The most common phone call or e-mail I get from Alternating Currents is “where do you find out about this music?,” referring to the off the beaten path, unconventional electronic or acoustic music I play on the radio every Sunday night [6 p.m. – 9 p.m., 91.7 FM, WMSE] . Here are a few sites I always recommend:
Point of Departure appears every two months and has some of the best informed, most thoughtful writing anywhere (from Brian Morton, Art Lange, Bill Shoemaker and others). Reading several pieces in the latest issue sent me back to some forgotten Steve Lacy recordings that I’ll feature on the show in the next few weeks. Articles in the last issue about new to approaches to the piano sent me in of search new discs by Ross Bolleter (playing ‘ruined pianos’) and Sebastian Lexer (what he calls “piano +”) that I’ve featured heavily on the show this spring.
Paris Transatlantic Magazine is great on feature interviews and a lot of reviews covering jazz, electronic music, lowercase improvisation, experimental rock. Its editor, Dan Warburton, has been especially supportive of music coming out of Milwaukee from labels like Crouton and Okka Disk and the site’s archive of interviews is a goldmine of information (don’t miss the Luc Ferrari interview in its archive).
I look at the NewMusicBox site regularly. I played several different versions of Terry Riley’s “In C” earlier this year after reading an interview with Robert Carl which included the introduction to his recently published book on this late1960s work by Terry Riley which has been recorded by everyone from Bang on a Can to Acid Mothers Temple . The latest edition of NewMusicBox includes a long interview with composer George Lewis, another Alternating Currents favorite.
I routinely read reviews on La Folia’s website. Mike Silverton edits this and I learned a lot from his print reviews in Fanfare back in the early days of Alternating Currents. La Folia is strongly weighted toward classical music, but for La Folia that category includes new music by Anthony Braxton or George Lewis and I think that is much to their credit. The print magazine Fanfare used to include long reviews by Silverton, Art Lange, and Robert Carl and I still follow their music writing in various online and print publications. They bring a lot of knowledge and experience to whatever they are writing about whether it is a new Morton Feldman recording or a reissue of some early LP by Bill Dixon.
European Free Improvisation is a fantastic resource for biographies and discographies of significant contemporary free jazz and improvising musicians many of whom have paid multiple visits to Milwaukee venues. The work of Peter Brotzmann, Urs Leimgruber, Paul Rutherford are all well documented on this site and even a few Midwesterners like Michael Zerang are included.
Blogs offer singular points of view on new music, but I regularly find Rifftides (Doug Ramsey), JazzWax (Marc Myers), and Jazz Beyond Jazz (Howard Mandel) informative and fun to read on jazz, old and new. Massimo Ricci reviews at several online sites including his own Temporary Fault and Touching Extremes and he always writes about a recording or artist I was glad to discover through his work.
Alternating Currents specializes in music that always sounds new and at least a little different every time you hear it. Many times, knowing something more about where it came from and how it came about opens a new window into listening. These are writers and web sites that offer a full way through and a glimpse into these kinds of doors and windows. Enjoy!