Barcelona-based, Los Angeles-edited PublicSpacesLab is an example of what a netlabel can be. Instead of just another dumping ground for sounds, it feels like a well-curated cafe, pairing regular but thoughtful releases with reflections on music making. Everything is Creative Commons-licensed, free music, from a variety of artists spanning geographies and genres.

If you’re in the mood for reading, recent thought pieces from the editor cover a range of topics:
Expansion, the lesser known dynamics tool (Amen, brother)
The demise of an indie radio station in LA (with some harsh words for the town – sorry, Los Angeles)

For listening, there’s a bit of something for everyone there in their near-20 releases, including ambient soundscapes and a crackling compilation that sounds like your radio waves have achieved sentience and begun singing maths. Ambient and noise are typically the order of the day. But the latest and apparently most popular of their releases is decidedly at the warmer end of the spectrum.

Paul Croker’s medium is sampled vinyl, but to me it’s just as interesting that some of the perceived organic, warm and fuzzy quality comes from the low-fidelity digital samples, too. Paul’s apparent workflow: sample vinyl to MPC, use the MPC for the “vibe,” arrange on DAW (apparently Ableton). The specifics are less important to me, however: it’s the combined crunch of the turntable with the digital sample that works here, true to the traditions of hip hop.

The Creative Commons license covering Paul’s two releases for PublicSpacesLab is sadly problematic. Because of the current interpretation of US Copyright Law, the fact that the samples themselves aren’t cleared means you probably aren’t free to do what you like with this. You are free to listen, however – and, as I said, if this isn’t your cup of tea PSL has plenty else to explore.

PublicSpacesLab official site

PublicSpacesLab @ Soundcloud (with links to other free music groups)

[PS019] Dustmotes | The Containment Sessions by PublicSpacesLab

And because the release was disseminated via Twitter, Twitter becomes a forum for feedback. (Oddly, Twitter commenters are often more positive and enthusiastic than the troll-leaning web commenters, I find – perhaps because they reserve their time for the stuff they like.) Thus, Kieron James replies via Twitter:

“Primitive, raw and beautifully crafted. A collage – components collected and mounted with complete respect for their musical heritage on a cave wall (solid, dependable rhythms chipped, cracked and twisted into something new). More pretentious feedback you won’t have read for some time, but I want to convey something of what your music speaks (to me)!”

Bonus listening – here’s Paul’s earlier release for PSL:

PS012 – dustmotes – Beats for the Subverted by PublicSpacesLab

So, folks, what are your favorite netlabel resources? Who do you most closely follow on a service like SoundCloud?