Monthly Archives: October 2007

DEFENDIENDO AL CERDO

I’m still reeling at all the ongoing attention & linkage to my OiNK piece. Thanks so much for the comments and conversation. I’m happy to announce that it has been translated to Spanish by the Soy Leyenda blog. Quick reading looks good, soon I’ll go over the trans. more carefully and repost here.

Más que ninguna otra cosa en este año, el sitio web de intercambio de música & software, Oink, cambió la manera que tenía de pensar acerca de la industria musical y del intercambio de ficheros. [from Defending the Pig: Spanish translation]

Radio show tonite! I’ll be playing lots of great new material: Tego Calderon, Gorilla Zoe, Hyperdub, new London d-step whitelabels, etc. If you want to put a spring in yr step, check Nick Catchdub’s set from last week, streaming.

DEFENDING THE PIG – OINK CROAKS

a pig goes oink.

but oink goes croak. (first rule of oink: don’t talk about oink.)

oink

More than anything else this year, music & software file-sharing site Oink changed the way I thought about the music industry & BitTorrent technology. I’d heard rumors of Oink for years but hadn’t seen the members-only site until early ’07. Oink was anal, Oink was comprehensive. The site administrators were fierce about quality — only high-quality files from original CD/vinyl rips could be posted. Many releases were even posted as FLAC (lossless) files. Oink allowed only entire releases, with complete tracklist information (uploading an incomplete album or a poorly labeled MP3 could get you kicked off). No bootlegs or concert recordings or unfinished pre-release mixes were permitted.

In many cases, I believe that downloading an album from Oink would be both faster (more on this in a bit) and give you more information about the CD than sites like iTunes.

Think about that… a free website, which gives fast downloads of music at equivalent or higher quality than the paid music sites. And this free site has an incredibly deep collection of both new and old releases, usually in a variety of file formats and bit-rates. It’s overwhelming! First thought: wow, Oink is an amazing library. Second thought: wow, I really need to start selling DJ Rupture t-shirts, CD sales will only continue to drop & I gotta make money somehow!

My library metaphor for Oink makes more sense than economic analogies: for digital music & data, there’s lots of demand but no scarcity at all, which either requires that we rebuild an economic model not based on supply & demand, or start embracing commons analogies. I like living from my music but I also like libraries, the ideas behind libraries…

For fans, consideration of the music comes before questions of money and ownership – this is how it should be. Any system that doesn’t take that into account as a central fact is going to generate a lot of friction. When I say ‘system’, I mean everything from Sony to iTunes to white-label 12″s that cost 8-pounds ($16.38!) in London shops and only have 2 songs on them. (I bought a bunch of these last week, and it hurt).

Oink didn’t offer solutions; it highlighted the problems of over-priced, over-controlled music elsewhere. Oink was an online paradise for music fans. The only people who could truly be mad at it were the ones directly profiting from the sale of digital or physical music. (Like myself! F%5k!)

Oink had everything by certain artists. Literally, everything. I searched for ‘DJ Rupture’ and found every release I’d ever done, from an obscure 7″ on a Swedish label to 320kpbs rips of my first 12″, self-released back in 1999. It was shocking. And reassuring. The big labels want music to equal money, but as much as anything else, music is memory, as priceless and worthless as memory…

About a week after I shipped out orders of the first live CD-r Andy Moor & I did, it appeared on Oink. Someone who had purchased it directly from me turned around and posted it online, for free. I wasn’t mad, I was just more stunned by the reach… and usefulness of the site.

If sharing copywritten music without paying for it were legal, than Oink was the best music website in the world.

Like many BitTorrent sites, Oink enforced share ratios. In a nutshell, share ratios mean that each user must upload a certain amount of data in relation to what they download. This feature encourages sharing. For example, a minimum share ratio of 0.20 (was that Oink’s? can’t remember) means that if you download 5 albums, then you must upload around 1 album’s worth of music, data equaling one-fifth the amount you nabbed from Oink users. If you only take (selfish leech) and do not give, or if you share, but not enough, then you eventually get kicked off.

With BitTorrent, most folks downloading the same files also upload the bits they grab, so everybody gets fast DL speeds (compare with popular files hosted on one server — incredibly slow speeds, or even server crash). Thus, a popular album (or legal linux distribution) can be grabbed in minutes with a decent internet connection. (uTorrent is a good BitTorrent client for Windows)

Watching Oink work helped me to understand the structural intelligence of BitTorrent architecture. Oink, like BitTorrent itself, became stronger & faster the more people used it – scalability writ large. Folks wanted to share – to maintain high share ratios. New releases were highly valued. But users kept older releases available as well (you never know when someone will want your Norwegian proto-deathmetal collection, so you keep your bandwidth open). Whether you call it distributed tape-sharing (to use an 80s term) or distributed piracy (to use a 90s industry term), Oink’s use of BitTorrent & careful quality control did it elegantly.

Aside: If Radiohead (the British rock band who achieved worldwide success via a long-term mutually-beneficial relationship with a major record label) were truly radical, they would have posted their new album as a BitTorrent file with a PayPal & bank account link for the fans who felt like paying. Not hosting it on some weird website with an awkward interface & requiring credit card info…

Aside: One thing I don’t understand is how Oink got taken down while Soulseek continues as it has for years… Slsk has always struck me as the least moral of the p2p systems. If you pay Soulseek $5 a month, you get ‘privileged download access‘ to files stored on Slsk users hard drives. Soulseek earns money by controlling access to the files stored on its users’ drives, users who never see any of this money. And if they don’t like the fact that paying people get special access to their data, there’s nothing they can do about it. Correction: with Slsk you have lots of control over who can access your shared files.

Oink was not “extremely lucrative” as the BBC boldfacedly claims. If I remember correctly, a one-time donation of 5 pounds would do something-or-other, but it was a far cry from Soulseek’s monthly privilege fees. Nor, for the record, did Oink “lead to early mixes and unfinished versions of artists’ recordings circulating on the internet months ahead of the release.” – this is strangely ironic, since Oink would strip user privileges if they were caught circulating unfinished or unofficial album versions. This was a site run by audiophiles and music obsessives!

But Pandora’s Box has been opened. Remember when Napster croaked? Piracy file-sharing is so much easier now. The anal-retentive British site admins kept Oink organized. Bittorent architecture kept Oink efficient. Oink’s alleged 180,000 users won’t forget how useful it was. The next Oink will be sturdier & more multiple. The overall movement is towards more ways to share music & ideas with like-minded individuals on the internet.

The way I see it, this can only be a good thing for music fans. And what musician is not first a music fan?

LOS MIRLOS

Sonido Martines tipped me off to Los Mirlos, kings of the tropical Peruvian cumbia guitar bands of the 70s, recently compiled on The Roots of Chicha CD. We talked about this music on my radio show in greater depth than flaky French hotel wi-fi allows. (Indeed, Sonido played a few of the tracks that would later appear on this compilation, months later.)

Suffice to say that the imaginary geography of this music is as cool (or cooler?) than the music itself: jungle hicks relocating to oil boom Peruvian cities, getting hyped on imported sounds from Anglophone psychedelic & surf rock bands, who inspired them to buy guitar flanger pedals and compose new party music in pentatonic scales, powerful music whose spiritual home was located in the (now mythic) Amazon, shot through with wisps of eco-branded indigenous cultural power and ayahuasca vision fields.

Los Mirlos – Sonido Amazonico (VA-Roots of Chicha)

They remain popular, and their website is outrageous and awesome in unintentional ways. This comp CD however, is marketed straight at the US/UK consumer (full title- The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru). So, while you’ll get the alluringly press-optimized (and only slightly ‘psychedelic’) backstory, you’ll miss out on longwinded gems from the Mirlos’ own mouths, such as this introductory sentence from their history:

“Nací en la hermosa tierra de Moyobamba (Dpto. de San Martín) siendo el tercero de cinco hermanos, en un hogar acogedor y lleno de amor con la bendición de Dios que me brindo la felicidad de tener a mis Padres: Néstor Gustavo Rodríguez Sandoval, sastre, músico, inseparable de su acordeón a quién nunca podré olvidar pues fue quien me inculco el amor por la música y el cultivo de los valores morales para ser un hombre de bien y Mónica Grández Oblitas, empleada Estatal en Correos, madre amorosa y sacrificada quien me dio la vida y la alegría de vivir.”

my quick translation for the gringos:

“I was born in the beautiful lands of Moyobamba (of the San Martin region), the third of five brothers, in a charming home full of love and the blessings of God which provided me the happiness of having my Parents, Néstor Gustavo Rodríguez Sandoval, tailor, musician, thoroughly inseparable from his accordion, whom I shall never be able to forget as it was he who inculcated in me a love of music and the cultivation of the moral values requisite for proper manhood, and Mónica Grández Oblitas, employee of the national postal service, loving and self-sacrificing mother who gave me both life and joy in living.”

that’s one sentence!

its amazing how the story unfolds if you just listen.

Image

[Los Mirlos, hoy dia]

AWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICA (VIA WFMU)

a big shout to The Fader, who reminded me that tonite’s special guest on my radio show is Brian from the Awesome Tapes From Africa blog. (yeah, i’m in France, and kinda sick too; he was kind enough to come down a few weeks ago & pre-record the show).

Brian is super-knowledgeable about this stuff & has a killer selection in store for us… listen in 15min or catch the archive. PLUS, next week, a live DJ set from Fool’s Gold nonstop DJ-alchemist Nick Catchdubs, fresh from his label’s debut US tour!

PARISIAN ALGERIENNE

in BRISTOL, a city chock-full of wonderful people and probably the best musical activity per capita anywhere. Staying at Chez Parasite & digging thru k7/cd shop finds from Paris. On tour you have time to catch up with friends but not yourself. Where was I 2 cities ago?

Paris.

The Barbés neighborhood (Barbés Rochechouart stop on metro line 4) is overwhelmingly male, Arab and North African men men men on the streets, smoking, in silence and talking, with the brisk smuggled cigarette trade jostling Ramadan sweet stalls & bread, roast corn.

this first tune is the Algerian rap equivalent of Killah Priest’s Heavy Mental track. 9 minutes long! avant-gardey news collage to ambient hiphop to beat & snare. from Lotfi’s Double Kanon album. Lotfi is Algeria’s biggest rap star. I understand snippets of the French & Arabic but not not enough to be useful. Commentors? share your linguistic wisdom? I bought this at Etiole Verte on Rue Caplat. they were playing 50 Cent.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: world music is music with truly global reach. Think U2, Beyonce. So, 50 Cent is one of my favorite world music artists right now. Britney Spears used to make world music, but now she’s just world tabloid. Hmmm… anyhow, here’s what’s popping at the most experimental edge of mainstream Algerian rap.

Lotfi – Batard

 

lotfilotfilotfi

this next one is scratchily recorded old chaabi, very beautiful, perfect for late night listening (in B’s flat, dark cathedral outline just beyond the window, as you sip rooibos and feel the city go quiet, ease into sleep, cover itself in patchy silence). CD lists his name as El Hadj Mohamed El Anka. Transliterated spelling is slippery however (Hadj M’hamed, El Hajj Muhammad, etc).

18 minutes long! Voice, oud, orchestra, abetted by time-keeping darboukas & tambourines.

this is familiar & dusty in a good way. Dusty: The CD slips into Sublime Frequency style tape hiss/filter weirdness and sudden shifts in quality. Released on Fassiphone, they must have compiled it from time-worn tape reels. Familiar: the song is one of his classics, “suffisent pour nous renseigner sur la grandeur d’un des plus grands piliers de la culture algérienne.” as said in this nice article on him from a Lounes Matoub fan site.

El Hadj Mohamed El Anka – Sobhane Allah Ya L-tif (suite)

Anka1

I CANT BELIEVE IM STILL AWAKE

so. more gigs coming up, some solo (London, Amsterdam), the rest with The Ex’s guitarist, Andy Moor. Andy & I do improvised sets on turntables + guitar. Last March, in Nancy (France), we sounded like this:

DJ Rupture & Andy Moor – Hot Pink (Version) Live in France

a limited edition CD of our live recordings will be released soon. in the meantime, we’re selling a superduper limited tour CD at shows. we’re also working on a remix of one of our favorite roots rai vocalists & some other stuff.

I’m using several records in the above piece, but the main beat is a riddim produced by Matt Shadetek & myself, called Hot Pink. The low-end overloads occasionally on this recording (these things happen). Matt & I have been making beats on the regular for awhile now. Our new project doesn’t have a name yet. But WE ARE STARTING A NEW LABEL: Dutty Artz. more on Dutty Artz when i feel vaguely human again (not tonite)

upcoming dates:

Oct 11 : duo w/ Andy Moor, The Cube Bristol
Oct 12 : DJ set, Bangface London
Oct 13 : DJ set, OT301 Amsterdam
Oct 18 : duo w/ Andy Moor- Reims electricity festival
Oct 19 : duo w/ Andy Moor montpelier
Oct 20 : duo w/ Andy Moor feyzin (near Lyon)
Oct 21 : duo w/ Andy Moor Geneve
Nov 10 : Nettle. live in Rome!

ok. one two three sleep!

see you on the road