10 No Wave Bands You Should Be Aware Of

no new york

No wave is a genre of music and art that came about in 1977 in the Upper East Side of New York City.

Taking some inspiration from jazz and post-punk, it has otherwise turned its back on most conventional genres of music to instead produce its own distinct sound of dissonance, disharmony and nihilism.  

We’ve written about it before, in a previous article called “No Wave Movement“.

However, in this article, and in no particular order, we’ll discuss the 10 most prominent and influential bands and artists of no wave that have contributed to the movement.

James Chance and the Contortions
James Chance

James Chance is a saxophonist, keyboardist and singer from Wisconsin, and a key figure in the no wave movement.

Chance was educated first at Michigan State University, and then at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. While attending school, he joined a cover band called Death, performing covers of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges.

After this band dissolved, however, he moved to New York City and began taking part in the no wave scene, as well as experimenting with free-form jazz.

He created the no wave band James Chance and the Contortions in 1977. Their first ever recording was on Brian Eno’s compilation album “No New York”, released in 1978.

Their debut album “Buy” was released in 1979. It was said by the music website All About Jazz that “through the anger and aggression Chance made a solid record that had a sound nothing before or since.”

They released another album, “Off White”, in 1980, under the name James White and the Blacks. Below you can listen to the full album “Buy”. 

What is unique about James Chance is that, unlike some other artists of the no wave movement, he expects and demands a certain instrumental skill-level in himself and his band members, elevating his band in certain respects.

Their music is erratic, spontaneous, and jazz-like but distinctly different from jazz. However, it is easy to see that James Chance was largely inspired by jazz, as any saxophonist often is.

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks
teenage jesus and the jerks

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks formed in New York City and helped to create the no wave movement.

It started when poet and musician Lydia Lunch met James Chance in the popular New York music club CBGB (standing for Country, Blue Grass and Blues). They began living together as roommates.

At this time, Lunch was experimenting with her poetry and acoustic guitar. Being inspired by the New York City rock band known as Mars (who is number 9 on this list of no wave artists), Lunch decided she wanted to start a band. She first recruited Reck as a drummer and bass player. Other band members included James Chance and Bradley Field.

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks were also featured on Brian Eno’s album No New York in 1978.

Although the group was not together long, disbanding at the end of 1979, they still released several recorded albums and singles, and had great influence on the no wave music of the time.

All the songs they recorded were later compiled onto the 1995 album “Everything”. Their music has an intense, slightly angry sound, with repetitive guitar rhythms and unique twists and turns of the music that keep you on edge the whole time you’re listening.

Lunch’s singing is droning and loud throughout the music. 

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks were mentioned in the book “Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984” by Simon Reynolds. He wrote that the band “defined radicalism not as a return to roots but as deracination.”

In other words, ripping up the roots and starting fresh. He also said that, rather than rebelling against rock music by turning instead to electronic music, they used the traditional rock instruments (guitar, drums, bass) just in a very different way. Lunch in particular was very disdainful of punk rock and wanted to break away from the genre.

Glenn Branca and the Theoretical Girls
Glenn Branca

Next on our list is Glenn Branca. Branca was an influential member of the no wave genre, arriving at the scene in New York City in 1976. It was here that he met Jeffery Lohn, who was at the time a member of another band.

The two of them decided to start their own band called the Theoretical Girls. Lohn’s girlfriend joined as the bassist and another of Lohn’s band members became drummer for a time.

The band’s first performance took place at the Franklin Furnace, an establishment that serves to promote avant-garde art. Branca also did a performance with guitarist Rhys Chatham (who we’ll discuss next), a very important experience that would later influence Branca’s style of composition.

The Theoretical Girls played a good number of live shows throughout New York City (and three shows in Paris) and released one single which gained a bit of attention in the UK. This single was “U.S. Millie/You Got Me”.

Although the band was never signed by a record company, their style of mixing classical composition with punk rock did not go unnoticed, and they are considered a cornerstone of no wave music.

Branca also did some solo work, releasing the album “Lesson No. 1” in 1980 under his own name. This album showcases repetitive guitar techniques that Branca learned from Chatham and his fellow band member, Lohn.

The track “Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar” was inspired by Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

Below you will find the two songs – compare one to the other and you will see Joy Division’s influence on Branca.

Rhys Chatham
Rhys Chatham

We mentioned Rhys Chatham before, as he worked with Glenn Branca, but now we will look at his work in a little more depth.

Chatham is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his “guitar-orchestra” work.

In 1978, he performed his single “Guitar Trio” around New York City, with musicians including Glenn Branca and Nina Canal.

“Die Donnergötter” was another single of Chatham’s, released in 1982.

Chatham was inspired by an early Ramones concert as well as many other no wave bands. His music had a punk-rock aesthetic, but he put a lot of thought and quality into his compositions.

Y Pants
Y Pants

Y Pants were an all-female no wave band that formed in 1979. They were a trio, consisting of Barbara Ess, Virginia Piersol, and Gail Vachon. The Y Pants had a unique sound from their acoustic toy instruments.

They had a toy piano, a ukulele, and a Mickey Mouse drum set. They also played with electric bass and electric keyboard. Their poetic lyrics often focussed on feminism which gained them popularity in the scene.

They also sang about relationships and the perils of everyday life, such as laundry and materialism.

In 1980 they made their first four-song EP, recorded by Glenn Branca and released with the record label 99 Records.

Two years later, their LP “Beat It Down” was released by Glenn Branca’s own independent record label, Neutral Records, which also released the first few albums of the band Sonic Youth.

8-Eyed Spy

8 eyed spy
8-Eyed Spy was a no wave band made up of the aforementioned Lydia Lunch (from Teenage Jesus and the Jerks), Jim Sclavunos (who also played with Lunch in Teenage Jesus), as well as Michael Paumgardhen, Pat Irwin, and George Scott III.

Compared to Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, 8-Eyed Spy was regarded as more overtly musical.

You’ll hear Lunch’s familiar, jarring voice in their songs, as well as some crazy instrumentation and jazz influences. 

The band released one self-titled album, as well as a live album called “Live”. They also covered some songs, including “Run Through the Jungle” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.

Sadly, the band broke up after the death of George Scott in 1980.

Lizzy Mercier Descloux

Lizzy Mercier Descloux
In New York she created a performance art duo called Rosa Yemen with guitarist D.J. Barnes and the two of them released a self-titled mini-album in 1978.

It was released by her partner Esteban’s own record label, Ze Records. Later, Descloux released her solo LP, “Press Color”, also through Ze Records.  Her style of no wave was minimalistic.

Being a self-taught guitarist, she didn’t rely on heavy or overly-complicated guitar work, but instead on single-string notes that delivered a clear sound and got the message across.  Here is “Hard-boiled Babe” from “Press Color”.

Her second album, “Mambo Nassau” was inspired by African music as well as funk.

This album was what won her a contract with the French record company CBS Records. Returning to France, she released a popular single called “Mais où sont passées les gazelles?” (“But where have the gazelles gone?”) as well as her third album “Zulu Rock”, both in 1984. “Zulu Rock” was recorded in South Africa and was an eclectic and unique mix of African folk music and 80s French pop. It was well-received by critics.

Judy Nylon
Judy Nylon

All the musicians we’ve looked at so far had been residents of New York City at one time or another, because that is where the bulk of the no wave scene took place.

Judy Nylon, however, while she was an American musician, moved to London in 1970. All the same, she was an important artist who was appreciated by other no wave bands.

In fact, in 1974, Brian Eno released an album called “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)”. This album featured a song named “Back in Judy’s Jungle” – Judy Nylon is who he is referring to.

In the 1970s she was part of a punk rock band called Snatch, along with a woman named Patti Palladin. She then began some solo work as well as some collaborations with other artists.

In 1982, she and a fellow musician Adrian Sherwood released the LP “Pal Judy”, which was praised on the website NME as being “a classic rainy-day bit of sound and song to drift away to”.

MarsMars

Mars was a no wave band from New York City consisting of China Burg (a.k.a. Lucy Hamilton) on guitar and vocals, Nancy Arlen on drums, Mark Cunningham on bass, and Sumner Crane as vocalist.

The band’s sound was ambient, with non-standard drumming techniques and surrealist lyrics. Surprisingly, all of the musicians in this band were self-taught.

Mars was most active between the years of 1977 and 1978. They played many live shows, all in Manhattan.

The band had a unique sound, a little chaotic and all over the place at times, but in a way that was interesting and compelling. They released their debut album in 1978, “3-E (11,000 Volts)”. About a year later they released a live EP, although the band had broken up in 1978.

DNA

Last but not least, we have the band DNA, formed in 1978 by guitarist Arto Lindsay and keyboardist Robin Crutchfield, and consisting of a handful of other talented musicians.

The band actually got their name “DNA” from the title of a song by Mars.

DNA

Soon after the formation of the band, Crutchfield left to join another group and was replaced by Tim Wright. This switch brought a drastic chance to the band’s music.

It became more abstract, concise and simple. DNA made frequent live performances in the lower Manhattan area between the years of 1979 to 1982, playing mostly at CBGB, Max’s Kansas City and Tier 3.

They developed a cult following especially after the release of their debut album “A Taste of DNA” in 1980.

Their last three concerts sold-out because of their loyal fan base. The band broke up in 1982.

No New York

no new york front cover

“No New York”, as mentioned earlier in the article, was a compilation album curated by Brian Eno. It played an important role because it was the first album to bring no wave to an audience outside of lower New York City.

The album featured four bands; all four bands have been mentioned in this article. They were James Chance and the Contortions (known as just “The Contortions” on this album), Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, and DNA.

no new york back cover

Honourable Mention: Sonic Youth

While I first thought of the band Sonic Youth as more of a conventional rock/post-punk band, it is undeniable that they rose up out of the no wave scene in the early 1980s and even had an acquaintance with Glenn Branca.

Based in New York City, the band was formed by Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo. They are well known for their genre of noise rock, playing with an unconventional and eccentric guitar tuning as well as altering their guitar’s timbres to create different sounds.

The band played at Noise Fest in 1981 and were signed to Glenn Branca’s record label Neutral Records in 1982, soon releasing their debut album “Sonic Youth EP”, which although was not very popular, did earn some positive reviews.

Here is one of the tracks off that album, “I Dreamed I Dream”. 

Conclusion

The no wave scene was very intricate and had a lot of contributors to make it as unique as it was. Certainly there are even more artists who had an influence on the genre but these are, in my opinion, the top ten that every no wave fan should be aware of.

West German Underground – A Brief History of Krautrock

krautrock band

Sauerkraut (literally “sour herb” or “sour leaf”) is a salty cabbage dish from Germany that’s really quite delicious. It’s often eaten with mashed potatoes and ham or sausages. From this popular cabbage dish, the term “kraut” arose as a slang word for a German person, usually in a derogatory sense.

The term “Deutsch-Rock” (German Rock) was used until 1973 for the rock groups coming out of West Germany.

But in the early 1970s, the British music magazine known as Melody Maker coined the term “krautrock”.

It was first used more to ridicule or make fun of the bands, but as krautrock caught on in Britain the term lost any negative or mocking connotations it once had, though many German “krautrock” bands still rejected the name.

It is thought that krautrock was more of a British phenomenon that focused on how the music was received in Britain, rather than how the West German music scene felt about the music.

Characteristics of Krautrock

Krautrock may sometimes be referred to as “Kosmische Musik” (meaning Cosmic Music), which suits its sound in my opinion, because there are aspects of this music that feel otherworldly, like they can’t have been composed here on Earth by other humans.

There are elements of the unexpected – it is unpredictable, slightly strange, a little bit out there. I think it’s also interesting to note that the word “komisch” means strange in German, which is not a far cry from “kosmische”.  You could always call the music space-y, and that would fit as well.

night sky

But what does Krautrock mean, musically speaking?  It is, essentially, a genre of experimental rock which pulls from psychedelic rock, funk, jazz, avant-garde, and electronic music.

It arose from West Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The genre deliberately tries to distance itself from the American rhythm and blues genre and instead draws on German influences, while still keeping a distinct rock rhythm.

A band member of the popular krautrock band Faust stated that they tried to forget everything typical of the rock and roll genre, including the three-cord pattern and the usual lyrics. They wanted something totally different.

Here’s a little taste of Faust…

Krautrock is a very experimental genre, breaking out of old, tried-and-true habits and delving into the untouched, the unthought of, the new and strange. 

A 4/4 rhythm known as “motorik” is common of the krautrock genre. Motorik means “motor skills” in German. This drum pattern was pioneered by Jaki Liebezeit, drummer of the popular krautrock band Can, and was also used early on by the band Neu!.

The motorik 4/4 beat was later used by many other krautrock bands.

Early Beginnings

In the 1960’s, the hippie movement and political activism that was rampant in North America and Europe demanded a new type of music.

Avant-garde music was emerging, droning on with ambient synthesizers and other psychedelic sounds. This genre of music largely inspired the krautrock movement.  

In 1968 in the city of Essen, a rock festival took place, and this was one of the first places that krautrock was performed and heard.

From here on, the krautrock genre took hold and many bands began producing music with this spacey, ambient and electronic sound.

A Closer Look at the Pioneering Bands

Let’s take a look at Can, one of the pioneering bands of krautrock. Can was formed by two students of the famous and praised composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Stockhausen was called one of the most influential and also controversial composers of the 20th century. He was well educated in music, having attend the University of Cologne and the University of Bonn.

He was known for his influential compositions, his work with electronic music and his theories.

Can

Evidently, his students learned a lot from his unique teachings, and went on to form the krautrock band Can, which was using techniques that were, at the time, very new and unheard of.

It is one thing to see a new genre of music after it has been invented and think, “that doesn’t seem so hard to come up with, the idea was sitting right in front of them”, but it is another thing entirely to create a new genre from thin air.

Of course, Can was not the only band pioneering the krautrock genre, but they certainly had a big hand in it.

Can band photo

For a super detailed history of Can, go here

Can was formed in 1968 in Cologne. The band mainly consisted of four members: Holger Czukay on bass and Irmin Schmidt on keyboard (the two members who studied under Stockhausen and formed the band), Jaki Liebezeit on drums (from whom the motorik beat originated) and Michael Karoli on guitar.

The group did not have one permanent singer, but rather many temporary ones.

Tago Mago album cover

Schmidt, the band’s keyboardist, had been heavily influenced by avant-garde musicians such as Terry Riley, Steve Reich and La Monte Young on a trip he took to New York.

From this, he began to see the new and different possibilities of rock music. In 1968 the band released their first album “Monster Movie” with vocals by Malcolm Mooney.

Then in 1971, they released another revolutionary and unconventional album, “Tago Mago” with vocals by Damo Suzuki. “Tago Mago” was a very influential album, featuring great tracks such as the dreamy “Paperhouse” and the hypnotic “Oh Yeah”.  Have a listen to the song “Paperhouse” below.

Neu

Another band that helped lay the groundwork for krautrock was the band Neu! (meaning “New”).

If you’re wondering why the band was named “new!”, it was inspired by the rise of advertising in the bigger German cities at the time, and “new” was one of the most powerful words for selling different things to the public.

Neu! was formed in 1971 in Düsseldorf by Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother. Dinger and Rother were two former members of the popular band Kraftwerk in its earliest days, but left to start Neu!.

 Although Neu! had less commercial success than Can, it was still a pioneer of krautrock and inspired many punk, rock and electronic bands in the years that followed.

The band’s first album, entitled “Neu!”, was released in 1972 and sold 30 000 copies, which was not very much when compared to mainstream competitors, but a decent amount when considered that they were an underground, off-beat band.

This album has come to be praised by many big names in music such as David Bowie, Brian Eno and Iggy Pop. Songs like “Hallogallo” demonstrated the quintessential motorik beat.

During the production of their second album, Neu! 2, Rother and Dinger began to run out of money. Therefore, on the second side of their album, they simply remixed and played with their already recorded single “Super”, sometimes slowing it down, sometimes speeding it up, and manipulating it in other ways.

The song “Super 16”, one of the manipulated versions of the original song, was used in Quentin Tarantino’s movie Kill Bill Volume 1.

The duo Dinger and Rother were quite different from each other. In their third album, “Neu! ‘75”, they decided to each pursue their own personal style, making half the album a solo album for Dinger, and half the album a solo album for Rother.

This album is seen as a very diverse krautrock album. After its release, the duo split up and went their separate ways.

Kraftwerk

As mentioned before, Dinger and Rother were originally in the band Kraftwerk in its early days, before leaving to form Neu!. Kraftwerk was another influential band of electronic music.

It was formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. The band experimented with krautrock in its early days, featuring instruments such as the synthesizer, drum machines and self-made instruments.

Kraftwerk really helped to popularize the lesser-known krautrock genre and make it available to a wider audience.

kraftwerk

They released three albums in the early 1970s: “Kraftwerk” in 1970, “Kraftwerk 2” in 1972 and “Ralf und Florian” in 1973. They performed as a duo during the years of 1972-1973, as their lineup was not steady.

In 1974, they had commercial success with their hit album “Autobahn”, which they were able to tour with the financial help of Phonogram Inc.

After this tour, they began working on their next album which was released in October of 1975, entitled “Radio-Aktivität”, or “Radio-Activity” in English. Kraftwerk is still active in 2018, working on new projects.

You can listen to the album “Autobahn” below.

Faust

Lastly, we’ll take a look at Faust, who we gave a sample of near the top of the article. 

Faust is a band named after the protagonist of a classic German tale. Faust was a popular band that was formed in 1971 in Wümme. Faust paved the way for many other krautrock bands. Although their debut album had poor sales, it did attract a small but loyal fan base, and was praised for its innovation. Their second album, “So Far”, did better than the first and was one of the albums that made krautrock accessible internationally. Here is the title track from that album.

Some other notable krautrock bands include Tangerine Dream, Embryo, Cosmic Jokers and Cluster, among many others.

The Influence of Krautrock

Krautrock had a considerable influence on many genres, including electronic, post-punk, rock and British new wave. A notable musician who was inspired by the krautrock scene was David Bowie.

Bowie, who began living in Berlin in 1976, later created the “Berlin Trilogy”, a sequence of three albums, “Low”, “Heroes” and “Lodger” as a tribute to the music scene he experienced in Berlin, which included krautrock and kosmiche musik.

Conclusion

Krautrock, while it may have been named so as a mockery at first, has actually become a highly influential and fascinating genre. It features cosmic, dreamy and ambient sounds and often uses the 4/4 motorik rhythm.

I think the krautrock genre is commendable in its non-conformity and innovation of the rock genre.

Bent Beats – A Brief History of Funk Music

James Brown

What is funk music?  Funk is an earthy, rhythmic genre that blends jazz, soul and R&B. In this article we’ll take a brief look at the extensive history of this groovy and influential music.

Here’s a funk drum loop called “Funky Drummer” that originated from James Brown’s band and has been used many a time on hip hop songs, but it was born out of funk.  Maybe you have heard it?  This will hopefully set the mood for this article…

Etymology

The word “funk” comes from the latin word “fumigare” which means “to smoke”. Funk was originally introduced into English to describe a strong smell and was first used around 1620.

About a century later, the adjective “funky” was derived, meaning musty. This word was then picked up by the jazz communities in the 1900s and used as slang to describe something that was earthy or deeply felt.

By the 1950s and 1960s, the use of “funky” to describe jazz was common, and this is how the genre “funk” got its unique name.

Characteristics

Funk is a very danceable genre. It is upbeat, rhythmic and, for lack of another word, undeniably funky. Funk puts more emphasis on bass line as opposed to melody. It incorporates a variety of rhythm instruments, with bass and drums playing an important role in most funk songs.

Funk usually doesn’t limit itself to the regular verse/chorus structure of most songs. The song goes where the music carries it, and often each section of the song is given fairly equal weight and importance.

Funk was the voice of a generation in the 1970s. It expressed the struggles of the working-class community, giving them music to share and identify with.

Here’s a band called The Meters that you’ll become familiar with if you stick with the funk.  Cissy Strut, 1974…

Beginnings of Funk (Late 1960s)

Funk was born in the African-American communities of the mid to late 1960s. It was heavily influenced by (you could even say it was started by) a musician named James Brown, AKA the “Godfather of Soul”.

James Brown

James Brown was an innovative singer that started out in blues and gospel-based forms of music, singing in the group The Famous Flames in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Later in the 1960s, however, Brown decided to try something new, and so he shifted to an Africanized style of music. This change in style was launched by his hit singles in 1965, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good)”.

Check out this clip of James Brown performing live in 1965.  If you haven’t heard him before, this will help you understand the meaning of funk.

Brown’s signature groove developed into an accentuated downbeat, with emphasis on the first beat, as opposed to on the backbeat which was typical of most African-American music at the time. In other words, his signature groove went like this: one-two-three-four, as opposed to the typical one-two-three-four.

Brown’s style of funk can be seen clearly in his songs such as “Ain’t It Funky Now” (released in 1967) and “Mother Popcorn” (released in 1969), in which he uses strong bass lines, drums patterns and complex grooves to make a rhythmic and danceable song.

Brown also used his voice as a percussion instrument in his songs quite often, by making rhythmic exclamations, laughs, or grunts throughout the music, as a drum might do. 

This type of percussive vocals is something the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, adopted later on.  Here’s a clip of Jackson doing what he did best back in the 1980’s.

Speaking of drums, another large contributor to the funk genre was Clyde Stubblefield, a well-known drummer who worked with James Brown. Stubblefield was largely influenced by the R&B genre that arose from New Orleans after the second World War.

This played an important role in the development of the funk genre. Stubblefield took up these New Orleans R&B drumming techniques and turned them into the groundwork of funk.

According to Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis, another musician who worked with James Brown, “Clyde Stubblefield was just the epitome of this funky drumming”.  For an example of his funky style, you can listen to the audio clip we added at the beginning of this article.

Clyde Stubblefield drumming

The Rise of Funk in the 1970s

After James Brown pioneered this new and exciting type of music, many musicians began to adopt his style. Dyke and the Blazers released one of the first albums to have “funky” in its name: the album “Funky Broadway” in 1967.

In 1970, the band Tower of Power (TOP) released their debut album, “Easy Bay Grease” featuring songs such as “The Price” and “Back on the Streets Again”. The band was a break-through for modern funk because they popularized the genre and spread it to a wider audience.  

The band Sly and the Family Stone released the song “Thank You” which hit #1 in the charts in 1970, and their song “Family Affair” reached #1 in 1971.

The Meters, whom we mentioned earlier, was another influential band who brought funk to New Orleans, making it popular in that area.

Another significant funk band was The Isley Brothers, who came out with the hit song “It’s Your Thing”. This group was one of the stepping stones that lay between the jazzier James Brown and the psychedelic Jimi Hendrix.  

The 1970s is undeniably when funk had the most time in the limelight. You could say that the 1970s were the “heyday” of the funk genre. It was played on the radio and enjoyed by many people.

Some other big names in funk at the time were Stevie Wonder, Rufus & Chaka Khan, and the Bar-Kays.  Here’s Stevie with a funky number called Master Blaster (jammin’).

Jazz-Funk-Fusion

The 1970’s were also when jazz musicians began blending jazz with different genres. Jazz-funk arose from this experimentation: a blend of jazz and funk. Jazz-funk used electric bass and electric piano, as opposed to the traditional jazz of the time, which used double bass and grand piano.

Herbie Hancock, a jazz pianist who played with the Miles Davis Quintet throughout the 60s, decided to break out into the world of funk in the 70s with a new band of his creation called The Headhunters. Their debut album, “Head Hunters”, was released in 1973 and became an instant hit across audiences, though it was criticized by some jazz musicians because it felt more like funk than jazz.  

Here it is!  If you want to feel funky, put this on.

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, one of the most acclaimed jazz figures of the 20th century, decided to release a jazz-funk album in the 1970s, like so many other jazz artists.

The album he recorded was “On the Corner”. He wrote it during the summer of 1972 and released it later that same year. It was an attempt to recapture his young black audience, who were turning to funk and rock instead of jazz.

“On the Corner” is rich with layers and textures, with instruments such as the Indian tambura and tablas, as well as the Cuban congas and bongos. There is also heavy funk drumming and a funky groove played on the bass.     

P-Funk (Parliament Funk)

In addition to the blend of jazz and funk, some groups began to develop a funk-rock style. The two bands of singer George Clinton, Funkadelic and Parliament, started experimenting with jazz and psychedelic rock in their funk music.

P-Funk

These two bands are often referred to together as Parliament-Funkadelic, because they shared many band members.

From these two bands, the subgenre P-Funk arose, referring to the music of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.

The P-Funk groups became quite popular in the 1970s, due to their exciting new brand of funk and their live performances. Starting in the 1980s, samples of P-Funk were also incorporate throughout many rap and hip-hop songs, including Dr. Dre.

Influence on Disco

Disco music was heavily influenced by funk. Many of the disco hits of that time were sung by artists who started off in funk.

For example, the funk band Rufus & Chaka Khan launched the solo singing career of Chaka Khan, who went on to sing the hit disco song “I’m Every Woman”.

Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” was also inspired by funk rhythms, as was “Kung Foo Fighting” by Biddu and Carl Douglas, and “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross.  

And let’s not forget the funkiest disco band of them all, Chic.

1980s Synthesizer Funk

Electronic instruments, drum machines, and of course, synthesizers, began to trickle into funk music in the 1980s. Saxophones and trumpets were given less time in the lime light of songs, and synth keyboards became popular instead. Synth keyboards were also used for the bass lines that were originally played on bass.

In 1980, the band Yellow Magic Orchestra became the first band to use the programmable drum machine known as a TR-808.

Rick James was another artist of the time experimenting with synthesizer funk. With his hit 1981 singles “Super Freak” and “Give It to Me Baby”, we can see that the 1980s brought a change not only to the sound of funk but to the lyrics of funk as well; they became more explicit than before.

Prince was another icon of the 1980s, writing adventurous music with sexual themes and funky instrumentation. Some other synth-funk artists of the time were Cameo, the Bar-Kays, Zapp, and the Dazz Band.

Afrika Bambaataa, a band inspired by Yellow Magic Orchestra, developed electro-funk in 1982 a genre driven by electronic sounds woven into funk beats.

Late 1980s and Onwards

Funk declined greatly in popularity with the arrival of hip-hop, rap and contemporary R&B in the late 1980s. However, it was still used, and is still used today, for sampling in many hip-hop songs. 

In fact, James Brown and Parliament-Funk are said to be the two most sampled artists in all of the hip-hop genre. Dr. Dre has said that he was greatly influenced by the psychedelic funk of George Clinton and P-Funk. 

Dr. Dre

Rock bands also used certain elements of funk in their songs. Bands such as Jane’s Addiction and Rage Against the Machine were influenced and inspired by funk.

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, when they first began, took a page from punk funk acts like Defunkt and The Contortions. Their debut album, “The Red Hot Chilli Peppers” featured back-up vocals by Gwen Dickey, the singer of the disco funk band Rose Royce.

Even modern R&B music has been touched by the splendours of funk. Beyoncé’s 2003 hit “Crazy in Love” samples the funk song “Are You My Woman” by the Chi-Lites, a funk quartet from Chicago.

The song “Get Right” by Jennifer Lopez samples the funk song “Soul Power ‘74” by Maceo Parker, a trumpeter who worked with James Brown in Parliament-Funkadelic.

Women of Funk

Often, the history of funk focusses on men, and on bands consisting mostly of men, but there have been notable and influential funk women as well.

Chaka Khan, for example, who started in the band Rufus and Chaka Khan before pursuing a solo career, has been called the “Queen of Funk”.

Her 1984 album “I Feel For You”, brought her much success and became a platinum album. The title track of this album features a harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder and a rap by Grandmaster Melle Mel.

Dawn Silva and Lynn Mabry are another two big names in funk. They started off as back-up singers for Sly and the Family Stone, and then began working with Parliament-Funkadelic. They then began their own career under the name The Brides of Funkenstein, which was named by George Clinton after the P-Funk album “The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein”.

 Their 1978 debut album, “Funk or Walk”, was a huge success, selling thousands of copies in the first week.

In 1979, Lynn Mabry left and was replaced by Sheila Horne and Jeanette McGruder. Their second album, “Never Buy Texas from a Cowboy” won them an award for best new female artist.

Here is the title track from that album. 

The Pointer Sisters, made up of the four sisters Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June Pointer, were a quartet that performed music spanning the genres of R&B, pop, be-bop, soul, and of course, funk.

They strived to create original music that combined jazz and be-bop rather than follow the mainstream trend of pop.

Some of their top singles include “Fire”, “Jump (For My Love)”, and “Yes We Can Can”.

Conclusion

Although there is so much more to be said about the intricate and extensive genre of funk, I’ll leave it here for now.

Funk has certainly been a very influential genre since the get go, getting its roots from blues singer James Brown and quickly spreading across North America.

It became big in the 1970s and was fused with many other genres to create sub-genres such as funk rock, jazz funk, electro-funk and psychedelic funk.

Its earthy sound, danceable beats, groovy bass lines and drum beats continue to please and inspire many audiences.  

We’ll leave you something with something that comes from a more electronic direction, that being some music by Luke Vibert.  Adios and stay funky y’all!

Chipzel – Featured 8-bit Chiptune Artist

Chipzel

Today our featured chiptunes artists is the amazing Chipzel. 

Chipzel is is the stage name for London-based, Irish-born chiptunes musician and video game music composer Niamh Houston. Her albums and soundtracks are both created and performed by using music tracker software and Game Boy portable gaming devices.

For her live performance, she utilizes two Nintendo Game Boys, a music tracker program, and a mixing console.

Over this past decade, she has garnered a dedicated following in the 8-bit electronic music underworld, as the revival of retro gaming sounds grows in an intriguing nexus of nostalgia and futurism.

Using Little Sound DJ software (LSDJ), Chipzel experimented for a few years before releasing her first EP in 2009 titled Judgement Day.

For those interested in creating their own 8-bit music, the Little Sound DJ cartridges are now out of production, but they can be found used, here and there, on sites like Amazon, and a software duplication exists otherwise.

For more information on LSDJ you can check them out on their official website at http://www.littlesounddj.com/

Little Sound DJ

Cracked software and user shareability has existed in the digital underground since the 1980’s, but has only grown with the abundance of softwares of all types and also with the increased participation from the ever-growing hacker population. Early evidence of the hacker era came from such communities as the demoscene.

demoscene

“Demos” are audio-visual creations made from shared and cracked software – the creators would use existing softwares in new ways to showcase new computer art made from old familiar mediums.

With innovation and artistic ego as the prime mover – rather than the more basic values of fame and fortune, the demoscene emerged to allow creative competition between demo artists, many who used machines familiar to the 8-bit or chiptune music scene such as the Nintendo Game Boy, Atari, or Commodore64.

demoscene 2

Chipzel says of this cracked software sharing: “It’s the essence of the digital era: where hackability is to participate, instead of being a passive consumer. We can invent the future that we want, and not the one that we’re given.”

Octahedron Chipzel

Since 2009’s Judgement Day, Chipzel has released four more LP’s/EP’s, which respectively include 2010’s Disconnected; 2012’s Phonetic Symphony; 2012’s Fragments; and 2017’s Chipped of the Necrodancer.

Further, in 2012 she partnered as the soundtrack artist for the UK game Super Hexagon – which was nominated by BAFTA in 2014 – and has since released seven more video game soundtracks. They are: Spectra (2013); Size DOES Matter (2014); Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom (2014); Interstellaria (2015); Chime Sharp (2015); Crypt of the Necrodancer (2017); and Octahedron (2018).

Niamh Houston’s 2016 TedX talk “We Are All Hackers” offers insight into her artistic essence, which resonate deeply with the creative process overall, stating that using outdated machines with few capabilities “…forced me to overcome limitations in a creative way”, and that, “…having fun and dismissing standards was the focus”.

From her modest beginnings as a chiptunes experimenter, Niamh Houston as Chipzel has become a celebrated and award-winning artist.

Super Hexagon, a UK game that featured her soundtrack, was nominated for a BAFTA in 2014. She has been named VGMO’s best independent composer. And in 2015 she received Best Music Award in XBLA Fans’ Game of the Year.

Chipzel 2

You can check out Chipzel on her official website http://chipzel.co.uk/, just one of many relevant artists using old technologies to create new sounds and new artistic cultures.

What is Downtempo Music? – History, Characteristics, and Artists

Downtempo is a genre of electronic music. It is similar to ambient music, however, downtempo has a greater emphasis on beats. It is also similar to trip hop, a fusion of hip hop and electronica which emerged in Bristol in the late 1980s. Downtempo also surfaced around this time in the UK, but its rise in popularity began in the 1990s.

In 2010, the Atlantic described downtempo as “a variety of music styles from the 2000s characterized by mellow beats, vintage synthesizers, and lo-fi melodies.” The genre generally includes chillwave, glo-fi, and hypnagogic pop.

Downtempo music is slow, made up of tranquil beats and melodies peppered with synth that flows in and out, presenting an overall retro, dreamy, far away vibe. There are usually few to no lyrics used in downtempo. The genre takes inspiration from many other styles of music, like 80’s pop.

Some artists have also taken a feather from Jamaican dub and reggae and incorporated that into the genre, such as the duo known as Thievery Corporation. Their album “Treasures from the Temple” illustrates their reggae-influenced style of downtempo perfectly. You can listen to the album below.

In addition to Thievery Corporation, some other downtempo artists include Flume, Little Dragon and Tycho.

Washed Out is another prime example of the genre. You can listen to “Feel It All Around” below.

There is a simplicity to downtempo that makes it easy to listen to, and a rhythm to it that makes it enjoyable.  

Tycho album cover

History of Downtempo

Downtempo was often played in Ibiza throughout the 1990s. Ibiza is an island in the Mediterranean Sea known for its nightlife and summer club scene, as well as the electronic music that originated on the island.

Many DJs use Ibiza to try out new songs in the electronic music genre. Often in Ibiza, DJs would play downtempo music to bring down the vibe as the party neared sunrise. After a night of upbeat electronic music, a bit of chill, ambient downtempo would relax the vibe and bring everything to a nice close.  

Throughout the 1990s, downtempo was played in the chillout and relaxation areas of clubs and electronic music events. Later in the 1990s, it grew in popularity thanks to the Austrian duo Kruder and Dorfmeister who remixed many pop and hip hop songs in the downtempo genre. You can listen to their song “Shakatakadoodub” from their 2008 album of the same name below. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for some chill, ambient music, embroidered with a bit of 80s charm and stitched together with simple beats and melodies, this genre is for you.

What Are Chiptunes?

what are chiptunes?

A while back I stumbled into the esoteric world of chiptune music. This is synthesized electronic music made from old sound chips from retro computers and video games. Sometimes referred to as 8-bit music or chip music, the genre or writing approach has also been more colloquially conveyed as “Nintendo music”, though this is simply a brand association, and the world of chiptunes covers much more than the NES samples.

For instance, here is an example of a chiptune, just for reference.

The term chiptune or chip music is derivative from the sound chips that were used in the programmable sound generators from these older consoles or computers. Today the term chiptune covers a broader expanse of chip-based synthesis, though the original definition views it specifically as a small tracker module, something I will delve into a couple paragraphs down.

Chiptune Origins

Chiptunes may have come about as many things do through necessity, being the mother of all invention as they say: as computers and video game systems became more affordable over the decades from the mid-1970’s onwards. 

As consumers kept trading up and up for the best and newest versions, the older systems faced obsolescence and became cheap and accessible, opening up a new world of opportunity for DIY electronic musicians to explore – one which was simultaneously affordable but also appealing to audiences due to its nostalgic reminisces of sounds from a generation past. In a larger field of electronic music where faster, newer, and more expensive often equates to “better”, chiptunes would float defiantly in its own bubble for those seeking creative and affordable ways of creating electronic music with an audience appeal.

DAWs and Music Trackers

Chiptunes can be created in a few different ways, but one of those ways is by using a type of DAW (digital audio workstation) called a music tracker. Many people who are familiar with using popular DAWs such as Ableton or Reason may not be aware that these DAWs fall into a classification called Music Sequencers. They are probably so used to seeing the left-to-right horizontal layout of the bars that that format seems the most intuitive or logical way to look at it – like looking at sheet music essentially.

Here is an example of a typical DAW that goes left to right, as we are discussing.  In this case, we’re looking at Cubase.

In comparison to these relatively more modern music sequencers (eg. Cubase, Reason, Ableton, ProTools, etc), there is a different format of DAWs called music trackers, where the music is tracked from top-to-bottom, vertically, and rather than recorded bars of music you will often see musical notes (eg: A# or G) written in text, those notes being processed with effects after the fact.

Here is an example of this top to bottom musical tracker format.

This is a different way of viewing and creating music that may feel less organic to musicians of more classical instruments, however, it is only a matter of time upon using these music trackers before they start to feel familiar, and after that, things can get really fun, as the creative process of songwriting becomes stimulated upon the very fact that you are faced with a new approach to songwriting.

Read our article, “Music Sequencers Vs. Trackers – What’s The Difference?”

As mentioned, chip music appeared as early as the 1970’s, in popular games such as Taico’s Gun Fight and Space Invaders, and in 1980, Namco’s Rally-X. 

As video game consoles were appearing more prevalently in homes throughout the 80’s, chiptunes were popularized by systems like Commodore64, Sega, and Nintendo. The history of computer music goes back even further, to the early 1950’s, the dawn of the synthesizer and also real-time musical performances by computers (the Ferranti Mark 1 and the CSIRAC in 1951, notably).

Here’s a video of the Ferranti Mark 1 in action, complete with old school proto-chiptune music.

As one idea inspires another, chiptunes have broken out of their origins from video game soundtracking and into popular electronic music albums and film soundtracks.

Chip Evolution

By the mid-80’s, frequency modulation synthesis was eventually introduced into the chiptune world, originally by Yamaha for their synths and sound chips, and the digital FM synthesis made room for more complex samples and effects. This expanded the field of possibilities and meant that warmer tones and more fluid transitions and gradients were achievable, still while using PSG (programmable sound generator) sound chips.

Some other notable musical subcultures have spawned from the chiptune culture, one being the SID music culture, based on the MOS and Commodore SID chips.

These chips are no longer manufactured and have become highly sought after as the decades have rolled on. They feature two 8-bit analog-to-digital converters, an external audio input, three different and separately programmable oscillators, four different waveforms, three ring modulators, and an envelope filter.

Using these chips, coders and musicians began writing their own original music with their own uniquely coded samples and waveforms, as far back as the mid-80’s.

Other subcultures include the demoscene, a subculture based on creating demos of self-contained programs for audio or visual presentations; or “cracktros”, which are demos created by means of software cracking – where one alters the code of video game waveforms to circumvent copyright protection and uses the newer altered code for their own creations.

There is something exciting about old things becoming new again, giving them a certain nostalgia value, which most people can relate to through seeing a favourite childhood movie remade anew, or an old favourite band of ours getting back together for another album or tour after a decade or more of inactivity.

Chiptunes bring back old fond memories, not only of the artist or artwork in question, but of that entire part of our lives through association, and in that way we can relive old moments by seeing one particular aspect of it brought back to life again. I think this is the essence of the chiptune appeal.  At the same time, there are many musicians creating chiptunes now that are pushing the envelope and creating new sounds as well.

Overall, I’d say the chiptune or retro gaming sound is a fun sound that attracts people not by flashy glamorous production but rather edgy hard notes and crushed synth effects that we can all relate to our favourite 80’s arcade games and soundtracks. Dive into the chiptune universe, and have fun!

Here’s a little chiptune playlist I made to feature some of my favourite artists of today who are making chiptunes.  Lots of good stuff here!

Who is Keyboard Cat? Only One of Internet’s Greatest Memes, Dat Who!

Who is Keyboard Cat? I asked myself the same question when I first heard the intriguing moniker. As it turned out, the name is quite self-explanatory. Keyboard Cat is a cat who plays the keyboard and has become quite famous for it.

It started in 1984 when Charlie Schmidt filmed a video of his big ginger cat named “Fatso” wearing a light blue shirt and “playing” an electric keyboard. Schmidt is really manipulating the cat off screen, so it appears as if she herself is playing the keys. She plays un upbeat, catchy little riff with a sort of smug, unimpressed, undeniably “cool” expression on her face. 

In 2007, Schmidt uploaded the video to YouTube under the title “Charlie Schmidt’s Cool Cats”, but he later changed the title to “Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat”. The video quickly gained popularity. You can watch the original video below.

“Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat” Meme

When Brad O’Farrell obtained permission from Schmidt to use the video of Keyboard Cat on the channel My Damn Channel, the meme “Play him off, Keyboard Cat” was created. O’Farrell used the clip of Keyboard Cat at the end of blooper footage to “play” a person offstage after their mistake or blunder.

Soon after, many people began adding Keyboard Cat’s video to the end of bloopers and other viral videos, usually with the title, “Play him/her/them off, Keyboard Cat”. Thousands of these videos now exist, and Keyboard Cat was ranked no. 2 on Current TV’s list of 50 Greatest Viral Videos.

Beyond YouTube & Tributes

Keyboard Cat’s popularity was such that the meme reached beyond YouTube and made its way into television. Keyboard Cat’s biggest time in the lime light was during 2009. In this year, Keyboard Cat was featured in the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Andy Samberg joked at the MTV Movie Awards that anyone whose speech went on too long would be played off by Keyboard Cat. In a segment of Tosh.0, Kato Kaelin did a spoof of Keyboard Cat entitled Keyboard Kato.

And then there’s Ron Livingston, best known for his role as Peter Gibbons in Office Space and star of Band of Brothers, who made a Youtube channel called Livingstown with exactly one video, where Ron disguises himself as Keyboard Cat, convincing many viewers and commenters that, yes, this is in fact the real deal cat, and not a man at all.  Watch, and prepare to be utterly convinced!

Keyboard Cat also appeared in Weezer’s 2009 tour with Blink-182 to play the band off the stage every night.  We couldn’t find any footage of that legendary collaboration, but anyway, here’s M+M’s by Blink 182.

Appearances

It doesn’t stop at television and music. Keyboard Cat has also made a few appearances in video games.

In the game Scribblenauts for Nintendo DS, a game in which you use your imagination to call upon different objects to help you solve puzzles, Keyboard Cat is an option that can be chosen, along with several other internet memes.  

Keyboard cat in Scribblenauts

Fatso and Her Successor, Bento

Unfortunately, the original Keyboard Cat, Fatso, died way back in 1987, three years after the original footage was filmed. But she left a legacy behind her and will not be forgotten.

In 2009, Schmidt got a new cat named Bento who resembled Fatso. Schmidt continued to make videos with Bento until Bento’s death in 2018.

We hope you enjoyed our little article tribute to the great Keyboard Cat.  If you know something we don’t, please leave us a comment!  

All About ASMR – Triggers, History and Benefits

ASMR text

The sensation begins around the brain and scalp and can move downwards to the neck and spine.

It is characterized by “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin”. It’s not well understood as to why this sensation occurs.

ASMR map

You may have experienced ASMR before without even realizing it. The sound of raindrops pattering on a leaf, having your hair combed, someone reading you a story…all these things could possibly trigger ASMR. It depends largely on the individual.

The nice thing about ASMR is how curiously pleasant it feels; it’s calming and makes you feel safe. This is why many people have taken to creating ASMR videos on YouTube.

These videos are great for de-stressing and for falling asleep. Just as ocean waves or rainforest sounds are meant for relaxation, ASMR is used this way too, except ASMR actually triggers a response in your brain that sends pleasing tingles through your scalp and spine, intensifying the calmness you feel.

Triggers

There are many things that can trigger the sensation of ASMR. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.

Whispering

Soft-spoken speech and whispering are very effective triggers. Many people make videos of themselves whispering, speaking softly or reading passages gently from a book.

These videos come in different languages. Sometimes it’s nice to hear familiar words and understand what’s being said, and sometimes it’s nice to listen to a language that you don’t understand, just to hear the sound of someone’s voice.

These videos are made by the YouTuber speaking very closely to a microphone, so that you can hear the wisps of breath and speech sounds. In a study done on 475 subjects, 75% found that whispering was an effective trigger.

microphone used for ASMR

Here is a whisper video for sleep and relaxation.

Here is a whisper video in Korean, so you can see what the whispers sound like in a different language (assuming you don’t speak Korean, that is).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYsgZKC5XnA

Tapping, Scratching, and other sounds

Another popular ASMR trigger is soft sounds, such as the tapping or scratching of fingernails on different surfaces, the flipping of pages or the crinkling of paper.

Many videos are made showing an individual performing one or many of these actions next to a microphone, creating a gentle sound that triggers ASMR.

Two hands tapping on book spines in video

Here is a video of tapping and scratching.

Here is another video of tapping and scratching sounds. What’s nice about this video is that, as you will see, the tapping is done on a mannequin head, which adds the benefit of visual stimulus as well, allowing you to imagine that someone is gently massaging your head.

As you see her hands touching the face, the temples, the forehead, you will almost feel the tingles focus on these regions, as if someone was gently brushing their fingertips on your face.  

Roleplay

ASMR can be triggered when a person receives gentle, personal care.

Many people on YouTube create “roleplay” videos mimicking these experiences, including being at the hairdresser’s, getting your makeup done, or getting your eyes checked at an optometrist’s.

The service provider goes through the movements and talks quietly to the recipient. The soft, tender attention and care given in these situations triggers ASMR.   

ASMR Rooms

ASMR rooms are a smaller subset of ASMR, where YouTubers create the picture of a room intended to mimic a specific location or environment. There are pictures of windows with rain drizzling outside or cabins with roaring fireplaces.

Many of these rooms recreate scenery or places from books or movies. For example, there are many Harry Potter themed ASMR rooms, such as the Gryffindor Common Room, a cozy room complete with squashy armchairs and a roaring fire that crackles and pops.

Other sounds are added to these rooms as well, such as the sound of rain, thunder, or crickets chirping. These rooms are similar to white noise videos, but with the added bonus of some comforting scenery.

These videos surround you with a mood and an ambiance that make you feel almost as if you’re inside the room.

Benefits

ASMR can be listened to through speakers but is best enjoyed through headphones or earbuds. This is because the sounds are clearer and more concentrated though headphones, and because videos often move sound from one ear to the other.

YouTubers who make ASMR videos often move their lips or the objects they are using from one side of the microphone to the other to create a binaural effect. It creates a stronger sensation to hear the quiet sounds moving from one ear to another and is comparable to binaural beats.

Man relaxing with headphones on

To read a bit more about headphones, you can check out this article about choosing the best headphones for binaural beats, or this Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphone review.

Although there is no medical or scientific evidence behind the benefits of ASMR, many people find it does help them. It can be used to aid mild insomnia, anxiety, or simply as an enjoyable way to relax and destress if you’re feeling particularly worried about something.

It gives you a positive feeling and helps you feel calm. It’s even a good thing to listen to if you’re doing homework; it gives a nice, ambient background noise that can help you concentrate.  

History

The feeling of ASMR can be traced back to almost a century ago. We see a description of what seems like ASMR (although at the time it was not recognized as such) in the book Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf published in 1925.

The passage describes a nursemaid speaking to her patient “deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper’s, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound”.

Mrs Dalloway book cover

ASMR became more widely recognized and has been growing in popularity since 2007, when a member of a website called “Steady Health” made a post about how she had had this feeling since childhood, like tracing fingers along the skin, stimulated by events such as “watching a puppet show” or “being read a story”.

It continues to grow in popularity as more and more YouTubers make ASMR videos. People are finding it an enjoyable way to relax and de-stress.

Although the concept may sound strange, I recommend giving it a try! It’s a unique sensation.

Here are some of the best headphones for binaural beats, according to our editors.

Feature Picks

Sennheiser Hd 202 Ii Professional Headphones (Black)

Buy On Amazon

Bose Soundlink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones Ii Black

Buy On Amazon

Sennheiser Hd 380 Pro Headphones

Buy On Amazon

Shure Se215-K Sound Isolating Earphones With Single Dynamic Microdriver

Buy On Amazon

Audio Technica Ath-M50X Headphones + Slappa Case

Buy On Amazon

Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Headphones – Review

Bose headphones

The Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphones are high quality headphones for a good price. They’re designed to cancel noise, deliver a true-to-life sound and they fit like a glove. They have great customer reviews across the board, but let’s see what else there is to say about them.

Feature Pick

Bose Quietcomfort 35 Ii Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Cancelling, With Alexa Voice Control, Enabled

Buy On Amazon

Sound

The sound quality of the Quiet Comfort 25 headphones is clear, pure, and powerful, making them a good choice for all listening needs: from music to ASMR to binaural beats.   

As mentioned in a previous article, it’s important to wear quality headphones to reap the full benefits of binaural beats, and these headphones are a good choice for this. To learn more about binaural beats and how you can integrate them into your meditation, check out this article.  To learn more about the types of headphones that are best for binaural beats, check out this article

Listening to music with these headphones is clean and crisp; every note shines out – strumming guitars sound fuller, the bass sounds deeper. It’s my favourite way to listen to music because you feel completely immersed in the sound. Additionally, the headphones have minimal sound enhancement, meaning that you’re getting the truest, realest sound. It’s not being modified in any way. 

The headphones also have an inline microphone/remote allowing you to easily adjust volume levels when listening to music or taking a call.

Noise-Cancellation

When you put on the Quiet Comfort 25 headphones, the world melts away. Simply turn on the noise-cancellation feature of these headphones and you’ll have complete stillness and silence, which can be a true comfort in the hustle and bustle of noisy every-day life.

Bose is one of the leading brands for noise-cancellation. These headphones are noise-cancelling, meaning that when this feature is turned on, background noise is significantly reduced. Even in a noisy environment like a café or an airplane, these headphones will silence the ambient noise and allow you to focus and hear whatever you’re listening to clearly and fully. Or if you’re just looking for a bit of peace and quiet, you could even put the headphones on, turn on the noise-cancellation and just relax in the perfectly quiet world these headphones create.  

The noise-cancelling feature runs on AAA batteries, but even at times when the battery dies, the headphones still quiet and dull surrounding noise because of their snugly fitting cushioned ear flaps, which keep noise out. I sometimes find myself listening to music with the sound-cancelling feature turned off, because the ambient noise around me is muffled enough just from the headphones themselves.

Bose headphones

Comfort

You’ll probably be spending a lot of time in your headphones, so it’s important for them to fit comfortably, just as it’s important for shoes or pants, otherwise, you’ll never wear them. I’ve found these headphones are extremely comfortable. They have soft, cushiony padding and fit nicely around the ears. The head band is adjustable, allowing for a tighter or looser fit, depending on your preference.

Portability

These headphones are also extremely convenient for portability, because they fold inwards to lay flat, and can be easily stored in their structured case which can be slipped into any bag. They are also very lightweight. I often travel with these headphones because they are easy to slip into my carry-on; they aren’t bulky or cumbersome. While on the greyhound or train, I love listening to music while looking out the window at the scenery that passes by, and with these headphones I’m able to really appreciate every clear note of the music, while drowning out the ambient noise of other travellers around me.

Conclusion

All in all, the Quiet Comfort 25 headphones give you great bang for your buck; they’re wonderful all-around headphones for anybody. You can find the Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphones at most high end audio stores.

The History of LimeWire – A P2P File Sharing Software of the 2000’s

LimeWire logo

If you were hip and happenin’ with technology in the 2000s, then you probably used LimeWire at some point to download music onto your MP3 or your iPod shuffle.  It was the heir to the throne of decentralized P2P file sharing that was once ruled by Napster, the platform which came before it.

As a kid, I learned how to use LimeWire from my older brother. Free music – it was great!  It was the first site for downloading music that I ever learned how to use. I downloaded loads of songs onto my iPod Nano: Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne… all the 2000s classics. Of course, sometimes you would download a song and when you went to listen to it, there was no sound, or else it was a completely different song than what you wanted. But all in all, it was a really useful software for many people.

What is / was LimeWire?

LimeWire was a free platform for peer-to-peer file sharing that was operable on Windows, macOS, Solaris, and Linux. It was written in the Java programming language and was first released in May of 2000 by its creator, Mark Gorton. It used the Gnutella network.

To download music, you simply had to search the name of the song you wanted. A giant list of options would appear, and from them, you chose the “least sketchy” looking file. There were quality ratings out of 5 stars next to the songs which helped with downloading the best file. Then you would simply choose the song and download it. And voila! Music for free.  

Here’s a screenshot of how Limewire generally looked.  Ah, the memories of illegal downloading <sniff><tear>.

Different Versions of Limewire

Users could choose the basic, free version or purchase an improved version. The enhanced version, LimeWire PRO, which supposedly had faster download rates and more accurate search results, was sold for $21.95 for 6 months of updates, or $34.95 for a year of updates.

LimeWire PRO

Throughout the decade, LimeWire released many updated versions. LimeWire 4.2 added the feature of firewall-to-firewall sharing, and LimeWire 5.0 added an instant messenger that allowed users to chat and to share files with individuals or with groups of friends.

In version 5.5.1, anyone using the pro version had to input an activation key; this prevented the illegal downloading of the pro version. However, people have still found ways to sneak around this security feature.  Bittersweet irony right there, since Limewire itself is meant to steal stuff, essentially, which most people called “sharing”.  Stealing, sharing – what’s the difference?!

The Court’s Ruling Against LimeWire

In 2010, it was ruled in court that LimeWire and Mark Gorton were guilty of copyright infringement and unfair competition. LimeWire was made to shut down on October 26th, 2010. New versions of the software were discontinued; however, older versions can not be disabled unless the user updates to a new version.

There were other problems brought about by LimeWire, particularly with illegal porn, which forced lawyers back in the day to deal with cases they might not otherwise see.  Listen to what this guy has to say about the trouble it caused.

LimeWire Pirate Edition and Shut Down

In November of 2010, a group of developers called the “Secret Dev Team” created LimeWire Pirate Edition in an attempt to keep the program up and running.

This Pirate Edition has software based on the LimeWire 5.6 version, and includes the features of LimeWire PRO.

However, the LimeWire team was accused of having a hand in the development of the Pirate Edition, and so they acted to shut the Pirate Edition down. A staff member from LimeWire stated, “LimeWire is not behind these efforts. LimeWire is complying with the Court’s October 26, 2010 injunction”.

In 2011, the RIAA decided to sue LimeWire for the damages they had caused. There was a trial in May 2011 to decide on the amount of money that LimeWire owed to 13 record companies due to the large amount of copyrighted songs on the site and the number of times they had been downloaded.

In the end, Gorton settled the case by paying the record companies $105 million.

Here’s another young dude’s take on the LimeWire closure back from when it happened.

Forks

Several forks were created from LimeWire as well, LimeWire Pirate Edition being one of them. There was also FrostWire, which was created in 2004 by members of the LimeWire open source community, as well as WireShare.  

FrostWire

Conclusion 

This is the abridged history of LimeWire. It was an essential tool of the 2000’s decade for downloading and sharing music for free, but in the end, was shut down due to legal infringements – typical of a lot of file sharing platforms.  Kids love ’em, the music business hates ’em.

BONUS:

Here’s a not-so-quick video to familiarize you with the look and feel of Limewire, just so you can get right into that heart-warming Limewire feeling with me!  BTW, this isn’t my video, it’s just a video showing a guy using Limewire.