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by Justin Farrar

February 6, 2014

Radio: Quantum Noise

by Justin Farrar  |  February 6, 2014

Despite the rise in popularity of Internet radio over the last decade, few of Rhapsody's myriad competitors, from Pandora to iTunes to Spotify, maintain personally curated stations that truly embody the freeform ethos. In fact, for hardcore freeform devotees, Internet radio has generally been a wash. They instead prefer listening to terrestrial outlets such as WFMU (New Jersey) and WXYC (University of North Carolina), both of which boast programming that is, in all honesty, significantly sharper and more adventurous than the vast majority of web-only stations out there.

In an attempt to remedy this glaring lack of sonic daring, Rhapsody gave me the green light to curate Quantum Noise, a station dedicated exclusively to freeform programming. Influenced by legendary BBC Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel (far and away the most important DJ in the history of freeform), as well as classic college radio and the wonderfully chaotic FM stations of the hippie era, Quantum Noise revels in the obscure, the eclectic, the anarchic and, quite often, the unlistenable. Every time a listener clicks that play button he or she will be taken on a sonic journey radically different from his or her last. Within a single hour, his or her ears can experience noise rock, cutting-edge techno, free jazz, industrial ambient, DIY electronics, psych-funk from Africa and extreme metal. One minute, American primitivism pioneer John Fahey deconstructs folk-blues on his steel-string acoustic guitar; the next, Japanese noise performer Masonna unleashes a pummeling barrage of feedback, distortion and pained shrieks that will make the hair on the back of your neck shoot straight up. These journeys also are temporal in nature: Listeners are treated to not only the latest sounds from many of the countless undergrounds and subcultures around the globe, but also a vast wealth of crate-digging oddities from bygone eras and movements, like Neue Deutsche Welle, 20th-century minimalism and proto-punk.

As you'd expect, Quantum Noise often makes for challenging listening. And to be frank, it's not for everyone. But even though its popularity will inevitably be restricted by its own uncompromising nature, Quantum Noise is very much a needed addition to the world of Internet radio. Let the weirdness begin ...

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