. Summer came and went and now some of the leaves are yellowing and beginning to fall. When I'm in town passing one of the high schools I can here the whistles of the football coaches putting the boys through their drills. It won't be long before it'll be time to wrap this year up and cogitate on what moved me the most in this column. But for the next three months there will be the usual avalanche of ear-worthy releases. Here are a few I discovered in August.
Joe Surdna  |  Aug 03, 2017
The dog days are upon us but there’s no rest here at Audiostream. For August we have quite a line up of eclectic and stunning tunes for you. Some Mississippi blues, minimalist classical, indie rock, ambient techno, ethiopiyawi electronic, feral rock, folkatronic, motorik kraut, hip hop, proto-post rock, experimental, afro-latin-world and perhaps controversially, plunderphonics. So let the sleeping dogs lie, make some cold-brew coffee, fire up the DAC, and get ready for some great music.
Joe Surdna  |  Jul 04, 2017
A lot of ink has been spilled over what is and what is not punk rock. We know what historical punk is: Iggy, Sex Pistols, Wire, Flipper, but do we know what it is now or have we succumbed to the realm of conservative self-parody and stylistic boredom? The Dadaists were the first proto punks. The punk rock I want is a utopian ideal, while the punk I got is more dystopian. How does punk rock make me feel? Generally just annoyed—it’s an aural irritant. It’s rude, crass, dissonant, noisy and usually assumes a guise of nihilism. NY’s Show Me The Body is the closest Americans have come recently as well as this month’s selection North Carolina’s ISS.
Joe Surdna  |  Jun 01, 2017
Last year at this time the cicadas crawled out of the earth and filled our ears with the cacophony of their singing. This is supposed to happen every seventeen years or so but for some reason the sonorous bugs are not staying asleep and dormant as they are supposed to and are back buzzing away again against all scientific facts and logic. Nothing is as it appears anymore, and as welcome as the buzzing might be there is an ominous sense that something is not right on the Ponderosa. Not to worry because we’ve discovered some wonderful new and sort-of-new music that will drown out all that unreal noise and hopefully soothe any sense of foreboding you might have from all the absurdity and buzzing going on.
Joe Surdna  |  Apr 04, 2017
No doubt in bloom, with ambient noise, a polyrhythmic chorus of peepers, we slide into longer days and with it a growing festival of capitol nincompoopery. Milk of amnesia and nesting matryoshkas. How long will it last and where are we headed? ‘It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible black.’
Joe Surdna  |  Mar 01, 2017
There’s an old Greek proverb that goes: now that you’ve eaten the donkey you might as well go ahead and eat the tail. We stagger into March riveted by a new gathering of sounds, once again drowning out the fetid squawk of competing propaganda. Ah, what a relief it is to strap on the headphones and vaporize the outside in favor of the inside, or maybe you use your car as a speeding capsule (the-sculpting-in-time-machine) that adds its own netherworld of field recordings to whatever you might be consciously playing. We’ll wait then, until the wheels fall off before succumbing to "what’s going on out there" vibrations. Meanwhile… let the music take you…
Joe Surdna  |  Feb 01, 2017
What’s happening in February? What’s going down? Many who are involved with thinking all seem to be searching for a word, a signifier, some definition for the moment we now find ourselves inhabiting. Forget the words and definitions for now. Ambiguity is funny in the way that we so often define it as a corrosive irritant, a constant grinding away of our sense of certainty and contentment. Someone sits down with a guitar or synthesizer and tries consciously or otherwise to translate these feelings into music. So much power is found in ambiguity. There is nothing better for creativity. Great things are happening in bedrooms and studios and basements. Just keep searching for that sound and I promise you’ll hear it coming from a passing car, bleeding through a girl’s set of cans on the subway, or as background static embedded in a novel disguised as a TV show. Just listen...
Joe Surdna  |  Jan 17, 2017
The thing about living in a post truth era is that that your house and the ambient atmosphere is filled with wifi-blutoothed-airdropped-4g radio waves, but your private space also swirls and eddies with a virtual maelstrom of highly crafted bits of information often described as "facts." For some there is a sense of ambient confusion and despair. Then again there is music, which does not rely either on facts or sometimes (not always)—words. Music has no part in the world of facts and information yet surfs on the incoming energies of the time. This is music for how it feels right now. We plough onward, one step at a time, hoping expectantly for constant surprises.
Joe Surdna  |  Dec 21, 2016

[Please join me in welcoming Joe Surdna, our new contributor on all things music. Ed.]

December is my favorite month for discovering great new music, mainly because so many Best of 2016 lists are published. I discover dozens of overlooked and previously unknown albums, and for me that is the real point of publishing lists like this; not to create a hierarchical ranking, but as a way of sharing great music that you might not have heard and will come to cherish and be inspired by in the months and years to come.

X