Free Music Archive

The Free Music Archive (FMA) is a fantastic project initiated by one my favourite radio stations in the world, WFMU, a freeform non-commercial station from New York. The Free Music Archive is a curated on-line collection of music that is free and legal to listen to and download. The music in the collection reflects the wide-ranging and left-field approach of WFMU and the other stations that are contributing. Being a US initiative there's not a lot of New Zealand music on there, but there is a bit. I've been following the FMA since it was started trying to keep track of any kiwi contributions. If you know of any I've missed I'd love to hear from you.

Many of the recordings on the FMA are live-to-air performances. The Veils played a four track set live on Seattle radio station KEXP in July of this year. One of these songs 'The House She Lived In' has been submitted to the FMA but you can also hear sets from The Veils recorded live at KEXP in 2004 and 2007 on the KEXP site.

KEXP also submitted a track to the FMA from Christchurch dance-punkers Bang Bang Eche who performed a set for the station at 2008's CMJ music expo. You can hear that whole set here (mp3).

Another freeform radio station KDVS in Davis, California has a great feature called Phoning It In. The idea is they get hold of a musician on the phone who then plays a live set down the line. Some of these sets have been contributed to the FMA but of particular interest to NZ music fans is a 2005 performance from David Kilgour where he plays solo and Clean material across the phone line from Dunedin to California. Hear the entire set here on the FMA.

FMA originators WFMU often broadcast alternative music festivals like All Tomorrow's Parties and Primavera, in Spain. The Bats performed at the latter in 2009 and their set was one that WFMU broadcast. The entire set is available on the FMA.

One of the great things about WFMU and the FMA is that they provide exposure to very experimental music and artists. One New Zealand experimental musician who has made it to the FMA is Stefan Neville, who performs as Pumice. Pumice is featured in a duet with US experimental artist Mudboy, who played a live to air at WFMU on the same show as Pumice. You can stream the entire Pumice performance on the WFMU archives.

Bruce Russell of the Dead C is another experimental kiwi musician featured on the FMA. His contribution is a recorded rather than live work. His album 21st Century Field Hollers and Prison Songs is an audio collage made entirely from samples taken from the Midnight Crossroads Tape Recorder Blues, an earlier album he recorded with Ralf Wehowsky. russell describes the album as "a tribute to the spirit of the blues, viewed through a prism of 21st century cultural criticism".

Please use he comments to let me know of any other NZ acts who appear on the FMA. In the mean-time I'll keep trawling this amazing resource and I'll hopefully bring you another kiwi update soon.

UPDATE: A day after I posted this a live set from The Mint Chicks was added to the Free Music Archive.

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