So, two and a half years after the release of “Phase Shift”, I finished another album. Though it’s again something of a compilation of individual tracks I’ve done over the time period instead of an intentional collection, I feel it’s definitely more focused and cohesive than my previous effort. This is partly due to an attempt to narrow down my sound and stick with the kinds of elements I really enjoy rather than just experiment, and partly due to a sort of last minute attempt to create a continuous experience and stick them all together with a bunch of ambient samples and chord washes a la Future Sound of London’s ISDN and Dead Cities, two of my all-time favorite albums.
Been playing with tree meshes and materials, partly to ramp up for a project idea I had and partly just because I’ve seen so many damned impressive archviz renders lately. There’s some really inspiring stuff out there. I used to have this opinion that architectural rendering was more about accuracy than realism and found them generally flat and boring compared to, say, game cinematics. But from what I’ve seen lately their level of detail and photorealism trumps even the most expensive game intros (see Ronen Bekerman, Bertrand Benoit and Peter Guthrie, for example). On the other hand, there’s been quite a shift over the past ten years from pre-rendered to in-game sequences, which could play a part in it also.
Technical acumen aside I’ve also started to appreciate the beauty of a meticulously detailed architectural rendering. Not unlike a well-done landscape, I think archviz too can be inspiring and bring out emotion, capturing the stillness of a moment, the contrast between the natural beauty of trees, land and organic textures with the orderly man-made objects, the way light and shadow play across both. I find it a bit hard to describe, but there’s certainly much more feeling and art in it than a simple presentation of a blueprint to a client in 3D.
Anyway, I’m no architect and only have a vague inspiration here, so I just wanted to play with materials and light and capture that sort of minimalism and stillness.
Switching gears, a couple weeks ago I busted out another Janet remix, this time sort of a quickie. I think it’s actually closer to the original, using mostly 808s. I had an idea to do a soft minimal drum&bass version of it with a little more play on the drums, some LPF chords and a decaying arpeggiated 1/8th note synth. Kind of has a lullaby feel to it, or it would if it weren’t for the pace of the beat.
The majority of my spare visual creative juice has gone into freelance work lately, so I’ve been working on music for fun to keep myself from getting burnt out. This current freelance gig is actually kind of a fun and challenging project and I’ll probably have a fair amount to post when it’s finished, but I think I should refrain in the meantime until the client is satisfied.
So on the music side, I did a quick remix of Busta Rhymes/Janet Jackson’s “What’s it Gonna Be”, just for fun and something I knew Sporkii would like. I think it’s pretty much done.
Since I haven’t had any new artwork to show recently, I thought post something a bit different. Once in awhile Sporkii and I go out for a walk and I bring my 7D along and take dark, blurry macro pictures of nature and decay and apply them to my desktop wallpaper, so here’s a collection of some from the past year.
Most available in 1920×1280, a few cropped to 1920×1200.
A few weeks ago I decided to kick some new life into my music workflow and bought myself Native Instruments’ Maschine. I had a lot of fun using the Roland MC-808 a few years ago, but eventually its lack of good software support and DAW integration caught up to me and it turned into a big paperweight. Turns out it was a good time to buy Maschine too, as NI just implemented VST support into the software, among a bunch of other cool new stuff.
So far I’ve been loving it. The software and hardware have both been exceptionally intuitive and well-integrated, with hardly any technical issues in the way (the one exception so far being audio routing, e.g. for sidechaining or vocoding). So my biggest problem with the MC-808 was arrangement, and I suspect this holds true with groovebox-style production in general. It’s great to just get in and start sequencing loops, but arranging those loops into an actual track always felt cumbersome or dry and boring. Maschine’s drag&drop audio (not to mention loop optimization) really bridges that gap for me.
Unfortunately Renoise, my DAW of choice, isn’t well-supported by the standalone Maschine software for drag&drop. Although I think it’s possible to integrate via Maschine’s VST through midi/program changes, that route really sounds like a workflow hindrance to me. Plus, with all the years I worked with creating loops on my XP-50 and arranging in Acid, I really got used to the multitracker layout. So I decided to give Ableton Live another shot. Live too has been extremely intuitive to learn and fun to use as an arrangement tool, and feels like the perfect complement to the ease of Maschine’s loop-based paradigm.
TL;DR: Using Maschine and Live now, though I’m always going to love Renoise =)
Mostly chilled out D&B mix I did a few weeks ago with a bunch of tracks from the inspiring Mosaic Vol. 1 compilation. Near the end I decided to throw in a few oldschool 90s tracks for fun, and ultimately capped it off with Croms’ epic 80s synth track “Invisible Cities”.
Consequence – A Man and a Woman
Nether – Dimensional Space Jazz
Rockwell – Aria
Synth Sense – After Dark
Sam KDC & Mr Smith – Before I Fall
Scuba – In 2
Razorpoint – Poison Kisses
Subwave – Ubik
Panic Girl – Blue Lights (dBridge remix)
They Live – Pure Palms
Alix Perez – Fade Away
Lenzman feat. Riya – Open Page
Dan Harbanham – Nu Este Roz
dBridge – Rendezvouz
Bop – Somnambula
Alix Perez – 1984
Stray – Pushed
Commix – City Section
Gerwin & Suree – Hide & Seek
Phaeleh & Soundmouse – Afterglow (dBridge’s faded light remix)
Dillinja – Promise
Seba – Move On (dub)
Alex Reece – Ibiza
Eugenix – 3 Days
Art of Noise – Opus 4 (PFM remix)
Omni Trio – Renegade Snares (Rob’s Reconstruction Mix)
Wilkinson – Hypnosis
Bungle & Index – Forgotten Souls
Croms – Invisible Cities
So I’m thinking I’ll rotate out a mix once a month to save minutes on my SoundCloud page. Downloads enabled so grab it if you like it =)