Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stone on Stone

I've completed the next installment in the journey of Curious Inversions. ...It ended up 12 tracks, at about 55 minutes of music. And even if I do say so myself, it's something special: delicate and textured. Cover art is never an easy thing to settle, but at the moment, I'm planning on using a photo that's cc-by-nc licensed from a Flickr user. ...I'm satisfied with how it looks, but we'll see.

Now we're at the part where you sit on the album for several months before anyone can hear it. I am told "sometime next year" is what we're looking at (on Kahvi).  ...that's the downside of releasing through a label. And, yes, I realize I could self-publish, but the meager "reach" that Curious Inversions gets via netlabels would be profoundly smaller if it were just my own music on, say, Soundcloud, and then I would have to deal with download restrictions and the like. So it goes.

I'm actually moderately proud of this album, though, so the wait will be a long one for me!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Updates

Another Release

Lovely cover by Mario Smit
Standard Deviations was released a while ago on Kahvi Collective. Two albums from one artist on one netlabel in a year!? Is that even possible?! So it seems.


Work in Progress

I'm currently working on another album. I am not sure where this album will land, label-wise. I'm currently checking out a few new netlabels, and talking to the folks at Kahvi about it (though it's a bit ridiculous to release three albums in a year at one site). 

Musical Direction

Part of me hates to admit this, as I've resisted it from the start, but: I am inching closer and closer toward an "analog" sound. I've long tried to keep Curious Inversions (and Introspective before it) more digital than analog. But... that is where I'm headed, for better or worse. I prefer the sound, now: it has grown on me over the years. You'll still hear some digital aspects in my music (you can have my PPG Wave when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers), but by and large: it's mostly (virtual) analog, now. VA is getting quite good, ITB!

Speaking of Gear...

Yes, Curious Inversions is still produced entirely ITB. I own an Ultranova (which I virtually stole in a blowout sale at $200—how could I not?), but ATM it's sitting beside my desk, unused even as a controller. I'm producing almost all of my music these days (from Schoolyard Crows on) with an Ableton Push... which I quite like. (Particularly now that you can use the strip as a modwheel, and the aftertouch isn't so... touchy!)

In terms of synths, I have been converging quite distinctly on U-he synths. ...with a few inclusions: I quite like the sound of Monark and (when I'm feeling digital again) Prism. And, as mentioned, I'll never stop using Wave 3.V, even if it means keeping around a dedicated PC for it. :) Diva, Zebra (Dark Horse preferred) and Bazille make up 80% of the synths I'm using these days. I pull up Serum now and again (particularly for a drum synth, at which it excels), and of course you will hear from Omnisphere and Trilian. Too much money sunk into those to ignore them. ;)  But that's about it, now. Noticeably absent of late are Absynth, Massive, ElectraX, D-CAM (though I was impressed with Strobe 2), and Largo. In the end, U-he's stuff is more stable, more flexible, easier to use, and [gasp] sounds better. I have many "seed" sounds left to use from each of those synths, so you will continue to hear them in the future, but not for bread-and-butter.

Drums are almost entirely handled, now, by the brilliant Wave Alchemy Synth Drums package. I haven't found a need for anything else, since installing that (though you will hear remnants of other attempts in this latest album, you won't hear any more, going forward.) I bought and enjoyed several other packages (including Spark), but, in the end, they lost out to the modular-analog sounds. They are lovely. The only exception here is the aforementioned Serum, which I use to liven up some snares on occasion.

My effects haven't changed: I'm still relying heavily on Timeless, Saturn, Aether, and the built-in effects of Live and the synths. I'm fooling around with Molekular and Guitar Rig, but I haven't been overly impressed so far. [shrug]

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Schoolyard Crows

In case you missed it, I (finally) released a new album called Schoolyard Crows over at Kahvi. (And, note: I did the album artwork myself, on a Cintiq with Photoshop CS.)

This was a bit of a whirlwind album. ...I'd had a handful of tracks that I was kinda saving for an album, and then Nik (of Kahvi) asked me for a single track to release as part of their Christmas package. (...which I did; you'll find the track "Thread on the Water" there, it's not bad.)

That motivated me to do more work... I ended up almost completely re-writing the tracks I'd had waiting around, and I quickly added a series of new tracks. ...And I continued to add tracks to the release between the time when Nik said "yup, I'll release this" and when it was finally pushed. :) ...Interestingly, I actually think those last-minute tracks are some of the best on the album.

Anyway, this was produced with quite a different set of tools than listed below. It was a combination of Maschine, Omnisphere, Trilian, Diva, D-CAM, and Electra 2 for the most part, with effects almost entirely handled by Timeless, Pro-C, Saturn, and 2CAudio Aether (and Live's built-in limiter). For hardware, it was almost entirely done on an Ableton Push, which I quite like, modulo a few quirks (which should be addressed with the next release of Live, so I'm holding on). ...I do own a Novation Ultranova at this point (I couldn't afford the Virus that I wanted--money has been tight), and a Maschine Mikro, but they saw limited use on this album as controllers; I didn't use the Ultranova as a sound-source at all.

I am moderately pleased with the results, now that a few months have passed since finishing the album. It's a bit busier than I envisioned, and shortly before release, I realized how HEAVY the bass was on the whole thing (I master with Sennheisers, and they are so clear in the bass that I didn't notice the problem). ...I'll watch that from now on.

I've also written some "easy" Berlin School, which you can grab over at Soundcloud, but I can't promise it will stay up forever. Those tracks were just an exercise is writing music for the sake of writing music... I wasn't really going back and editing anything, I was just letting it flow in pseudo-realtime. They are listenable tracks, but would need serious work for professional release.

I have started work on another album, but only just. ...I need a little more time to digest Schoolyard Crows and think about where I'm headed, musically.

But not another five years.  :D

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Are You So Petrified of Silence?

Yes, yes, I've been silent.  But not idle.  Not at all.  So here's an update.

My music is in a state of metamorphosis.  I'm... playing a lot.  In the background.  Recording a little, but nothing worth posting (I have much to learn).  My style is changing, becoming much more rhythmic. In fact, I've been using my Alesis Control Pad almost as often as my ReMote. I think this is born of a change in listening habits: Hybrid, Max Cooper, Booka Shade, Boris Brejcha, Deru, Yimino, Thom Yorke, Trentemøller... and a relative increase in spins for old friends like Vibrasphere, Sasha's stranger side projects, Massive Attack, and Aes Dana. And, yes, I still listen to an uncomfortable amount of Nine Inch Nails. ...he's just got such an acute sense of rhythm, tonality, mood and texture. He's brilliant. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.  :)

And now for the abjectly gear-headed update:

I've slowly acquired a few additional synths in the past few years; namely U-he Diva and Tone2 ElextraX... and those two have changed the way I think about music, really: they have helped attract me to purity of sound instead of adding a bajillion layers to make things interesting.  They're both beautiful, in their own way.  But I'll go into that in another post. I will add that I've narrowed my overall pool of synths as a result: those two plus Omnisphere (for which I recently wrote a review), Absynth, and D-CAM.  Yes, of course, I occasionally reach for Komplete or Largo for the occasional click, boomklang, or tinkle... but rarely, now.

I've also been spending quite a lot of time at the local hardware stores... and I've decided that hardware does sound better. ...But I suspect much of that (not all) has to do with better D/A than comes standard on my iMac, so I'm planning on "upgrading" my D/A ... in the form of a Virus TI Snow. Yes, yes, I could have gone with an Ultranova, but I figure the sound of the Virus (which I am quite fond of--I used to own one, sort of) would be worth twice the price.  ...I also hear the D/A is better on the Virus.  Go figure. Yes, I'm selling out and joining the ranks of the Virus-lovers.

I also need (heh: "need") to pick up a Korg Wavedrum to assist in the percussive, rhythmic department. But beyond that, there is only one more thing on my Christmas list. A secret weapon, even: something to further turn my software into hardware (to a degree). ...I'm choosing not to mention it, even.  :D

Of course, I am presently--as I have long been--very poor.  ...But without going into the messy specifics of the problem (which would just piss me off anyway): my budget should slowly start crawling out of the abyss at the end of this year.  So the expansion of the studio, barring any serendipitous boons or frustrating travesties, shall begin in 2013. ...apocalypse notwithstanding.

I am rather excited about music, though. That's a safe assertion.

"Watch this space," as they say.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Growth

My.  It's been so long since I've posted here that Blogger has changed entirely since my last visit.

I've not been ignoring music... I am quietly honing skills, synths, and patch-libraries behind the scenes. In the news: I updated Largo from 1.0 to 1.5 (it's awesome), I bought Gladiator (it's quite good), and I bought Sylenth1 (also awesome).  I ditched Morphine and SynthMaster.  And I've spent a whole lot of time re-learning my scales (useful) and organizing/editing my patches.

For now, that's all.  No music written, really, other than the equivalent of "thumbnail sketches" (of which I've done quite a bit).  But it sure feels like music is coming.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Keyboard Tracking

On synths where the keys light up as they're being played, you can't see the "black" keys being pressed clearly (if at all).

...Why don't synth makers lighten the dark keys the same way they darken the light keys?

[shakes head]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Studio, January 2011













...Obviously, this doesn't include Ableton Live, nor the effects that I use (mostly just Ambience, the Blue Tubes reverb, and Live's built-in effects).

And, honestly, I have not been impressed with SynthMaster.  It keeps crashing on me and refuses to render its audio, sometimes.  :\  I may abandon it and write it off as a loss.


Synths I'm thinking about picking up right now are ChronoX and Drumaxx.  Nothing else, at the moment.  I think after getting those two, I'll be heading toward the world of hardware synths.