A Reminder About Retrospectives and Overviews

We have published compilation pages of artist and label retrospectives and overviews. In some cases, these compile upwards of 20-25 reviews of albums from a specific artist or label. They serve as great starting points for exploration.

AMN Celebrates Braxton75
Area Retrospective
Astral Spirits Overview
Cold Spring Records Overview
Cryo Chamber Overview
Cuneiform Records: An Abbreviated Overview
Cyclic Law Overview
John Zorn: Releases and Performances
Magma Retrospective
Minus Zero Overview
New Focus Recordings Overview
Orenda Records Overview
Plus Timbre Overview
Setola di Maiale Overview
Unexplained Sounds Group / Eighth Tower Records Overview

18 Years of Avant Music News

I launched this site on April 29, 2003. Since then, stuff has happened and the world has changed. The last 14 months or so has been the toughest period for music, musicians, and fans in my lifetime. On the other hand, the amount of creativity that has come forth in response to a period of isolation has been commensurately impressive.

In practice, what this means is that we are busier than ever and yet still falling behind on listening, reviewing, and keeping up with events. The weird / creative music world keeps getting bigger, and that can’t be a bad thing. So I have to be okay with letting go of the need to hear every release. And yes, I don’t respond to many emails and I don’t see that changing soon, unfortunately.

It has been a strange week for me and I don’t have the frame of mind for deep introspection right now. So I’ll just thank all of the musicians for sharing their tremendous efforts, the volunteer staff writers who keep the content coming, and of course everyone who reads these words.

In most parts of the world, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. My family members have all recently received their second COVID shots, and I am scheduled for mine next week. Live music may become a reality again by the late Summer or early Fall. Maybe, and if we stay the course. In the meantime, let’s be kind to one another in these trying times and help others as much as we can.

Review Page for Unexplained Sounds Group / Eighth Tower Records Labels

Related labels Unexplained Sounds Group and Eighth Tower Records have been producing a significant number of recordings over the last few years focusing on experimental music worldwide. The variety of sounds represented is quite wide, from industrial to ambient, dark ambient, chamber, electronic, experimental, and so on.

We have reviewed quite a few of their albums and have not even scratched the surface. Nonetheless, you’ll find a reviews page for these labels here, with reprints of all of our reviews so far. We will add to this page over time.

Just How Many Submissions Does Avant Music News Get?

I’ve often written that we are overwhelmed with submissions and therefore unable to listen to, much less review, all of them. But rather than relying on estimates, we collected actual numbers for January 2021.

In short, the count is 351 submissions, for an average of 11.3 per day.

Most of these submissions were via email. We occasionally receive a handful through physical mail and social media messaging, but there were only about five arriving in that fashion during the month. Of the submissions, many are off-topic, in that they are directed to types of music that – while possibly enjoyable, well-done, or otherwise solid – are outside the scope of the site. Also, some submissions were for multiple albums, boxed sets, or otherwise long recordings. One, in particular, was for an 11-hour piece of music. Therefore, the 351 number is an underestimate.

If translated into listening time with a few reasonable estimates applied, we have about 263 hours of music. If only half of the recordings are on topic, we still have over 130 hours.

To write a decent review, multiple listens are advisable if not required. So let’s multiply 130 by 2 (a conservative number) and we’re back to around 260 hours if we were to write reviews of all of these albums. That’s 8.4 hours per day, every day, in the month of January.

Of course, we have multiple people writing reviews, so we can say, divide that number by 4 and come up with around 2 hours per day. But that does not account for the fact that we have jobs, families, other obligations, and importantly we need to avoid burnout.

In January, we published 19 reviews, 5 of which were for multiple albums. Realistically, that was a good month for content generation.

So like I’ve said many times, there a ton of great music that does not get covered here. If we don’t get to your album, it says absolutely nothing about what we think about the album or its quality. What it does say, however, is that this little corner of the music world has grown tremendously and that there is no shortage of great stuff out there.

1,000 Reviews

Earlier today, we posted our 1,000th review. Looking back I find this quite remarkable, as we did not review anything for the first 8 years of Avant Music News. I had done some music writing in the mid-nineties but was of the mind that the music had to speak for itself – words were not sufficient to describe what one can hear.  In line with Frank Zappa, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” As a result, I resisted publishing any sort of original reviews.

That changed in 2011 when Dan Barbiero convinced me that reviews can be well-written and thoughtful. Since then, he has contributed nearly 400. I started writing again, and a number of other individuals have helped out as well. And as the music world has evolved since, I believe that reviews are taking on a valuable filtering function – there is so much music coming out (much of it quite good) that you need some way of focusing your efforts and time. Reviews help you do that.

In any event, I am grateful to all who have written for AMN over the years – Dan, Stephen, other Dan, Chris, Mike, Irwin, Monique, Tom, and Jacob. And of course to all of you who have read, commented on, and shared our work.


30,000 Posts

A few hours ago, Avant Music News posted its 30,000th article. When I started the site in 2003, posting 1-3 articles per day, I never imagined that it would develop into this enterprise with 6-7 posts per day and several thousand followers worldwide. This is a testament to the growth and strength of weird, unusual, creative music. Once again I would like to thank AMN’s contributors, authors, the musicians who we cover, and of course our readers.

16 Years of Avant Music News

On April 29, 2003, I launched a very rudimentary version of Avant Music News. This was before blogs, social media, or legal music streaming services were a thing.

Since then, we have gone through three different hosting platforms and three different software packages for hosting. To a modest extent, the site caught on and grew. In the early years, our biggest problem was finding an article or two to post about every day. Today, our biggest problem is keeping up with news, article, and music review submissions (a quick look at the inbox indicates that the current count of unread submissions is 32, down from twice as many due to yesterday’s sort-and-purge activities).

We are not supported by advertising or beholden to anyone. What you see is the ongoing effort of volunteers who are really into the music. In a world where not-for-profit independent music sites rarely survive long, somehow we’ve managed to stick it out. Maybe that’s because we’re doing what we enjoy and it doesn’t seem like a job. Having said that, I wish we could do more – in particular, more original reviews and interviews. But there is a lot of material coming in and only so many hours in the day.

In any event, I’d like to thank the site’s contributors and writers, the musicians and labels who keep us up to date with what they are doing, and of course our several thousand regular and semi-regular readers. You guys have provided us with reasons to keep going for over a decade and a half.

A Very, Very Tiny, Insignificant, Trivial, and Inconsequential Gift from AMN

Celebrate the holidays with a highly irrelevant gift from Avant Music News – we have upgraded our hosting plan to eliminate forced advertising.  That’s right – no more ads.  For the record, we didn’t make anything on these ads, but got to host the site essentially for free.  Now we are paying a nominal amount per year for hosting (don’t worry, it is small) and AMN is ad-free.

The most noticeable benefit, aside from the lack of said ads, is that the site should load faster on all types of clients.  A fringe benefit, which we will be exploring soon, is that we will have more control over the customization of our layout.  This may help us provide a better user experience, especially on mobile devices.  We also have more storage for pictures and videos.

But in the mean time, enjoy the faster ad-free experience.