No Type (web)

Label Feature

Ios Smolders, Earlabs, 19 mai 2006

This is one of the early netlabels, starting in 1998, and one that still exists because it has a steady drive. It’s therefore only natural that it should be one of the first of series of feature articles on netlabels. I had an e-mail chat with Aimé Dontigny, the current director at No Type.

I have monitored the releases of No Type right from the beginning. When I first started thinking about a goal for my own internet activities (I had been a webmaster for a corporate for a couple of years) the obvious thing was to do something with music. Somehow I ran into No Type.com and was immediately captured by the cool metropolitan feel of the site. What was most interesting, apart from the look and feel and the slight of hand texts combined with professional design was that you could actually download music from the site. And not just a few short samples but complete ‘albums’. That was something that I wanted as well. I contacted webhost David Turgeon who generously allowed me to upload files on the server that he was using as well. We have not been in touch for quite a few years, but I initiated new contact because of this article.

David Turgeon is described as follows on No Type (it’s quite inaptly called a biography): “Obfuscationist composer, strategist of sonic vagueness, and sometimes even performer (Camp, Ensemble Camp, Asyncdrone, Period Three, L’Île de béton…), David Turgeon, founder of the No Type label, is also known as a graphic designer, DJ (as part of the 10,000 Teenage Girl Posse) inventor of arcane programming languages and the author of a graphic novel, La muse récursive, to be published in 2006.” That really doesn’t tell very much about his activities. For one, I know that he also works for the renowned Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes.

What defines the No Type label? I really don’t know. Improvisational noise, rhythmical technoid, drones, punkish, (classically structured) electronic music, jazz, phonography; it’s all there. What combines it, is probably the edginess. It’s never easy, there is always excitement. Every release is something special. Where other labels sort of extrude a continuous stream of ambient techno dub produced with the same software again and again (Ableton Live… again…) 99% of the No Type releases hold a surprise. And if there is no music available that meets the standards, then there will be no release. Simple as that. Aimé Dontigny, current director: “The common denominator is: off the mark. We support: artists who are not at ease within their genres; musics that will never find a public with the exception of the adventurous and/or the snotty; ideas that are so revolutionary they must be encrypted in light-hearted idm or lo-fi folk; free improv that believes in freedom, not in idiom; noise that encompass the inaudible, the dramatic, the refined, the subtle; etc. etc. etc. And we also strongly support Beauty, Craftsmanship, Dedication, and Audacity.”

The No Type label started producing hardcopy releases as well, in 2002. To me, that was a very strange decision. Actually a jump back in time. But fortunately the online releases kept coming, as well. Dontigny explains: “We started releasing physical releases in order to better help our artists. Most of the time, mp3 albums don’t get you invited to festivals, don’t get you royalties, don’t get you print reviews, don’t get you a another record.”

I have seen the explosion of David’s energy wander off in 2004 and 2005. What about the future? Now that Aimé is director, what are his plans?

“First, restart a steady flow of mp3 releases, We’ll still see new names and some of our regular artists, but I will also try to give musicians from diverse experimental scenes outside of No Type an opportunity to release more personnal or perplexing works. So expect some surprises in the near future.”

“Also, we’ll re-focus our physical production. CD releases will be rarer, more unique, project-specific adventures (For exemple, like our 2003 Montréal Free 4-CD boxset of Montréal-based acoustic improv).”

“We’ll also be gradually leaving the CD format behind; expect some DVD-ROMs, multichannel DVD-Audio’s, and others. We will move beyond the ‘one medium collection’ and, in the short-term, even the mp3 releases will no longer be distinct from the other formats on our website. Of course, we’ll still release CDs when deamed appropriate by the artist and us, but, for the last 4 years, I think we lost too much energy in the ‘all-CD’ mentality.”

“Many artists have left No Type over the years (some temporarily, some others for good), and it’s a normal thing. Because we often support artists at the start of their careers, some have stopped making music after a while, and others have moved on to more successful careers on other labels.”

No doubt No Type will find new gems!

What defines the No Type label? I really don’t know. Improvisational noise, rhythmical technoid, drones, punkish, (classically structured) electronic music, jazz, phonography; it’s all there.


Nicolas Houle, Voir, 14 février 2002

Actif depuis trois ans dans le milieu de la musique électronique expérimentale, le label virtuel No Type a publié plus de 70 albums en format MP3. Pour sa quatrième année d’existence, l’étiquette se lance dans les parutions CD avec The Freest of Radicals, une compilation double comptant près de 40 titres. Du noise au jazz, de l’ambient à la house, l’album offre une série d’univers musicaux singuliers, peuplés de boucles analogiques et de programmations atypiques parfois exigeantes, mais toujours dignes d’intérêt. Véritable historique sonore de l’étiquette, The Freest of Radicals témoigne bien de la qualité et de l’inventivité des artistes de No Type, qu’ils soient québécois (Magali Babin, Napalm Jazz) ou étrangers (Tomas Jirku, Chris Degiere).

The Freest of Radicals témoigne bien de la qualité et de l’inventivité des artistes de No Type.

I want my MP3: No Type

René Margraff, Substance, 3 février 2002

In our ongoing series about MP3-Labels we have once again found something special for you. After more poppy sides of free electronica labels, this time we wanted to portrait the more experimental No Type. This label is pretty diverse with most of the stuff being “electronic.” However, you won’t call it IDM or any other stupid category. It just doesn’t make sense. “Themoonstealingproject,” for example, bring you fine layers of something that sounds like guitars through curtains treated with filters. Other stuff is more clicky. Or dubby. Or And to be even more diverse, they’ve also added some new and very beautiful tracks by Infoslut and Idmonster introducing a rather soft and poppy side to No Type. I recently spoke with David Turgeon (aka Camp) on what No Type is all about…

Substance: The stuff on No Type is pretty diverse and the most common link is that all the acts don’t sound like any of the others (Do you know what I mean? There are so many guys out there trying to copy stuff by others and really work hard to do so). So, is there a certain ideology behind that? How do you choose artists, and how many inquiries do you have?

David Turgeon: “Difference,” “Originality,” “Peculiarity” have all been key words for how No Type artists are selected, & so is “my own personal taste.” I do not intend No Type to be a simple repository of songs for anyone, because that’s very well covered elsewhere already. Nor do I want to cover genres which are given proper promotion elsewhere. So this (& other factors) leads to a relatively tight selection. We receive about 5-10 submissions a month (sometimes more), but the outcome depends. Sometimes you have 5 members who join almost at the same time because that’s how chance would have it. Sometimes I don’t let anybody in for months. It’s pretty trivial, I guess… but with limited resources, I’ll at least take the option of choosing who I’ll spend my time working with. I’ve gotten some interesting demos recently actually, so there is definitely no shortage of talent in sight… However, once artists are selected, they are given free reign to do what they want with our server space, & I do my best to make some sort of promotion out of it, because even free stuff has to be advertised, ironically enough. Speaking of which, people should join our free mailout so they know when we release new stuff.

Substance: What is the main motivation to keep No Type going?

David Turgeon: Well, the music is good, we’re getting nice random emails from people who like what we do, even some reviews in zines & mailing lists. The lack of financial motivation is compensated by the fact that you can go on vacation anytime, which means the site never becomes a pain in the ass!

Substance: What do you think about the tendencies of the online music market lately as everything gets spoiled and bought by the big players? Do you just relax and grin as your stuff is free and legal, or does it make you angry?

David Turgeon: It’s notable how profoundly decadent the market has gotten. I have observed it from the outside for a while, but I’m mostly uninterested in it. Right now I’m worried about the way copyright is used in courts as a tool of censorship, while it offers very little protection against plagiarism & exploitation, which is what it was designed to fight against. It is a broken tool whose sole use now is pyramidal scam. Other than that, I’m leaving the finance game to the addicts that people it already.

Substance: Do you think that an mp3 release is a substitution for a record or CD?

David Turgeon: Yes. The difference is not really in the medium but in the organization. When one posts every song they make on their website (unless they do that with a specific idea in mind), that’s usually the equivalent of burning all your tracks to CD-R for your friends or your own archives. However, as soon as one goes through the process of sorting out songs into a bona fide “album,” then there’s something intended for, dare I say, “public listening,” just like CD or vinyl sold through record shops. Even on mp3.com, most artists will select the songs they want public & leave the rest on their own hard drives. No CD can do that! I think most of the perceived difference comes from the motive. Most CDs are manufactured on the basis that they will sell well, while we release our albums on the basis that we like them. This leads to different curatorial choices… Why are Metallica so worried about MP3? Because they figure they can sell very well without it. On the other hand, for experimental, innovative or simply very personal music, that’s just what is needed so that no money is LOST on releasing CDs with no press buzz & poor distribution. You could say we offer a risk-free way to release risky music.

Substance: Do you know most of the artists on your label?

David Turgeon: I’ve exchanged email with all of them, but I’ve only recently begun to meet some of the people living around Québec City & Toronto…I’ve even DJ’d with Dick Richards a bit. I can say they are all nice people though, though some of them are stranger than others.

Substance: What is your favourite release on No Type?

David Turgeon: I don’t know! It’s hard for me to judge because in a way, they’ve already passed through my own personal test… Everybody has their strengths & weaknesses, but I would be hard pressed to tell who’s the best… I really liked about every album we’ve released this year, which is our strongest year so far. So, what else is there left to say? Todd who wrote something about LA in our travel section is also the guy behind the No Type artist Books on Tape. He has an E-zine, Rollerderby Superstar and also releases on his own MP3 platform, Subverseco. Also, have some fun with the new release by Camp called It’s the same thing over and over! / Why don’t you try some vocal house? The two tracks “are intended to sound both as a homage & a critique of the click genre.” They consist entirely of samples by three of the most hyped German labels (Ritornell, Mille Plateaux and Force Inc.). Ha! Nice idea. OK, I wish you nice download!

‘Difference,’ ‘Originality,’ ‘Peculiarity’ have all been key words for how No Type artists are selected…

No Type: nous sommes une créature du présent

Simon-Pierre Beaudet, Voce del Popolo, no 01:02, 15 décembre 2001

Loisirs cacophoniques. Sons apaisants pour bébés mutants. Musique de chambre à gravité zéro. Le non-sens comme divertissement domestique. L’inertie comme motif compositionnel. Électro-sculptures stoïques. Le genre de dub contre lequel vos parents vous ont prévenus.

Voilà les noms de quelques fichiers que vous pouvez télécharger sur No Type, un site web qui publie gratuitement de la musique électronique. Mais qui sont-ils? Et que veulent-ils nous dire?

Si on tente de concevoir ce qu’est actuellement la musique en format MP3, on songe immédiatement à Napster et ses suivants, à MP3.com, à ces artistes qui offrent «généreusement» - presque avec défi - des pièces à télécharger avec l’espoir, bien sûr, que le brave consommateur courra chez son disquaire se procurer le dernier opus. Pourtant, on est encore loin de l’utopie d’une musique enfin libérée des contingences de l’industrie, que tout le monde annonce sans qu’on puisse voir là un mouvement de masse. Ils sont peu à avoir entrevu dans les technologies modernes la possibilité de publier à peu de frais, et sans intermédiaires, leurs créations. Ils sont encore moins nombreux à l’avoir fait. No Type est de ceux-là.

Basé à Montréal, le site publie essentiellement de la musique électronique et contemporaine depuis trois ans, ce qui en fait certainement un des pionniers dans le domaine. Sporadiquement, de nouveaux projets et de nouveaux artistes sont présentés, et quelques-uns font même des incursions dans ce monde abusivement appelé «réel» en publiant des disques (consultez la section «no shop» du site) ou en se commettant en spectacle. À l’excellence de la musique répond l’excellence de la conception graphique, laquelle est vraiment exceptionnelle. Le tout en fait un espace vraiment unique sur le web.

No Type fait la part belle aux artistes québécois. Mentionnons David Turgeon (Camp), Philémon Girouard et Alex Warren (Potlatch W), Aimé Dontigny et Érick d’Orion (morceaux_de_machines, Napalm Jazz), Frédérick Blouin (Oeuf Korrect, Surfing Secrets), James Schidlowsky & Magali Babin. À cela ajoutons des gens venus d’autres horizons, ayant signé précédemment sur d’autres étiquettes, comme Le chien borgne (Guillaume Théroux-Rancourt, de l’étiquette de Québec Alterflow), Sam Shalabi (Alien8) et Martin Tétreault (Ambiances Magnétiques). Et bien sûr des Américaines (Alphacat, Lyric Morgan O’Connor), et plus récemment une Suédoise (Claudia Bonarelli) et un Espagnol (Kanito).

Nous avons eu en entrevue (électronique, il va sans dire) David Turgeon, musicien, fondateur, graphiste et directeur spirituel de No Type, ainsi qu’Aimé Dontigny, également musicien, directeur de la série «Sine Fiction», projet musical en cours sur No Type.

Simon-Pierre Beaudet: Quand a commencé No Type, et pourquoi?

David Turgeon: La version officielle - DONC LA SEULE VRAIE!!! - est que No Type est apparu sur Internet en octobre 1998. Nous étions pauvres, jeunes et idéalistes, alors nous avons décidé de publier notre musique sur le web en MP3 plutôt que de perdre de l’argent à produire des disques, en se disant que ça pourrait payer plus tard. Aujourd’hui, nous sommes toujours aussi pauvres, moins jeunes et peut-être encore plus radicaux dans notre approche. Tous les autres fournisseurs de MP3 cherchent à faire de l’argent, alors que nous n’avons plus cette illusion. Le MP3, tout comme le OGG, un format alternatif en code ouvert, est un format jetable et temporaire, comme la radio. Par contre, les retombées indirectes existent: crédibilité accrue, même des contrats de disques dans certains cas (Tomas Jirku, Dick Richards).

Aimé Dontigny: Les bénéfices pour les musiciens sont même énormes: outre la liberté de créer, il y a la chance d’enfin rejoindre un public attentif et de partager avec d’autres artistes ayant des visées communes. Il y a beaucoup d’échanges dans No Type; remix, collaborations, spectacles, contacts, etc. Nous ne sommes pas limités par notre groupe. Il ne tient qu’à nous, aussi, de faire fructifier No Type (par exemple, plusieurs américains organisent des shows sous la bannière No Type; les artistes de No Type peuvent aussi accepter de nouveaux musiciens eux-mêmes). La formule permet également d’atteindre un certain degré d’achèvement pour les projets. Les albums sur No Type sont de vrais albums mais sans la contrainte physique de la production: ils sont toutefois publics! Pour des subventions, des séminaires ou des festivals, c’est très important de pouvoir démontrer une pré-existence. Très peu sont ouverts aux musiciens «vierges» (non-reconnus par leurs pairs, pour utiliser la langue subventionnaire). No Type offre et donne cette reconnaissance.

Simon-Pierre Beaudet: Combien d’artistes se trouvent sur No Type, et combien de projets avez-vous publiés?

David Turgeon: Nous représentons plus d’une quarantaine d’artistes, parfois sous des noms divers, et avons publié plus de soixante-dix albums, dont la grande majorité sont toujours disponibles, certains ayant été effacés pour diverses raisons. C’est en fait assez peu, compte tenu de la liberté de moyens dont nous disposons. Contrairement à d’autres sites, nous choisissons les artistes avec lesquels nous travaillons, ce qui assure une certaine qualité dans les œuvres et l’interprétation, mais limite en même temps la quantité de matériel que nous pouvons publier.

Simon-Pierre Beaudet: Votre approche radicale semble vous exclure de certains réseaux. Pouvez expliquer votre refus de collaborer avec ceux-ci?

Aimé Dontigny: Il faut d’abord mentionner qu’il s’agit d’un vrai label, pas d’un fourre-tout du genre MP3.com. David est le directeur artistique et le catalogue représente une certaine vision des nouvelles musiques électroniques. De plus, il s’agit d’une utilisation non-commerciale du web. Ce n’est pas un start-up. Ça ne recueille pas d’informations sur les visiteurs. Il n’y a pas de pubs. Et ce n’est pas temporairement ainsi pour attirer d’éventuels investisseurs qui vont changer la donne après. C’est tout.

David Turgeon: Et, de fait, la réalité est que personne ne veut collaborer avec nous, parce que nous n’offrons aucun revenu et aucune publicité. Par exemple, un site au nom de «epitonic» m’a contacté il y a un an; ils espéraient faire une sorte de collaboration. Je leur ai expliqué que nous étions des mélomanes aguerris, plus intéressés à travailler sur notre musique qu’à faire un succès sur la scène des «point-com», mais qu’il serait quand même intéressant de développer un partenariat, et ils ne m’ont jamais rappelé. Depuis, ils servent de point de promotion pour diverses étiquettes indépendantes. Ils seront probablement rachetés d’ici quelques mois, si ce n’est déjà fait. Même chose quand le président de MP3.com m’a appelé, lors de l’ouverture du site. Sous le couvert d’une interview, il voulait surtout savoir si nous pensions tout transférer notre musique sur son site plutôt que de la publier nous-mêmes (ce qui est bien sûr suicidaire). Évidemment, il n’a jamais parlé de nous, et puis maintenant il change les couches de Jean-Marie Messier. Je pourrais aussi parler de la fois où l’ADISQ m’a invité à être panéliste lors de la rencontre annuelle de l’industrie, mais bon, tu vois où je veux en venir.

Aimé Dontigny: L’industrie est tellement stratifiée (les musiciens veulent plaire aux producteurs, qui veulent plaire aux radios, qui veulent plaire aux publicitaires, qui paient les radios, qui donnent de l’argent aux organismes de gestion de droits d’auteurs, qui paient les musiciens qui veulent d’autres chèques, alors tentent de plaire aux producteurs, etc.) qu’il n’y a aucune alternative pour les musiques différentes. No Type est une alternative ANARCHISTE. Nous sommes un groupe LIBRE: aucun contrat, aucun frais, aucune promotion. Nous sommes sur No Type parce que nous croyons à la liberté de créer. Notre musique est gratuite, disponible en tout temps et sans aucun compromis artistique.

Simon-Pierre Beaudet: Quelles conceptions avez-vous de la musique électronique, et comment vous situez-vous par rapport à l’héritage musical du XXe siècle?

David Turgeon: Nous sommes une créature du présent. Si on parle de musique, les courants que nous choisissons sont très contemporains: musique électronique à saveur «techno», recherche sonore post-moderne, etc. Évidemment, on peut faire des liens. Entre autres avec John Cage qui croyait que tous les sons pouvaient être de la musique. Bien sûr, il ne faut pas prendre ceci au pied de la lettre; nous y répondons en offrant de la musique que les éditeurs de disques refusent. Cela amène nécessairement une dimension politique, mais nous contribuons aussi à la diversité musicale.

Il y a plusieurs écoles de pensée en musique électronique. L’une d’elles est la position «classique», qui trouve un écho dans la musique électroacoustique contemporaine. Historiquement, la musique électroacoustique est une sorte de réconciliation entre les possibilités sonores de la musique électronique pré-1970 (Stockhausen, par exemple, mais aussi Kraftwerk) et les nouvelles formes de composition apportées par la musique concrète de Pierre Schaeffer et consorts en 1950. Plus récemment, il y a l’école «techno» (au sens large), qui se réclame davantage de l’héritage de Kraftwerk, et qui fut modelée en grande partie par la technique: le «beatbox», par exemple, a influencé le rythme régulier et la répétition. Aussi, il s’agit souvent d’une musique qui se veut «utilitaire» au sens où la musique sert à faire danser les gens (elle a une «utilité»).

De ces deux écoles de pensée ont surgi divers courants qu’on pourrait appeler hybrides. C’est surtout là que nous nous situons, bien que ces micro-écoles hybrides ne s’entendent pas nécessairement entre elles. Nous essayons de concilier ces positions qui n’ont, à mon avis, aucune raison d’être contradictoires. Il existe par exemple beaucoup de musiques électroniques d’inspiration «techno» qui expérimentent avec le son et la structure; ceci a donné le IDM (Autechre, Aphex Twin). D’autre part, il y a des courants d’origine plus académique, de la musique dite «de recherche», qui s’inspire de courants plus populaires et utilitaires; ce qui donne le «microsound» (Pita, Kim Cascone). Nous puisons notre musique un peu partout; alors ce foisonnement d’idées et de mélanges nous est bénéfique.

Aimé Dontigny: Toutes les facettes de la musique nouvelle - ou actuelle, terme que j’aime bien car il regroupe l’innovation de l’instrumental à l’électronique - sont représentées et il faut vraiment préciser que toutes ces musiques sont atypiques. Même dans les genres en vigueur dans l’électronique populaire, les artistes de No Type profitent de la liberté complète pour s’affranchir de ces étiquettes. On y trouve peut-être du techno, mais jamais le techno qu’on entend dans les raves (transe, goa, etc.) Il y a peut-être de l’électroacoustique plus formelle, mais jamais de l’académisme réducteur.

David Turgeon: Étrangement, malgré le fait que nous soyons constamment «mis à part» dans l’univers de la musique contemporaine «populaire» - plus spécifiquement la musique électronique -, les électroacousticiens ont été les premiers à nous reconnaître comme des pairs. C’est bien sûr ironique puisque notre musique n’entre que très rarement dans le créneau électroacoustique classique. Pour les autres, il semble que nous soyons trop éclectiques, pas assez centrés sur un genre en particulier, donc peut-être trop difficiles à comprendre. Mais à quoi s’attendre d’autre d’un site qui s’appelle «no type»?

Site internet: www.notype.com

Nous sommes sur No Type parce que nous croyons à la liberté de créer.

No Type

Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera, no 2000_3, 1 septembre 2000

This specialedition of Ampersand is an overview of an innovative and interesting label: No Type.

In the new exciting world of music compression and copyright breeching programs, a label which freely gives away all its product is fascinating. No Type is that sort of label. At its web site there are archived albums from the full-length old series production phase, and a growing list (29, up to 31 during the preparation of this, the two new ones venturing into a little noise) of singles which are their current focus. A few have disappeared - one was an on-going work which the artist Tomas Jirku pulled, a couple of others have become elsewise available - others may be removed over time due to space requirements or at the artists wish.

Each has a link to a individually designed web page where the tracks are ‘listed’ (the inverted commas are because these sites can be complex interactive productions - 3code is a shockwave surprise) and downloadable. I used both my browser and Anarchie (which was easier because once I had the address I could get a site list and download the music files in one go) to get 14 of these singles to try out for you (again, during my research I expanded my No Type collection, but will limit the number commented on to give you a flavour and reason to explore for yourself).

The first thing that strikes you as you play through is the quality - these are not throw away demo’s or works in progress. Then there is the variety - glitchy techno, beated and beatless ambient, perverse musique concrète and more. Perfect fodder for a shuffle play through your favourite MP3 player (if you want an unpredictable musical environment). The ‘file under’ descriptions provided by the label give a fair idea of what to expect, and for the musical bowerbird it is a haven for interesting new sounds.

The releases I tested and some brief responses are:

016 Matrix Assimilation: swings between sweet ringing tonal ambience into crackling beatbox breaks and back. A short work but the twist in sounds is engaging.

017 Effect: one of the ‘softer’ releases with gentle rhythms, guitar and tuned percussion with a few chitters providing an abstract angle. There are chopped up vocals creating an almost song and smooth beats - No Type lounge.

018 Skoop: track names are a bit of a giveaway here - ‘acid jazz’ ‘sugar pop’ - this is a nice, mellow poppy album. There are synth melodies, straight guitar, regular beats, bloopy bits. A relaxing easy ride.

019 Diablatonica: this three track ‘sampler’ reveals the varied moods of Diabolica. The first loops a classical piece and throws noises over the top, the second is mysterious dark ambient and the final a more full on complex techno piece including sampled voices.

020 833-45: radio crackles and voices, abstract wooshes and tonal melodies, chittering echoed electronica, mellow melody with industrial noises behind, modems, crackly bubbling, gentle beats - across musical boarderlines, like the label.

021 Period 3: the label boss brings forth some very nice minimal ambient music - crackling glitchy tracks that seem to develop and grow - microphone scratching over gongs, clicks and burrs, pulses and random beats, edgy sounds that pick up pace and density, abstract and detailed, the final track is a long humming tonal dreamy glitch fest.

022 The Viceroy: the ground of gentle beats with passing melodies, electro squiggles on top, make for another easy-to-groove-to release with a surprise distant, fractured final track.

023 Influenza: apparently created while suffering influenza, I first listened to this in the same state: cracked jazz loops with beat box and weird percussion, complex offbeatness, dense ambiguous soundtracks to the confusing fever.

024 The moon stealing project: which would appear to capture satellite noises, creates a mixture of ringing, glitchy, dreamy and twisted techno from the results, and is subtle, bewitching and beguiling in its angular beauty. Much too short.

025 833-45 v Jirku: two of the label regulars present a track and remix the other’s. A simple album of gentle electro with a few squiggles.

026 Eucci: the most minimal microwave glitch work I have found on the label - subtle and almost absent at times, it ends with a long (10 minute) exploration of sound. Comparing this to Diabolica or Skoop underlines the breadth of the releases.

027 3code: slightly skewed idm; rhythm loops constructed from off-beat samplenoises overlaid with popee melody, ringing tonal ambience with more subverted beats, bouncy glitch dancing music - a swinging wacky ride.

028 Anaesthesia: a long minialbum featuring the acoustic sounds of violin and strings, some voice work (not vocals, but instrumental), tribal at times, edgy abstract lines, a very complex album with the common-labelfeature of a long final track.

029 L’île de béton: a mad(dening) collage of spoken voices and cracked up songs: fast forwarded, fragmented and slowed sampling, a demented demix of ‘Love is a battlefield’, rapid wacky organ solos, loops, plinkyplonks, wild guitar and gentle guitar samples hidden under edgy noise, interspersed with almost relaxed ambient-glitch, gestures towards song and some sweet tonal melodies. Truly inexplic(at)able music.

Lengths of the singles varies from less than 15 minutes to over 30 - I haven’t ckecked out the older archived albums. And as you check through you’ll notice some recurring artists - period 3, 833-45, Jirku and more: there is a label stable.

David Turgeon maintains the label on the proverbial smell of an oily rag, enthused by responses to the music and the label, and with the help of friends as it has expanded. And I shouldn’t close without commenting on the quality of the graphics and presentation - it is a very nice looking site - which makes it a pleasure to visit. And David’s notes, including explanations of new releases and of what a No Type week is, are fascinating.

Anyway, visit the site and explore, as to quote David ‘its the best, cheapest way to broaden your musical horizons’, and let them know what you think.

The first thing that strikes you as you play through is the quality…

Fluctuation, Free Music, and No Barriers

Rob Geary, Grooves, no 4, 21 mars 2000

In the realm of experimental electronic music, few endeavors seem to truly qualify as an experiment. Just how many times can digitally processing a mangled sample be passed off in the name of experimentation? For true experimentation, experimentation with means of distribution and a reshuffling of the traditional roles of label, artist, and listener, head over to No Type at www.notype.com. There you will find that, in the words of label head David Turgeon,“everything about No Type is an experiment.”

No Type is an MP3-only label launched in October 1998. Every piece of music at No Type is free for the taking, no questions asked, and passing the word and the music along is encouraged. There are plenty of free downloadable music sites out there, but No Type brings something new to the table: the vision and selection of a record label, combined with an artist-first mentality made possible by the low overhead of MP3.

No Type goes out of its way to create a total MP3 experience. Frequently stunning cover art is offered for each release during download. The site’s interface improves with each redesign, now offering the latest releases linked right to the front page, in release order, descriptive blurbs and all. For those of you just catching up, the usual links to player software are offered, and for those of you on the cutting edge, No Type is kind enough to point you to other offbeat electronic tunes on the net such as Mego Records’Falsch MP3 imprint.

A quick look at the available titles makes it apparent that No Type offers a staggering backlog of excellent material, but what’s in it for the artist?

Turgeon explains the mission of No Type is to “make the music available as the artist wants it, in an environment where experimentation and risk is valued and the pursuit of a pop hit shrugged off as ultimately futile. Essentially we want to offer a different view of how music can be done, but also of how a label can be run.” While numerous labels offer this kind of rhetoric, No Type follows through. Simply look at the Variants single-series from Tomas Jirku for proof: Jirku followed his Immaterial full-length with an ongoing series of songs, mutating at the artists’ whim, offen in reaction to listener feedback. This single alone illustrates the strange new power for art lurking within the web. Variants was a fascinating, ephemeral work not possible in any other format (the single is no longer available). Turgeon further emphasizes the transient nature of MP3 and the music it carries. “The other phase of the No Type experiment (is) to push the limit of MP3 as a disposable media very unlike vinyl, CD, and CD-R, whose storage capacities make them ‘timeless’ objects,” he says. “MP3 will never make sense as a ‘consumer product’ as the RIAA and others envision it… It may be considered a hybrid between a product and a service, but you still can’t expect to sell it the same way you’d sell a CD or a vinyl.”

Part of the adjustment to this hybrid product was a paradigm shift: the No Type full length series was discontinued in order to emphasize singles and EP lengths for both their download-friendliness and their suitability to more radical experimenta tion. A side effect of NoType’s recent refocusing is that the emphasis is now solidly on the experimentation in the music. Artists are free to reinvent themselves as they please, even encouraged to do so as they work and improve. “The artist must be willing to shape their own sound through research and experimentation, but also through craft and precision,” explains Turgeon.

Some artists have already gotten noticeably better: Matrix Assimilation followed their first No Type single with the mature Haiku,three seamless tracks whose names form a haiku. The proliferation of artists and work on No Type presents a dilemma: with so much music, where to start downloading? Recent highlights include 333-45’s ultraminimal shortwave symphony Wavelength, Skoop’s funky ode to the Chevy Nova, appropriately titled Nova, and Effect’s occasionally Rephlex-y breaWbeat pop Primary V1.01. Today’s incarnation of No Type is a lean, mean singles machine — a pleasingly varied avant-garde electronic roster, bolstered by a back catalog that offers insight as to where some of the artists started out.

No Type has a groundbreaking past and a promising future, with more and more free music to come. The name of No Type, by the way, comes from the very earliest days of the web, when everybody and his brother with a computer threw up a design-oriented website. In order to entice the early websurfer, what did these intrepid souls offer free to download? Homemade typefaces, of course. No Type may offer tons of great music, but guess what they don’t offer

… No Type offers a staggering backlog of excellent material…