With the tools available to electronic musicians — software and limitless collaborators available through the Internet — the only limiting agents are ambition and work ethic. Well, talent, too, but that can be as easily wasted as ever if you don’t know how to use the platforms available to you for putting it on display.
In building his Milled Pavement label, Moshe has shown a penchant for repeatedly upping his game, building a label that’s as much community as it is a showcase. He’s teamed with Jason Hjort and his brick.city.media to offer the world a spectrum of music that encompasses just about every digitally influenced genre, and he’s reached out across the globe to find and connect artists and fans.
The Goose Bumps compilation series, the third volume of which Milled Pavement debuted at the end of June, offers a snapshot of a moment in musical time, using Moshe’s taste for the dark and brooding to group some 70 artists over three albums totaling 44 tracks that are sometimes as disparate as day and night, but generally question established rules for what is “music” or a “song.” Even if you’re deep into house or underground hip-hop or trance or other types of electronic music, it’s likely you’ll find something here you haven’t really heard before.
Which isn’t to say this stuff is all unlistenable for pure-pop types. Or that these artists are intentionally pushing the audience away. There just aren’t that many choruses or bridges or melodic access points.
Local Syn the Shaman is methodical, with a delivery like he’s a bit off in front of a spare digital beat as he profiles something like a suicide bomber in “Satan’s Angel”: “He’s the reason why you’re shaking in your bed/With your head under your blanket/Scared to fucking death.”
France’s Motionless is the polar opposite, with an alt-rock opening to “Garden Dwarves” that might remind of Air, drums paired with a pretty keyboard line. As the song builds, layers are added of manic intensity — a deep bass line, a DJ cutting up the tables, two or three vocal tracks, lines like “the garden dwarves are racist/I’ve never seen a black garden dwarf.” When the fade-out comes after five minutes, leaving the listener with hammering cymbals, you’ll find yourself out of breath.
And even if you find the music not to your taste, it’s just a cool project in the abstract, with tracks like “Apallonia Dreaming,” which teams lmntl819 (if you’re looking for random band and artist names, this is your place), reindeer, JamesPHoney, and Wormhole, who represent Canada, Hawaii, and the UK between them. It’s a virtual band, creating a mix of British high-brow, island organics, and Canuck craziness.
The press bio Moshe supplied calls this project “post-post modern,” but I wonder if it’s really just the new modern. The place and time where it’s completely normal and easy to create music with people you’ve never seen or talked to in time zones you may never visit.