Sound
Fair Trade Music

Fair Trade Music

Few cultural movements have left more of a mark than DIY (Do-it-Yourself) punk. For the last four decades, the scene has had a tremendous impact on both music and radical politics. Best known for its anarchists, little attention to has been paid to its ideological contradictions. For example, even its most politicized form, anarcho-punk, proclaims anti-capitalist goals, yet economically ends up working through market  mechanisms. More»

Songs in the Key of Dub

Songs in the Key of Dub

A decade after they announced the shutdown of their Portland-based dubwise label BSI Records, Ezra Ereckson and his visual-artist wife Tracy Harrison are back in the record game, having just put out “Freedom Fighter” by the Disciples, the tenth release on their recently activated artisan-dub label ZamZam Sounds. More»

In Crust We Trust

In Crust We Trust

One of the peculiarities of the early punk scene was the way that certain sounds became associated with certain towns. In mid-1980s, New York became famous for bands with a crunchy, metallic sound, such as Judge, Youth of Today, and the Cro-Mags. Although Chicago has produced a wide range of groups, it’s hard to dissociate the city from dark and angular sounding 1980s bands such as Naked Raygun, The Effigies, and Articles of Faith. More»

Migrants With Drums

Migrants With Drums

The sound of hand drums echoed in the distance. For a second, I thought I was in Berkeley. A daily feature of my graduate school years, I can’t remember a seminar I sat in where I could not hear a jam session in progress.  Located somewhere in Sproul Plaza, drum circles would normally get going in the mid-afternoon, rising in volume – and membership – by the early evening. More»

Karl Marx Ambient

Karl Marx Ambient

It’s a European Austin. A frequent proclamation, found in numerous pieces of promotional literature and newspaper articles touting the reunified German capital’s virtues – sometimes as a musical mecca, other times as a technology hub – the comparison is an annoying one. Not because there aren’t parallel arts and technology communities in the city. Rather, because it’s inaccurate. More»

Listening to the Left

Listening to the Left

He had a Palestinian flag on his cap. Staring up at the boy, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” at neo-Nazis marching on the local mosque, my gut told me where he was from. I imagined the teen and his friends standing on top of a street divider, taunting Israeli soldiers in Nablus, not skinheads in Neukolln. Yet here they were, face to face with fascists, eager to send them back home. More»

We Can Be Heroes

We Can Be Heroes

Leftists often bemoan a perceived lack of progress on the issues they work on. Fighting economic injustice, war or discrimination can feel like a thankless task. On top of the difficulty of the work, too often we fail to celebrate success and lose a longer historical view of how the world has changed for the better. More»

Hip-Hop in Chechen

Hip-Hop in Chechen

Pussy Riot was just the tip of the iceberg. That is, for those who took the band’s notoriety as being an introduction to Russian pop. For most Western fans, however, that was it. The country’s rich music scene would otherwise remain invisible. Particularly those confined to the Federation’s margins, and its Diasporic representatives, who record their work for the migrant communities, to little notice, in their host countries. More»

True Beliebers

True Beliebers

On Friday evening, Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House. On Saturday, the museum shared that information on its Facebook page. Along with a portrait of the nineteen-year-old singer, staff reported Bieber comparing the Holocaust heroine to one of his fans. More»

Post-Rock Travel Guide

Post-Rock Travel Guide

Philadelphia’s Rosetta have achieved a lot in their ten years as a band. In addition to three self-released LPs full of lush, intricate, and very noisy post-rock and metal, they’ve toured extensively, especially to spots their contemporaries have yet to visit. More»

Be Your Own Preset

Be Your Own Preset

Ableton Live is a loop based program created for live performance and improvising with electronic music. This is a paradox, musically and ethically. A loop is a continuous sound that, when it reaches its end, starts at the beginning again. It’s an exact replica, a copy of itself, repeating over and over, and a live performance is duplicated after the fact. More»

Ramadan Party Breakdown

Ramadan Party Breakdown

Usually, the music is Turkish. Arabesque, as it is called, featuring Middle Eastern- sounding instrumental motifs, but still,  Turkish. Blasting out of cars idling at the stoplight on Karl-Marx-Straße, I often find myself trying to make out the details of the songs. “Was that an Om Khaltoum sample, or an actual orchestra?” I never get it right. More»