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103 years ago today, June 30th, 1908 at about 7:14 in the am, in the Russian province of  Krasnoyarsk Krai, a tremendous explosion occurred. The blast, which scientists estimate would have registered at about 5.0 on the rictor scale obliterated everything around it. Trees in an area over 800 square miles in size were flattened, The shock wave broke windows hundreds of miles away.

In 2007 a collective of electronic artists gathered together to create music reflecting on and intended to draw attention to the Tunguska Phenomenon on the centenary of its occurrence, releasing the Society’s first release, Tunguska Chillout Grooves Vol. 1. From those roots the collective has grown considerably, and now sports over 100 members and 24 complete albums.

The modern Society describes themselves in their own words as, “a free creative group of free persons who compose free music for free people.” Their focus is the act of artistic creation for creation’s sake, and have an open invitation for new members to join, provided they share these ideals. The focus is, per the name, electronic music, although the society emphasises an interest in alternative exploration. Their albums are thematic, but the sheer number of various contributing artists can still lend something of a grab bag feel to many of them. Overall the quality of their music is very good, but the differences in method and attitudes regarding post-production sometimes stand out.

Tunguska Chillout Grooves Vol. 7 is the latest in the original series of work, a pleasant collection of chillout and ambient. Some of it wanders dangerously into the realm of “space” music, but it does so well, and politely, and given their original mission statement, this is perhaps not altogether unreasonable. A loose silk weave of sound, the music is less directly inspiring than almost subconsciously uplifting. It’s finest qualities almost seem to happen offstage, relaxing you from the background of your attentions. The music, even the stuff with a beat over 120 bpm comes off extremely downtempo. It generates a wind down feel, encouraging listenerrs to sit back, put their feet up, pour a glass of wine and just let go for awhile.

The general musical theme and genre hold, but as an album with over 20 different contributing artists, the collective concept cannot be overshadowed. Listening to the album is a lot like reading a magazine, or a collection of short stories. The common genre and genuine interest of the participants is obvious, but each story still sets its own pace and meter, and so too do the songs on the album. The effect is not jarring; the collaboration succeeds at the abstract level, and the participants work with a common vision, but listening closely you’ll notice the changes from one song to the next; true uniformity of purpose is never entirely achieved.

While I selected a particular album to review, one that I felt respresent an exceptional period in their work, one of the real selling points of the Tunguska Electronic Music Society is the sheer amount of work they generate. Albums literally flood out of them, and they never lack for enthusiasm or quality. If you find music on Chillout Grooves Vol. 7 then it’s time you began the reluctant perpetration for mass download. With six more Chillout sets to go before you even touch their Jungle or Drum and Base collections, the TEMS is one of the rare instances where sheer quantity becomes a selling point.

The TEMS, more than just making good and prolific music, is also another grand example of a concept whose core is in the Creative Commons message. Like other artists I’ve reviewed, there’s more to the TEMS than just a group of artists who decided to make some music. The collective, the concept, the scope of their work, all wouldn’t be possible in the form they’ve appeared without Creative Commons and the appreciation of free and fair use. Without it, over 100 fewer artists and 24 fewer albums of compelling electronica probably would never have a chance to grace your ears, for free or otherwise. The TEMS doesn’t merely represent more good music you can happen to download for free, it represents art that can only flourish in environments like those fostered by Creative Commons licensing.