New music, concert downloads, other news:
My friends can attest that I often think I have been lazy and slow. Well, of course I do. Life is short and new ideas are waiting. I try to enjoy each moment of life; then I torture myself and imagine all the other more productive things I could be doing right now. WASP work-guilt mediated by failed attempts at living in the moment. So here’s a chance for me to redeem myself (to myself at least) and let you now what I’ve been up to.
After the release of Zerkalo and subsequent shipping activities, I mixed some 5.1 surround trailers for Vudu, who make a set-top box for viewing high definition movies. The previous month, I created some music for Hewlitt Packard to play at the release of their new TouchSmart computer, and I mixed the ad for that computer including my own foley and sound design, which has been showing on TV (using the Joan Jett song “Do You Want to Touch.”) It’s all a bit ironic considering I’m a Mac geek. I guess I never mentioned that I also did a bunch of sound design for a horror film called “Dead Girl,” although I don’t tend brag about such things. I’m also helping my friend Roberto Miller get the sound together so he can work on his new film.
I tested a bunch of new sounds at concerts in Latvia and Wisconsin in early September, using a portable rig that I put together to allow me to fly to gigs rather than driving. Yes, it centers on a laptop, with the ubiquitous Ableton Live. It’s a great program with enough flexibility to let me improvise, allowing me to avoid the beat-synchronized clichés of techno.
As soon as I got back from those concerts, we bottled 74 cases of homemade wine, with much-appreciated help from our friends. 2008 harvest season came in early October, so after picking, crushing, fermenting and pressing we now have a new batch of Syrah and Cabernet soaking in barrels for this year’s bottling in September.
From August until mid-December I taught a college course on Audio Mastering, which helped me clarify many of my festering ideas about sound quality and the music business, and also convinced me that I wanted to upgrade my surround speakers. I found two used pairs of Dunlavey SCII audiophile speakers to replace my small surround monitors. These integrate well with the Duntech Sovereigns that I use for main L+R, since they come from the same designer, John Dunlavey. I am extremely happy with the results, and I finally feel that I have a room where I can mix and master in surround when needed.
My first test with the new surround speakers came in December, when I spent most of the month mixing a massive new work by Markus Reuter in 5.1 surround (and in stereo for back-up.) Markus’ piece “Todmorden 513” lasts an hour, and includes about 80 tracks of audio, ranging from string sections, woodwinds, organ, synths and multiple guitars. It’s a massive undertaking, with the gravity of Messiaen crossed with postmodern timbres. I’m very proud to be involved.
I also created two short solo tracks for compilations, experimenting with the Spectral Filter plug-ins that I used heavily during “Zerkalo.” One of these pieces “One Year of Sound” actually blurs togther granular fragments of every chunk of sound design I made last year in a perverse abstract retrospective, due out on vinyl this year in France on the Hangars Liquid label. The other piece “Spectral Canyon” remixes whale recordings by David Rothenberg using similar mangling technology, and should appear on his remix CD later this year.
Apart from the mastering jobs that come in every week or so, I am now working on a preset library for the astounding new synth plug-in from Camel Audio called Alchemy. They started shipping this in November with a bunch of my samples bundled in, but I never found the time to build a full library of patches before it shipped. So after meeting with the brilliant Scottish software designer Ben Gillett at NAMM last week I felt inspired to carry through with my promises and make sounds that I would use (and I will use!) for others to hear how cool and powerful this new resynthesis engine really can be. My friends Ian Boddy and Richard Devine have aready contributed, so I feel like I flaked out a bit. One other project I did manage to deliver involved making presets for Izotope Ozone 4, a mastering plug-in that I use and respect.
These days my main obsession involves my new solo album, working title “Ylang”. It’s a tough project to start, as I want to use a certain rhythmic feel that I don’t really know how to get at the moment. I’m starting with acoustic sources. It might not be ready for a while, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m planning to release some old concert recordings, perhaps for download only, some of which may surprise you.
Much love, with hopes for peace and prosperity in this new era. – Robert