The Illectrik Hoax – Waking up from a Lifelong Retromusical Hibernation

I’m feeling incredibly inspired.  It’d been a week of stagnation; I’d looked at my record collection and had said to myself, “wow… I’ve successfully built an autobiographical library of the greatest examples of each niche genre I love – downtempo electronic, avant-garde jazz, the Berlin School… and many others.  But NOW what do I do?

With the purchase of Underworld’s 20th anniversary deluxe edition of their masterwork, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, I’d come full circle to the album which first-inspired my life-long musical journey.  But something was missing.

Dubnobasswithmyheadman 20th Anniversary Edition

The 20th Anniversary Box Set of Dubnobasswithmyheadman

The majority of my knowledge of electronic music focuses on early revolutionaries of the genre – the tinkerers and innovators of monstrous noise machines.  I’ve archived classic milestones from the grating clamor of Luigi Russolo to the soothing sounds of 20th century ambient music, concluding with Basinski’s soundtrack to 9/11.

But I’d really lost touch with modern music, instead obsessing over the rich and vibrant sounds of 1969-1973.  Thankfully, a siren sound lured me to the official website of DJ Food in the last few weeks, and, on a whim, I compiled an archive of his 35 Solid Steel Radio shows, and with the entire weekend ahead of me pledged to dedicate some serious listening time to these programs.

Solid Steel Radio

These would be the first “modern” recordings I’d heard since the dream pop halcyon revival of the late 90s and first years of the new millennium.  And with the opening minutes of the very first set, my ears piqued and I was swept away.

His “A Weird World Reader” mix is described as a trip through the recent EP ‘One Man’s Weird Is Another Man’s World’ featuring tracks, samples and influences that make it what it is.  The first track is a 17 minute tour de force collaboration with The Amorphous Androgynous – a track called, “The Illectrik Hoax.”  10 minutes passed in a single breath and as the track concluded and I returned to the physical world, I leapt from my listening chair.  Locating my girlfriend and fellow music junkie, I fit my studio monitors firmly upon her ears and cued the track up a second time.  Her eyes closed and her head began to groove with the rhythm.  I paused the track asking what she thought, but her only response was a whine of discontent translating to, “play more!”

A Weird World Reader

The wonderfully weird “Weird World Reader”

Minutes later I had the full album playing in my studio and was absolutely enamored by the mysterious, sci-fi soundscapes of the record.  Best-absorbed in its entirety from start to finish – this is a concept record of infectious rhythms and strange sounds which successfully transport the listener to the “Weird World” Food alluded to in the Reader mix.  Long before the end of the album, I’d searched for a copy and phoned my local shop to order one for my library.

The Search Engine is a 4LP set of 45RPM discs housed in a magnificent quad-gatefold sleeve.  True to DJ Food’s usual form, it features eye-popping artwork that is best-viewed in its proper 12″ format.

Search Engine 1

Search Engine 2

Search Engine 3

Search Engine 4

Search Engine 5

Discogs classifies the record as “Abstract, Breakbeat, Broken Beat, Downtempo, Experimental, Hip Hop, Leftfield music.” - effectively a mishmash of all my very favorite words.  Thank you, DJ Food for breaking me of my pretentious retomusical fanaticism, and for initiating me into the music of the now.

UPDATE: New findings reveal that the 17-minute mix is exclusive to the 2012 Record Store Day smokey psychedelic vinyl edition, limited to 1500 copies worldwide.  I’ve just tracked down a sealed copy and it’s on its way to me now.

Here’s the complete track – “The Illectrik Hoax (A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Mix by the Amorphous Androgynous.)”

RSD Edition AA Single

Highlighting a Classic but Effective Discovery Tool

I’m a tremendous fan of music recommendation systems, and love to put them to the test.

Pandora’s song-characteristic matching system is intriguing, but I wanted to highlight one of the first examples of a music recommendation engine that I can recall. Marek Gibney’s Music-Map was the earliest incarnation of his Gnod (Global Network of Discovery) engine. Enter an artist and it will visually cluster related artists in an animated plain-text cloud.

Music Map

Give it a try! went on to expand and now includes recommendation systems for art, film, and literature, but where it really shines is its fantastic visual product mapping system for users shopping for smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

Tablet Chart

I’ll be giving the literature engine a try this evening for classic dystopian fiction and for music non-fiction.

While I usually swear by rating aggregation systems like metacritic and rateyourmusic, Marek’s project has a simple yet effective interface and the interactive cell phone and hard drive maps are impressively useful.

Have at it!

Published in: on March 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Shortest and Easiest Music Survey Ever… for SCIENCE!

I’m putting together a piece on music and technology where I’ll discuss the various ways listeners discover new music.  To help gather info, I’ve put together a fun and easy one-question survey asking How Do You Discover New Tunes?

Slide the sliders for each of the methods you use for a total of 100% of your musical discoveries.  Give it a try and please – share it on your social media networks – the more users that take the poll, the better the quality of the info I’ll compile!

Take The Innerspace Music Discovery Survey!

Published in: on March 22, 2015 at 3:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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Super-Deluxe: Marketing Physical Music Media to MP3-Enthusiasts

In the age of digital music, it takes a little something “extra” to entice consumers to spend their hard-earned cash on physical media.  The enormous convenience and portability of high-bitrate MP3 and lossless FLAC libraries have removed the necessity for dedicating walls (or in some cases, entire rooms) to house and proudly display our favorite albums.

But the beauty of a masterfully-designed and packaged album is one characteristic with which digital audio cannot compete.  The same can be said for the experiential element of removing a vinyl LP from its sleeve, placing it upon one’s turntable, and carefully dropping the needle into the groove.

Record labels are fully aware of this key advantage, and in recent years have funneled an incredible amount of energy, time and resources into developing “super-deluxe” limited editions of albums both old and new to win customers over to buying the real thing.

Compilations, deluxe and limited editions have been an explosive trend in the last 10 years, and albums previously only available as bootlegs are resurfacing as official special releases, all in an effort to earn collector’s patronage.  Official multi-volume Bootleg Series editions are now available featuring live material by Dylan, Miles Davis, and perhaps the kings of the bootleg market – The Grateful Dead, as the classic 36-volumes of Dick’s Picks are being sequentially reissued for the first time on vinyl.

Of course, the concept of deluxe and special editions is nothing new to the media industry.  Deutsche Grammophon produced an impressive 16-volume library of hardbound 5LP sets celebrating Beethoven’s Bicentennial back in 1963.  The complete collection of 80 records and a handsome oversize hardcover book made a perfect gift item for the classical fan in your life… though the set also burdens the recipient with the task of dedicating considerable floor space to accommodate the collection, and is a nightmare should they ever need to move.

Thankfully, the CD era granted increased portability with its more compact format.  DG wasted no time and followed up the Bicentennial Collection with a 111 Year Retrospective of the label’s finest recordings.  The two volumes released in 2009 and 2010 comprised a monumental 111 CDs marketed to completists and obsessive collectors of the finest classical music.

Still, even with all the conveniences of the CD, some deluxe sets take collectability a little too far.  Perhaps the best example is the absurdly-overcomplete 500-disc World’s Greatest Jazz Collection – a compilation of apparently every jazz track that wasn’t nailed down.

These and countless other deluxe releases demonstrate how the market for physical music media has evolved to adapt to the convenience of digital audio.  Listeners have become cultural curators, carefully selecting which recordings they will purchase in physical form to best-fit their personal collections and to tell their own stories.  The act of investing in an LP or CD is now a significant and deliberate decision which serves to contribute to one’s autobiographical library.

In 2014, marketing guru Gene Simmons fully-understood this consumer desire, and produced what is one of the finest implementations of a music product designed for the collector’s market.

This is Kissteria – “The Ultimate Vinyl Road Case.”  Thirty-four LPs, featuring nineteen studio albums, five Alive releases and their four solo albums pressed onto audiophile 180g vinyl.  To further appeal to discerning audiophiles, each of the recordings has been newly remastered in ultra-high definition DSD.  And as an added bonus, the set includes twelve archival posters, a KISS vinyl cleaning cloth, turntable mat, dominoes set, lithographs, and a certificate of authenticity – all of which is housed in an Anvil case weighing in at nearly 50 pounds.

The set was limited to 1000 copies – clearly an exclusive for KISS’ biggest mega-fans.  The set symbolizes the perfect execution of a music product for the digital age.  Listen up record labels – if you want to compete with the convenience of digital audio… this is how its done.

Kissteria Box Set

The Reclamation of Pop: A Musical Manifesto

Every few days I find myself writing an impassioned and somewhat crappy music manifesto.  Here is one of them.

From at least the 1950s forward, with the popularity of the 7″ single and the commercial boom of post-war FM radio, music marketing exploded and marketers sought not to predict the future of popular music, but to direct it.

Console radios (and later their transistor offspring) moved music from the reach of the listening elite who would attend evening classical events to the masses, most of which had no particular ear or preference for music.  The consequence of democratizing music listenership was that radio was forced to pander to youth culture masses who wanted the short, simple and familiar structure of rock & roll 24 hrs a day.

The 60s were a time of great revolution, reflected in both folk music and in new experimental sounds inspired in part by the drug culture of the day.

The 1970s offered the first hint of an audience demanding more than blues-based guitar riff rock with the rise of progressive rock and kosmische musik, incorporating madrigal song, classical, elements of jazz, and complex polyrhythms and time signatures.

Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”, released in 1977 was the first dance track to forego a recorded orchestra and instead consisted of entirely synthesized sounds and voice effects.  This was a warning sign on the path to the cultural “distillation” process, and was quickly gobbled up by the pop creature hungry for dancefloor rhythms and processed vocals.

By the 1980s, Video Killed the Radio Star, making popular music all about image at the expense of content and talent.

Still, a dedicated art rock and post-punk scene prevailed, with acts like Pere Ubu, Einstürzende Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, and Wire further demonstrating the survivalism of substance in music.

By 1989, ambient music which had (ever-so-quietly) exploded onto the scene with Eno’s Music for Airports found a new audience.  After clubbers heard Dr. Alex Paterson spinning in the White Room at the Land of Oz albums like The KLF’s Chill Out, Space’s Space and The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld were released (all by the same few DJs).  This sparked an experimental ambient culture soon embraced by Aphex Twin, Biosphere, and the then-newcomers Boards of Canada who would gain international acclaim for their LP, Music Has the Right to Children.  This was the new heady music of 1990.

So-called “alternative rock” dominated the FM airwaves for the remainder of the decade with an indie sound that spoke directly to its generation of angst-riddled listeners.  Seattle grunge died gracefully with the release of Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York and rock finished out what would be the last of its 40-year life, signing off with No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom in January of 1997.  Save for a few rare exceptions in the world of pop music, there was a clear path of rotting decay which followed –

Later that year, The Prodigy released Fat of the Land, a best-selling sell-out record whereby they left the rave scene and embraced radio-friendly big beat.  Spice Girls’ Spice followed, recycling the Monkees factory-assembled-band concept for another commercial success, and the nail in the coffin was the album, …Baby One More Time released on January 30th 1999. True to form, another polished and squeaky-clean band released their third album – Backstreet Boys’ Millennium in 1999, a record which secured their super-stardom.

By 2002, rock was dead and buried and the Core Media Group rebranded popular music as a reality program – a vehicle by which to market and directly profit from manufactured acts.

Over the next ten years, pop decayed into the most distilled essence of artificiality.

– An outrageous and exaggerated Madonna-facsimile became a pop icon

– A sixteen year old boy said the word “Baby” fifty-six times becoming the most-watched video of all time on Youtube

– and Rebecca Black happened.  (Mrs. Miller is likely upset.)

f955511d5e7e1e2c650f6a706700713d_r620x349Pop Music.

In 2012, Reuters reported the results of a study which concluded, Pop Music Too Loud and All Sounds the Same: Official.

In fulfillment of The KLF’s The Manual: How to Have a Number One the Easy Way, pop has consumed hip-hop, electronic dance music, R&B, country, and everything else around it.  It has stripped itself clean of substance, fidelity (thanks to the Loudness War), character, style, and any element of unique identity it once bore.

In a now-legendary article about Jamie Wednesday in the NME, written by David Quantick, David mentioned that pop music is ever-recycling its ideas and that eventually, ‘pop will eat itself’.  We are witnessing the realization of this prophecy right before our culture’s eyes.

Pop is now a self-parodying, purely ironic, insubstantial, auto-cannibalistic animal.  It cannot sustain itself for much longer without a supply of original material to consume.

Are we due for a spontaneous generation of classically-trained musically-educated instrumentalists, manifesting in clear defiance of the education system which has long-abandoned arts education?

Instead we are left with a millennial generation who has been carefully conditioned from their earliest years to consume pop and to be collectively uncomfortable (or even repulsed) by the cerebral sounds of polyphony, afro-inspired polyrhythms, or improvisational compositions like jazz.  All they want is a hook and a four-on-the-floor synth beat.

This is the musical incarnation of the newspeak Orwell warned us about – a culture raised from birth to see and hear only vapid, formulaic, 3 minute commercials and to buy the associated line of merchandise.  This is what Clear Channel tells us that “music” means today.

I implore you to play your children classical, play them jazz, opera, experimental electronic music, and the countless micro-genres from around the world.  Maybe, just maybe some of them will pick up an instrument, (whether lute or laptop) and learn to make beautiful new music.


Published in: on March 15, 2015 at 12:09 am  Comments (3)  
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A Bit of Eno

I’m so very excited – just a few days ago I was browsing Discogs and by a sheer stroke of luck happened upon the newly-released first-ever vinyl pressing of Fripp & Eno’s Equatorial Stars.

Recorded in 2004, the album marked a 30-year reunion for the two musicians, who last collaborated on the Evening Star LP in 1975. Evening Star was the follow-up to their premiere frippertronic album – the monumental classic, (No Pussyfooting).

My Eno LPs to date…

Eno Collection 1Eno Collection 2Eno Collection 3

Brian Eno is an incredible hero of mine. From his genre-defining masterpiece, Music for Airports to his 77 Million Paintings project, from his zen-like Oblique Strategies deck to The Long Now Foundation, I’ve been following his work for more than 15 years and loving each new discovery.

One of my favorite (and sadly lesser-known) works by Eno was his January 07003 / Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now which features chimes for a timepiece that operates with minimum human intervention for ten millennia.

I’m still missing a few of the albums from Eno’s primary discography on vinyl, such as Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, Music for Films 2 and 3, and Thursday Afternoon, but I do maintain a 64-album digital discographic archive for added accessibility.

Eno’s recent collaborative projects with my other hero, Karl Hyde were a dream come true. Both are highly-acclaimed visual artists as well as musicians and have been wonderful inspirations for my own creative ventures.

Their collaboration drew inspiration from the repetitive minimalism of my other favorite composers like Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, and from the polyrhythmic music of Fela Kuti and funk.  For those who missed my post from the album’s debut, check out the fractured groove of “DBF.”

At age 66, Eno has no intention of slowing down, and I look forward to his next innovative project.


The Renaissance of Vinyl Records in the Digital Age

This is, undeniably the second Golden Age for music collectors.  The industry has finally acknowledged the massive resurgence of the vinyl format as a cultural response to the first decade of non-physical digital media.  A growing percentage of the listening public are re-claiming the participatory listening experience of the vinyl era.  And the undeniable consumer demand is most visible with the format’s own holiday – National Record Store Day.

There has been a tremendous shift over the last 10 years in the availability and selection of vinyl.  Where once buyers had to dig through innumerable copies of Firestone Christmas, Barry Manilow LPs, and Sing Along With Mitch to find a hopeful grail, local new-and-used record shops are once again staples of every major city.   Of course, the independent record store never really disappeared, but vinyl’s new-found popularity has drastically affected the stock you’ll find at your local store.

The compromise is of the “hip” exclusivity of the format.  Once-rare and prized LPs are now flooding the shelves of every local record shop.  The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, The Stone Roses, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream… nearly every critical album of the 90s is being repressed by the thousands, and many for the first time on vinyl.  The market is approaching a level of absurdity as even the least-likely candidates for what was once an audiophile market are now being issued as “limited edition” colored-vinyl exclusives.  The soundtrack to the Nickelodeon series, The Adventures of Pete and Pete is scheduled for an upcoming release as is the soundtrack to the movie, Clueless (available in special yellow-plaid vinyl.)


The market was further impacted by the emergence of  Launched in the year 2000, Discogs raised the bar and revolutionized web-based record sales. The site’s users have cataloged 5.7 million pressings of over 800,000 community-contributed albums.  This crowd-sourced system has made Discogs the ideal place to buy and sell music and democratized record values to a single global standard.

This marks a potentially-dangerous turn for the format, where abundance of supply may result in a supersaturation of the market, and the flood of “nostalgia-vinyl” may cripple the perceived value of these novelty LPs.  Where dedicated collectors previously drove city-to-city crate-digging for scarce acetates and private press LPs from special collections, the market was rapidly-transformed by web-based services offering global-accessibility to even the most elusive recordings.  Now labels are repressing anything and everything that might tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of a budding collector, further changing the market landscape.

In the last decade, countless buyers shelled out an average of $95 to claim a hallowed copy of Aphex Twin’s classic, Selected Ambient Works Volume II.  They likely paid an extra $20 to import it to the States.  The scarcity of the record made it a grail for many lovers of electronic music.  Fortunately for hopeful fans around the world (though not for the original buyers) WARP Records widely reissued the album and copies are available in malls across America for just $29.99.  The lesson of this example and of thousands of others like it is that rarity-inspired purchases are a losing game, more so now than ever before.


 Portishead’s Dummy from 1994 – reissued in 2014 on colored vinyl.

But in this new buyer’s market, collectors should celebrate it as a wonderful time for music lovers everywhere.  Listeners can have all the classic albums from their youth, or deluxe editions of classics from decades past – available right in their neighborhood and at an unbeatable price.  But whatever you do, buy first and foremost for the love of the music – a return-on-investment that will not be shaken by the ebb and flow of a fickle consumer market.  Free your holy grails from their sleeves and spin them.  Your music is waiting to be played and enjoyed.  And today, you can have it all.

Pirates to the Rescue: Giving the Listening Public What Commercial Services Will Not

Ladies and Gentleman – I’m proud to share my first published article as a music journalist for Queens Free Press in NYC! The article is live on their website and there are plans to feature it when the time comes for their first print edition.

The piece is titled, Pirates to the Rescue: Giving the Listening Public What Commercial Services Will Not.

Visit Queens Free Press and CHECK IT OUT!

By Jon Åslund [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jon Åslund [CC BY 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Rally in Stockholm, Sweden, in support of file sharing and software piracy.

Published in: on February 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tom Waits – Orphans and other Grails

I consider myself a very lucky man.  It is a great fortune to discover something you truly enjoy, (in my case the music of Tom Waits), but it is a winning lotto ticket to be able to amass an absurd collection of his finest works for your own library.

An enormous box arrived in the post today containing most of the titles missing from my Tom Waits collection, most notably one of my elusive grails – a mint, unplayed copy of the massive Orphans – Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards 7LP set.  This monumental box set contains 62 “orphaned” selections which never made it on to his major album releases.  The six tracks on the final disc are exclusive to the vinyl release, and I can’t wait to drink them in.

Tom Waits - Orphans 7LP set, RSD 7in, Lowside of the Road, Under Review DVD

Tom Waits – Orphans 7LP set, the Record Store Day 7 inch, Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits, and the Under Review DVD

Don’t think for a second that these are merely disused cutting-room-floor tracks which were omitted with good reason – every song from this incredible collection is just as fantastic as any of his best-loved hits, from the gritty gospel blues Tom delivers on “Lord I’ve Been Changed” to the back-porch foot stomper, “Buzz Fledderjohn” to the relentless rhythms of “2:19.”  This is one of the proudest additions to my library in my entire history as a record collector.

The set is accompanied by an oversize book, and each 180g disc is housed in a newsprint sleeve jam-packed with antique-typewritten factoids a la “News of the Weird.”

It’s sets like this which remind me why I haven’t given up on physical media in exchange for the incredible convenience and portability of digital.  As a man with nearly 13,000 albums I wholly embrace high-bitrate lossless audio for its many accolades, but damn, nothing comes close to the experience of dropping the needle on one of these LPs and spending hours poring over the liner notes and companion book.

My outstanding fortune relating to Tom Waits began when I walked into The Bop Shop in Rochester, NY and learned that the owner had just purchased a nearly-complete Tom Waits collection.  Each disc had been purchased upon release, played once to rip digitally, and carefully shelved by its owner.  I didn’t hesitate for a single second and bought the whole lot on the spot.

Tom Waits Collection - Albums

And to make my evening ever BETTER – I’ve now added Blood Money, Alice, and Mule Variations to my Tom collection.

Thanks, Tom for all your wonderfully weird music.  You are indeed one of a kind.

The Innerspace Cloud Project a SUCCESS!

Wonderful news dear readers!  We’ve reached a new milestone at Innerspace.   We’ve come so far!

Our Humble Beginnings…

Back in the summer of 2011, I decided that I could do more than I was accomplishing with my text-based Audio Library Excel spreadsheet.  I spent the summer researching and testing all major music cataloging softwares.  By that August, I’d built my first OrangeCD database which was leaps and bounds ahead of the spreadsheet.

The catalog continued and grew for a few years and in May of 2014 we took the next step and moved from a static local DB to the cloud. became the new home of Innerspace, but was limited to our vinyl-format collections.

I still wanted to do more.  There are many complete discographic archives in our library which I’d love users to be able to access.  Current copyright law unfortunately does not support such a model so, for now, my media server remains strictly for my personal access.


But last night we succeeded in unifying our digital collections with our vinyl catalog.  Now our entire library is viewable, searchable, and sortable by any user-specified criteria – all in one place, and free on the web where anyone can browse it.

Better still, there is a shared reference table of our top label and artist archives consisting of 50-375 albums per collection.  These collections comprise 37% of the albums in our library, so it’s an excellent summary point-of-reference.

The searchable catalog can also be mapped visually, with larger point sizes for artists with the largest collections.

Check out our new About page – the new launch screen for our complete library!



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