Although it was great that online indie clearinghouse Pitchfork Media's "farm team" site for ultra-underground music gave South Florida some attention for the fine work done by Sumsun, Cop City/Chill Pillars, and the Jameses, news of its demise made public today should not come as any surprise.
"Today, the road comes to an end," a note on the site posted today begins. "We are saying goodbye."
As the New York Times so perfectly put it in July of 2010, the site "aggregates the work of several bloggers focused on D.I.Y. music micro-movements." And therein is the reason not to feel particularly bad about Altered Zones disappearing after a short run. This is not the same as losing Blender.
Fans of indie blogs that contributed content to the site (International Tapes, Transparent Visitation Rites, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Don't Die Wondering, Friendship Bracelet, Get Off the Coast, Gorilla vs Bear, Raven Sings the Blues, Rose Quartz, the Decibel Tolls, Weekly Tape Deck, and Yours Truly) have lost very little today.
This site began as a tight-knit collective of 14 music blogs with a
common goal, but as 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. We
love what we've built, and the idea of it remaining as a sort of time
capsule of this particular era of music feels right.
You decided what the heck this capsule is called, but this approach to a blog always ends up as needless crowdsourcing for an audience of readers who would head over to Pitchfork if they wanted a "curated" product. It's a bit of a Google Reader hardship to add a few more of these blogs to your RSS feeds, but the web doesn't need more sources of aggregation -- it thirsts for more original thoughts and reporting and insight. And, sigh, then they can be aggregated.
Perhaps a new focus will come in the form of Adhoc.fm in 2012, the new site editors Ric Leichtung and Emilie Friedlander are launching separate from the Pitchfork payroll. The only upside of aggregating (or "collaborating," if we want to put a better spin on it) is to share knowledge within a larger group, AKA an editorial staff. Never mind that any successful music news model involves some level of
"tricking" readers with established acts as gateways and then feeding them
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the more nutritious underground stuff later on.
Hopefully this venture separate from Pitchfork will allow them to cover every type of music that a typical Altered Zones reader would enjoy -- Lil Boosie mixtapes, unpronounceable witch house groups, and Tom Waits -- and not just the stuff "not quite big enough" for Pitchfork.