Touch offering Sohrab fundraising single to prevent his impending arrest in Iran

Touch offering Sohrab fundraising single to prevent his impending arrest in Iran

Ambient music is always getting flak from casual listeners for its seeming distance, coldness, and apoliticism, but quite often the musicians involved come from backgrounds of deep political awareness and engagement, and for many, their surroundings are inextricable from their work. Sohrab — a recent signee to the venerable UK label Touch — is one such ambient musician, and he’s found himself in a very real situation that deserves the attention of anyone who appreciates the impact of music on culture.

At the start of the ongoing wave of protests in the Middle East and North Africa, Sohrab was able to leave his home in Tehran and seek political asylum in Germany. Unfortunately, due to the massive numbers of refugees flooding out of the areas of upheaval, Sohrab’s request was denied like many others, and if his subsequent appeal fails, it’s likely that he’ll be forced to return to Iran and face arrest at Tehran Airport.

To raise funds for Sohrab’s lawyer, Touch (who put out his debut album A Hidden Place last year) is now offering a benefit download of a new nine-minute piece by Sohrab (mastered by BJNilsen) called “Shouting at Dictators (Faryad bar Dictator)” that uses recordings of the protests in Iran following the dubious results of their presidential elections in June 2009. Listen to a sample on this page to hear the beginnings of an incredibly affecting piece of sound; what The Wire said about A Hidden Place could apply here too: “context is everything and nothing.” The download costs £4 (~$6.50) with 100% of that money going to lawyer fees for Sohrab. Buy a copy for yourself and another for that friend who said ambient music is just gazing at your navel.

• Sohrab:
• Touch:

“Warrants? We don’t need no stinkin’ warrants.” RIAA wants to raid CD-pirating plants without warrants

Taking unconstitutional legislature to a new low, State Senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat from Los Angeles, has written up a new law that would allow law enforcement to enter optical-disc plants and seize pirated materials, and the equipment to make them, without a warrant. The Senator explains his dismissal of The Document This Country Is Founded On like so: “The crime of illegal mass reproduction of music and movies is a serious problem.” So serious that even the Constitution falls apart in its presence.

In a report on Wired, Padilla further explains his measure, which has already passed through two Senate committees and is up for a third vote this week, and supports the need for unconstitutionality with statistics and rhetoric: “Last year alone, more than 820,000 illegal discs were seized by law enforcement authorities in California. Fraudulent CDs and DVDs undermine our economy and California’s role as a global leader in music and film. They steal revenue from artists, retailers, and our entertainment sector.”

Despite this country’s supposed good common sense and intelligence, the new law is being supported wholeheartedly by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, who both love profits and feel that cultural standards and ethics are as flimsy as their business plans.

Check out the entire bill here.

GAYNGS prove to be best supergroup ever, win lawsuit against bus company

Remember GAYNGS? Remember how these members of Bon Iver, The Rosebuds, Har Mar Superstar, and others led by Ryan Olson showed such potential for greatness that even Prince gave them a nod of acknowledgement? Well, their bus driver, C.J. Curtsinger, didn’t think they were great. In fact, he thought they were so lame that he turned around their tour bus and brought it back to Nashville. Said tour bus was heading to Austin for the Austin City Limits Festival, and despite Olson and his army pleading for the return of their bus (which contained their gear), Mr. Curtsinger said “No.”

Skipping ACL is like tearing your ACL, so needless to say Olson and his posse were pissed. In fact, they hired lawyers and filed a lawsuit against Curtsinger and his bus firm C.J. Starbuses, Inc. On May 18, a jury handed down a judgement demanding Curtsinger and C.J. Starbuses pay $100,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. That’s a lot of money! Then again, there are over 20 members in GAYNGS, so they probably get (including lawyer fees and the manager’s cut) only a couple grand. But hey, that’s enough for an apartment. Or an iMac.

According to the lovely press release, manager Nate Vernon states that he is “extremely relieved” with the result, and that “no amount of money can make up for being deprived of that show; however, the peace of mind which comes from justice is the next best thing.” Perhaps.

Victory Lap:

5.28.11 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge *
5.29.11 - Quincy, WA - Sasquatch Music Festival
6.01.11 - San Francisco, CA - The Great American Music Hall *
6.03.11 - Los Angeles, CA - Natural History Museum

* White Hinterland


Rock the Bells lineup announced, Lauryn Hill to play entirety of Miseducation (that’s the plan anyway)

This year, the Rock the Bells festival is giving fans exactly what they want and heading out on the road a bit. The festival will start off in San Bernardino, CA in August, make another California stop in Mountain View, and then make its way to the East Coast in September to play New York and Boston. No love for the Midwest, huh? Yeah, I see how it is. It’s cool, we’re not interested in the following star-studded lineup anyway:

Ms. Lauryn Hill (performing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill), Nas (performing Illmatic), Cypress Hill (performing Black Sunday), Erykah Badu, Mos Def & Talib Kweli (performing Are Black Star), Raekwon & Ghostface (performing Only Built 4 Cuban Linx), Mobb Deep (performing The Infamous), the GZA (performing Liquid Swords), Immortal Technique, Slaughterhouse, Mac Miller, Curren$y, Souls of Mischief (performing 93 ‘til Infinity), Black Moon, Childish Gambino, Blu & Exile, Fashawn, Random Axe, Masta Killah (performing No Said Date), Evidence, Macklemore, Freddie Gibbs, Roc Marciano.

The festival will be hosted by the RZA, Murs, and Supernatural. It will also feature three main stages, including the 36 Chambers Stage, which will feature members of the Wu-Tang Clan and other artists they’ve personally selected. The Grindtime Now, a fourth side stage, will feature battle-style performances. Tickets go on sale June 4 and are available through the festival’s website.

So Rockin’:

08.20.11 - San Bernardino, CA - San Manuel Amphitheater
08.27.11 - Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre
09.03.11 - New York, NY - Governor’s Island
09.10.11 - Boston, MA - Comcast Center

• Rock The Bells:

[Photo: Astrid Stawiarz]

James Blake announces fall tour, a.k.a. the Tiny Mix Tapes Perfect Score Tour 2011

Never forget that time that we here at Tiny Mix Tapes gave James Blake’s debut record (TMT Review) a perfect score. I haven’t forgotten and I’m sure not going to let anybody else forget either; I’ll mention it in every news story! When he announces a second album, I’m sure I’ll slip in the fact that his first record got a perfect score from this very website! When I’m an old man, I’ll tell my grandchildren about the time that Tiny Mix Tapes gave dubstep producer James Blake a perfect score in their review of his debut record. Then my grandchildren will ask what James Blake, Tiny Mix Tapes, dubstep, and perfect scores are, right before turning into pure energy and flying away.

Ah, whatever, I’m tired of mentioning it now. I am a fickle beast. James Blake, the dubstep producer that some love and others do not care for, is going to do a pretty huge amount of touring this year. He’ll be spending the lion’s share of his summer on a pretty extensive European tour, with a few geographical outliers in the mix, like his appearances at Chicago’s Pitchfork Festival and Woodfordia, Australia’s Splendour in the Grass Festival. After wrapping up that tour and kicking back for the last days of summer, Blake will kick off a North American tour with an appearance at Austin’s Austin City Limits festival. This North American tour even manages to hit both coasts! It doesn’t so much spend a lot of time between those coasts, but man, it hits those coasts pretty hard.

By the way, James Blake’s debut record received a perfect score form Tiny Mix Tapes. Ah, the old passion has returned.

James Blake dates:

05.26.11 - Barcelona, Spain - Priamavera Sound
06.01.11 - Edinburgh, UK - Liquid Rooms
06.02.11 - Glasgow, UK - Oran Mor
06.04.11 - Newcastle, UK - Academy
06.05.11 - Liverpool, UK - Stanley Theatre
06.07.11 - Manchester, UK - Sankeys
06.08.11 - Birmingham, UK - HMV Library
06.13.11 - Brighton, UK - Komedia
06.14.11 - London, UK - Koko
06.16.11 - Cardiff, UK - The Globe
06.22.11 - Pilton, UK - Glastonbury
06.30.11 - Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter
07.02.11 - Roskilde, Denmark - Roskilde
07.06.11 - Lisbon, Portgual - Optimus Live
07.13.11 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
07.15.11 - Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Music Festival
07.29.11 - Woodfordia, Australia - Splendour in the Grass
08.06.11 - London, UK - Field Day
08.09.11 - Oslo, Norway - Oya Festival
08.11.11 - Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West
08.18-20.11 - Kiewit, Belgium - Pukkelpop
09.16.11 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
09.18.11 - Los Angeles, CA - The Music Box
09.21.11 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
09.23.11 - Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom
09.24.11 - Seattle, WA - Showbox at the Market
09.25.11 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
09.28.11 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
09.30.11 - Toronto, ON - Phoenix Concert Theatre
10.02.11 - Montreal, QC - Club Soda
10.03.11 - Boston, MA - Paradise
10.05.11 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
10.08.11 - Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero
10.09.11 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club

• James Blake:

Fennesz to release new 10-inch and LP, just to prove he’s still the LeBron of experimental music

Every once in a while your world needs to be flipped around a little bit. For some, it’s merely a matter of trying a new brand of underwear or quitting a shitty, lifeless job. For others, it could be something as drastic as a gender change or killing/leaving the mother of your children. Something, anything to twist you around and throw you on your shoulders with a life-changing force. For this guy (me), it’s quite simple: hearing that Christian Fennesz will be releasing a track featuring DRUMS. I’m well aware this doesn’t come as such a damn mind-throttler to most of you peoples out there, but this is FENNESZ and Fennesz songs don’t have drums, ever, anywhere, no way. Not on a single album (I’m pretty sure) is there a single live drum beat on a track. This is some heavy shit. Or maybe I just want this to actually sound interesting. Either way, it’s new Fennesz, and that rules.

So on July 5, Fennesz will be releasing the Seven Stars 10-inch via none other than British experimental powerhouse Touch. This’ll be his first solo studio recordings since 2008’s hella good Black Sea (TMT Review), and the title track features drumming from Steven Hess. According to a statement from Fennesz in the press release, he could possibly continue this route in future recordings. Godspeed, buddy.

He’s also going to be playing The Morning Line in Vienna — a four-day festival of sorts — come June 7. Also, scope out this article over at Frieze Magazine celebrating 10 years of his seminal album Endless Summer. Cause honestly you can’t say enough about that album and the path it’s left on modern music. Truly amazing. Oh, and let’s not forget about the next installment of his series with Ryuichi Sakamoto, the full-length Flumina, which is set for release this summer on none other than Touch.

Seven Stars tracklisting:

A1. Liminal
A2. July
B1. Shift
B2. Seven Stars

• Fennesz:
• Touch: