Tuesday

GODMANWHO REVIEWED BY CREATIVE UNCOMMONS


Thanks for the review guys!

"Godmanwho, the object of my recent desires and affections, are a UK based trio who, with their album Big Whoop, have created a rather fine slice of proper Hip-Hop which has hit just the right spot...

... they've made one of the more impressive British Hip-Hop albums to date. The whole thing is mercifully free of the Americanisms which all too often take their toll on Rap from beyond the Super Power's own borders and lead to an uncomfortable mess of questionable cultural affectations. There's no pretention of style here, no forced delivery which throws the listener into waves of deja-vu and lyrically too it's proudly built upon the group's roots, which can be a trifle hard to adjust to at first but it grows on you soon enough.

Nor is it a devotee of the Grime wave of Rap which is just about waning away in London at the moment, instead it's a half cerebral, half pleasantly amusing piece, not ashamed of delving into the sort of reflection and thoughtfulness which acts as a hallmark to most good Alternative Hip-Hop but also not so serious in its self-conception as to make for tedious navel-gazing...

Download it."

Read the full review at The Creative Uncommons.

Monday

NEW SERIAL! 2019


2019 is an experimental fiction project that I started during last year's Nanowrimo. I'm going to put up all ten parts, and then open the world of 2019 up to other writers. The stories come in the form of 'Intercepted Transmissions' from the internet / TV channels / news of 2019. They deal with some of the issues surrounding nanotechnology. Some of the stories include internal links. In part one, we meet John Romney: science hero, controversial nanotech critic and philosopher.

As we near the dawn of the twenty-first century’s third decade, technological progress has delivered up its first truly messianic paradigm shift. Nanotechnology and molecular engineering promise a potential end to problems such as world hunger, overcrowding, and the environmental catastrophes long prophesied by the green movement ...READ MORE

FICTION - STILLETTO EYE & RAZORGUT AND THE CHAMBER OF THE SNAKE PRIESTESS


Dwayne Coltrane & The HyperDeathPsychoRock 3 really, really dislike snakes. Way more than Indiana Jones, for instance. Which is why, when the chance to revenge myself upon them came around after they had asked me to house-sit their haunted mansion in the Missisipi Delta, I knew exactly what to do. I don't know if you personally have ever climbed into a bath in a candle-lit room to find it full of anacondas and vipers - but from Dwayne and co's screams as they dipped their toes in their extra-large jacuzzi that night, I can only assume the experience is not a pleasant one. Perhaps it inspired this chilling tale, part 4 in an ongoing series...

StilletoEye and RazorGut drove Betsy, their 55 Cadillac, along the uneven grass and out from under the thick, dense forest. A butterfly two foot-wide fluttered into their windscreen and bounced off. There were still vines and moss caught in the bonnet, streaming back like banners ...READ MORE

(Click here for Part 1)

Sunday

FREE MUSIC: GODMANWHO - BIG WHOOP



godmanwho is a collaboration between producer Act One and emcees Lifeshows and Dan Darsh. The product of epic smoking sessions, ink-spattered spiral-bound notebooks, dusty breaks from dub, jazz, hip-hop and funk, and years spent heating up sweaty venues filled with grinning, head-nodding beat-fiends. Black Lantern Music is proud to present their debut, full-length LP.

"Welcome to the world of godmanwho...

The sounds you may or may not now be hearing are from the first official godmanwho release called 'Big Whoop' (12 tracks of phatness!)

godmanwho - Formed in Tangmere (anagram of greatmen). godmanwho is a 3-wheeler Hip-Hop collective comprised of lifelong friends.

Act One, Lifeshows and Dan Darsh came together to make music and vibe off it.

Now its like Fisherprice, The possibilites (french for possibilites) are endless.

Dig it, Peace and blessings."

BLACK LANTERN HAS A NEW PLAYER

We've got a new player on Black Lantern Music. Innit pretty? We're now hosting all our streaming content on Fairtilizer. This means you can now download individual tracks by clicking on the download link on the player, or you can download the full zipfile with artwork from our main site. Thanks to all the Twitter peeps who helped with advice on hosting. Enjoy!

Thursday

EXISLES - AWESOME NEW WEBCOMIC


EXISLES is a new webcomic by George Boylan, Andrew Swingler and Steven Greaves. A post-apocalyptic tale about a future Britain plunged into darkness, it's a superbly-drawn and well-written piece of sequential art. I heartily recommend that you add it to your digital pull-list. Issue 1 is up now. Great site design too. Full of win. Go enjoy.

AUSTRALIA CONSIDERS PROBE INTO SCIENTOLOGY


From BBC News site:

The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has said he will consider calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the Church of Scientology. But he said the evidence must be looked at carefully before proceeding.

Senator Nick Xenophon launched a scathing attack on Scientology, citing letters from former followers alleging extensive criminal activity.

Nick Xenophon? You have got to be kidding me. That name is pure genius. Here's hoping the Aussies kick the scifags in their financial and legal nuts. Bravo.



LITTLE ROCK RECORDS (THEY LOVE US)


The team over at Glasgow's finest netlabel Little Rock gave Black Lantern Music a nice write-up on their blog. Aw, shucks, thanks guys.

We would like to return the favour by recommending you go and hunt down some stuff by The Niallist, one of the Little Rock head honchos, and a lynchpin of the Glasgow scene for many years. We'll be reviewing some Niallist stuff in This Week's Beats (if Texture ever gets to the end of the huge pile of digital releases he is supposed to be reviewing, that is...).

Peace! To the Little Rock crew. Who loves ya baby?

Wednesday

THE CHILDBALLADS

I'm so pleased I finally managed to track down which band Stewart Lupton, former lead singer of Jonathan Fire*Eater, plays with now. The Childballads are an equally interesting proposition, although a very different sound. What hasn't changed is Lupton's languid, evocative writing and his deft way with a narrative. Can't wait to hear more. This video is from a performance in NYC.

Friday

REC 2

If it's half as scary as the first one, it will be awesome. Looks like they've done an Aliens - send in the marines!!

Thursday

WORLD'S FIRST DJ BATTLE

Via Paul Sizer

FICTION - LESS THAN EPIC FAIL


The good thing about being the editor of Weaponizer is that if I write something late on a school night and just want to kind of slip it out there, I can totally do that. This story is about the National Monument on Calton Hill. It is also about Jeremy Kyle and TV adverts. It's about how awesome short people are. It's all made up, honest.

By the third week, I'd been laying around and eating pizza in front of the TV for so long that I could actually feel my bones getting weaker. When I moved, they creaked. Not in an audible sense – I mean shit, I'm twenty-nine, not eighty-nine – but I could feel it, in a subtle way. A seeping, rising, almost imperceptible wash of pain as atrophied joints moved inside their muscle slip-casings. As though the atoms of my body had calcified, started to set, and I had re-shaped the mould holding them unexpectedly ...READ MORE

MOAR EELS

By popular request.

FLASH - CAPTAIN SPACE BASTARD


Sometimes Will Ellwood drinks a whole heap of magic writing juice and asks the Twitterverse for Flash Fiction pitches. I sent him this one - it's kind of how we met properly. I love Will's work - edgy, funny and very compressed, this is a classic from Will's Quick Tales site.

"This is the voice of the Mysterons," was the phrase that two-hundred years ago would have made thousands of children piss themselves with fear. Ten years ago, it would have made the twenty scholars of culture who knew about the TV series Captain Scarlett laugh slightly. Now it's a phrase that if I hear anyone say would make me vent them out of the fucking airlock for making sick jokes, thought Captain Crveno. Life on Mars, there is no life on Mars, because it's a small rock with no appreciable atmosphere, no magnetosphere, and hardly any fucking gravity ...READ MORE

SERIAL - STILLETTO EYE & RAZORGUT AND THE CURSE OF THE SPIDER ARMY


I once saw Dwayne Coltrane and the HperDeathPsychoRock 3 play a secret gig inside the charred carcass of an extradimensional manticore for a select group of their biggest fans - drooling five-eyed tentacle beasts; strange marsupial lizards; children with the eyes of dogs and the limbs of bees; and a few dozen goat-skinned wombats with satellite dishes for ears and gills on their stomachs. The noise was incredible, like Ministry and Cradle of Filth doing drummer-less covers of Louis Jordan. And the smell... I'll never forget the reek of brimstone, petunias and decaying flesh. But that's another story. THIS is the story of two courageous heroes - StillettoEye & RazorGut, the world's foremost paranormal adventurers!

As they approached the castle, someone sounded a trumpet and the portcullis raised and the drawbridge lowered. StilletoEye and RazorGut gently coasted Betsy - their ultra-cool 55 Cadillac - along the rickety wood, above a deep chasming moat, and into the castle. Behind them the drawbridge was quickly raised and the portcullis lowered ...READ MORE

PEPPERMINT NIGHTMARE

I will actually never get sick of this.

Wednesday

FLASH: LIFE IS GOLDEN


We welcome new contributor Grant Wamack today, who has already published some stuff over at the super awesome 365tomorrows site. His first piece for us is a short vignette about obsolescence and shiny robots.

I stared uncomprehendingly at the golden robot. He kicked the air repeatedly, aiming to take off the Japanese man’s head. Then I realized it was only an act, a show. The robot could have taken the man’s head off easily if he preferred to ...READ MORE

NONFIC - PLAGUE LANGUAGE


A feature on the mighty Plague Language hip-hop label, hailing from Guelph, Ontario. Here's a little sample of their stuff:





GO READ ABOUT PLAGUE LANGUAGE!

FREE MUSIC - LIFESHOWS & ASTHMATIC ASTRONAUT - INBETWEEN EP


Lifeshows and Asthmatic Astronaut are two of the main architects behind live hip-hop / funk / dub sensations Underling - Lifeshows is the frontman (also one of the vocalists in Godmanwho, a project debuting very soon on Black Lantern), Asthmatic Astronaut is the producer / DJ of the group, also behind much of the music for Chemical Poets, and an established solo artist with releases on labels such as Tru Thoughts. The Inbetween EP had a rapid, improvised genesis: "We went to play a show in Glasgow on the 11th of June 09," says Asthmatic Astronaut. "On the way to our next show in Edinburgh we stopped for a coffee and made this EP." The results - three tracks of conscious, dextrous, sinuous jazz-inflected hip-hop, are just a taste of what's to come from these two versatile artists. Welcoming Lifeshows to the Black Lantern family is a great honour - let him guide you through some heavy spirituality, positive vibes and tight rhymes!


CHANNEL: WPNZR

ASTHMATIC ASTRONAUT & LIFESHOWS - THE INBETWEEN EP

>>DOWNLOAD

1. Inbetween
2. Happens to be (AA Remix Rework) original track by ACT1 & Lifeshows
3. Horn’s for breakfast (Instrumental)

Thursday

SERIAL - STILLETTO EYE & RAZORGUT AND THE TOADLICKIN' VOODOO BLOOD GOD


... And don't say we're not good to you: here is the second part of StillettoEye & RazorGut's adventures! This time, the daring duo take on The Toadlickin' Voodoo Blood God! And if Dwayne Coltrane or any of the seven members of The HyperDeathPsychoRock 3 are reading this... please stop sending me fingers. The postman keeps complaining about the blood-soaked envelopes. I'll pay the ransome, just give me back my little sister.

StilletoEye and RazorGut were not lost; they just didn’t know where they were. This network of roads through barren swamp land was not on the map, although it should have been. The map doesn’t show anything in this area off the highway but the sun was blazing down on them and they were happy just cruisn’ along in their 55 Cadillac, Betsy, with Louis Jordan blasting on the speakers ...READ MORE

NEW SERIAL! STILLETTO EYE & RAZORGUT



We get all types of submissions, but few come printed on dusty parchment, written with a flaking, crimson ink, and bound in the tanned hides of some un-named but distinctly beige-ish, pink-ish kind of animal. When this pile of dubious, vintage manuscript arrived at the door of WeaponLabs early one Saturday morning, I had to wonder - Who would send such antique, expensive manuscripts to an online publisher? Why was the envelope it came in also filled with dried hen's teeth and branches of liverwort? When I sat down to read, why did my nostrils fill with the stench of the bayou? Why did my ears hear the sound of Louis Jordan, singing in the distance, telling me to look out? And... how had they gotten my address? But most of all I had to wonder, what strange and eldritch tales could such a fearsome looking grimoire contain...?


We here at Weaponizer are very proud to present the literary debut of a unique talent: the hydra-headed horror phenomenon that is Dwayne Coltrane & The HyperDeathPsychoRock 3. Their new serial, Stilletto Eye & RazorGut, starts today over on the main site. I've read quite far ahead into the future of these valiant pulp heroes - on their adventures they will face untold legions of demonic creatures, see all kinds of bizarre sights, and sample a surprisingly small selection of the local cuisine.


Join us for the ride, as our unflappable heroes StillettoEye & RazorGut encounter their first foe, the Unspeakable Monster of the Fathomless Deep!

StilletoEye and RazorGut drove Betsy, their sleek black 55 Cadillac, through the port. Either side, rough, unshaven brutish men, aged with scars, were hauling barrels and crates onto ships and hoisting ropes and running and shouting. The salty air wasn’t good for the car, but they’d soon have it covered, once they found a ship ...READ MORE

Wednesday

FREE MUSIC - BURNING BRIGHT / CHERRY TREE



CHANNEL: WPNZR

Burning Bright is the collaboration between emcee Tickle and producer Salem Anders. With a jazzy, upbeat feel and socially conscious lyrics, this is an EP with a wide appeal for fans of intelligent hip-hop. Aberdeen is a peon to a city still in love with music and partying, despite the weather ("Every gig that we jig at is a dig at the mean-ness / Of the weather in Aberdeen, yes..."); Despair Resistant Care Assistant is the only hip-hop tune ever released to deal with the subject of nursing homes, while Cherry Tree is an instrumental workout reminicscent of classic Ninja Tune beats. This is one you can play to everyone, even your Mum.

>>DOWNLOAD



BURNING BRIGHT - CHERRY TREE

1. Aberdeen
2. Despair Resistant Care Assistant
3. Cherry Tree

Chat - Tickle
Music, Production - Anders
Track 1 Bass - John
Track 2 Bass - Alan
Mastering - G Bury
Cover Art - Candy

FREE MUSIC - SILENI / RIDERS ON THE CONQUERING WORM


CHANNEL: NEVERZONE
Cubist pantomime? Lovecraftian hip-hop? Terror-drone rap metal? Horror-hop? Sileni defy such categorisation - theirs is a blend of experimental electronics and distorted samples, overlaid with the prophetic, philosophical and downright terrifying lyrical sojourns of rapper Harlequinade. Their album Riders on the Conquering Worm is a psychedelic trip through the darker recesses of the human myth-scape. Has to be heard to be believed.

>>DOWNLOAD

SILENI ARE:

BEATS - GUNG-WHO
RHYMES - HARLEQUINADE

Featuring:
CUTS - ASTHMATIC ASTRONAUT

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - GUNG-WHO

FREE MUSIC - CHEMICAL POETS ARE... GOIN' BACK TO ARKHAM



CHANNEL: NEVERZONE

Chemical Poets are a hip-hop / experimental noise collective based in Edinburgh. Emcees Tickle, Harlequinade and Texture perform with beatsmiths Gung-Who, Asthmatic Astronaut, Kresch and other musicians to create a sonic whirlwind of hyper-kinetic verbal acrobatics and distended electronics and found sounds. This mix, created by Sileni, showcases the Chemical Poets' other projects, to give you a flavour of their influences prior to the release of their first official EP.

>>DOWNLOAD

BLACK LANTERN MUSIC PRESENTS:

CHEMICAL POETS ARE... GOIN' BACK TO ARKHAM

MIXED BY SILENI


1. Double Helix - Tokyo Glitterati
www.myspace.com/doublehelixonline

2. Sileni - Wormhole to Heaven
www.myspace.com/mythillogicalsileni

3. Kresch - Taliometric Vortex Colone
http://www.kresch.org.uk/

4. Kobra Audio Labs - Monk's Brew
http://www.kobra-audio.co.uk/

5. Burning Bright - Despair resistant Care Assistant
www.myspace.com/burningbrightmusic

FREE MUSIC - ASTHMATIC ASTRONAUT / DEJINE MIX


CHANNEL: WPNZR
This mix was created by Asthmatic Astronaut for dejine.rec and Weaponizer. It features tracks from DJ AA's band Underling, plus Black Lantern signings Burning Bright and Double Helix(Morphamish & Texture). There are also tracks by Edinburgh's own 1SP and Melvitronica. Taking in experimental electronics, dubstep, trip-hop and conscious hip-hop, this is a mix that showcases some of the best local Scottish and international talent.

>>DOWNLOAD

DEJINE.REC / CYMATICS RECORDS / WPNZR / BLACK LANTERN MUSIC PRESENT...

A COMPILATION MIXED BY ASTHMATIC ASTRONAUT

1. Asthmatic Astronaut - Intro
www.myspace.com/asthmaticastronaut

2. The Laurel Tree - MarcusEtCorneliaInHortoAbulant
www.myspace.com/thelaureltree

3. Micron 5 - A Point in Rhyme
www.myspace.com/algorhythmique

4. Tsatsu - Couscous
www.myspace.com/modernmeton

5. 1SP - Politikal Refugee
www.myspace.com/onesp

6. Kurt A - Instrumental Horn Shit
www.myspace.com/kkonnect

7. Burning Bright - Aberdeen
www.myspace.com/burningbrightmusic

8. Asthmatic Astronaut - My Heart Beats to the Break

9. Melvitronica - Laura's At The Pub And I Did This
www.myspace.com/melvitronica

10. Pigeon Style Kung Fu - Throwdown

11. Xiangxing - okrook (instrumental)
www.myspace.com/xiangxing

12. Asthmatic Astronaut - Desktop Drop

13. Double Helix - Sleeper Cell
www.myspace.com/doublehelixonline

14. h. honda - Slight Fever
www.myspace.com/hhonda

15. Mason Dies - 21 Dollars
www.myspace.com/eqhotshh

16. Underling - One Drop of Terror (Live on Radio 1)
www.myspace.com/theunderling

Tuesday

FICTION - NEW MEALS


Allan Wilson is a Glasgow-based writer - his first piece for Weaponizer is a tense, elliptical slice of kitchen-sink drama. With some great imagery and a meaning that takes a while to absorb, I think we can safely say Allan is a talent you will be reading a lot more from, one way or another.

It was when she told me I made her skin crawl that things really changed. For a long time we were normal. We met at school and though we went to different universities, her Edinburgh and me Glasgow, our relationship managed what most don’t and survived long distance. We’d see each other at weekends where she’d come home to Glasgow for work. She worked in a little deli on Great Western Road and on a Saturday when I finished work in the Asda, I’d go and pick her up. After University we both got good jobs and for the first time lived together. We were great for a while until the routines started. I worked, she worked. We ate, slept and watched TV together. The two of us, alone in that wee house. We were working hard and trying to save and there was nothing else to do ...READ MORE

FLASH - BREAK


Andre Navarro makes me a very happy man. Not only did he provide October's cover page, he is helping deisgn logos for Black Lantern Music; he submits fiction (long and short); and illustrates every piece he submits. The guy is a genuine renaissance man.

This next piece is a taut, violent exercise in urban noir. It's solid awesome. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some quality violence.

He always had a soft spot for destruction, Lester. He liked guns that left big holes in their targets, forearm-long machetes that could cut a head off with one swing, and when he had to improvise, he tended to choose the kind of bludgeoning weapon that could turn a skull into a fine dust after two or three well-placed hits ...READ MORE

FLASH - AMERICAN BURNINGS


Looks like we're back up to full speed here, after a week or two of slow action while I got my laptop fixed, and launched our sister-site, Black Lantern Music (go check it out if you haven-t already - lots of juicy free MP3s to enjoy).

It is my pleasure to introduce Nathaniel Robinson, an Australian author with a fresh take on the coming-of-age tale. We hope to see a lot more from the watermelon-loving Nathaniel in the future!

They’d caught Jimmy at it. Burning things. I felt a little sick. We’d all liked to play with fire. Just little things… flicking matches, starting lighters: small pieces of grass, scrap of paper, something to make us feel cool. To make us feel a little bad ...READ MORE

WILL ELLWOOD'S STORY AUCTION

The enterprising young writer Mr Will Ellwood is trying to raise funds for his site at the moment. The basic premise is as follows - Will will write a sequel to his short story 'Eilean Buntata' (below) if he gets enough Paypal donations to his site, along with various other extras. More details can be found here on Will's site. For now, enjoy the seed story, and then get donating! How interactive is THAT?

EILEAN BUNTATA by Will Ellwood

The Steamship Black Rose had already sank into the ocean by the time me and my employers, Matthew and Eliza Gauger, arrived at the shore of the barren beach. With us in the rowing boat were three traveling trunks and the ships cat. We beached the boat and Eliza started to give orders. "Well get to it. The sun is about to set and we need a fire as soon as possible."

"With all due respect cousin. I believe that our first priority should be get the boat further up the beach. Do you not think so Fred?" said Matthew.

This presented me with a hard choice. I could side with Mr Gauger and good sense whilst risking the scorn of Miss Gauger for a hours. The other option was to follow Miss Gauger's plan and make a compromise.

"I think Miss Gauger that me and Matthew should take the boat and its contents up the beach. While you look for some firewood."

Miss Gauger glared at me. "If that is what you honestly think. Will one of you help me onto the shore?"

I stepped out of the beached boat and into the surf. Mr Gauger did the same a moment later. The boat rocked as the weight redistributed. "Be careful cousin," said Mr Gauger, as Eliza stood up. She extended her gloved hands towards the two of us and we helped her to the shore.

We were sitting around the camp fire behind the first dune in a break from the wind. Mr Gauger had recently returned from the beach with freshly caught fish. I was busy preparing our desert island feast when Mr Gauger made one of his unusual comments. "Eliza, what do you think was within that create we were escorting to San Fransisco?"

Miss Gauger looked into the fire and smiled. "Why do you want to know?"

"Well it's strange the sea around where I suppose the SS Black Rose must now rest on the seabed appears to be glowing."

Miss Gauger got to her feet and declared, "you must show me."

"By all means. Fred, are you coming?" said Mr Gauger.

I followed Mr and Mrs Gauger over the top of the dune. The effect that Matthew had described was quite clear to see. On the horizon a patch of tangerine light glowed from underneath the waves.

"I do not think it is anything we need to worry about," said Miss Gauger.

"The ocean is glowing orange," said Mr Gauger.

"No need to worry," said Miss Gauger with confidence. "Shall we go back to the fire?"

Want more?

Monday

BLACK LANTERN MUSIC: OUR PHILOSOPHY


Black Lantern Music is the new netlabel I am running in conjunction with NeverZone and Urge Mode (formerly Audiodacity). Our philosophy is pretty simple - we offer DRM-free MP3s, at 320kb, under a Creative Commons License, completely free of charge. So why have we decided to give our music away for free? Here, I'd like to explain what I understand about the concept of the non-paying market, and why we as artists and publishers have chosen to embrace it.

Hakim Bey, the philosopher and anarchist thinker behind the concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone, was talking about Balinese creative culture when he described a society where "...the artist is not a special kind of person, but each person is a special kind of artist.'' I believe this is the kind of culture that is beginning to arise now that the internet and technology have provided every potential author or creator with the means for both production and distribution of pretty much any kind of art imaginable.

Seed Magazine recently published this essay about the coming era of 'universal authorship' ushered in by blogging and social networking. This doesn't just apply to writing however: it also applies to photography, film, music... any kind of art currently practiced. In an era where many people have cameras on their phones, and can upload shots to Flickr or similar sites, photography similarly becomes a mass activity. The same is true for film-makers and other artists - hundreds of amateur films are uploaded every day to YouTube, just as DJ mixes are uploaded to SoundCloud, drawings to Deviant Art and so on.

The question that usually comes up at this point is that of quality. In a culture where 'each person' can potentially become an artist, does this mean that so-called 'true' artists' work is devalued, or swamped by amateurish nonsense?

This question is particularly relevant in light of the debate over copyright issues, and when considering the issue of fair payment for an artists' work. Artists such as Metallica and Eminem have famously pursued fans who have been caught filesharing, arguing that the loss of revenue from illegal sharing could cause a collapse of the industry. A brief browse around Flickr's comments will show that many consider the site to be 'for pros only,' and will mercilessly ridicule and abuse people who use the site in what is perceived to be an amateurish fashion. So where is the line? Do we agree with Bey when he says that no artist is special? How do we judge which works should be jealously guarded, and which freely shared?

The music industry is perhaps the most obviously affected. In the past, bands would have to build up a local following - they would perhaps have access to low-tech demo production in the form of a four-track tape recorder, but in most cases they would have to pay for studio time to make a professional-sounding demo. The demo would then be sent to record labels, who would then assess the band's likelihood of success - could their local following be widened through touring? Werer the band likely to fit with or revolutionise current trends? Therefore an act picked up by a major label would have to be tight, slick and professional - but most of all, commercially appealing. Most of the time, that meant fitting into an established genre.

With the advent of studio software like Ableton and ProTools, it is now possible for people to make professional-sounding music from home. Furthermore, they can distribute it easily online, whether through hosting it on profile sites such as MySpace, or through the more recent streaming sites such as Last FM. It is now common practice to record, not demos, but EPs - four or five-track collections that showcase the artist - and distribute them through re-hosting sites, such as MediaFire or YouSendIt. These download links are temporary, but can allow huge numbers of people to access a band's music - and if the music is successful, it can be re-hosted on blogs, torrent sites and websites elsewhere.

Essentially, giving away music for free has become the norm - even if it is a forerunner of an attempt to be signed by a major label, and become the old-style touring / recording behemoth, it has now become a mainstay in most band's career trajectories. So Free is definitely here to stay - but can it provide artists with a strategy not just for their startup phase, but for their entire career?

Wired founder Kevin Kelly, among others, has written extensively about the economics of giving your work away for free. His article The Long Tail suggests that digital distribution can be used by artists who would previously have been considered too leftfield for the mainstream to build a small but loyal fanbase, who can support the artist through donations, exclusive merchandising and live performance (among other techniques). Chris Anderson, another Wired writer, has also written extensively about the rise of the free market. When Prince gave away his last album for free, in conjunction with the Daily Mail, Anderson's explanation of the mechanics of this giveaway provided a genuine insight into why Prince, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and many other successful artists are embracing the concept of giving away their work.

What it comes down to is this - by giving away what was traditionally thought of as the 'core product,' you can potentially reach a much larger audience, who are all grateful for getting a free album / EP / whatever. These people are then more likely to become 'true fans' who will come and see you at a show, or will perhaps buy the limited edition, custom designed items you sell in small numbers, but at a higher price.

None of this is news - artists have been embracing free distribution across the board for several years now (at least, most of those artists who are starting out have). The mainstream, established artists are starting to embrace the concept too - although many of them are still tied to the old-fashioned concept of the cross-subsidy ("Buy this detergent, get a free LaRoux mp3!").

The dark side of this new democratisation of availability concerns the moves to consolidate and complicate copyright law. A few years ago, the Creative Commons Licenses were created to allow people to reserve some rights to their work. The various licenses allow artists to set the level of copyright they wish to retain - often allowing remixes and non-commercial re-uses of their work free of charge.

Many, many netlabels have sprung up around this concept, taking advantage of the ease with which you can now publish content on the internet. Many use CC Licenses; some charge, others suggest donating, others are defiantly free. Labels like Alterhit allow artists the option of charging for their work. Many, like Chew-Z, also sell CDs and merchandise. My personal favourites - and the labels that inspired me to start Black Lantern Music - are the labels that use the free downloads as a hook to promote shows, club nights and events. The likes of Leeds' fantastic Dead Channel, the ambient-focused Myuzyk, Leipzig's Jahtari and Glasgow's Little Rock provide some seriously inspiring and uncompromising music, and rely on the support from end-users coming to their gigs. The great thing about these labels is the sheer breadth of experimentation they are able to encompass - in the free market there are no rules about genre, track length, production quality or song structure. Artists recording at home on self-bought (sometimes self-built) equipment, often self-taught, can produce whatever they like.

The whole culture of the free netlabel didn't spring from nowhere, though. It has its roots in the punk tape-trading scene; in the zine culture, in semi-legal mix-trading sites like DnBShare or BareFiles.

The advent of the netlabel doesn't always mean free music, either - there are paying or subscription-model netlabels, like Boomkat's 14tracks, or Edinburgh's own TenTracks. There are sites like Tunecore, who will help artists get into the paying markets of iTunes and Napster. There are smaller local labels, like Kobra Audio Labs' Dumb Hero, who sell both physical copies and downloads, sometimes offering extras and remixes for free.

When it came down to launching our own netlabel, we had to assess where we were at with the various bands we were involved in. Some of us had released on indie labels such as Tru Thoughts or Labrat Audio; many had gone through the process of independently releasing albums; a fair few of us already gave away our music for free via the aforementioned MediaFire or similar sites. What we learned was that selling physical copies of albums, even to people prepared to come and see you at a gig, was often difficult. Free music on temporary servers was easily forogotten. We wanted to collect all of our projects in one place - give them a permanent home. We wanted to liberate our music from necessitating a physical presence. We also wanted to still be free to release the odd thing on other labels.

Thus, Black Lantern Music was born. Fired by Cory Doctorow's thoughts on eBooks and Warren Ellis' ROTOR concept, not to mention his wildly successful free webcomic FreakAngels, we collectivised, and abandoned the notion of preventing people from copying our work. We embraced the concept of viral spread, began to actively court it.

We believe that by doing this, we can not only help Edinburgh to build a sorely-needed underground scene, we can also extend the reach of our music to a potentially global market. Now we're here in the land of the Free (a land without borders, or laws... or land), we want to emulate the forward-thinking non-conformism and intellectual rigour of projects like Coilhouse. We want the mass appeal and connectedness of local heroes like Noise Porn. We don't care about charts, deals, or sales - we care about music, and we care about our audience.

We believe that by embracing the digital approach, we have not only liberated ourselves from the attendant hassles of a dying industry, we have actually aligned ourselves with the direction of mankind's evolution. As technology becomes Earth's third replicator, we celebrate the end of the record company, the end of the CD... we salute the democratisation and de-commercialisation of music.

Raise the Black Lantern.

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