Big, big late-breaking news in the indie music/culture blogosphere this afternoon: Pitchfork‘s one and a half year old sister/cousin site Altered Zones is no more. Altered Zones “began as a tight-knit collective of 14 music blogs with a common goal,” focusing almost exclusively on “new artists on the fringes of experimental music.” Undeniably, Altered Zones helped launched/improved the careers bands/artists/projects such as Salem, James Ferraro, Sleep ∞ Over, Balam Acab, Sun Araw, Prince Rama, Ford & Lopatin, Oneohtrix Point Never, Julian Lynch, Real Estate, Twerps, Ducktails, Peaking Lights, Innergaze, etc., etc., etc. Ya know, artists on the fringes of experimental music. Also known as hypnogogic pop, or, as I like to call it, simply vibes.
In short, Altered Zones was sort of the (often laughable, often almost ironically self-parodying) go-to spot for information on hip, new, and hardly real bands/projects with a new cassette out on NNA Tapes or whatever.
But it was also important to the scene. It sparked interest in dozens and dozens of otherwise unknown musicians and greatly helped the careers of all bloggers involved (and there were a lot of bloggers involved).
So, what’s all this about it shutting down? Not entirely sure. According to the last “R.I.P. Altered Zones” post on the site, Altered Zones is over because “many of our original contributors moved on from their blogs to start labels, run venues, create zines, and make music of their own, that original group has become increasingly splintered.”
They go on: “We don’t view Altered Zones closing as an end in itself, but rather the end of one chapter and the opening of another. AZ editors Ric Leichtung and Emilie Friedlander will contribute to Pitchfork, and will launch a new project together called Ad Hoc in 2012. In the meantime, Altered Zones will be signing off tomorrow and Friday with our favorite quotes, songs you might’ve missed, and albums of 2011.”
It all seems amicable enough, but then, only about an hour ago, the Altered Zones twitter feed started blowing up with all-Hell’s-breaking-loose style tweet. Tweet after tweet. They are funny, mostly mocking the cassette tape lo-fi indie sound project culture that they helped make so popular fostered. Maybe it is an official publicity stunt (Ad Hoc coming soon yo!!!), but something about them seems like the work of one of the editors (Emilie or Ric or maybe someone else), pissed off about their site getting shut down, and, for a while at least, still in control of the Twitter password. There are references to Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber (which they spell SCR BIEBER) “shutting it down”; there are references to the “politics of hypnogogic pop”; there are references to swag; there are references to cassette tapes; there are references to wasting your life on James Ferraro; there are references to triangles; there are references to Oneohtrix Point Never; there are references to missing out on “THE BIG BEAUTIFUL WORLD.” It’s pretty intense, possibly hostile, and definitely funny.