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


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