Echoes, a nationally syndicated radio show on NPR, ranked soulful filling #9 on the 20th anniversary listener poll, which ranked the top 200 albums ever played in the 20 year history of the show.

Miles Tones

Echoes, a nationally syndicated radio show on NPR, ranked miles tones #11 on their 25 essential cds for 2011. It was also ranked #9 on John Diliberto's top albums in 2011.
Miles Tones should come with a disclaimer that listening to it may cause euphoria and widespread outbreaks of generally feeling pretty good.
It's a very personal-feeling disc. The honesty virtually drips off the music; you're being invited in and general fuzz hopes you'll stay a while. The thing about Miles Tones is that it feels both quite personal and yet widely universal.

Soulful Filling

Echoes, a nationally syndicated radio show on NPR, ranked Soulful Filling #12 on their 25 essential cds for 2008. It was also ranked #9 on their 2008 listener poll. It also ranked #9 on the 20th anniversery listener poll, which ranked the top 200 albums ever played on the show.
The smoothing ebb and flow of ambient electronic skates the edge of chillout/downtempo so often that the subgenres often bleed through each other, with influences crossing the lounge floor to come together in soothing ways. Soulful Filling is the fifth release by General Fuzz, an ambient, downtempo producer who, rather than offer his music for sale, chooses to give it away. Now every concert has someone out back handing out poorly recorded demos of half finished songs, but when a piece of music sounds as well done as any professional recording out there and is free, well that's a deal you cannot pass up.
Soulful Filling adds some unique twists to the genre, incorporating some instruments not usually found in electronica, namely steel guitars and violins. There are some sparse vocals as well. The visceral experience is enhanced by Kirsch's willingness to push the boundaries and expand the notion of what ambient and donwtempo are. And that's ultimately what makes good music, well good. It's either doing the same old thing extremely well or making it sound just a little fresh. Soulful Filling might not be the music you listen to during your morning workout, but it might be just the thing for the after-workout sauna.
Soulful Filling finds general fuzz in an especially quiet and contemplative mood. For this album, he has created an absolutely beautiful set of quiet, introspective [mostly] instrumental music. As he did on his previous album "coolaborations" general fuzz collaborates with several live musicians, adding violin, cello, guitar and vocals to compliment the general's soft keyboards, subtle sequenced percussion and careful production.

The peaceful and positive vibe may cause the style to venture a little too close to the 'new age' category for some listeners, but the music is brilliantly produced and supremely chilled, and comes very highly recommended.

James Kirsch is a classically trained pianist who decided to plug in. For the last few years he's been releasing albums that have down-tempo moods and jazzy improvisations under the name of General Fuzz. Kirsch is part of an eclectic generation of electronic musicians who might see a jam band one night and go to a techno-rave the next and that makes for a music that defies easy categories and expectations.
It's a more elegant affair than Cool Aberrations, starting out with catchy grooves and funky keyboard, but each track starts getting less groovin' and more classical, culminating in the final piece, Goodbyes, a serene classical chamber piece based on a piano theme.

But it's in that deliciously impure zone where Deodato-like jazz, chilled trip-hoppy glitched beats and classical ambiences converge that General Fuzz operates best. Tracks like Eye Heart Knot, Comfort Zone and Warm Steel, get toes tapping and heads floating.

Honing his soft-spoken cutting edge sound, Fuzz manages to pluck sounds from a multitude of genres; Genres which I'd claim have shaped his sound and continue to evolve from album to album.
If youre in the hunt for something to toss on during, maybe, a romantic supper, as a prelude to an evening or something to listen to while reading your favorite novel of the moment, this is exactly what you've been looking for. Emotions abound throughout, and it isn't unlike a well crafted novel. Plus, the damn thing is free - you simply have no reason NOT to check this out!

The Beats
Let's all ditch the expression 'food for thought' and replace it with 'music for thought' when you play this album.

If you've never listened to any General Fuzz, you're really missing out. It's some of the highest quality electronic music I've ever heard, having all of the elements that make real music worth listening to: melody, rhythm, harmonic development.

Sonic Curiosity
These compositions embody a wonderful example of affable tuneage. The melodies are easygoing and endearing. Their sentiments are uplifting, but in a subtle manner. The overall effect is one of welcome mesmerization, promoting daydreaming with eyes turned inward.

Cool Aberrations

Echoes, a nationally syndicated radio show on NPR, ranked Cool Aberrations #5 on their 25 essential echoes cds for 2007. It was also ranked #20 on their 2007 listener poll. An interview and a living room concert was made for the show at my house. The live version of acclimate was the first track on their annual living room concert cd. It was quite an honor.
Growing up nerd in rural Arkansas left me little exposure to quality progressive music. Early in life, my only three avenues for fashioning my musical identity were commercial radio, my parents' dusty old LP collection, and the very real Beavis and Butthead reality of young heavy metal hicks. So after getting my feat wet with some old Vivaldi, butting heads with Metallica and Van Halen and abandoning the wasteland that was popular eighties rock, I was left to scour the fringes of nerd culture, such as it was in the early eighties, for succor. The sad result of this was a long and fairly embarrassing relationship with New Age.

Its not that I regret my time spent zoning out to Jean Michelle Jarre. Ray Lynch was all kinds of fun when I was twelve, and arguably provided a few rungs in the ladder of modern pop and electronica. And you can actually get away with name dropping Tangerine Dream, and everyone will nod and smile like you just told the story of your first clumsy, nervous expedition through, 'second base.' But while I may, at the peak (or pit,) of my new age exploration, have owned every Fresh Aire album ever produced, I keep those cassettes under lock and key, safely from the prying eyes of guests or potential romantic partners.

Gradually my tastes expanded, and even my lingering fondness for that new age sound translated into more exciting and socially acceptable realms like Brian Eno or Devo. And yet, a part of me always wondered, 'Where could it have gone?' Had new age somehow kept in stride with the stride set by alternative and indy music, what might we be hearing on our local college radio stations today? I think there are some possible winners already. Low, Orbital, The freaking Postal Service especially, can be seen to have drawn a note or two from that ancient grab bag of bleeps and bloops.

General Fuzz marks, for me, the pinnacle of this exploration. The crystalline harmonics and complex yet precise orchestration that saturate Smooth Aberrations on once hearken clearly back to the innocent days of Mannheim Steamroller or Tangerine Dream, and yet so clearly brings their sound into the modern age. For me, General Fuzz took that next great step in both mood and arrangement, maturing New Age into a sound to be equivocally proud of.

I've always been fond of cool precision in music. When a song encourages you to sample and taste the fine staccatos and presto picking of every guitar string or synth hit, it invigorates the mind, like rolling the flavors of a good sushi roll around over your tongue., and that was definitely part of the appeal of Cool Aberrations. Despite being produced electronica, you never get the sense that any instrument, or even any note, is simply placed to be mortar for the melody. Fuzz ushers this atmosphere along by including a variety of actual instrumental tracks throughout the album.

Fuzz himself labels the music as, 'lush melodic instrumental electronica,' which I think is a fair assessment of the style. Though tranquil, it would be a mistake I think to refer to it as mellow or relaxed. Instead, it wanders somewhere closer to intelligent, almost inquisitive, encouraging the listener to wander into each track consciously, exploring every detail. As a result, it really is good for virtually any environment, from leisurely quiet afternoons to freeway driving. The music enjoys such an accessible detail to it that your conscious mind can't help but attend it. Thus, while you might still throw a little Kitaro on in your private life, General Fuzz is someone that might actually end up on a party mix.

So if you, like me, went through your awful new age phase and are looking for some kind of refined progression to enjoy, then Cool Aberrations is definitely an album for you. Frankly, unless you simply require that your music be, 'this brutal,' I'd say that this album is worth anyone's time. And don't stop there. While I feel that Cool Aberrations is the peak of General Fuzz's craft, he has several other albums to enjoy, and they paint, I think, a clear and wonderful picture of his growth as a musician. That's part of the joy and ease of free music via Creative Commons.
Rating : 9.5 out of 10

I'm constantly amazed at the amount of amazing music I discover. I'm also occasionally amazed at the amount of artists that give away their music for free. I first reviewed General Fuzz back in September, with his great Messy's Place album. I was totally blown away then, by the album that I'd found on my hard disk, with no recollection of downloading it. This time around however, I was conciously looking at his site, hoping that there would be something new, as I've done several times before. A few weeks ago I hit pay dirt and this is the album, that in his own words, when talking about his music "...raising the bar for free quality music a little higher". I have to disagree a little. This doesn't raise the bar a little, it elevates it into the stratosphere.

As with the previous album, the majority of the tracks weigh in at between 4 and 6 minutes, but there's a few of the 11 tracks at around the 3 minute mark, the first track "Acclimate" being one of them. Man, what a way to begin an album. For anyone not familiar with General Fuzz's music, it's a kind of mix between Vangelis, Sven Vath and Tangerine Dream. Very atmospheric, moody and infectious as hell.

"Flow Tater" is a very interesting track, that feels somewhat disjointed, having several very distinctive sections, but they flow beautifully. "Fugal" continues to evolve the album's sound, but that signature, is still omnipresent, as if it were scripted in gold. "Reasonable Ability" is one of those tracks that's a feast for your ears, especially when you listen using headphones. Again new influences are introduced with the track "Cliff Notes", with distinctive Indian drums, that add flavor, rather than conflicting sounds.

The album finishes off with "Acoustic Junction", one of the mellower tracks and a great way to put an album to bed. You can't help but feel you've listened to something rather special and indeed this is an album that has an interesting story. Every track has had different artists collaborating with General Fuzz, which accounts for the little twists and deviations throughout. If you go to the website you can read the story behind each track.

Conclusion : There's just no excuse for not checking out this phenomenal artists. So far I've reviewed two of the artists 4 albums. All of them are available for free. In giving this album a 9.5, I've left myself very little room to manoeuvre should his future albums continue to improve. What do I care, I'll worry about that with each subsequent release.

I can't help feeling that General Fuzz is either a crackpot for giving his music away for free, or just a philanthropist, because this is one of the biggest cases of sharing the wealth.
General Fuzz has composed yet another stellar album following the cool undertones that was Messy's Pace. Properly named Cool Aberrations, the album is a blend of pulsing beats and calming melodies. "Acclimation" guides the listener into what would be a journey into a landscape of soothing tracks, think early morning sun rays, and dozens of collaborations with other talented musicians in the tracks that would follow.

Progressing into a more hard-edged sound, "Flow Tater", "Fugal" and "The Grenabler" are faster-paced tracks with an industrial overtone in mind. Further down, "Reasonable Ability" and "Cliff Notes" takes easy listening and chucks it out the window, cutting edge rhythms brings back nostalgic scenes of Beverly Hills Cop as it actually sounds like it belongs in one of those kinds of movie scenes.

Moving along, "Baby Steps" is a refuge from the previous tracks, easing into a second laid back sound to kick back to. "Cream" just makes you want to wear a hat and throw it up like graduation day after a grueling four years of collegiate test-cramming. Although the next track, "Summer",  levels the mood down a bit on the soft side of things, a good track nonetheless. "Reflective Moment" is just that, quiet and a song you can definitely look up in the stars with and prepare you for, almost, the exodus of the album. After a hard day of work, "Accoustic Junction" will no doubt, take you to that happy place where your good thoughts are.

The amount of collaboration and thought that was put in the album shows in the audio experience that General Fuzz planned for his listeners, in which they will probably find worthy to be put on their players for weeks. Check out their official site at where a detailed account of the story behind and the artists involved in the collaborations can be found, at the tunes section. Don't miss it!

Best of all - the music is free!

James Kirsch is General Fuzz. Cool Aberrations is his fourth album, the previous ones apparently being downtempo, whereas this one is uptempo and contains a lot of catchy tunes. The somewhat psychedelic and quirky cover art suggests that the music will be fun, and indeed it is. This is a collaborative effort with other musicians on guitars, bass, cello, flute, tabla, and vocals.

I love the opening, but all too short, track called Acclimate. Pretty notes slowly form into a delightful melody while burbling percussion on the tabla and then drum programming form a pleasing rhythm. The effect becomes quite hypnotic as counterpointed melodies harmonically stutter and ripple around the soundscape.

Most of the album is uptempo with positive melodic vibes, plus there's even some jazz and funk. But as the album progresses towards the end the mood becomes mellow, culminating in the final track Acoustic Junction which is a laid back mixture of piano and guitar.

The piece The Grenabler is where the style departs from melodic EM. Beginning with electronic cries rising and falling like distant sirens it then bursts into a funky rhythmic passage where guitar, bass, and something like electric piano vie to make the best grooves. It's like listening to a jam session where the music is free flowing and sounds more improvisational than composed. The atmosphere on this piece brought to mind 1970s American TV shows; you could imagine this being the soundtrack to one of them.

In the penultimate track Reflective Moment the textures are pared down to a few essential elements. Sparse piano notes and ripping effects lead into electronic melody and rhythm then take a back seat. Hand beaten drum percussion and cello pads fill out the piece and provide opposing tempos.

Don't let the cover art of Cool Aberrations put you off. It's an album full of cool tunes that will have you smiling and tapping your feet in pure enjoyment.

With me being out of touch with the netlabel scene for a few weeks I was contacted by many people about releases they came across. I have so much music to go through and sometimes appreciate the guidance. Especially when i stumble across albums like this one.

This album is the work of James Kirsch, every song on the album is a collaboration with a different artist. This album took a while to create and it is obvious in the quality and versatility that the time and effort spent on assembling it has been a great success.

The album contains mainly "real" instruments. Piano, flute, organ, guitar, voice and a whole whack of others.

On the website you will find an in depth review of the artists and efforts that went into every single track. (See the making of cool Aberrations). The amount of heart and soul that has gone into this album is nothing short of phenomenal and deserves a listen by all music lovers.

If you can, read through the description of the track while you listen to the release. It gives it context and it will make you realize the depth of expression of the album.

Really top of the range music.

If more producers doing ambient breakbeat (Sasha, for example) lived in sun-kissed San Francisco and jammed regularly with live musos they might sound like this. But they don’t, which means General Fuzz still has this sound all to himself. As with his previous CD it sounds surprisingly organic despite the drum machines. Many tracks start tentatively as if this was the first time he and his collaborators had played them, yet they yield fully-fleshed-out ideas. He builds his elastic, funky grooves with a mixture of programming, composition and improvised jamming, the drum patterns usually being fattened with the rapid patter of Indian tabla. Thrown into the mix in various combinations is synth, guitar, bass, trumpet, Hammond Organ, strings, various pianos and some sensual female ooh-ing and arr-ing. Cool Aberrations is sunny and tuneful throughout and, whatever the tempo, these soft-edged grooves remain swathed in the composer's trademark California glow. Rating: 3.5/5

The electronic music of General Fuzz is easy listening of the best kind. It’s bright but quieting, calming but with a beat, and tastefully structured. The artist offers all his music for free and there are currently four albums.

The newest and best is Cool Aberrations, a collection of collaborations with other artists. General Fuzz mixes his electronic musicianship with various instruments such as tabla, flute, cello and others with usually excellent results. “The Grenadier” is the funkiest with some nice guitar and bass. The other songs tend to be more reflective. Actually the variety of moods is quite impressive. I especially like the flute and trumpet tracks, “Flow Tater” and “Cream” respectively.

On his own, General Fuzz still produces some nice vibes. His self-titled album generates a smooth jazz feel best exemplified in “Dream Together”. Inner Sunset has a lot of variety from a retro synth “Burnt Popcorn” to an keyboard driven “Friday on Thursday” that is soft and charming. Lastly, Messy’s Pace seems a bit more beat oriented but I may be wrong. I certainly think it the most dancable of the four albums. Give “Red balloon” and “Bars of Parmar” a try.

Messy's Pace

This is beautiful, intricate, loose and funky. San Francisco producer James Kirsch aka General Fuzz has recorded a fantastic instrumental record of melodic breakbeat and loungey chill. The album's first half is mid-tempo grooves sitting around the 120bpm mark and they bare some similarity to the complex ambient breaks of Sasha's brilliant Airdrawndagger album. Except that General Fuzz always places his melodies way forward in the mix - he's not making club music after all, despite its progressive house lineage - so even at low volume these pieces work a treat. Kirsch's live organ, guitar and electric piano playing is truly funky at times and his layering is exquisite.

The second half is little less distinctive and detours into jazzy sax on "Liquid Jazz", smooching sunset atmospheres on "Lost" and "Bars Of Parma", and swelling violin with electric piano and bubbly breaks on "Lido". Unbelievable that this album is free to download on his website. Someone give this man a contract. Rating: 4/5

I spend many an hour ferreting out new music and artists to review. Consequently I have an extensive in pile of CD's to listen to. I also end up with music that I've just downloaded on a whim or recommendation and in the in-box it sits until I feel like dipping in for something different. Today was quite different. I found this album nestled innocently on my hard drive, yet have no idea of how it got there. I'm not for a moment going to blame aliens, but find it strange nonetheless.

At first glance this looks like any common or garden album. 9 tracks, with fairly different names from the norm, but nothing too unusual. However once I got a track by track listing, I found that the majority of tracks were over 6 minutes. The longest is a touch over 9 minutes. I immediately thought this was going to be an album to struggle through. I was wrong, oh so very wrong.

The album opens with the suitable weight, nigh on 7 and a half minute track "Smiling Perspective". It starts with some fairly ordinary drums and bass, but then slowly, the soft soothing synths come in and the whole track just comes alive. I could listen to this track over and over again for hours. Throughout the album there's a sci-fi, soundtrack sort of theme, but with a kind of dance underpinning. Again with music of this genre, it's an absolute joy to listen to through headphones. My favorite track on the album would have to be "Sliding Forward", with that delicious, almost hypnotic repetitiveness. Which when used intelligently like this, is simply fantastic. "Liquid Jazz" is, as the name indicates a mellow, electronic jazz fusion, which while sounding great, does feel kind of disjointed from the rest of the album. The last track on the album "Bars of Parmar", again has a distinctly different sound to the rest of the album, this time an almost ethnic feel, but it just flows beautifully.

Conclusion : An absolutely wonderful album and an amazing find. All the more amazing is that this album is freely available at no cost. Yes I said "NO COST".

After receiving a mysterious looking package one day in my office with contents I only imagined to be either filled with Anthrax or emanated a slight ticking sound, I was relieved to find, in my piece of mail, an CD album Calmspace was kind enough to send for a review. The album was from General Fuzz called "Messy's Pace" and, due to the eager person that I am upon receiving something free of charge, I immediately popped the disc in my laptop and hit play. The feeling that I got from the first track (Smiling Perspective) was not exactly what one would call downtempo or chillout in general a few minutes in, but more of a melodic beat-heavy uptempo electronica sound that reminisces of Eddie Murphy sneaking around downtown in movies like Beverly Hills Cop.

The track set the tone for me, but tracks like "Unconscious Alliance" and "Leave No Trace" gave a strong urban vibe. The tracks "Sliding Forward" and "Liquid Jazz" gave of a soothing score where you could seriously just kick back and relax to. Anyone interested in songs from Lemon Jelly should check this one out.

The artist, James Kirsch or "JimmyK", hailing from Massachusetts, was educated in electronic music from a liberal arts school called Oberlin. He's been doing this for a few years and already with a few albums out with real catchy sounds. All in all a definite listen for those into upbeat electronica.

What you need . . .

Ooh, I'm really spoiling you this week: two doses of goodness in the form of electronic music. But while most of you will have heard of Daft Punk before, you're less likely to have had the pleasure of this particular man's music. And it really is a pleasure to listen to, believe you me.

Y'see, General Fuzz just so happens to be somebody who creates music for pure love of the form, and then releases it to the public for free. Gratis. Without charge. No strings. Every album he has released is available download on his website. Complete. They even come with album art to print out, should you so wish.

You'd be forgiven for thinking then, that his music can't be that good: forgiven, but very much mistaken. General Fuzz makes excellent music. Emotive, even thought-provoking. And it's a rare piece of non-vocal music that can make me think. His music spans a broad scope of downtempo electronic music - as he puts it "It's not so much dance music as music to zone out to. It's fairly hard to classify. I've tagged it as 'a lush down-tempo melodic approach to instrumental electronica'". Now if that sounds dull to you, take heart in the knowledge that once again you are very, very wrong.

His albums vary considerably in style, with the first (General Fuzz) being the most conciously electronic, and the latest (Messy's Place) flirting heavily with instrumental music and styles (observe, for example, the unsurprisingly jazzy track "Liquid Jazz"). But this information means nothing: you can't convey music in type (well, unless it's being converted into MIDI, but that's besides the point).

You need to experience music to understand it.

You need General Fuzz.

Live performance
General Fuzz has opened up for over 60 bands, including Elton John, Tea Leaf Green, Devo, Joan Jett, Berlin, and Magnetic Poets.

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