Report from Solstice Cave: collabs, film, ads, more
by on June 27, 2008 in Recent Activity

A busy and fascinating few months at the Soundscape Cellar and Drone Factory. When you don’t hear from me for a while you can guess I’m either traveling or holed up making music. This time it’s the latter. In May I spent a week doing sound design for the sort of movie I prefer not to watch, a zombie film called “Deadgirl” that should debut in September at the Toronto Film Festival in their Midnight Movie lineup. Not my cup o’ meat, but I still had fun making rumbling and scraping sounds, for the composer and editor to mold to their B-movie needs.

Immediately after the film work, I prepped a bunch of new sounds for KFJC’s Day of Drone, which went off quite well. I have a recording of the 80 minutes that I played, and it sounds interesting enough that I might release it one of these days. In fact, it might form part of a series of download-only live concert releases that could see the light later this year.

Fresh from the Day of Droning I entered the rarified landscape of corporate identity, and created some sound design for an advertisement flaunting the new HP Touchsmart computer. I also mixed the ad, which makes use of an old song by Joan Jett. I then threw together a 15 minute ambient piece to entertain the theater audience in Berlin, who would be waiting for the start of HP’s big product unveiling event.

Finally, I cleared away the lucrative part of my schedule, so I could dig more deeply into a collaboration with Faryus (Andrey Sodovnikov) of Faria records in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He sent me about two hours of interesting drones several months ago, and after I assembled them into a flow that felt like the framework for an album, I set aside the project to tackle other duties. I dedicated the remainder of June to finishing this album, and I’m getting close. Comparisons? Similar to “Stalker” or “Below Zero” in energy, perhaps more blurry, quite haunting and beautiful in parts, deeply layered but hovering near the shadows. Title: “Zerkalo” – Russian for “Mirror”. Yes, there’s a Tarkovsky film by that name. Makes sense, considering the Russian connection. You’d think I liked Tarkovsky or something. “Zerkalo” should come out as a limited edition in Russia, and I’ll have 300 copies to sell here.

Not far from Saint Petersburg, Riga Latvia sounds like an unlikely place to perform at the end of August, but it appears to be happening. I haven’t seen my airplane tickets yet, but it’s looking likely that I’ll play at the Opera House in Riga on Saturday August 30. Could be I’ll arrange a drop in St. Petersburg for a small show as well, if I can work out the visa situation (postscript edit – looks more difficult than I thought.)

If that’s not enough, I’ll start teaching a semester-long course on audio mastering at nearby Cogswell College this Autumn, so I’m writing a syllabus in my spare time. This is my first time teaching an entire course. I’ll get some practice in mid-July when I give a short talk in San Francisco on just intonation, at a Leonardo Society meeting. It might sound strange, but I’m looking forward to these chances to increase my skills at public speaking.

Recent mastering jobs in the last month have included new releases by Ben Fleury-Steiner and Forrest Fang. Next week I plan to record some visiting South Indian classical musicians, and maybe a just intonation harpsichord performance at the end of the month. I’m always happy to put my ear on someone else’s music besides my own: a relief at times. In the meantime we’re picking fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and beans from the garden, the apricots and figs are starting to ripen, and our ’07 Mercurius Cabernet and Syrah are aging nicely in barrels down in the basement. Life is good this summer. Glad to be staying home.

By the way, have you ever heard the Manchester band “Elbow”? Bloody amazing. I saw them live in San Francisco last month after being introduced to them only a few months previously. I’m listening to them as I write this. Great song-writing makes me REALLY happy. Music this good made me want to try doing Amoeba 15 years ago, and I’m still a huge fan of thoughtful beautiful songs. Thank you, Elbow!

Signing out for now – Robert Rich

18 Responses to Report from Solstice Cave: collabs, film, ads, more

  1. Tyler says:

    Thanks for the update, Robert, they’re always appreciated. All this talk of your random drone pieces is making me hope for another album in the vein of “Below Zero” or “A Troubled Resting Place.” Get on it already! You’ve been slacking this year! 😉 I was also hoping the live drone event was recorded, as I missed the original.

    Have a fun rest of the year, and stay creative. Wish I could attend those audio mastering classes…


  2. Joe says:

    I hope the JI talk makes it on youtube. Zombies rock.

  3. Don says:

    Thank you for the update. I’m particularly excited about
    the possibility of that KFJC session being released (in any format) and that Farius collaboration sounds great.
    I’ll be first in line for that one!

    That Elbow record is thier best yet.
    May I recommend you check out Richard Hawley’s stuff (he’s the guest singer
    on the Elbow track “The Fix”.) Beautiful melodies and voice
    and simple heartfelt lyrics.

    thanks again

  4. Sergio says:

    That live concerts download sounds great, looking forward to hear that collaboration with Farius too.
    Best regards

  5. Leo says:

    So many good news! It looks perfect! The possibility of concert in Saint-Petersburg makes me very happy (dreams becoming reality!).

  6. admin says:

    St. Petersburg is rather unsure at this time. The visa situation is a bit tricky. But it would be nice if possible. The new album is almost finished, though. I am mastering it this week. – RR

  7. Niclas says:

    Very good news indeed!

    Really looking forward to hear the album with Faryus, the descrption of these sounds amazing, Stalker and Below Zero is still my favorite albums with you.

    Faryus last album with Oophoi “forgotten” rituals” is also much recommended….incredible deep ambient.

  8. Joe says:

    I can also recommended Diatonis’ Dark Edges, especially the surround sound version.

  9. Niclas says:

    Thank you Joe, listening to the samples now…certainly seem to be high quality ambient music this…

  10. Simon Stopher says:

    Hey Robert – all this sounds great, especially the possible live downloads, and “Zerkalo” as well. Cannot wait.

    My wife has been to Riga, she says its a beautiful city, that is well worth spending a few days in.

    Someone has mentioned Oophoi I see. I bought some of his stuff recently. Interesting.

    Not sure about Elbow though! I can recommend Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” a really lovely record, which completely puts to bed that myth about them being miserable sods! I saw them live last weekend too. Fantastic.

    Best wishes.


  11. Joe says:

    How about a surround sound download? ^_^

  12. admin says:

    Re: Joe’s question about surround – the main problem is that none of the concerts were recorded in surround. (For that matter, they weren’t performed nor mixed in surround.) I love the idea, but where’s the market? For that matter, who’s listening to Atlas Dei in surround?

    I’m currently working on editing the “live archive” recordings, and doing some admin work on the new release in Russia. The concert in Riga has some question marks hovering, as I haven’t heard back from the organizers in a month, and I won’t plan further unless I see payment for airline tickets. In the meantime I’m using the opportunity to create a very portable gig rig using a laptop and minimal outboard gear. – RR

  13. Roy N. says:

    Great news about these new projects in progress. I trust the availability of “Zerkalo” will be made known through the newsletter? I don’t want to miss that one!
    I concur with another commenter, Stalker and Below Zero are excellent, among my faves.

    Best Regards,

  14. Andy Boyd says:

    Who are the South Indian musicians you are recording? I am a long-time student and fan of Carnatic music.


    -Andy Boyd in Seattle

  15. admin says:

    The musicians I recorded two weeks ago were flutist Sunil Kumar, vocalist Bhavani Kishore Kumar, and mridangist Mr. Sakthivel. We recorded a morning raga (Bouli), Rag Jog, a folk song Kavadi Sindhu, Raghu Pathi Ragav and a Mridangam solo. – RR

  16. Joe says:

    I play Atlas Dei in surround, and turn off the tv when I’m trying to sleep. 🙂

  17. Lynn Ray-Pardo says:

    Hi Robert!

    Big fun reading about your projects, can’t wait to check out your foody site, too!


  18. Guy W. says:

    Anxiously awaiting the Faryus/Rich – ‘Zerkalo’ release – what’s the status, Robert?

    Best regards…

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