The State of the Commons, Part Four

Christmas is upon us. There are other holy days upon us too, but I don’t know how to pronounce them or “what is the what” at their core. We’ll enjoy the privilege of being dry and warm; surround ourselves with family and friends; spend some hard-earned seashells on tangible things; turn the dietary fat to 11 (see Blighty pronunciation guide) and congratulate ourselves on persevering another year. Discounting our unbridled heresy, our misplaced skeptic rage, and some of the barbarous brutality described by King James’ version of the story, we who dwell in the long shadow of the Judeo-Christ know hot to commemorate winter’s most holy day, with or without him.

Embracing the “one tribe together in harmony during the shortest days of the year” feeling is natural, but most of us fall on a spectrum of slippery, sloping consumerism. Diseases of the mind aside, potentially compelling trinkets are dropping in number every year like so many salty tears falling into oily watersheds. New music has always been one of my favorite gifts to give or receive. I find unique gifts hard to come by, and CD revenues don’t typically trickle up to the artistic source too efficiently.

Considering the aforementioned theories, here are some suggestions of vendors to visit (constituting a sorry excuse for a “netlabel avalanche” as proposed in Part One of this saga).


A netlabel based in Cologne, Germany, Rec72 specializes in electronic music releases and accompanying music videos. They’ve been in business since 2007 and are home to a couple of my favorite artists (Small Radio and Spiedkiks). Rec72’s latest release, Fluffy Inside 3 by Pandacetamol, promises “twisted, dark ‘n’ funky acid”. Located at

Records on Ribs

RoR was the first label to excite me with an elusive, label-wide aesthetic. They offer many genres, yet some attribute or style of production runs through it all. It’s hard to describe, but I’d classify it as retro-modern musicians’ music if I had to. The two artists I’ve delved deep into here are Talk Less Say More (darkish side of ’80s-’90s, synth-pop) and Blue Ducks (good, clean, experimental hip-hop fun). For those who enjoy the heavier side of the rock, RoR delivers All The Empires of the World. From where this amateur metal and post-rock consumer is sittin’, they sound like professionals. Their manifesto also really hits the mark in many places. Here’s an excerpt: Records on Ribs is against nothing. We are not here ‘in reaction’ to anything. We are merely putting into practice what we believe […] and if one hundred, one thousand, one million people want to do the same as us then good luck to them. What a world that would be! A torrent of creativity freed from profit. Located at

Also worth mention and quite possibly a few of your dollars are blocSonic Netlabel, Candy Says’ inaugural Bandcamp subscription model, or any of Cory Doctorow’s subversive writings (digital or printed).

Personally, I am liquidating just one theory this holiday season: Value and cost are not necessarily inversely proportionate.