This Just In: “Robots can convey the soul-sick pathos of grieving poets.” & The Month Liquid Gold

From NPR’s Song Of The Day feature, one of the nicest paragraphs to surface about Yours Truly:

“Podington Bear may be heavily indebted to the Aphex Twins and Brian Enos of the world, but he or she shares their ability to inject heart into a genre that can be icy and clinical by nature. “Fantasy and Denouement” pings and plinks and whirs and clatters like a toy machine, but it’s also made with the understanding that, when programmed correctly, robots can convey the soul-sick pathos of grieving poets.”

Thanks Mister Thompson!

Let’s see, what else:

Stack DJ is the self appointed Podington Bear remix shadow. He’s turned in three remixes so far, under the name Stackington DJ. He’s set up a MySpace page for your perusal. Says, the DJ: “I have therefore made it my quest to keep up with the bear. Check back right after a podington track is released to hear the remix.” Good luck Stackington DJ!

From the lesser-known’s advocate extraordinaire Aurgasm:

“Podington Bear delights ears in crafting accessible and dynamic dream pop… Typically, such prolificacy would indicate the songs must be subpar, but Bear surprised my expectations. ”

This just in from George Howard’s 96iantSteps:

“I’ve been listening all morning, and I haven’t hit anything that remotely resembles a clunker yet. I love the music, I love the concept, and I think it really speaks to emergent models. Podington Bear is building a community around his music, and while the economic driver might not be obvious, he mentions he is amenable to his music being used in film and ads. I can see this happening.”

Mr. Howard’s blog is devoted to discussing ways in which artists “can more productively and efficiently get their music heard”. His comments are the first I’ve read that take time to consider this bear’s podcast as an evolving business model.

And The Music Lovers Monthly says:

“Despite the rigorous schedule put upon himself, P Bear’s songs don’t sound rushed. While the compositions are relatively simple, they’re also highy layered with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Some are bouncy, feel good distractions. Others are slow, calming, and reflective.”

Finally, from across the sea, translated to Google-English, we have the perfect album title for the songs of February:

“By your simply the bear you do because…. It is loose, comment and the appearance with contrarily, The month liquid gold and every week new tune with 3 tune pod casts The diligent electronic bear which it has transmitted. Sound is loose the calling feeling. It is softened.”

The Month Liquid Gold

be well,


Thoughts on Music

[Dear Reader, below is an abridged version of the rather long original post which can be found here]

About two weeks ago Steve Jobs, influential CEO of Apple Inc., did a rare thing. He issued a lengthy formal statement entitled “Thoughts On Music.” It was a lightening rod document, drawing criticism and praise from pop culture pundits, recording industry spokespeople, and even lawmakers of European Union nations. This was unsurprising given that a pending EU lawsuit could force Apple to adopt a common DRM (Digital Rights Management) song file format with competing companies like Microsoft, Sony and others. In other words, Apple would have to make their iTunes Music Store play nice with music players that compete with the industry-dominating iPod, losing some of their competitive edge in the retail digital music sector. While these thoughts on music are worth debating, I think to the human population at large, they are irrelevant.

Indeed, even a bear like me, who enjoys listening to music, creating music, and distributing music digitally in the form of a ‘podcast’ is nonplussed by the hullabaloo. But perhaps my animal instincts afford me a rare, and more simplistic view of why this digital music topic hits a nerve.

In fact, I’m going to be so bold (as bears can be) to say I’ve solved the riddle of the digital music revolution. The problem is simple, so I think the solution should be too. This talk of DRMs or no DRMs is just confusing.

The Problem: Humans aged 10 to 30, predominately in households with broadband internet access, all over the world have gone from wanting free music to expecting it. iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, Napster, etc. are all welcome and good innovations, and there is certainly a large portion of this population that continues to pay for recorded music at both brick and mortar retail and digital purchase points. But the devaluation of recorded music will continue in a correlative arc to the increasing number of humans who are afforded broadband Internet access and digital music devices. It’s that simple. So what do we do?

Give it to them.

The beauty of my solution is its simplicity and practicality. The business model I propose is historically proven to produce art of timeless value and compensate the artists with living wages. But before I get deep into that, let me also describe another phenomenon I’ve noticed.

Not entirely coincidentally, the evolution of digital technologies that have made it easy obtain a copy of the new Radiohead album two months prior to its release date have also made it easier for humans to avoid the mass marketing campaigns designed to sell such albums, among other things. Tivo has given the television advertising industry many a sleepless night recently. Likewise commercial-free Satellite Radio networks are getting more subscribers defecting from commercial FM radio audiences. The point of this is humans not only expect free music, they have shorter attention spans, and their intolerance for advertising is growing. Like the demand for free music, this intolerance of traditional advertising will grow correlative to the number of humans afforded broadband Internet and modern digital media devices like Tivo and satelite radio. What to do?

Again, give it to them. Give them unobtrusive advertisements.

I’m sure I’m not the first to propose this, but it’s a notion so simple perhaps only a seven year old, or a bear would dare to say it. And before you call me a dreamer, or a music industry anarchist, hear me out. My idea is not only simple, it’s democratic and capitalist. And here’s the kicker: We have the technology! In fact teenagers have this technology right now, on their computers. It was this generation that got us into this pickle, and I dare say it will be this generation that gets us out.

Okay then, are you ready? Here is the new-media, new-market digital music revolution solution: Patronage. If it worked in the Renaissance, it can work today. Just swap marble sculptures and chapel ceilings for songs. Today’s Internet is really, really good at distributing songs. If song downloads were sponsored by companies, institutions, and individuals willing to pay competitive market rates to use them as carriers of their subtle advertising messages, why bother to charge the users for possessing them? Let them have their free music.

What will it look like? My revolutionary prototype looks and behaves nearly exactly like the songs humans have been interacting with on their computers and iPods for five years now. They are still compressed audio files (The open version of Apple’s popular AAC format, roughly 10 times smaller in bytes than the dying CD standard). The point at which it differs is relatively miniscule: Instead of the attached album artwork, the premiere downloadable version of this song would feature an ad image replacing the album art. That’s it.

I can hear some of you grumbling. You’re saying:

“Wait a second. You don’t have to look at the album art in iTunes. You can close the little window. Likewise you can put your video iPod in your pocket. Advertisers want to know their ads are being looked at, right?”ipod05_example.gif

It’s true you don’t have to look at the album art in media library applications, but the trend is to make these features more pronounced (Cover Flow, Front Row). What this form of advertisement lacks in size (it’s a far cry from a billboard) and sensory onslaught (I think we all agree the 10 decibel gain on TV commercial segments is just cause for Tivo retribution) it makes up for in super-multiple, residual views/listens. Humans will listen to their favorite songs tens, even hundreds of times. As digital devices evolve, screens will become bigger, brighter, cheaper, and more portable. They will be in our pockets, our cars, our living rooms, kitchens and offices. In the future avoiding images attached to songs will be less and less an option.

“But you can even manually remove and assign album art to songs in applications like iTunes. People would just remove the ads and keep the songs.”

It’s true you can manually attach and remove album art to songs in iTunes. Like I said, we have the technology. Teenagers have the technology. But not everyone knows that like iTunes, Apple has also written a free, downloadable application called Chapter Tool for independent media publishers to enhance their podcasts. With Chapter Tool, or the Mac-bundled application Garageband, it’s a cinch to ‘drag and drop’ an image to be embedded in the audio file in a way that a user cannot manually remove it. One can also add a url to the image making it perform as a hyperlink in iTunes, just like a web banner ad. (Having said that, undoubtably someone will invent a tool to remove these kinds of images from songs, but most people, I reckon, won’t be bothered enough to do it.itunes_example.gif Particularly if they got the song for free.)

“How could you propose divorcing classic album art from the song files? Is nothing sacrosanct?”

I’m not proposing undoing anything that’s already been done. Applications like iTunes and music download retailers will continue to grow in functionality and popularity. I’m not proposing that when the Beatles finally make their fashionably late entrance to the download party “Help!” be accompanied by an insurance company logo. What I am suggesting is the time period (the month preceeding the release of an album) that is now taken up by a frenzy of file-sharing — resulting in lost sales — simply be decriminalized (see, that word sounds way too severe doesn’t it? Humans don’t really find it criminal.) Instead, the recording industry can take a cue from both the publishing and TV world by releasing an album song by song — to build a steady stream of anticipation — with each song bearing a patron’s seal. It’s easy to swallow right? Basically this ‘Patrons Seal’ would be an ad, or logo in place of album art. These patrons would obviously pay more for the most popular recording artists the same way Patrons paid more handsomely for the Michelangelo and DaVinci’s of the past. A system not unlike online banner advertisements could be easily configured to provide stats and metrics for the keen song patron. Then, after this month-long sponsored engagement, the tracks (higher quality versions, likely) could be sold ad-free (with proper album art, bonus songs, bonus videos, etc.) on iTunes, etc. and as CDs in retail stores. There will always be late-comers, quality purists, and the uninitiated who will happily pay for music, just like there will forever be those who expect not to.

Humans can start now by making music and promoting it with concerts and on the internet. They can, like I have, choose to release their music freely hoping to reach more people in less time, and should they find themselves in possession of a small audience they can begin soliciting for patrons. (Or if they are particularly persuasive, the audience is not even required!) With these first patrons (Aunt Agnes, Paola’s Pizza…baby steps) they can fund promotional CD pressings, or guitar amps, or a tour van or whatever it is they need to keep going. Meanwhile, their friends who really don’t want to pay to listen to their music on their iPods don’t have to. Is that not at least close to teenage utopia?

To put my new-media, new-market digital music revolution solution to the test, I’m going to try and implement my strategy on my own. Me, little Podington Bear. Beginning today I will be soliciting patrons for my songs beginning in March. To both keep it realistic and avoid being called a sell-out I am only accepting individuals and small businesses as patrons for the month of March. The fees are sliding scale, but to cover my expenses (I will be manufacturing 1000 promotinal CDs) I am asking for $100 per song from individuals, and $200 for business sponsorships. I welcome your participation, dear reader! Yes you! Individuals may, for example, attach a picture of their baby, or dog, or motorcycle and some text to my song or… the sky’s the limit. Likewise businesses may simply submit their logo and url link, or a napkin drawing, or stock photography. For more on this pitch, including stats and photo illustrations you can download this handy PDF. I’m just the court musician.

Yours truly,

Podington Bear

Thought Music from Audio Dregs Recordings

Dear Listeners,

I have heard from several people who have said they enjoy Podington Bear music when they want to let their mind wander. Or wonder, as the case may be. I thought you might like to know what I like to listen to when I want to drift, daydream, and bum about. These are all melodic, instrumental albums that never call too much attention to themselves…while never being boring. This is ageless music that would appeal to the babies and grand-folks alike. Audio Dregs Recordings is based in Portland, Or, and features a diverse roster of mostly electronic artists scattered throughout the world. These albums are highly recommended.



E*vax – Parking Lot Music

File under instant classic. E*Vax is Evan Mast, who went on to form Ratatat with Mike Stroud. This album was released in 2000 and made on one of the simplest digital-recording applications ever, yet it sounds cutting-edge today. The melodies are timeless and enchanting. Though busy with Ratatat in the last few years, E*Vax has amassed a backlog of material, releasing only one song on the Internet as a teaser (“Ferraro”, You can hear it on his MySpace page) since then. A sophomore release is said to be not far off on the horizon.

E*vax – “Contra Costa”
(courtesy of Audio Dregs Recordings)
E-Vax - Parking Lot Music



Lullatone- Little Songs About Raindrops

A case where the band name invokes the music, and the album title summarizes the content. This could also be described as John Cage scores The Little Prince. Shawn James, now residing in Japan, works with a palette of chime and bell sounds, occasionally weaving in subtle, wordless, vocal layers. Arpeggios sound quantized and almost algorithmic, but the tonality is very human. The melodies are complex, mesmerizing and abstract. Very few whole notes here, and pads are barely audible. Raindrops indeed.

Lullatone – “Make This Sound”
(courtesy of Audio Dregs Recordings)
Lullatone - Little Songs About Raindrops



Carpet Musics – Weekday

This may be the Sleepytime Tea of the bunch, but there’s enough undercurrent of sound to engage the daydreamer. Sine waves and granulated washes provide sweet melodies. A side-project of label proprietor and brother of E*vax, Eric Mast, aka E*rock.

Carpet Musics – “Sleeping On Trains”
(courtesy of Audio Dregs Recordings)
Carpet Musics - Weekday



Melodium – Anaemia

From Nantes France, Melodium impresario Laurent Girard makes music to move the muse. Girard prefers a palette of textures that would fit right in with the well branded Morr Music crowd from neighboring Germany, and the melodies tend to be more brooding than the fore-mentioned.

Melodium – “Felt Felt”
(courtesy of Audio Dregs Recordings)

Bear Bands

Bear Band

Is it just me? Like you know how if you’re thinking about buying an old Volvo, suddenly the streets appear to be overrun with old Volvos.

Well, maybe because I’m a bear making music, suddenly every other band seems to have the word bear in their moniker. So I took a few minutes to do some research and hear are the stats:

Bands that have ‘bear’ in their name according to the top 200 results from’s music search and the iTunes Music Store: 53.

Number of bands on Myspace Music with ‘bear’ in their name: 892. (it should be known that this list includes many false positives like The Unbearables.)

Podcasts with ‘bear’ in their name on the iTunes Music Store: 2. The Bearfoot Hookers and yours truly, Podington.

Bearly any.

Artwork: “Bear Band” by Gemma Correll

The rollcall:

Art Bears
Avey Tare And Panda Bear
Base Ball Bear
Bear Children’s Choir
Bear Claw
Bear Country
Bear Creek
Bear In Heaven
Bear In The Blue House
Bear Vs. Shark
Big Bear
Big Bear Theory
Billy Horton Bear and The Essentials
Black Bear Crossing
Brother Bear
Cat’s a Bear
David Grover and the Big Bear Band
Digital Bear
Edward Bear
Fred Bear
Gary AKA Kelvin 296 Bear
Golden Bear
Great Bear
Great Bear Trio
Grizzly Bear
Honey Bear Klik
Huggy Bear
Jackal The Bear
Joe Bear
Kieth Bear
Lil’ Bear Singers
Lunar Bear Ensemble
Mark V. And Poogie Bear
Michael Searching Bear
Minus The Bear
Paddington Bear
Panda Bear
Papa Bear Band
Pappa Bear
Polar Bear
Poppa Bear Kool Breeze
Sand Bear
Silent Bear
Spirit Bear
Suga Bear
Sugar Bear
Ted D Bear
Teddy Bears
Tiger Bear Wolf
Volcano The Bear
Wake The Bear

The Uncontainable Energy of YACHT

yacht-forrest-magic.jpgYACHT is Jona Bechtolt (Pronounced “John-ah”. Born Jonnal of Burns, Oregon if we are to believe his fantastic bio.) He’s widely recognized as a laptop mastermind, gaining a higher profile from the success of The Blow – Paper Televison for which he plays the role of production maestro / co-writer. In fact, writers have gone out of their way to say, in a nutshell, The Blow would not be particularly noteworthy without Jona’s contribution to the songs. It appears that despite rumored deep turbulence between the duo, they are great foils for each other. Without Khaela Maricich‘s input, Bechtolt’s music alone can occasionally be overindulgent, if not grating. Likewise, you need only to sample the   of Maricich alone– lo-fi, bedroom recorded, art school confession guitar songs — of The Blow, to hear the welcome evolution. But, most often he’s right on point with YACHT, taking you deeper into sound than you’ve thought of travelling.

His bag of tricks include genre-bending par excellence, outmoded 80’s drum machine fills, crazy sonic juxtapositions, uncluttered beats, snappy, clicky tempos and an enthusiastic stage show performed by kneeling child’s-pose-like in front of his laptop on the floor, then taking the mic and running around. It’s a wonder he hasn’t stepped on or kicked his computer to death, as the music does tend to take control of his body. Live, the grating, hard on the ears tracks are positively invigorating, sounding like swarms of locusts flying out of the speakers. (Probably a great show to see high… if that’s your bag.)

Yacht’s production skills are undoubtedly honed by his expert drumming. His occasional Devendra gig has ensured that you can see him on the skins every now and then. In The Blow, he has been known to play beats freestyle with the keypad on his laptop, making the live Blow experience a little more organic than it has been of late. No slouch, that Jona.

Rumor is there’s a new Yacht album about to drop, but it’s not clear whose imprint will be found on the back. A front-runner may be Portland upstart Frykbeat. 

{2/13: YACHT’s I Believe In You, Your Magic Is Real is set to bome out on Portland’s Marriage Records in May.)

If his music isn’t enough to blow your mind, consider his mastery of web design evidenced by his regularly updated website brimming with content and his graphic fatherhood of the Urban Honking blogger collective , as well as his video production and comedic acting on display at the popular Ultimate Blogger reality TV spoof. Too much energy right?

Check this latest HOT offering courtesy of

Hock It (YACHT Remix)