May 2019 – Looking for music and other interesting things on Archive.org.
Was I ever that young?
Specifically, I was looking for new age music. Because I’m well into that sort of thing.
I was looking for new age music, and I found it. Lots of it. All part of the Jamendo Albums Collection.
There are more than 50,000 albums in this collection. The majority of them look perfectly innocuous. Amid the innocuous is lots of promising new age music. But also lots that looks simply bizarre: Inadvisable and not at all safe for work.
Trawling through the collection, I found myself saving links to stuff that stood out. And these links have been stacked in my OneTab for 18 months. Since May 2019, every time I’ve “hit the net” I’ve been greeted with a wall of text that says things like NATIONAL FUNKY BITCH and THE 666 X MURDER PROJECT.
It’s finally time to purge these demons. Let’s jump down this rabbit hole together, shall we? See how deep it goes.
This is my first ever blog that could be tagged NSFW. You may be added to a list.
What is Jamendo Music?
Maybe it needs no introduction. Maybe Jamendo Music is “all the rage” these days, and my treating it as being at all worthy of attention is just another example of my terminal naffness.
But if, like me, you’re new to the world of Jamendo Music, all your questions will be answered here.
Jamendo Music is a small company with fewer than 30 employees based in Luxembourg, Paris and Brussels. The Jamendo site is essentially a place to share, stream and download royalty-free music. Anything you find there you can use for free in your film or your podcast, or whatever. But there also seems to be a Thriving Community of Independent Artists who use Jamendo like others use Soundcloud and Bandcamp: As a place to share their music without any interference or flimflammery from The Man.
So Jamendo Music appears to be perfectly worthy, perfectly useful, and really quite bloody lovely.
But at the same time, it’s baffling.
Let me show you some of the things I’ve found. We’ll bypass the innocuous and the unremarkable, if you don’t mind, and examine four descending layers of madness: THE DREAMERS, THE MURDERERS, THE SLEAZE MUTANTS and THE INEXPLICABLE.
LEVEL 1 – THE DREAMERS – GRASSROOTS PRIVATE INDEPENDENT NEW AGE SANCTUARY SPA CHIMES!
I went looking for new age music, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Puce Moon – New Age Daydream
This one’s full of surprises. It starts with some mysterious drones, which swiftly give way to some frantic psytrance synths. I expected a furious beat to start and never stop. But instead, we get trip hop drums, dubby bass and a LONG sample of a guy who might be talking about astral projection, or installing a Windows update, or both. And that’s just the first track! This whole thing’s like The Orb crossed with Leftfield at their most chilled. And yeah, it’s pretty boss. Listen here.
Swirl of Dust – Lifeform
Synthetic choirs and strings, beats that pound and stomp, ethereal lead vocals – it’s always 1996 somewhere in the world. This is exotic rainforest temple cafe ecotrance, redolent of green tea, incense, and mung beans. Listen here.
Vladimir Sterzer – Timeless Piano Dreams
Vladimir speaks my language, and that is the language of gazing forlornly out of windows while sad piano music plays in the background. He says his piano dreams are timeless, but this is definitely one for the deepest winter. It’s a one-man Windham Hill Sampler, and it goes down like an absolutely vital mug of hot chocolate on an otherwise bleak day. Listen here.
Alba Ecstasy – Music For Meditation
It’s not my fault the artist only uploaded a quarter of their album cover to Jamendo. Art gaffes aside, this is the stuff. Twinkling synth melodies over comforting drones and chilled beats, and an overall air of important melancholy. Music for meditation, perhaps. But it would also provide an effective soundtrack for an aimless Sunday drive in your wipE’out hovercraft. Listen here.
ambientium – Fractal Philosophy
Like a less chaotic, more optimistic Future Sound of London. Glacial sci-fi synths with occasional ethereal vocals and melodies that sound like they’re being played on glowing crystals. A strong recommend. It’s at once encouraging and disheartening that there’s so much good music out there. More people should hear this. So hear here.
Anjey Satori – Healing Sounds of Tibet
I love how the various features of this album have been presented as a checklist on the cover. You can almost hear Brian Butterfield rattling them off: Meditation music! Theta rhythm! Tibetan singing bowls! That’s not all! And we do indeed have a Ronseal deal here. You get all that, and much more. This is excellent stuff, moving, emotional and deeply soothing. But beyond the naff cover and the obscure distribution, what’s separating this music from the more “respectable” ambience about which online wallies write chin-stroking essays featuring words like “liminalistic laudanumbrology hypnagyrotics”? Nothing. Nothing at all. Listen here.
Jazz Friends – Summer Jazz 2011
As anyone with a crystal collection will tell you, new age music isn’t all dolphins, drones and synth pads. Sometimes, new age music is… well, it’s jazz. I was drawn to this one because there’s something heartstoppingly precious about a collective called Jazz Friends. You can just picture them, smiling to each other while Brubeck spins. But the music’s remarkable. These guys were making “chilled beats to study to” years before the chillhoppers caught on. It’s vaporwave with all the irony and distortion removed, pretty melodies and a relaxed lounge atmosphere earnestly recorded in an attempt to make you happy. Very precious, in that I want to wrap it in something soft to protect it from this nasty sneering world. Listen here, I beg you.
LEVEL 2 – BLOOD, SATAN, ROBOTS AND CLOWNS
At least theses guys have found an outlet.
A Flipping Budjunky – Kill’ya All EP
Bloody hell. The first track on this one’s just called Be WARNED: Do Not Listen. Well, nobody tells me what to do. It’s perfectly listenable glitchy techno. Excellent beats, and while some of it sounds slightly cursed, none of it’s going to make you bleed out of your face. Listen here.
Acid Hole – In The Name Of Love I Hate You
Again, don’t blame me. That low-res picture of a… pillowfighting robot tormenting a woman with purple butterflies? That’s the best they have to offer when it comes to cover art. It’s more cursed techno, with the occasional foray into bright porno funk. Hmm! Listen here.
Sinn – The 666 X Murder Project
I expected something a little more on the nose with that title. This is lo-fi thrash metal with frosty post-rock style atmospheric intros and interludes. Or at least, it is for the first track. The rest is relentlessly furious. And that last track’s epic. Put something black on and listen here.
Talco – Combat Circus
Hey! This is the Italian circus metal big top ska punk knees up you didn’t know you needed in your life. Horns, strings, and accordions vie with crunchy guitars to create a sound that’s like Alestorm doing Eurovision. Listen here.
benji-circus – drum’n’bass circus
I don’t know what I expected from an album called “drum’n’bass circus” by a group called “benji-circus” with a rude clown girl on the cover. More clowns, I think. This is one single turgid 36 minute onslaught of nosebleed jungle music. And interestingly, it seems to be available on Jamendo with an alternative cover, for those who don’t like clowns. That one features a bunch of lads who appear to be comparing sizes. Listen here.
LEVEL 3 – I’M SO VERY, VERY LONELY
This is where things get more than a little blue. I’m not posting any of the covers, because this is a family friendly blog, for vicars and dinnerladies. Just know that if you follow any of the below links, you might see something that’d make Graham Norton blush and make strange noises.
- Creampie Projet – Glazed Melons. The cover shows a woman made of melons who seems to be waiting for something. The music, though? It’s just yer basic ambient trance. What else were you expecting? Listen here.
- WTF – Vietnam Porn Project. The cover won’t get you into any trouble at work, and the industrial beats mixed with sad synths may soothe your soul rather than curse it. So it’s baffling that they gave their tracks names like Jungle Hard Sex. Listen here.
- Emily and the Orgasm Addicts – S/T. She’s just eating a banana. This is one of those rare songs from a band that serves as a formal introduction to the band itself. They explain who they are and what they’re doing, while exploring where other bands fall short. The rest is history, of course. I know a lot of people who’d genuinely like this one. Listen here.
- X4U – SEX TRIP COMPILATION VOLUME 1. Beyond that cover, and beyond those song titles and those samples, this one’s pretty good! Absolute trash, yes, but I wasn’t expecting such compelling lo-fi funky trip hop amid the woozy techno sleaze. It’s not brilliant by any means. But it’s a little like discovering that the shameless exploitation flick you found in the dark corner of a video shop has a compelling plot with fleshed-out characters who learn something from their experience. Listen here.
- TROY – Best Music for SEX. You’ve heard the rest, now hear the best. If Beck can get away with that Midnite Vultures cover, I think we can give TROY a pass on that… thing. This one’s really baffling. Samples of swing and metal chopped and layered over stately organs and shopping channel ambience with mocking alien vocals. I suppose it’s exactly the sort of mind-melting oddity one hopes to find when one delves like this. Listen here.
- pharmacopia – Pornhub remixes 1 and 2. Treat it as an endurance test: How much earbleeding acid with almost subliminal pornographic samples can you stomach? Because here you have 24 minutes of the stuff, unfiltered, unedited, unending. The second track’s ambient dub is a lot more bearable, but you’d still likely have some explaining to do if someone walked in on you listening. And the artwork is by no means fit for the workplace. Listen here.
- Lena – Tokyo Prostitute. Painfully screeching noise with a cover that even Spinal Tap might reject for being “a bit much”. This might be a stunning exploration of a mind that’s been alienated and obliterated by too much internet. Or it might be the absolute pits. Listen here.
LEVEL 4 – THE SWEET AND THE INEXPLICABLE
Not dreamy, not violent, not pornographic. This is stuff that I simply don’t think you’d be able to find anywhere else.
- pornophonique – 8-bit lagerfeuer. Yep, with a name like that I was primed to place it in the above category. But you never know what to expect with Jamendo. This is an album of catchy chiptune ballads, the sound of robots and video game sprites lamenting their lot in artificial life. Listen here.
- Edward Schaffer – Stonehenge – Complete Ballet, Opus 41. Right, here’s where I might really be showing my ignorance. But the composer Edward Schaffer has numerous symphonies and ballets on Jamendo. I cannot find any information about him anywhere else. And from what I’ve heard, his entire oeuvre is presented here entirely with Midi orchestration. This one’s all about druids, Samhain and Stonehenge. It’s stately, mysterious, and unbearably grating, like a cut-rate Mannheim Steamroller. I think I love it! Listen here.
- Eion Alea – The Major Arcana. This is by no means the first synthy concept album to be made about the tarot. But if Rick Wakeman ever made a synthy concept album about the tarot, it might sound a little like this. Obviously, it’s sublime. Listen here.
- Freak Monday – good momery The White Stripes. Guitar, drum machine, man. Singing about lord knows what for just over two minutes, with piercing production values that upset the eardrums. I don’t know why it has that artwork. I don’t know what it has to do with The White Stripes. I don’t know what a “momery” is. Quite upsetting really. Listen here.
- Old School Musical. My oh my, that album cover. That’s not how you’re supposed to wear a shirt. If this man offers to help you with your homework, children, run. Kick him in the shins, and run. If you stay, expect to be subjected to the sort of nightmare techno they use to condition sheep. Listen here.
- National Funky Bitch – Tha Motherfucka. It’s getting even more maddening: glitchy insanity made by people who still think swearing is hilarious, for people who still think that swearing is hilarious. But then there are moments that sound like Squarepusher at his most playful. And look at that album cover. They’re laughing at you. Laughing along is not an option. Just smile and nod. Listen here.
GET ME AWAY FROM HERE I’M DYING
That’s not even the tip of the iceberg. It’s the crystal air that shimmers before the tip, 25 albums out of an archive of 50,000 plus. They’re all remarkable, and some of them are genuinely impressive. I propose we all become Jamendo Music nuts. We’ll call ourselves the JAMANIACS, and we’ll refuse to listen to anything but the oddities from the Jamendo Music archives. We’ll become connoisseurs, and before long we’ll be able to talk uninterrupted for 90 minutes or longer about all things Jamendo, and there’ll be Jamendo music festivals and a tier list of the good, the great, the pornographic.
We’re all jazz friends now.