Networked Music Review
From its earliest days in the not-so-distant past, one of the most compelling aspects of music blogs has been their versatility — an enterprising blogger could be a critic, a columnist, a DJ, a curator, even a label impresario. In the case of NETWORKED MUSIC REVIEW, a year-old blog devoted to sound art and Internet-based music technology, the bloggers have also begun to curate and commission new work in addition to publishing the type of content you’d expect from a music blog.
A self-described “research blog,” Networked Music Review (or NMR) focuses on new musical and sound experiments fueled by the Internet, computers, and other digital technologies. “The Internet has had this amazing liberating effect,” writes lead blogger and site founder Helen Thorington, by e-mail, “allowing an ever increasing number of people to participate in creating information and knowledge. In the analog days, there was a stranglehold on channels of distribution, and most people were cut out of participating in things like publishing or music distribution. This has been turned on its head by the Internet and ongoing technological advances like the social networking platforms, etc. . . . ”
On the face of it, the notion of a research blog may seem a little formal, conjuring musty libraries and clinical labs. But NMR offers more than just announcements of new-media conferences and the like: esoteric audio and video clips, links to articles on everything from circuit bending to ringtones, information about concerts and festivals from Berlin to Boston.
Networked audio activities here in Boston are well represented, which is not surprising since NMR’s principal bloggers — Thorington and Jo-Anne Green — live in the city. Both long-time sound artists and Internet activists, they started NMR in April of 2007, as the logical extension of another blog they maintain that’s devoted to Internet art. In addition to a prodigious number of daily posts (according to Thorington, they have an archive of more than 1200 entries on everything from field recordings to gaming to environmental art), the site offers concert listings and regular interviews with artists, technologists, instrument builders, and musicians. The most innovative component of NMR, however, is the series of 15 works commissioned for the blog. These have included sonic games, sound works situated within social networking platforms, and even interactive installations.
“I am really excited by the commissioning program,” says Thorington, explaining that they’re seeking funding to continue the project for another year. “The musical arena is in transition — and each one of these commissioned works, whether I fully understand it or not, tells us something about the new forms of interaction with music and audio/sound that are taking place all around us.”
This week brings a pair of blogging-related performances by a DJ/label owner and a group of promoters — both of whom have been growing more ambitious with their on-line activities over the past few months. At the end of 2007, it would seem that BASSTOWN PRODUCTIONS resolved to kick their blog into high gear: they’ve added lots of content including a “Local Voices” section featuring interviews with local DJs and producers such as Initiales AA and Andre Obin. Basstown’s monthly residency at Great Scott falls this Saturday, January 26. Then on Wednesday, January 30, DJ C, who’s been blogging up a storm since moving from Boston to Chicago, will be spinning a set at the Good Life as part of the Bassic dubstep monthly.