Rhapsody moves into Europe via Napster purchase; Spotify is toootally not impressed

Rhapsody moves into Europe via Napster purchase; Spotify is toootally not impressed http://www.tinymixtapes.com/sites/default/files/news-12-01-rhapsody-europe.jpg

Spotify best watch its back! It was announced last week that US-based music service Rhapsody has purchased the international wing of your former favorite dorm room time waster: Napster. The purchase, at an undisclosed sum, effectively injects Rhapsody into the UK and German markets without the hassle of having to introduce themselves to their new neighborhood. Rhapsody previously purchased Napster’s US assets and boasts of being the largest subscription-based music service in the US with over 1 million users. Spotify claimed back in November that it had 2.5 million users internationally, but they’re currently not in the German market.

While it’s unknown what Napster International’s current subscriber base is, Napster is a well-known name in Europe and Rhapsody’s decision to remain under the Napster moniker in the UK and Germany should help them successfully expand into the European market.

Why would a Spotify-loving European want to switch over to Napster? Well, with the power of Rhapsody behind them, Napster subscribers will soon be taking advantage of improved mobile apps and web interfaces, better sound quality, and an expanded library of music. Existing Napster users will also be able to retain their existing libraries even after the infrastructure shift is complete. With the help of Rhapsody, Napster will be an on-par service with Spotify, and could prove to offer better mobile capabilities, as many users claim that Spotify’s existing mobile app is seriously lacking in terms of usability.

Napster’s existing foothold in Germany will also be beneficial to Rhapsody, who don’t currently face direct competition from Spotify in that market (though a roll out of the service in the German market is on the horizon). Regardless of whether Napster blows up or not following the transition to being a Rhapsody-based service, direct competition is always a good thing for users. Bring it!

• Rhapsody: http://www.rhapsody.com
• Napster: http://www.napster.com
• Spotify: http://www.spotify.com

The Books write their epilogue (and other literary metaphors)

And so it goes, the five-year interval between their previous two albums was the ominous sign we all thought it might be: The Books have assumed the responsibilities of the firemen from Fahrenheit 451 and decided to formally set ablaze any possibility of future work. As if Nick Zammuto recently announcing a new album sans Paul de Jong wasn’t enough of an indication, he also makes things undeniably clear in an interview with Pitchfork: “It seems the air has gone out of the Books for the last time,” wrote Zammuto in an email. “It’s been an extraordinarily painful year coming to the realization that there was no way forward for the band. I love the Books and all that it became, and it still feels strange to me that such an odd little project moved people like it did.”

For those interested in the reason(s) for their not-so-sudden dissolution, Zammuto implicitly advises that you mosey on over to TMZ.com if you want that sort of celebrity gossip: “Right now, going into the details of it does not serve anyone, and I’m still too close to it to talk about it without getting angry. It’s best for it to remain a mystery for a while. I doubt we will work together again, and unfortunately it almost certainly means we will retire the name after these last releases are out.” Well, I can’t help but feel a bit curious about it now.

Those releases that Zammuto refers to include “a couple LPs worth of B-sides and soundtracks, a box set with the four [Books] records, and an updated DVD later this year.” RIP. Er, yeah. You know what I mean.

• The Books: http://www.thebooksmusic.com
• Temporary Residence: http://temporaryresidence.com

Jonny Greenwood and Krzysztof Penderecki to release joint album in March — a match made in frighteningly dissonant heaven

I’d never go so far as to underestimate the depth of musical knowledge that readers of TMT possess, but just in case you aren’t familiar with Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki (as I unfortunately wasn’t until recently), allow me to give you a brief rundown of him and his accomplished history: he looks like exactly like my lawyer uncle from Chicago. Like, spitting image. The uncanny resemblance actually makes me wonder whether my uncle has a long-lost twin brother, which would be odd, considering that he and that entire side of my family was born in the United States and…

Krzysztof Penderecki, 78, has been described by British newspapers The Independent and The Guardian as “Poland’s godfather of the musical avant-garde” and “arguably Poland’s greatest living composer,” respectively. He’s won numerous prestigious awards, including the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1992, and numerous not-so-prestigious awards, including Grammy Awards in 1987, 1998, and 2001. To give you a sense of the tone of his compositions, his work has appeared in such films as The Shining (1980), Children of Men (2006), and two films by David Lynch. Could it be fate that Penderecki and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, who has himself scored several films, most notably the Penderecki-indebted There Will Be Blood (2007), are releasing a collaborative album on March 13?

The underpinnings of the album itself began last September when the two artists performed alongside one another in a concert at the European Congress of Culture in Wrocław, Poland. The show was such a success that they ultimately decided to take the same music, alongside an additional piece from Greenwood, to Alvernia Studios in Kraków. The upcoming album includes a total of four pieces performed by Poland’s UKSO Chamber Orchestra. Those pieces are: Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and Polymorphia (for 48 strings), both of which date back to the 1960s, and Greenwood’s 48 Responses to Polymorphia and Popcorn Superhet Receiver, both of which were inspired by the aforementioned Penderecki works.

The album is available for pre-order here. And for our tea-drinking readers across the pond, a concert featuring all of the music on the album, performed by same ensemble, will take place on March 22 at Barbican Hall in London. Infinity cool points are most definitely assured if you attend.

Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima / Popcorn Superhet Receiver / Polymorphia / 48 Responses to Polymorphia tracklisting:

01. Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima
02. Popcorn Superhet Receiver: Part 1
03. Popcorn Superhet Receiver: Part 2 A
04. Popcorn Superhet Receiver: Part 2 B
05. Popcorn Superhet Receiver: Part 3
06. Polymorphia
07. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Es ist Genug
08. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Ranj
09. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Overtones
10. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Scan
11. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Baton Sparks
12. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Three Oak Leaves
13. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Overhang
14. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Bridge
15. 48 Responses to Polymorphia: Pacay Tree

• Jonny Greenwood: http://www.nonesuch.com/artists/jonny-greenwood
• Nonesuch: http://www.nonesuch.com

Stones Throw embraces cost-efficient digital subscription service, Dunkaroos

Stones Throw kicks off its smelly loafers and leaps into 2012 with the announcement that they’ve gone digital. The home of J Dilla (RIP), Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, and Dâm-Funk recently debuted the Stones Throw Digital Discography.

Working in conjunction with Drip.FM, Stones Throw has assembled an offer few will find easy to refuse. For a measly $10 a month (you probably spent more on paper towels this month, you messy freak) you get EVERY single thing Stones Throw releases sent directly to your inbox, as well as free downloading privileges at the Stones Throw website and exclusive swag directly from the Stones Throw coffers… and billing is monthly! Hooray!

Stones Throw also announced a round of new releases that will help birth the digital discography, including a new EP from recent signee Homeboy Sandman, M.E.D.’s Classic Instrumentals LP, and the second volume of The Minimal Wave Tapes. Also upcoming: new J. Rocc EP, a new Jonwayne LP, and new LP from Quakers, a band that includes Geoff Barrow of Portishead and a 35+ member hip-hop group, which would be a saying something if all the members were over 35 years of age rather than just 35+ members. It’s still fairly intriguing, and who can say no to intrigue?

• Stones Throw: http://www.stonesthrow.com
• Stones Throw on Drip.FM: http://drip.fm/stonesthrow

Clark preps Iradelphic for April release — an homage to the neglected people of Iradelphia

I’m trying to think of an appropriate metaphor to describe Chris Clark’s rather unique brand of electronic music… it’s the equivalent of an original Leonardo da Vinci piece covered in dirt. It’s the most pristine bar of soap you can imagine, subsequent to its escape from the layered nether regions of numerous overweight homeless people. To be more straightforward about it: Clark’s music is gritty, but not in a way that’s indicative of an unintentional sacrifice in production value. On the contrary, his previous three albums have been hallmarks of consistency in this regard; the rhythmic roughness persists, but so does his obvious attention to detail. It’s all a part of a conscious attempt to carve out his own sound — in other words, it’s a part of the plan.

Was it a part of the plan for Clark to wait three years after Totems Flare to release his next album? Fans like myself would be inclined to let out a tearful “NO!” alongside exaggerated hand gestures, but a press release suggests otherwise: “Chris Clark has been on a journey. The adventure started three years ago after the release of previous album Totems Flare. He recorded Iradelphic in Australia, Berlin, Wales, Brussels, Cornwall, Norway, and London using a diverse range of tools ranging from the vintage to the cutting edge modern.” Whether this is code for “Clark has had the fortunate ability to vacation for the past three years and spent part of that time intermittently working on a new album” is beside the point; Iradelphic is due out April 3, and judging by the promotional release of the track “Com Touch,” it’s been worth the wait.

Iradelphic tracklisting:

01. Henderson Wrench
02. Com Touch
03. Tooth Moves
04. Skyward Bruise/Descent
05. Open
06. Secret
07. Ghosted
08. Black Stone
09. The Pining pt1
10. The Pining pt2
11. The Pining pt3
12. Broken Kite Footage

• Clark: http://www.facebook.com/throttleclark
• Warp: http://warp.net

Ben Folds Five got back together the other minute, but we’re only rushing to report it because, you know, snuh

Back on January 9, the Music-World-that-existed-on-top-of-the pre-SOPA-Internet went and sucked a bunch of fuck because At The Drive-In announced they were getting back together. We didn’t report it until two days later, because, say it with me now, “meh.” On that same day, mythical Swedish hardcore jimmer-jammers Refused announced they were getting back together. We didn’t report that until a flim-flammering four days later because… well, E. Nagurney wasn’t exactly sure why. But let me tell you, E. You were dead-on: it totally was because of “bwuh.”

But now, because (and only because) our supply of funny-sounding grumblewords is running dangerously low and must be carefully rationed from here on out, we’re totally changing our ways and reporting these reunions when they actually happen! So, to that end, Spin has reported that Ben Folds Five, er, have themselves reported that they are officially in the process of working on a new album together! Hooray! Last night, Folds tweeted this charming photo of the trio doing a bunch of blow in the studio, after which he added: “It’s happening fo sho - Day 1 in studio with Robert [Sledge] and Darren [Jessee] through March #NewBenFoldsFiveRecord,” and “Spring release.” There’s no details other than the untitled record’s “fo sho”-ness right now. So, not quite as detailed as the news of those previous two reunions, I guess. But still, the important thing here is that, for once, TMT is right where it belongs: hot on the scoop of yet another candy-ass 90s band that just won’t fucking go away. And so, dear readers, since we’re so ahead of the curve this time, it gives me tremendous pride to be one of the first among us to say… “bleh.”

• Ben Folds: http://www.benfolds.com
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/BenFolds

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