Incredible Musicians you can download for free (Best of Jamendo)

(If instead of reading this long and chatty article, you’d prefer just to download a free sampler containing full songs by many artists on this list, go here. It’s a zip file between 100-120 MB. See also a more complete listing of my Jamendo/FMA Playlists).

Ever since the explosion of mp3 and free music available, it is hard to keep up with it.   Here are some  suggestions for music music, based on my constant listening since 2006 on Jamendo and other free sites.  Out of Jamendo’s 29,000 free albums, I’ve listened to about  2200+  albums and downloaded 400+ musical albums for free.  I am picking my 11 favorite.  Every album listed here can be downloaded legally for free .

Jamendo is a French music site devoted to showcasing musicians who agree to share their music for free. All the albums on Jamendo use Creative Commons licenses, which let people share or use music for noncommercial purposes. In contrast to American music companies (which basically will sue you for trying to share music),  musicians on Jamendo encourage fans to share.  With 29,000 albums to choose from on Jamendo,  many styles and nationalities are represented.  Some Jamendo musicians are well-known in their genre and decided to release older albums on Jamendo for free. Some  musicians are just getting started and seeking feedback.

Jamendo  is based on the   idea that it should be easy for musicians to distribute their music for free and easy for listeners to download them.  You can listen to a song on the embedded media player, and if you like something, you can simply click the Download button on the musician’s page to download the music….for free!

So what’s the catch? No catch…honestly! The main  problem is finding enough room on your mp3 player and PC for the all the songs you will be downloading!  I’m on my third mp3 player, and I filled my most recent one (an 80 gig Zune) in less than 6 months with mostly Jamendo stuff.

Jamendo is not the world’s  most user-friendly website. You can make online playlists, but there are so many playlists already (and frankly, most of the Jamendo playlists are  crap).  You can browse through the most favorited albums of all time, the most popular albums of the week, the most popular electronic albums of all  time or do an advanced search by country. I have to admit I like doing the country searches; here’s a list of the most popular jazz albums from Hungary, the most popular folk music from Argentina or the most popular albums from Indonesia.  Jamendo also has dozens of online radio stations (useless in my opinion). Recently they added a radio station of the week’s 100 most popular tracks (which is semi-interesting).  The main problem with browsing through jamendo is: 1)most of the albums which were popular remain always near the top of the search results, 2), there is no way to rate a playlist (you can only tag it with a keyword, which is better than nothing, but not much better).

(I complain about Jamendo playlists, but one totally cool thing about jamendo’s playlists is that each playlist has a download button – letting you  download all the songs from a playlist – regardless of how many different  albums the songs  came from.  For example, I made a  2010-best-of-jamendo playlist of 16 songs which has a download link that lets you download a zip file of all the songs on the playlist. As I said, most of the 25,000 Jamendo playlists are crap; if anyone can prove me wrong and   recommend some great ones,  I will gladly change my mind.    Suggestion to jamendo: let people rate other people’s playlists, or perhaps let the playlist creator add a description to what the playlist is about (as well as genre tags).

Tips for Finding Great Free Music

  1. On the donation page for jamendo, you could see  albums which listeners are endorsing by giving cash donations. Trust me. You can find a lot of jamendo gems here.
  2. The Free Albums Galore blog publicizes a lot of new free releases and maintains a good album directory and list of good sources of free online music . It maintains a good mix between pop, classical and electronic. 6/10/2010 Update: I love this blog so much. It runs reviews of all musical genres, and I’m happy to see that Marvin has taken some of my recommendations already and blogged about them (here, here, here).
  3. The official jamendo blog features  a large number of jamendo artists (but it also misses a lot; they are only human! they occasionally require sleep!)Catching the Waves is a UK blog that tries to cover creative commons music (with a heavy emphasis on Jamendo). This is a great and entertaining blog with lots of discoveries.
  4. the Jamendo music forum includes a lot of threads about music recommendations. Also, if you are a fan of experimental electronic music, the netlabels forum and the livemusic forum on archive.org have good recommendations.
  5. In 2010 I’ve noticed that a lot of the creative commons albums are also being uploaded to the Free Music Archives. FMA doesn’t have anywhere near the size of Jamendo’s collection, but it has a better social component, with an emphasis on music curators.  Here is my profile; mixes (i.e., playlists can be easily shared and cannibalized).
  6. Oddio Overplay blog is a blog of web dj Katya which lists her latest playlists and musical finds.  Her Supersounds site lists  55 pages of  of free albums, along with her descriptions/annotations. Recently, she (like I) have been hanging around FMA (here’s her profile and her FMA playlists ). She also maintains Kazoomzoom, a collection of free music for kids.

If you liked any of the music mentioned below, tell your friends. Mention the link on your blog or a social network. Show your appreciation with a small paypal donation. (Musicians receive most of the donation, with minimal transaction fees). Jamendo will accept donations for artists via paypal, but they will not pay artists until the balance on the artist’s account reaches  100 Euros. Before you make a donation, I strongly recommend that you check the artist’s personal website and see if he or she has a private paypal donation page. If they do, use  that instead to make a donation. Recently jamendo has been having some financial problems which may be severe (Update: These problems seem to be averted — Horray!). One of the ironic things is that jamendo has focused more on helping musicians to market their own music than on coming up with a sustainable business model.  Jamendo has accomplished a lot over the years for the benefit of the musical world; it is undoubtedly one of the hidden gems of the Internet.

Ok, here is my list (in no special order). For those musicians out there who feel slighted or ignored, please accept my apologies. A single human brain is capable of appreciating only a small fraction of the amazing music in the world.

Best of the Best

  1. Ant on Wax featuring AlieM. Ant on Wax is a great Hungarian electronica composer who got started at 14 by producing music for children’s birthday parties. Control is a techno danceable album with a sultry/funky female singer named AlieM. Outrageous, hyperkinetic and lots of fun. This album  features great breakbeat and dizzying speed.  Nothing like Tomorrow is like Motown at a rave party. I ain’t easy is Praga Khan lite with cowbells and a little Stereolab frivolity.  Invent is an exhilarating dash to a finish line (love the geeky lyrics; what the heck do they mean?) It gives me geek orgasms whenever I hear it.  His most recent album Club & Dance contains  some great traditional tracks like Freakout and 94ers techo. Also check out his  123audio.com site for lots more original and uncollected tracks, many of which involve various collaborations.  Read my profile & interview with Ant on Wax.
  2. No Really. Hannah Clemens is an acoustic singer-songwriter from Tennessee who recorded 10 tracks from her album Rust all on a single day in a San Diego recording studio. The resulting is astonishing.  Clemens has a voice that when you first hear it is both angelic and striking, reminiscent of the folk singer Jewel, Ann McCue or  a  feistier Joan Baez.  During a sustained note, she has that ability to change moods almost instantly and effortlessly. Rust is the song that captured me first; it leaves me drained and speechless every time I hear it.  Beginning of the End is a slow and  philosophical lullaby that says farewell to all kinds of things  (she sings “Sit back and watch the city self-destruct” with a sense both of foreboding and acceptance).  Have I mentioned that Clemens writes her own songs?  Floodplains is a heart-rending song about a collapsing city (“Yesterday was a party/today it ends; this is a city that breaks /but never bends”).   Other songs are more upbeat. You go is a heartfelt song about missing someone and not being able to enjoy pleasures in the same way during his absence. (Compare to John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane).  Clemens also performs as a singing female duo Minor Vine and released a brighter and livelier EP album Undo Undid.    Recently she formed a new acoustic rock group called Smokemonster who released an album of songsRead my profile & interview with Hannah Clemens of No Really.
  3. Zenkman (6 albums) is a German electronica artist from Koln who makes  fast pulsating electronica with lots of repetition and techno fireworks. The fun lies in seeing how Zenkman starts with one simple element and gradually adds elements until we end in a crazy (but methodical) crescendo. I’ve noticed that  many of his longer pieces slow down right before the crescendo starts to let us see the precipice we are standing atop; in Zenkman, it takes so long to get there (8.5 minutes in the Long Way) that we are ready for the fun slide down. In his album Froomp, he aims for more subtle effects. Avantgardia is swift but a lot more sedate, with lots of slow passages. Froomp and Balsam keep the tempo down while weaving a context texture (it works somewhat well in Balsam).  In his latest album Studio-Nights, he does an incredibly danceable and fun tune, Go Crazy, which just pulsates the whole time. This is classic Zenkman and a major crowd pleaser. Equally excellent (but far more downbeat and spiritual) is The Ritual (1999 – Mastertape 303). I couldn’t follow all the variations (especially near the end–way too strange for me!), but at about the 4-6 minute mark,  the piece turned serene and magnificent. Some pieces have a fun house quality (see Electric Fall Out and Draco), while others are more contemplative and spiritual  (see The Ritual). Even with his silly dancey stuff (like as Go Crazy), everything seems like a cathedral to me. No single Zenkman album stands out as the best, but individual tracks are just extraordinary. (Read more).
  4. Antony Raijekov is a Bulgarian jazz artist who made a slow and gentle  album called Jazz U that I keep returning to.   The piano tends to be the center of each piece, but Raijekov adds a lot of various effects and samples to each melody to provide mood and  depth. Deep blue is a soothing piano meditation on life;  Ambient-M is a hopeful dream. Exit 65 is  quiet and mysterious piano melody which travels a long quick journey and ends in a moment of tense excitement.. and then freezes!    Although he’s gotten involved in making mixes with ctmixter project, he dabbles in lots of things, including live theatre performances, multimedia projects and solo pianist pieces . (Read more).
  5. Serge Robinson is a jazz piano improvisationalist who spends hours upon hours on the piano, inventing all sorts of new melodies depending on where his fingers take him. They recall the usual piano repertory (Chopin, Satie), and each improvisation consists of two parts (each about 30 minutes).   The melodies traipse and linger and pause; they are more impressionistic than melodic, with the occasional flourish and moments of solemnity or daintiness. Now here’s the punch line. Robinson has about 100 improvisational piano compositions, each lasting about an hour long. (I’ve only listened to about 20). I recommend #85, 87, 95, 105, 106, 112, 77. Email me in a year and I will tell  you if the other 100 albums are  just crap.  Read my profile & interview with Serge Robinson.
  6. Tryad is an amazing musical group of people who never met until they produced an album. Listen, their second album is often ranked as the #1 most frequently listened to out of Jamendo’s 29,000 free albums. It is quiet, mysterious, unsettling, full of piano and strong rhythms, pauses, occasional crashes and silences (it’s labeled as “Industrial Classical Pop”).  Although it  includes a core group of  performers, most of the songs are built upon songs by  other Jamendo artists.   The results are  astonishing. Struttin’ is a kind of funky protest song about the music industry. Breathe is an intimate song  that poses a question to an imaginary lover. Alone is a meditation on solitude that almost seems … joyful. Lovely is an uplifting romantic ballad  that offers consolation to a sad individual  (“trees and galaxies/can’t you see/just like these/you are so lovely/how could you ever think you’re separate from everything”). Mesmerize takes a lovely song by Brad Sucks, embellishes it with piano and  gives the original melody a new meaning…and profundity.  This is a powerful  song by Vavrek based on a piano melody by Antony Raijekov with a solemn rhythm.   The mysterious Waltz into the Moonlight uses  gentle tapping sounds to give the song a steady  momentum.     Read my profile & interview with 2 Tryad Band Members.
  7. JCRZ is  a French electronic musician  named José Cruz who has produced 12 albums for Jamendo. of which Sit Down & Dance 2.0 is the most accessible of JCRZ’s 12 albums:  fun, dancey, very pop and energetic. The melodies are simple and the electronic effects are understated. There are occasional voice tracks, but mostly it is electronic. It is straight/ conventional techno, but the formula is just right. The tracks that jumped out immediately were: Dreamsequence and Attraction Zero, and also Rollercoaster especially. All three are hard and very fun techno tracks. One Day Ago reminds me of some of the Suzanne Palmer remixes (that voice certainly sounds like her!) Also notable was the more serene/dreamy Memory Lost which reminded me of Paul van Dyk. (so did Fallen Angel).  JCRZ’s other albums are worth checking out, especially Kind of Music and Fractal Attraction. In Non-compliant Human Being, JCRZ does two amazing dream trances, Red Javeline (Sun Mix) and Blue Javeline (Moon Mix). I especially love the 16 minute Red Javeline, which has an otherworldly magic, stretching outward to the sky and ending in a kind of lovely musical fog.  In Checksum of Life, songs like Touched by an Angel and  the lackadaisical Urban Interlude are so simple and joyful that one wonders if they were created in a happier and simpler era.   His latest album Volume 10 doesn’t exactly cover new territory, but it is still enthralling music. Read my profile & interview with Jose Cruz of JCRZ.
  8. 2 Inventions is a team of two Polish musicians Thomas Eccard and  Neal Cerrone.  They live in a small town Mielec (which is actually close to Lutsk, Ukraine, where I lived for a year). They do  electronica with many  kinds of flavors and moods, with a house sound, but also lots of pieces that begin with piano (like Paul Van Dyk). Two words come to mind: shimmering and pulsating. Their album, In Aeternum combines lots of disparate electronic elements without seeming too synthetic or techno. The most remarkable track  I love her reminds me of Daft Punk along with pulsating reverberations which blur throughout the song.  It a wonderful dizzying effect.  The main melody is synthesized piano and South American pan flute (?), while the background is traditional, with various sound effects thrown in for fun. It seems almost ethereal.  Deeper Love is danceable disco containing a sample on a single phrase. It doesn’t really go anywhere, but I really had a lot of fun being there. It’s like party music you pay no attention to until a friend points it out. Loneliness has lots of fireworks, but it doesn’t really begin until midway with the introduction of the soulful melody upon which the rest of the song builds upon. (That’s one quality I like to this electronica: how the long intros build to a dramatic silence, and then the main melody starts–take that, Beethoven!) Read my profile & interview with Thomas Eccard of 2 Inventions.
  9. Kristin Hersh is an established and famous singer who in the last 5 years has started to offer a significant amount of her music as free downloads. She started out playing rowdy alternative/punk music with half-sister  Tanya Donelly. In the mid-1990s she mellowed out a bit (if that is even possible for Kristin!), and both her Hips & Makers  and University CD  received universal praise. Since then, she has jumped back and forth between solo acoustic guitar and playing with an alternative/rock band. One thing that distinguishes Hersh’s music is how fearlessly she gives voice to formless emotions and brings it under the yoke of her music (the New York Times credited her with exploring “rage, aggression and mental chaos” in her music). At the same time her music can be   vulnerable, ironic and yes, occasionally incomprehensible. (I like to think of her as Bjork minus the ditzy enthusiasm). Between 2004 and 2006 Hersh’s rock band 50 Foot Wave released three free downloadable EP albums and in 2008-9 she  released two more free downloadable EP albums. (see also free mp3s of live concerts on archive.org).  The 50 Foot Wave songs mark a return to its alternative roots, with energetic and discordant guitars, rapid beats and dizzying lyrics. Dog Days is a fast and furious rock song with almost a grunge/heavy metal sound. In many 5 Foot Wave songs (Sally is a Girl, Petal, Bug, Clara Bow, etc) Hersh’s wailing provides an atonal  counterpoint to Bernard Georges’ amazing (and unpredictable) bass guitar.   Hersh released two solo EPs which are more solemn, expressive, melodic and even mysterious. Krait starts in a formless haze and midway through settles down  a familiar and hopeful path.  Mississippi Kite is a subdued and upbeat melody whose caustic lyrics hint at anger and pain.  Opiates offers a  musical sedative; while Hersh sings, “that’s no way to bring a body down,” the guitar sails into uncharted and hazy psychedelic terrains.  Hersh is a verbose person. In addition to keeping a blog, she writes interesting notes about each of her most recent songs . It’s worth glancing at her song lyrics here to get a better idea of how loosely connected all the song’s lyrics  are.   Read an interview she did with Judith Lewis in 2004.
  10. Lonah’s   Pieces has been one of the all-time favorites by listeners on Jamendo. Lonah is a Paris group described (with the help of Google Translation) as “dreams plastered to jazz and electro-rock hallucination.”  Noting influences as wide as Apollinaire and Ionesco, the band has an absurdist and even surreal style, combining  jazz piano, rock guitar and techno beat. The  female lead singer Raphaëlle (described as a former KGB spy — not for political reasons, but simply for the free vodka), has a dreamy and luscious voice, and yet the band complements her talent nicely with lots of interesting acoustic and electronic effects.  One of my favorite pieces Les Amantes de cristal is a slow romantic dirge  that reminds me of Mazzy Star (but with more melodrama and electronic effects). Fractale is a lovely understated song with a delightful keyboard, strings and a  rapid catchy beat. Some of the more traditional arrangements use violins (Crepescule) while the melancholy Paris la mort use xylophones (reminding me of a lullaby even though the lyrics seem more melancholy). The final 2 songs Ombre and Visage d’ébène are tentative  and philosophical and generally upbeat. The latest album Take your spoon and run is a bit of a departure.  The lead song is a great electronic/dance song (in a Ladytron way)  and Raphaëlle’s lyrics are absurd and fun.  Mornings is a melodramatic rock ballad which ends in a great finale with the piano.  Je te connais Beau Masque is a jazzy and whimsical song you’d expect to find in a Paris nightclub catering to rich Asian tourists.  Whenever I listen to Lonah’s songs, I am never sure what is going to happen next; there are always rapid and unexpected  shifts in style/rhythm/tempo. See also the early album Au fond du temps . Read my profile & interview with Eric of Lonah.
  11. Väinö Ala-Härkönen (or Vae)   is a young Finnish electronic musician whose music is described as cosmic-funk or intergalactic disco.  Aleksi Virta Meets Torsti At The Space Lounge is a marvelous collection of  whimsical pieces based loosely on the idea of an intergalactic spy.  (By the way, Aleksi Virta is an actual Finnish musician, and Torsti is the  imaginary character who is Virta’s sworn nemesis in the album).    I loved this quirky little album a few years ago and love it even more today. Lots of sampling,  random voices, hard beats,  unexpected arrangements and instruments. Whirlwind Pistols Dub is a reggae funk beat with a fun harmonica melody trapped inside. Cosmos Bossa is a silly tooting bit of work, reminiscient of Ugress’s Swing e SessoNebulae Herb (my favorite) is a hard pounding dance number with great organ background. O Tema de Viagem Especial has a jazzy South American  feel, with rapid horns and lots of pounding. Dragons is a exciting bit of jazzy-funkiness. True Dwelling Place is a jumpy, eerie piece with a fluttering almost hypnotic quality, as though it were random noises and melodies spinning inside  a drunk man’s head before he fades to  sleep.    Read my profile & interview with VAE, the brains behind this wonderful and  quirky album. (2012 Update: He’s now on Soundcloud).
  12. Monk Turner. I wrote a long profile and review of Monk Turner’s concept albums here. Here’s the long interview with Monk Turner in May 2011. Turner belongs in a class by himself because he’s been producing a steady stream of albums over the last decade.  What distinguishes him from singers like Josh Woodward is that Turner uses more eclectic musical styles for his projects and collaborates with a lot of different people. All of the albums are worth listening to, but  Emergency Songs and Love Story album are inspired and beautiful and fun. His recent experiment in colors called Kaleidoscope, is also worth listening to, especially the song, Totally Blue.
  13. Psychonada, aka Siegfried Gautier, is a French trip-hop electronic musician who writes unconventional, zippy, dadaistic stuff with a light-hearted sense of political anarchy.  He produced an album, Weltanschauung, which I think is just a compilation of the nutty stuff Gautier has been producing over the decade. Highlights include Ihr Seid Nicht Frei, (just marvelous upbeat triphop, groovy nonsense).  Demagogic Repressive - a slight atmospheric moodscape with a nice strumming beat (I snap my fingers every time i hear this one), Lendemain de greve, a slow contemplative piece. Actually every track has surprises:  vocals, strange samples,  melodic reversals. Actually all these unconventional tracks seem to work together as an album

Honorable Mentions

Here is a list of interesting and distinguished pieces of music which are certainly worth checking out. I don’t have adequate time here to give them more than a one or two sentence superficial description.

  1. Strange Zero are two  Greek electronica composers  Stelios & Io-V who have made some lovely ambient  albums that are slower, moodier, more downtempo and more meditative. I heard the excellent Newborn Butterflies album only after making this list. They sample different voices, and occasionally get more rhythmic. In 2007 I recommended other Strange Zero albums, especially Delusional Disorder.
  2. Clinical Anthology is a 75 song “best of the best” compilation  from the 300 albums released by Clinical Archives. I’ve listened to about 60 or 70 of the 300 albums already (it’s really hit-and-miss).  Lots of jazz, experimental, ambient, but a few odd singers thrown in too.  The “best of the best” compilation is almost uniformly excellent.
  3. Squadra Omega is a wonderful  Italian improvisational band which combines traditional instrumentals from  a rock band with a restless avante-garde sensibility.  The bass guitar and drum gives it  an ominous-sounding  rock sound, while the sax and various electronic effects add variety and playfulness. The 20 minute Tenebroso is a turbulent improvisation with an amazing climax; Rennes Le Chateau is a more upbeat  attempt with heavy metal strums, long rests, and a slow but hypnotizing crescendo (it reminded me of the Beatles’ hypnotic I want you). This came from the Clinical Archives by the way.  Once you understand what Squadra Omega is trying to do, you’ll definitely become a fan.
  4. Tunguska Electronic Music Society produces a variety of ambient/New Age/electronica/chillout instrumentals by Russian artists. So far there are 5 compilations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and they are uniformly of high quality.
  5. Psy Brazil (or Psytrance Brazil)   is  a Brazilian label of high quality electronic/psytrance dance music.  They have released over 100 albums on jamendo by multiple artists and DJs.   (I have only listened to 50).  All of them sound fast, crazy, energetic, with lots of great moments.  Quality varies — a lot of the tracks sound similar; after you listen to so many hypnotic/frenzied/pulsating melodies, things start to seem monotonous.  I like individual tracks without liking individual albums. Here’s a playlist of my favorite Psy Brazil tracks.  Most of the albums are similar in style, but if I had to pick an album that stood out, it would be Erotic Dream’s Progressive Sensations and Irukandji’s Ancestral Wisdom. A little more mindless but more energetic is  Spectral Hades – Visions and Spectral Hades Hallucinogenic.  But I’m just scratching the surface.
  6. David Schombert is an ambient electronic artist from Portugal who has 8 New Age/ambient albums on Jamendo.  His 3 part album Quiet Life is tranquil and very beautiful (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  As a change of pace, Schombert also produced a traditional dance-techno album called Electron.  (here’s his Myspace home page).
  7. Professor Kliq is an excellent Chicago-based electronic musician whose real name is Mike Else. Community Service II is a great collection of fast-paced techno dance pieces. (Personal note: I listened to this album about 20 times in a row I liked it so much). Fave tracks: Riega’s Bad Habits, Elephantitis, Sacreligious.  (Read a profile of Professor Kliq on the Jamendo blog and a review on Catching the Waves).
  8. Josh Woodward is one of the most prolific American singer-songwriters I’ve recently come to know.  He comes from Ohio. His jamendo profile lists 6 acoustic albums.  I remember liking lots of individual songs, but no one album stood out. Try Not Quite Connected first.  His songs have a Paul Simon wistful tone, plus a sense of humor.  (See this review on CTW).
  9. Brad Sucks. As silly as this sounds, I discovered Brad Sucks in 2003 or 2004 and he really lit my fire. Now  I take him for granted; familiarity must breed contempt.  He’s already well-known in the creative commons rock community.  Sorry, Brad! (I love your music though).  Brad has a slow bluesy style with strong guitars and lots of nifty sound effects. Out of all the musicians listed here, Brad would be the band most likely to cause a audience riot by adoring fans.  Great tracks: Making Me Nervous,    Look and Feel Years Younger and Understood by your Dad.
  10. Sylvermay is a French DJ who does these amazing trance hour long  mixes which he released on archive.org (here’s a list). They’re all good and intense and intoxicating. True story: I listened to all 20 hours of his mixes in the same weekend!
  11. Among the various creative commons compilations out there, I especially recommend the Wired CD which  was organized by musical anarchist Negativland and consists of several well-known musicians (David Byrne, Gilberto Gil, Zap Mama, Beastie Boys, Le Tigre).
  12. Morning Light is a new Italian experimental postrock band. I was telling a friend the other day how dull I generally found heavy metal  to be. Vocals on heavy metal music always  sounded like a grumpy man gargling; melodies seem absent or pointless; even the rhythms (which is supposed to be the point of heavy metal rock) kept boring me silly.  What a welcome surprise to stumble upon  Morning Light’s debut album, a postrock guitar extravaganza with lots of haze and heavy pounding.
  13. Swerve’s Malaysia is an ambient soundscape consisting of field samples from Malaysia. Peaceful and beautiful. Suddenly after the piece ended I found myself hyperaware of every single sound around me. Even though the textures are supposed to be aleatoric and naturalistic, in fact,you are hearing manufactured sounds, not quite natural, but still quite peaceful. This comes from the the Privatelektro label which produced lots of interesting drone experiments.
  14. Rob Costlow is an American pianist in Indiana who was one of my first discoveries on Jamendo. I listened and downloaded a few albums and totally forgot about him.
  15. Mixotic/inace contains long mixes by DJs from all over Europe (and even Americans). (see also subsource).
  16. Comfort Stand  Recordings is a  collections of offbeat and experimental albums which were released between 2003 and 2005 and later were archived on archive.org  Quality varies from album to album. Some of the more notable collections are Wakka Chikka Wakka Chikka (whimsical porn music in a retro style) and   Two Zombies Later .
  17. Kahvi Collective is another electronic label with lots of stuff downloadable from archive.org (more information here).
  18. Monotonik is a net label on archive.org with lots of releases. A lot of edgy and experimental electronic stuff. Be forewarned!  Has an RSS Feed
  19. Books on Tape is an experimental beatpop composer  (real name: Todd Drootin) who released several albums on archive.org in the early Naughts.  The URL goes to a profile page which links to his archive.org albums.
  20. hyO – aproximacion #004 This is a long fully-realized experimental piece by Pablo Sanz Almoguera.  I hope I don’t trivialize this piece by comparing it to the sound of a woman vacuuming in the background. It is peaceful, very relaxing, and by the end you will have arrived in a state of total serenity. This piece  will really alter your idea of what sounds constitute music and whether the random noises of our mechanical environs can be enjoyed for what it is.
  21. Mad73751 creates unusual electronic soundscapes. One of the richest is Electrolongtempo, this unending and pulsating beat that occasionally takes a breath every 5 minutes or so (it’s 95 minutes long!) This may not suit everyone’s taste, but I  find this piece  riveting every time I listen to it.

Other sources:

March 2010 Update. I’ve since become familiar with two good websites. Free Music Archives features CC musicians and lets you create playlists from individual songs. I am just getting started, but here is my profile page with mixes. I wanted to add that Free Albums Galore has turned out to be THE blog for creative commons artists. The site has several years worth of favorite artists & albums waiting to be discovered.

April 27, 2010. I just wanted to mention that I’ve been listening to Free Music Archives nonstop, especially the great NetBloc series.  When I have time I will put together some playlists and do features about musicians I have discovered there. In the meantime, this list of awesome bookmarked tracks is a good place to go.

June 5, 2010. I have created a separate page of my playlists, including all my brand new Free Music Archive playlists.

June 20 2010 Update. I have added my free Benny Goodman mp3 links.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael January 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I’m surprised Sean Fornier didn’t make the list, given how popular he is on the site:
http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/Sean_Fournier_(2)

aboombong January 29, 2010 at 10:14 am

Another place to explore for free music is bandcamp.com.
No frills, but much more artist friendly than jamendo.

And of course, there is the Free Music Archive.

Some shameless self promo: aboombong’s latest, asynchronic is available on bandcamp http://aboombong.bandcamp.com/ and on the FMA http://freemusicarchive.org/music/aboombong/

Robert Nagle February 20, 2010 at 2:51 am

Amazingly, I had never heard about FMA, but am signing up now.

cryptobeacon March 2, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Great list!

First time jamendo user and these artists really suites my taste. Thanks for posting.

Catching The Waves March 4, 2010 at 8:23 am

Robert, you haven’t heard of the FMA? Tut-tut. ;)

Did you know that they’ll let any reprobate on there nowadays? :P

http://bit.ly/5jithL

All the best and keep up the good work,

CTW

Abbey Lombardo April 16, 2010 at 10:29 am

Another recommendation, though his work can be hard to find, is Swimmingpool The Band. Instrumental stuff, ambient and drone, releases it all at http://seamusmstimpson.blogspot.com & http://thebandswimming.blogspot.com.
Great blog by the way, I found it when looking up public domain paintings. I’ll keep following :)

Katya Oddio May 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Hello, old friend! Happy to see names on your list that are new to these ears! Here’s another for you, an old classic! OddioOverplay.com, a friendly little directory of free music. Oddio Overplay is also a curator on the WFMU Free Music Archive.

Robert Nagle May 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm

(Katya is a well-known DJ and collector of interesting music. See this annotated list of free music from her and Kazoomzoom, a netlabel for kids.

Katya Oddio May 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Isn’t Kristin Hersh great? I love the way her voice has evolved since Throwing Muses. So raspy. You might enjoy her work at CCMixter.

Her work there is super cool, and some of the remixes of them are out of this world! Here’s a remix of “Fortune” that gives me chills.

[and thanks for the kind words!]

Casey England July 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Jamendo’s a great resource! It’s good that people are out there sharing their music and legally promoting all these artists worth promoting. There’s a whole lot of other sites other than the ones already mentioned for free Mp3s. This list has a lot of them and is growing
http://www.newmediarights.org/guide/how_to/how_listen_music_internet_freelegally

Devender kumar May 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm

dear friend i have listen ur lots of tracks but i find shiva garden by liquid frame most inspiring and spiritual really best music produces in west and it always grooms every where and want to listen it up to my whole life really its a source of pure and subtle freshness – chandigarh punjab university

cray October 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for sharing this kind of information. It turns out, there are a lot of good and free music.

Jon Michael September 23, 2012 at 9:20 am

Thanks for this and will check out these bands.

Also check out The Windy City. whose song, Games has been downloaded by 31000 people. You can find them at
http://www.facebook.com/The.Windy.City.Band or search for them on Jamendo.

FROM ROBERT: Here’s the link to their songs on Jamendo.

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