Take a 3D trip into experimental turntablism with V-A-C Moscow, Shiva Feshareki

Complex music conjures up radical, fluid architectures, vivid angles – why not experience those spatial and rhythmic structures together? Here’s insight into a music video this week in which experimental turntablism and 3D graphics collide.

And collide is the right word. Sound and image are all hard edges, primitive cuts, stimulating corners.

Shiva Feshareki is a London-born composer and turntablist; she’s also got a radio show on NTS. With a research specialization in Daphne Oram (there’s a whole story there, even), she’s made a name for herself as one of the world’s leading composers working with turntables as medium, playing to the likes of the Royaal Albert Hall with the London Contemporary Orchestra. Her sounds are themselves often spatial and architectural, too – not just taking over art spaces, but working with spatial organization in her compositions.

That makes a perfect fit with the equally frenetic jump cuts and spinning 3D architectures of visualist Daniel James Oliver Haddock. (He’s a man with so many dimensions they named him four times over.)

NEW FORMS, her album on Belfast’s Resist label, explores the fragmented world of “different social forms,” a cut-up analog to today’s sliced-up, broken society. The abstract formal architecture, then, has a mission. As she writes in the liner notes: “if I can demonstrate sonically how one form can be vastly transformed using nothing other than its own material, then I can demonstrate this complexity and vastness of perspective.”

You can watch her playing with turntables and things around and atop turntables on Against the Clock for FACT:

And grab the album from Bandcamp:

Shiva herself works with graphical scores, which are interpreted in the album art by artist Helena Hamilton. Have a gander at that edition:

But since FACT covered the sound side of this, I decided to snag Daniel James Oliver Haddock. Daniel also wins the award this week for “quickest to answer interview questions,” so hey kids, experimental turntablism will give you energy!

Here’s Daniel:

The conception formed out of conversations with Shiva about the nature of her work and the ways in which she approaches sound. She views sound as these unique 3D structures which can change and be manipulated. So I wanted to emulate that in the video. I also was interested in the drawings and diagrams that she makes to plan out different aspects of her performances, mapping out speakers and sound scapes, I thought they were really beautiful in a very clinical way so again I wanted to use them as a staging point for the 3D environments.

I made about 6 environments in cinema 4d which were all inspired by these drawings. Then animated these quite rudimentary irregular polyhedrons in the middle to kind of represent various sounds.

Her work usually has a lot of sound manipulation, so I wanted the shapes to change and have variables. I ended up rendering short scenes in different camera perspectives and movements and also changing the textures from monotone to colour.

After all the Cinema 4d stuff, it was just a case of editing it all together! Which was fairly labour intensive, the track is not only very long but all the sounds have a very unusual tempo to them, some growing over time and then shortening, sounds change and get re-manipulated so that was challenging getting everything cut well. I basically just went through second by second with the waveforms and matched sounds by eye. Once I got the technique down it moved quite quickly. I then got the idea to involve some found footage to kind of break apart the aesthetic a bit.

Of course, there’s a clear link here to Autechre’s Gantz Graf music video, ur-video of all 3D music videos after. But then, there’s something really delightful about seeing those rhythms visualized when they’re produced live on turntables. Just the VJ in me really wants to see the visuals as live performance. (Well, and to me, that’s easier to produce than the Cinema 4D edits!)

But it’s all a real good time with at the audio/visual synesthesia experimental disco.

More:

Watch experimental turntablist Shiva Feshareki’s ‘V-A-C Moscow’ video [FACT]

https://www.shivafeshareki.co.uk/

https://resistbelfast.bandcamp.com/album/new-forms

Resist label

The post Take a 3D trip into experimental turntablism with V-A-C Moscow, Shiva Feshareki appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Vectors are getting their own festival: lasers and oscilloscopes, go!

It’s definitely an underground subculture of audiovisual media, but lovers of graphics made with vintage displays, analog oscilloscopes, and lasers are getting their own fall festival to share performances and techniques.

Vector Hack claims to be “the first ever international festival of experimental vector graphics” – a claim that is, uh, probably fair. And it’ll span two cities, starting in Zagreb, Croatia, but wrapping up in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.

Why vectors? Well, I’m sure the festival organizers could come up with various answers to that, but let’s go with because they look damned cool. And the organizers behind this particular effort have been spitting out eyeball-dazzling artwork that’s precise, expressive, and unique to this visceral electric medium.

Unconvinced? Fine. Strap in for the best. Festival. Trailer. Ever.

Here’s how they describe the project:

Vector Hack is the first ever international festival of experimental vector graphics. The festival brings together artists, academics, hackers and performers for a week-long program beginning in Zagreb on 01/10/18 and ending in Ljubljana on 07/10/18.

Vector Hack will allow artists creating experimental audio-visual work for oscilloscopes and lasers to share ideas and develop their work together alongside a program of open workshops, talks and performances aimed at allowing young people and a wider audience to learn more about creating their own vector based audio-visual works.

We have gathered a group of fifteen participants all working in the field from a diverse range of locations including the EU, USA and Canada. Each participant brings a unique approach to this exiting field and it will be a rare chance to see all their works together in a single program.

Vector Hack festival is an artist lead initiative organised with
support from Radiona.org/Zagreb Makerspace as a collaborative international project alongside Ljubljana’s Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory and Projekt Atol Institute. It was conceived and initiated by Ivan Marušić Klif and Derek Holzer with assistance from Chris King.

Robert Henke is featured, naturally – the Berlin-based artist and co-founder of Ableton and Monolake has spent the last years refining his skills in spinning his own code to control ultra-fine-tuned laser displays. But maybe what’s most exciting about this scene is discovering a whole network of people hacking into supposedly outmoded display technologies to find new expressive possibilities.

One person who has helped lead that direction is festival initiator Derek Holzer. He’s finishing a thesis on the topic, so we’ll get some more detail soon, but anyone interested in this practice may want to check out his open source Pure Data library. The Vector Synthesis library “allows the creation and manipulation of vector shapes using audio signals sent directly to oscilloscopes, hacked CRT monitors, Vectrex game consoles, ILDA laser displays, and oscilloscope emulation software using the Pure Data programming environment.”

https://github.com/macumbista/vectorsynthesis

The results are entrancing – organic and synthetic all at once, with sound and sight intertwined (both in terms of control signal and resulting sensory impression). That is itself perhaps significant, as neurological research reveals that these media are experienced simultaneously in our perception. Here are just two recent sketches for a taste:

They’re produced by hacking into a Vectrax console – an early 80s consumer game console that used vector signals to manipulate a cathode ray screen. From Wikipedia, here’s how it works:

The vector generator is an all-analog design using two integrators: X and Y. The computer sets the integration rates using a digital-to-analog converter. The computer controls the integration time by momentarily closing electronic analog switches within the operational-amplifier based integrator circuits. Voltage ramps are produced that the monitor uses to steer the electron beam over the face of the phosphor screen of the cathode ray tube. Another signal is generated that controls the brightness of the line.

Ted Davis is working to make these technologies accessible to artists, too, by developing a library for coding-for-artists tool Processing.

http://teddavis.org/xyscope/

Oscilloscopes, ready for interaction with a library by Ted Davis.

Ted Davis.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the other artists in the festival, too. It’s wonderful to watch new developments in the post digital age, as artists produce work that innovates through deeper excavation of technologies of the past.

Akiras Rebirth.

Alberto Novell.

Vanda Kreutz.

Stefanie Bräuer.

Jerobeam Fenderson.

Hrvoslava Brkušić.

Andrew Duff.

More on the festival:
https://radiona.org/
https://wiki.ljudmila.org/Main_Page

http://vectorhackfestival.com/

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Let’s talk craft and vision in live audiovisual performance, media art

We’re gathering with top digital media artists this week – and you can tune in. Here’s a preview of their work, on the eve of Lunchmeat Festival, Prague.

Transmedia work and live visual performance exist at sometimes awkward intersections, caught between economies of the art world and music industry, between academia and festivals. They mix techniques and histories that aren’t always entirely compatible – or at least that can be demanding in combination. But the fields of media art and live visuals also represent areas of tremendous potential for innovation – where artists can explore immersive media, saturate senses, and apply buzzword-friendly technologies from AI to VR in experimental, surprising ways.

Our goal: bring together some artists for some deep discussion. And we have a great venue in which to do it. Prague’s Lunchmeat Festival has exploded on the international scene. Even sandwiched against Unsound Festival in Krakow and ADE in Amsterdam, it’s started to earn attention and big lineups, thanks to the intrepid work of an underground Czech collective. (The rest of the year, the Lunchmeat crew can usually be found doing installations and live visual club work of their own.)

Heck, even the fact that I’m stumbling over how to word this says something about the hybrid forms we’re describing, from live cinema to machine learning-infused art.

Since most of you won’t be in Prague this week, we’ll livestream and archive those conversations for the whole world.

Follow the event on Facebook for the schedule and add CDM to your Facebook likes to get a notification when our video starts, and stay tuned to CDM for the latest updates.

To whet your appetite (hopefully), here’s a look at the cast of characters involved:

Katerina Blahutova [DVDJ NNS]

Let’s start for a change with the home Prague team. Katerina is a great example of a new generation of artists coming from outside conventional pathways as far as discipline. She graduated in architecture and urbanism, then shifted that interest (consciously or otherwise) to transforming whole club and performance environments. She’s been a VJ and curator with Lunchmeat, designed releases and videos for Genot Centre (as well as graphic design for bands), then went on to co-found LOLLAB collective and tour with MIDI LIDI.

Don’t miss her poppy, saturated, post-Internet surrealism – hyperreality with concoctions of slime and object, opaque luminosities and lushly-colored, fragmented textures. (I can rip off this bit of the program; I wrote it originally!)

Oh yeah, and she made this nice teaser loop for this week’s festivities:

teaser loop from upcoming vj set for @malumzkole at @lunchmeat_cz #dvdjnns #wip

A post shared by Katla / DVDJ NNS (@katlanns) on

Ignazio Mortellaro [Stroboscopic Artefacts, Roots in Heaven]

Turn that saturation knob all the way down again, and step into the world of Stroboscopic Artefacts. Ignazio is the visual imagination behind all of that label’s distinctive look, from album design (as beautifully exhibited) to videos. He’ll be talking to us about that ongoing collaboration.

In addition, Ignazio is doing live visuals for a fresh project. Allow me to quote myself:

Roots in Heaven, a label owner and accomplished solo artist hidden behind a mesh mask and feathers, joins visualist Ignazio Mortellaro to present a new live audiovisual work. This comes on the heals of this year’s Roots in Heaven debut record “Petites Madeleines” (a Proust reference), out on K7! offshoot Zehnin. The result is a journey into “concentrated sensory impression” in sound, light, and sensation.

Gregory Eden [Clark]

One of the goals Lunchmeat’s curators and I discussed was elevating the visibility of people working on visual materials. But unlike the ‘front man’/’front woman’ role of a lot of the music artists, the position some of these people fill goes beyond just sole artist to broader management and production. Maybe that’s even more reason to pay attention to who they are and how they work.

Greg Eden, who’s at Lunchmeat with Clark, is a great example. With a university physics degree, he went on to Warp, where he developed Clark and Boards of Canada. He’s now full-time managing Clark, and in addition to that … uh, full time job … manages Nathan Fake (with visuals by Flat-e) and Gajek and Finn McNicholas.

Visuals are often synonymous with just “something on a projector,” live cinema-style. But Clark’s show is full-on stage show. For the stage adaptation of Death Peak, the artist works with choreographer Melanie Lane, dancers Kiani Del Valle and Sophia Ndaba, and lights from London’s Flat-E. Think of it as rave theater. That makes Greg’s role doubly interesting, as someone has to pull all of this together:

Novi_sad [with Ryoichi Kurokawa, SIRENS]

The collaboration between Novi_sad and Ryoichi Kurokawa is one of the more important ones of the moment, its nervous, quivering economic data visualization a fitting expression of our anxious zeitgeist. Here’s a glimpse of that work:

Ryoichi Kurokawa and Novi_sad have worked together to produce an audiovisual show in five etudes that produces a dramaturgy of data, weaving the numbers of the economic downturn into poignant, emotional narrative. Data and sound quiver and dematerialize in eerie, mournful tableaus, re-imagining the sound works of Richard Chartier, CM von Hausswolff, Jacob Kirkegaard, Helge Sten, and Rebecca Foon. Novi_sad is self-taught composer Thanasis Kaproulias, himself coming not only from the nation that has borne the brunt of Europe’s crisis, but holding a degree in economics. As a perfect foil to his sonic landscapes, Japan’s Ryoichi Kurokawa has made a name in expressive, exposed digital minimalism.

Marcel Weber (MFO) [Ben Frost] / Theresa Baumgartner [Jlin]

Ben Frost is already interesting from a collaborative standpoint, having worked with media like dance (Chunky Move, Wayne McGregor). The collaboration with MFO brings him together with one of Europe’s leading visual practitioners; Marcel will join us to talk about that but hopefully about his work for the likes of Berlin Atonal Festival, as well.

MFO has also designed the visuals for the sensational Jlin, but Theresa Baumgartner is touring with it – as well as working on production for Boiler Room. So, we have Theresa joining us from something of the in-the-trenches production perspective, as well.

Gene Kogan

VJing and live cinema are rooted in conventional compositing and processing. Even when they’re digital, we’re talking techniques mostly developed decades ago.

For something further afield, Gene Kogan will take us on a journey into deep generative work, machine learning and the new aesthetics that become possible with it. As AI begins to infuse itself with digital media, artists are indeed grappling with its potential. Gene is offering talks and workshops both here at Lunchmeat and at Ableton Loop next month, so now is a great time to check in with him. A bit about him:

Gene Kogan is an artist and a programmer who is interested in generative systems, artificial intelligence, and software for creativity and self-expression. He is a collaborator within numerous open-source software projects, and leads workshops and demonstrations on topics at the intersection of code and art. Gene initiated and contributes to ml4a, a free book about machine learning for artists, activists, and citizen scientists. He regularly publishes video lectures, writings, and tutorials to facilitate a greater public understanding of the topic.

I’ll be reviewing the resources he has for artists soon, too, so do stay tuned.

Gabriela Prochazka

Also coming from Prague, Gabriela has been guiding the INPUT program for Lunchmeat this fall, as well as being one of my collaborators (our installation is part of the exhibition this week). Its contents are mysterious so far, but a live AV work with Gabriela and Dné is also on tap.

See you in Prague or on the Internet, everyone!

Follow the event on Facebook for the schedule and add CDM to your Facebook likes to get a notification when our video starts, and stay tuned to CDM for the latest updates.

http://lunchmeatfestival.cz/2017/

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Radical electronics on a grand scale: Berlin Atonal in its fifth reboot year

Berlin’s idea of a summer holiday is a bit different: shroud yourself in black, retreat into a giant concrete bunker, and prepare for an onslaught of experimental sound and light.

But that’s Berlin Atonal Festival in a nutshell. It’s what Tresor entrepreneur Dimitri Hegemann calls “a platform for radical ways in electronic music … in an industrial cathedral,” a packed-solid schedule of music and media art in the hulking abandoned shell of the power plant above the techno club.

This film affords probably the best insight into that

And now, Atonal is at an interesting inflection point. While the festival had its roots in the former West Berlin, 1982-90, it got a fairly significant reboot after a 13-year hiatus. So, sure, Hegemann himself carried over from the festival he first started. But a new curatorial team, a new context, this whole, uh, computer thing that happened, the reunification of Germany, the transformation of Berlin into international capital, the explosion of techno – these are non-trivial changes. That’s to say nothing of the move from a fairly conventional club (SO36) to a DDR-constructed behemoth that is literally used to record reverb impulse responses.

And the festival that once hosted the likes of Einstürzende Neubauten now treats listeners to a brand of experimental music that, while still adventurous, is starting to become commonplace in the festival circuit.

But maybe that’s the state of “radical” electronic music in general, certainly in Europe and the islands of media art chic around the globe. A fifth year festival isn’t going to be a shock that the first-year one is. But more than that, there’s a brand of violently sensory, retina- and eardrum-blasting but intelligent and high-concept experimental festival fare. And it’s grown popular. That popularity also transforms at least a circle of people making it. Their sound may be distorted and aggressive, but now it’s out of the tiny basements and blown-out crap PAs, and onto expensive speaker arrays, surround sound. There are sound technicians, even.

I’m of the opinion this doesn’t make experimental sound less experimental – on the contrary, it ups the acoustic and optical firepower and precision available to artists, which gives them a wider spectrum to exploit. It inarguably makes it less underground, but it also need not destroy underground aesthetics – and I think artists being able to eat is a good thing.

Of course, the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed yet. So I’ve watched curators cherry-pick their favorite acts from past Atonal, then import them to their own festival the following year. But that’s in something of a bubble, centering around Berlin (and London, and Amsterdam, and other capitals) in Europe, and festivals like MUTEK in the Americas (now a kind of pan-American festival franchise, in fact). It’s to the point where I can’t recall which festival discovered whom.

That consistency is easy to criticize, particularly for anyone jealous of Atonal’s grand spectacle (as a curator), cool crowds (as an audience member), or artist opportunities (for music and media art makers). But on the other hand, for this circle, it can begin to allow refinement. Audiovisual works in particular benefit from repetition and iteration, as you rely on multiple media to mature in parallel, collaborations to deepen. And a certain oneupmanship among lineups can drive artists to hone their craft.

This leaves us the question, what makes Atonal special?

Well, the obvious edge is its space. The artists interviewed aren’t kidding: you can’t imagine how big Kraftwerk is until you enter. It’s bigger than cameras can capture, vaster than words can convey. The Atonal organizers have found a way to tune the experience for listeners center stage, amazingly stopping it from turning into mud. And artists are adjusting their sets, too. But I agree with Sam Kerridge – it’s a unique pleasure to wander the space. Festivals are so often a pre-packaged, linear experience, a proscenium blasting a pre-determined significance to a packed crowd. In Kraftwerk, you can explore a set the way you would an art museum after closing. You can stand under the stage. You can find a sweet spot by a wall where reflections transform your perspective. You can find yourself gazing in complete stillness at some installation. And Atonal combines this with Ohm (the former battery room of the power plant, an intimate tile-walled affair) and Tresor (the basement, with its famous metal-bar booth).

That says something about Berlin as it is now, citywide, year-round. It’s too much music, and it’s dark and industrial and sometimes monotonous. But you’re free in that overabundance to chart your own way, to come and go in a music culture that seems to have no beginning, middle, or end.

Photo: Helge Mundt.

And this year, Atonal seems poised to build on what the festival has constructed after four editions. In short:

Back to experimental music’s roots. I always have a historical bias, so this is what I’m excited about. For both Atonal and The Long Now (two Kraftwerk-based festivals sharing some of the same curators), attendees are treated to a mix of historical concert music / new music / historical works and new commissions. In this year’s Atonal, it’s Stockhausen‘s turn. His 8-channel spatial OKTOPHONIE is inspired by the sounds of warfare (a tradition itself with threads back to Italian futurists). Stockhausen collaborator and director of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, Kathinka Pasveer, leads that recreation, and younger composers will try out the system, too.

Rashad Becker + Ena on those eight channels should be especially good. But it’s nice to be treated to Karlheinz, too – having heard Cage and Reich recalled in this space, I can’t wait.

New stuff. There’s too much here to mention, but it’s fair to say this year’s Atonal promises more emerging artists and premieres, and might be one of the breakthrough festivals in 2017 generally. I’m curious about the “composed live act” of Chinese performance artist and composer Pan Daijing, the collaboration of Renick Bell (live coder) and Fis (sound designer). Sophie Schnell (PYUR) I’ve followed since her first AV show, and she has a unique and sensitive approach to her solo audiovisual work – this seems one to watch. Turkish-born Nene Hatun has a Rumi-inspired work.

I’m keen to see LCC (Ana Quiroga and Uge Pañeda) plus Pedro Maia; these Editions Mego-recorded artists are at the top of their synth game, and it’ll be spectacular to see them on this grander scale.

One sure-to-be-poingnant moment is Argentine-born installation artist, instrument builder and clarinetist Lucio Capace, who will have a trio doing a remembrance of the late experimental legend Mika Vainio.

There are also just a lot of new live shows. There’s a reason curators scout out Atonal for talent; there are few chances to see this many new AV works anywhere. (Another chance this fall will be Prague’s Lunch Meat; I’ll be there, too.)

Another easy bet: go see anyone Japanese. Thanks to collaborating with the New Assembly festival in Tokyo, Atonal is fresh with a bunch of legendary Japanese talent not normally seen in Europe. (I’d like CDM in general to get a little closer to the Japanese scene, and since I can’t always jet over to Japan, this will be a nice shortcut.)

All stars. Okay, and there’s more Puce Mary, more Roly Porter, more Shackleton, more Emptyset, etc. etc.. But with new premieres and such from these artists, there’s a reason to bring the all-star quasi-residents back. Some possible highlights – the combination of Shackleton’s music, Anika‘s voice over, Berlin artist Strawalde, and live visualist Pedro Maia is on my must-see list – partly because that combination sounds like it’ll either be transcendent or a cluttered mess, and that uncertainty ought to be why we go see stuff. Emptyset is doing something with architecture – and architecture is what Kraftwerk is about.

We’re Northern Electronics fans around these parts, so a program by the label’s Jonas Rönnberg aka Varg is a must on Sunday.

I’m skipping the DJ lineup, but it’s also really robust.

Photo: Helge Mundt.

Some free sounds

Can’t fly to Berlin? (or, uh, walk across the river as you don’t work for Ableton or Native Instruments?) Fret not.

The Wire has a special, free download of a number of wonderful live recordings from 2014, 2015, and 2016.

And, okay, basically these are all favorites here – note Peder Mannerfelt, PYUR, Ena, and so on returning in 2017.

It’s their Below The Radar Special Edition

Alessandro Cortini “Perdonare” 0:04:56
A Vision Of Love “Rose Transept” 0:06:49
Marshstepper “When Misfortune Confounds Us” 0:10:23
Felix K + Ena “Live At Berlin Atonal 2016” 0:03:55
Pan Daijing + JASSS “April” 0:05:23
Abdulla Rashim “Live At Berlin Atonal 2014” 0:04:49
SUMS “Budapest” 0:04:52
Peder Mannerfelt “The Theory” 0:04:41
Orphx + JK Flesh “Light Bringer” 0:04:42
Caterina Barbieri “Human Developers” 0:12:41
PYUR + Fis “The Pact”


Below The Radar Special Edition: Berlin Atonal: Force Majeure

https://berlin-atonal.com/

The post Radical electronics on a grand scale: Berlin Atonal in its fifth reboot year appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Inside the transformational AV duo of Paula Temple and Jem the Misfit

Paula Temple and Jem the Misfit are working on the latest iteration of a project about transformation. It melts and fragments, crystallizes and forms, from its rich palette of hybridized techno and ambient textures, sonic and visual alike.

And now, it’s set to be involved in some way in transformation beyond just the confines of a single performance – as a statement about what society might do differently and how artists can contribute. With NODE Forum in Frankfurt am Main, Germany coming this weekend, the duo will premiere Nonagon II, a sequel to their stunning 2014 AV show in Amsterdam’s retina-popping EYE cinema (as one of the real highlights of that year’s Amsterdam Dance Event). They’re looking to extend a profound but sadly, rarely-seen collaboration into updated structures while engaging NODE’s activist theme, “Designing Hope.”

That makes for a perfect time for CDM to join the two together – Paul Temple, the techno legend (R&S Records) known for her brutal produtions, and Jem the Misfit, one of the top practitioners of live visual performance.

For reference, here’s a look at the previous iteration, though we’re keen to see the new evolution:

Jem the Misfit (aka Jemma Woolmore), left, with Paula Temple, right.

Jem the Misfit (aka Jemma Woolmore), left, with Paula Temple, right.

CDM: First, I think from an AV standpoint, it’s really significant that you’re together on stage. Obviously that sends a message to the audience, but what does it mean for playing together? Are you communicating there – even if just by your presence?

Jem: Paula and I work closely together before and during the show. Being on stage physical is really important for timing and connection in the performance; we give each other verbal cues, but also react with our body language. We also work closely together before the show, practicing and discussing the ideas and flow of the performance. It is also important that we are both onstage to highlight that this is a collaboration between two artist working together to build the show.

Jemma, it feels like what you’re doing is really cinematic, but it also breaks up that rectangle (with geometries, etc.). What’s your approach to the screen here? Of course, in the first version, you were in an actual cinema – where might this go in future?

Jem: Breaking the regular rectangle of the screen is something I try to achieve in all my performances. With the Nonagon show, I have a clear geometric language built around the nine-sided nonagon form and I construct abstract forms using MadMapper to translate the visuals through these geometries. As you say, the Nonagon show is highly cinematic and was originally designed for a cinema context for our show at The Eye in Amsterdam. For Nonagon II at NODE, I am using a little less of the Nonagon geometries and instead moving from these fixed, tight geometries, eventually breaking their borders and allowing the visuals to flow across the screen as the show develops. I am also interested in putting emphasis on light intensity and color to influence mood in this version of the show. In future iterations I could envisage this leading to more development in using lighting as well as video and bringing the geometries off the main screen and out into 3D space.

paula

Paula, this is a different sound world than a lot of people know from you. Is there a connection to the techno productions they may know better? Does that impact the approach to timbre, to rhythm?

Paula: I think it is the same sound world, just not as strictly dance floor-aimed. But I know what you mean, it even surprises me how people who follow my music easily recognizes my style in my more experimental live sets. It is one reason why I prefer to perform the experimental sets at festivals such as UNSOUND or INTONAL or the NONAGON II AV at NODE; the crowd knows my music more like an emotional expression and can therefore connect to the music beyond a released piece of music. There’s still recognizable elements, like from my track called Deathvox. When I’m producing I never consciously think about timbre or rhythm — that way of thinking is too detached. I’m feeling emotionally, I’m opening my sensory gating channels, connecting feelings into electronic sound without thinking too technically, and therefore being deeply immersed in that state to give a translation of those emotions through sound. People who really like my music seem to be tuned into that state too.

https://soundcloud.com/paulatemple/deathvox-deathvox-ep [embedding not allowed here]

Can you tell us a bit about the sound world here? What are its sources; how was it produced?

Paula: The sources to me are the thoughts and feeling that develop into these pieces. Lately, they have come from reflecting on social injustices happening and dystopian dreams, or even falling asleep to movies and waking up at a scary moment!

For example, one track has a working title called “Earth,” where I would have a recurring dream where everything green — plants, trees, vegetables — turns black and dies within seconds, and Earth is so hurt, so angry at what we humans have done, that Earth asks the Sun for help and asks the Sun to eat Earth. I remember at the time of making “Earth,” I was trying to watch the movie Melancholia and as always, I fall asleep and then I’m waking up as the movie ends, still half asleep, wondering what’s happening!

When producing, I am working in Ableton Live, with customized drum devices I’ve developed in the last 3 years and jamming on my [Dave Smith Instruments] Oberheim OB-6 or a virtual instrument like Tension [in Ableton Suite].

You’ve changed the music here for this edition, I know. What’s new in this version?

Paula: We’ve decided to keep the remix I made for Fink in the show as the lyrics literally relate to hope, not giving up. Plus there are new pieces relating to what Jem has also been inspired by lately, such as corporate made environmental or socioeconomic regressions and aggression, Entanglement or the Angela Davies book Freedom is Constant Struggle.

Jemma, how did you work on the visual material; how was it influenced by that music? I know there was some shooting of stuff melting, but … how did that come about; where was the design intention on your side and how did you collaborate together on that?

Jem: For the original Nonagon show, Paula and I developed the music and visuals in tandem, based around a common structure that included working in 9 parts and using 9 specific actions (such as distort, reverse, stretch etc) to apply visually or musically. This lead me to find ways of manipulating form both in virtual space but also using real forms, as you say, building and melting geometric objects and capturing this in time-lapse. So visually, Nonagon was about applying these specific actions to geometries and moving through a exploration of form, in connection with Paula also manipulating her sound in similar ways.

In Nonagon II, the focus has shifted from purely formal aims to more specific thematic ideas. When NODE approached me about performing at the festival, their theme ‘Designing Hope’ really caught me as a challenge, and I knew Paula would also be interested in tackling this theme. When I contacted Paula about NODE, we both agreed that we should shift the focus in Nonagon to try and address this idea of designing or generating hope through our performance – hence creating Nonagon II.

Our approach to the theme is that there can be no hope without action. So as well as Paula’s action to donate her fee to the charity Women in Exile, the new trajectory for Nonagon II is to move from a place of fear through to an empowering place of action. Through the show we transition from simplification to complexity, individuality to multiplicity, fear to action.

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Visually, I am signifying this (again) through geometries that develop from simple shapes into complex systems, falling, melting and merging along the way, using color and light intensity to transform the emotional impact throughout the show.

Interestingly, in the time since we last worked together – which is over a year – Paula and I have found that our ideas and development in our work have followed similar processes and align in many areas. We have both independently decided to use the term ‘entanglement,’ this idea that everything is linked and that over-simplification of systems, ignoring their relationship to one another is incredibly dangerous – for instance, the supposed self-maintaining economic system championed by neo-liberalism, ignoring its entangled relationship with climate and natural resource systems. We also have both read Angela Davis book ‘Freedom is a constant struggle,’ which also talks about building connections across political movements and the importance of moving outside narrowly-defined communities and working together.

Also, the idea of acknowledging fragility in the balance of all our systems and having some humility in regard to our place in this universe has been important for both our practices.jemmisfit

Can you each describe a bit your live rig onstage? Now, presumably we’re meant to be watching the screen, not you two, but is it important for you to be able to make this a live improvisation?

For the visual set up, I am running Resolume [VJ/visual performance tool/media server] and MadMapper software, and using the Xone:K2 MIDI controller from Allen & Heath. There is no pre-programmed timeline in any of this setup, so it is all improvised. Paula and I like to practice the performance several times so that we have worked through the flow and impact of specific points in the show, but we are able to improvise fully making each performance unique.

Paula: My set up is simple — Ableton Live, Push 2 controller and Allen & Heath K2 controller. I care more about the music working succinctly with Jem’s visuals to encourage the audience to feel, to reflect within or get a sense taking some kind of positive action, than about making it a live improvisation.

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“Designing Hope” is the theme of this year’s NODE. Paula, I understand you donated your fee – what’s your intention as far as doing something socially active, with this project, or with other projects?

Paula: Considering the theme ‘Designing Hope’ came the simple question to reflect on, who needs hope the most right now? Then looking at who locally is giving hope and I learned about Women in Exile, a non profit organization founded in 2002 by refugee women who work closely with refugee women in and around Brandenburg and Berlin.

In their activities, Women in Exile visit the refugee camps in Brandenburg to offer proactive support to refugee women from the perspective of those affected, to exchange information on what is going on and to gather information on the needs of women living in the camps. They organize seminars and workshops for refugee women in different topics on how to improve their difficult living situation and develop perspectives to fight for their rights in the asylum procedure and to defend themselves against sexualized/physical violence, discrimination and exclusion. They present the current issues, such as the hopelessness of deportation, to different organization nationwide in order to bring awareness to refugee women issues to the society. They give an incredible amount of energy and support to women whose world have turned upside down. Donating a fee is the least we could do. We hope, with our best intentions, is to invite others at the event to think about who are we designing hope for.

[Ed.: I’m familiar with this organization, too – you can find more or contact them directly:]

https://www.women-in-exile.net/
info[at]women-in-exile.net

What does it mean to be involved with NODE here, and with this community? (Realizing neither of us is a VVVV user, Jemma, but of course there’s more than that! Curious if that’s meaningful to you to be able to soak up some of that side of this, too.)

Jem: I think we are both excited about being involved at NODE this year and interacting with a community that is working at the intersection of technology and art as well as pushing ideas around how art/tech crossover can be used to inspire communities outside of art+tech. This is where I see our performance fitting even if we are not specifically using VVVV. Personally, I am looking forward to a few extra days at the festival and exploring the possibilities of VVVV, as well as meeting at the VVVV community and exploring possible crossovers in our work.

https://nodeforum.org/

http://jemthemisfit.com/

http://paulatemple.com/

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How Dutch archives turned into a Lakker AV show about water

Wade in the water, indeed. Set the Irish duo Lakker loose in a Dutch film archive, and what you get is a dense, heavy experimental techno album and a live show exploring the Netherlands’ ongoing battle with the sea.

It’s a 2016 album, but even if you caught it before, now we get some insight into its evolution into a live audiovisual show.

Even before you get the sense of the historical narrative behind it, the music itself is evocative, dark, and rich. I actually like that we’re calling all this music “techno” now – this isn’t in the four-in-the-floor sense, yet the influence of that music on futuristic sounds and bass-heavy spectrum is clear. And now, with adventurous clubs and festivals having cultivated the audience for it, it is something you could hear booked overnight on a dance floor. Crowds have an appetite for dark and even nightmarish ear spelunking. And woven in there are the rhythms and movement that club experience can provide. With Struggle & Emerge (R&S Records), you get a wonderful sound world – and the basis of a perfect live soundtrack to an exploration of the deeper meaning of Dutch water. You can give the album a listen on Spotify for a taste:

But there is a narrative behind that.

Whereas for so long tech had been about an endless, sometimes superficial pursuit of the new and novel, now media archaeology is an increasingly present aspect of artistic practice. That is, you can mine the old to produce something new, folding together past, present, and future.

Collaborations with institutions are essential to making that a success. In this case, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision offers its RE:VIVE Initiative, which opens up archives to electronic music. They’ve done releases, performances, and even sound packs you can download:

http://revivethis.org/

Lakker (Dara Smith and Ian McDonnell a.k.a. Eomac) have a long-standing practice of deep commitment to creative sound design, and in the case of Dara Smith, to visual work. So, with RE:VIVE, they dug deep into the archives to construct a new album and performance. And they found in their theme the history of a country that has managed to survive for centuries below sea level.

There’s a fifteen minute documentary on the project:

The duo tell us that led them to talk even with top engineers and academics to understand what it means for a society to contend with water levels. (The relevance to those of us outside of the Netherlands in the age of climate change needs no explanation, of course.)

And they hope the result, in their words, will “capture humanity’s ongoing struggle with nature’s devastating power, our militaristic counterforce and the serenity found somewhere in between as we move towards an uncertain future.”

But how do you get from archives to new work?

From a text from the duo:

During the album writing process, one analogy that kept surfacing was that of the “Sonic magnifying glass” and how Lakker could use various audio processes to dig deeper into the archival material and reveal hidden sounds.

You’ll hear those murky sounds all over the record, producing landscapes of howling seas and powerful weather. There’s a detailed deconstruction at this minisite, track by track:

https://beeldengeluid.atavist.com/lakker

But there is a visual aspect, too — one that scans through the archives and algorithmically processes into the visual show — and triggering music and sonic performance in the process. They’re working with Derivative’s TouchDesigner, a graphical development environment for Windows designed for patching together visuals. Watch the results:

To exploit this with the films, Smith created a real-time video editing system using Ableton Live and TouchDesigner that allowed him to search through the video footage and create synced loops that emphasize the underlying music. As with sounds, in films, the real interesting material is sometimes obfuscated which can only be revealed by isolating and accentuating. For the films, Smith conceived a way of focusing on small loops of time and also zooming in on specific areas of each frame, drawing attention to minutiae that the eye misses.

A scanning system is reading pixel information from the archive video footage and this data through Touch Designer and then Ableton is creating and triggering samples, sounds and notes that are then integrated into the musical live set.

This data that is being transferred between the two programs via OSC [Open Sound Control] can be used to manipulate the music in any number of ways. The System is also set up that either preset video clips are used or else the video from the archive can be scanned through live and edited on the fly into loops and clips that sync with the music. Therefore, we have added a musical entity to the soundscape that is directly linked to the archival video footage.

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Now, a lot of people tend to think in terms of “generative” works and VJing or “video mixing” broadly. This demonstrates that video can be generative — not only in the sense of living inside an interactive, graphical development environment like TouchDesigner, but also in the way in which video is manipulated live as a dynamic medium. That contrasts with the conventional approach to VJing with videos via two-channel mixing and timeline slicing.

I know Dara and Ian have been working on this in their live shows for some time, building a language by which visual and sound can relate. (Both work on the music, then Dara programs the visuals, and the two play both elements live onstage together — meaning it’s necessary to ensure the two relate during that performance.) I got some peek at this, even, when we played a show together – it’s not so much about automation as it is strengthening an aesthetic connection.

Now, in this piece, that’s bound up with the content itself in what seems a beautiful way.

I really hope to get to see the full show live.

Thanks to Dara for providing CDM with this text and images, including an exclusive look inside their TouchDesigner patch!

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https://soundcloud.com/lakker

http://lakker.com

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A bunch of tricks and tools for generative visual tool TouchDesigner

TouchDesigner, the visual development environment for interactive media, is a not-so-secret weapon for the artists creating some of the best eye candy today. And it’s likely to earn more attention now that it’s available for both macOS and Windows. (It was previously Windows-only.) But it’s not just the power of the tool itself that makes it stand out. It’s just as much a community behind it, sharing resources with one another.

That says something, really. People working on interactive and event visuals often pull in some pretty hefty fees, and they justify those fees by making sure their tech tricks are better than anyone else’s. Other TouchDesigner users frequently teach. Those characteristics might lead you to believe people would be intensely proprietary with their skill set. And yet, sharing openly has the effect of raising the level of the whole field – think tide and rising boats.

So, what is TouchDesigner, exactly? It’s a graphical development environment with a patching metaphor – à la Max/MSP or Reaktor or Pd. And it’s focused on 3D and visual tools, with facilities useful for everything from creative reactive 3D visuals to controlling lights.

It’s so powerful, in fact, it can be hard to know where to begin. And that’s where the community comes in – because they aren’t just documenting the software as a manual would, but are actually doing the sorts of things you probably also want to do. Here are some of those resources from just the last weeks.

Learn TouchDesigner with a community-driven book

There are tons of guides and tutorials out there. But if you’re like me, you want something organized and concise – and maybe you don’t like sitting through videos. (I know I’m not the only one who hates that and prefers to go at my own pace.)

This one is terrific – community-drive (on GitBooks)), comprehensive and up-to-date, and a wonderful place either to start or brush up on some missing skills.

Sync Ableton Live and TouchDesigner

Artist Javier Alvarez Bailen shows how he integrates TouchDesigner with Ableton Live. In short: use MIDI. Sure, I’d still like to see Ableton Link support natively in TouchDesigner, but using MIDI provides deeper integration. Each note and musical gesture can be mapped directly to visuals. (You can still run MIDI over a network, including wireless networks – see network MIDI support in macOS, or cross-platform ipMIDI.)

You can’t see the specifics of the TouchDesigner patch, but you get the idea:

http://www.lightnotes.es/av-sync-touchdesigner-abletonlive/

Pull off sophisticated projection mapping

mottoKantan is a powerful mapping tool, the latest such toolkit for TouchDesigner, and it’s fresh with a bunch of updates. This native combination looks hard to beat on any other platform for mapped generative visuals.

See the forum post:

MottoKantan – an approach to simple mapping

Learn GLSL shaders for eye candy magic

To do advanced visuals with textures and geometry, you need to learn to speak GLSL – the language for coding to your GPU’s processing powers. Matthew Ragan has a nice, artist-focused series compiling examples and learning notes.

https://github.com/raganmd/learningGLSL

Get insights from the amazing artists who showed work in Houston

Move over, South by Southwest: the innovation in Texas recently was at Day for Night Festival, which was packed with live visuals and installations, many powered by TouchDesigner. As part of their superior blog, Derivative talked to the artists – there’s tons to learn from here.

TouchDown Houston at Day For Night Festival [Derivative Blog]

Chill out for nearly an hour to sacred geometry

Okay, after all that work – you need a soothing break. Let’s turn to the full audiovisual set of Rui Gato, exploring sacred geometries. You know what he used as his visual tool, of course:

Join the help group

There’s a terrific Facebook user group, too – and read the very top post for still more resources (Slack!):

https://www.facebook.com/groups/touchdesignerhelp/

Have fun, everybody. I have a feeling this will touch off some elaborate visuals added to music for someone out there.

The post A bunch of tricks and tools for generative visual tool TouchDesigner appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Now you can sync up live visuals with Ableton Link

Ableton Link has already proven itself as a way of syncing up Ableton Live, mobile apps (iOS), and various desktop apps (Reason, Traktor, Maschine, and more), in various combinations. Now, we’re seeing support for live visuals and VJing, too. Two major Mac apps have added native Ableton Link support for jamming in recent days: CoGe and VDMX. Each of those is somewhat modular in fashion, too.

Oh, and since the whole point of Ableton Link is adding synchronization over wireless networks or wired networking connections with any number of people jamming, you might use both apps together.

CoGe

Here’s a look at CoGe’s Ableton Link support, which shows both how easy configuration is, and how this can be used musically. In this case, the video clip is stretching to the bar — making CoGe’s video clips roughly analogous to Ableton Live’s audio clips and patterns:

CoGe is 126.48€, covering two computers – so you could sync up two instances of CoGe to separate projectors, for instance, using Link. (And as per usual, you might not necessarily even use Ableton Live at all – it might be multiple visual machines, or Reason, or an app, or whatever.)

http://imimot.com/cogevj/

VDMX

VDMX is perhaps an even bigger deal, just in terms of its significant market share in the VJ world, at least in my experience. This means this whole thing is about to hit prime time in visuals the way it has in music.

VDMX has loads of stuff that is relevant to clock, including LFOs and sequencers. See this screen shot for some of that:

vidvox_ableton

Here are the developer’s thoughts from late last week:

VDMX and Ableton Link integration [Vidvox Blog]

Also, they reflect on the value of open source in this project (the desktop SDK is available on GitHub). They’ve got a complete statement on how open source contributions have helped them make better software:

Open Source At VIDVOX

That could easily be a subject of a separate story on CDM, but open source in visuals have helped make live performance-ready video (Vidvox’s own open Hap), made inter-app visuals a reality (Syphon), and has built a shader format that allows high-performance GPU code to be shared between software.

Now go jam

So that’s two great Mac tools. There’s nothing I can share publicly yet, but I’ve heard other visual software developers tell me they plan to implement Ableton Link, too. That adds to the tool’s momentum as a de facto standard.

Now, getting together visuals and music is easier, as is having jam sessions with multiple visual artists. You can easily tightly clock video clips or generative visuals in these tools to song position in supported music software, too.

I remember attending various music and visual jams in New York years ago; those could easily have benefited from this. It’ll be interesting to see what people do.

Watch CDM for the latest news on other visual software; I expect we’ll have more to share fairly soon.

The post Now you can sync up live visuals with Ableton Link appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Recreate classic MP3 visualizers, free – and use them in VJ apps

It’s funny, some things you really didn’t imagine looking back on with nostalgia. And yet, there you are – reminiscing about the days of staring at your Winamp MP3 visualizer.

Well, I totally missed it, but there are some free projects that let you bring back those visualizers. Better still, you can pipe them into VJ apps on both Mac and Windows.

First off, MilkDrop itself is a fascinating story. I won’t dive all the way down that rabbit hole at the moment, but here’s a short version of the story. Creator Ryan Geiss was (and is) a talented electronic creator, who first used assembly code to coax late 90s CPUs into producing hallucinogenic, music-reactive animations in real-time. First as a plug-in for the legendary Winamp, then as a default visualizer, “geiss” and then “MilkDrop” made history with their ability to produce ever-changing generative imagery for music. (Side note: Justin Frankel, co-creator of Winamp, has gone on to found the Reaper DAW – and is also the inventor of peer-to-peer tech gnutella. That’s… yet another rabbit hole. I digress.)

The story might have ended there, but Milkdrop made itself future-proof in other ways. The format for making custom visualizers was open to end users. The 2001 iteration was built around GPUs, in a way that would lend itself to future platforms and mobile devices. And then, in 2005, the code was open sourced. That has spawned various developments, including even video synth hardware.

milkdroppy

So, if you find yourself nostalgic for the days of staring at your screen whilst your gnutella-downloaded MP3s play, here you go.

The open source implementation of MilkDrop lives on as projectM – a bit dusty, but you’ll find some kind of builds for Mac, Windows, and Linux, iTunes and Winamp plug-ins, and now mobile versions for Android and iOS:

http://projectm.sourceforge.net/

So, what if you wanted to use one of these visualizers in a VJ set? Well, that actually turns out to be very possible.

syphon

On Mac, you can use the nicely-developed ProjectMilkSyphon, which outputs all these animations as a texture you can use in Syphon-compatible VJ/live visual apps like VDMX, Resolume, and others. (Syphon routes textures between apps, like inter-app audio or MIDI, but for visuals.)

http://vdmx.vidvox.net/blog/projectmilksyphon

On Windows, there’s a version that outputs Spout, the equivalent on that OS (Syphon predates Spout, but the Spout MilkDrop came first):

Winamp Milkdrop plugin with Spout output [Spout forum]

It’s actually part of the Spout distribution, which includes loads of other goodies (Processing, for instance):
https://github.com/leadedge/Spout2/releases

Plus, find lots of digital art and projects from Mr. Geiss at his site:
http://www.geisswerks.com/

Now you can add these visualizations with a dose of nostalgia to a VJ set, or find a creative way of using these textures in a new context.

(Thanks to David Lublin of Vidvox/VDMX for pointing me to this. I actually love that I found a Windows version within a few seconds of running a DuckDuckGo search, not so much because I particularly care whether or not I can do this on a different OS, but because I love the fact that the open source community just solves this stuff for the hell of it.)

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The making of a fanciful album imagining a post-apocalyptic future

What would your future clone think of you now, looking back across an apocalyptic reshaping of humanity? That’s the question posed by the 2005 novel The Possibility of an Island, and it resonates in Franz Kirmann’s new album Elysian Park.

This might sound bleak, but it isn’t. Kirmann’s new record paints a science fiction sound portrait in dense textures and hyperreal washes of color. There are stuttering and spectacular rhythms making bold shuffles across the music. It’s headphone stuff for sonic dreaming, relentlessly futuristic and endlessly engaging. It’s a world you’ll want to enter and reenter, an addictive time warp. There are occasional nods to the fragmentary remains of our media-saturated present, calls of machinery (or are those surviving seagulls?) clicks and cuts of radio and even, I’m told, Simon and Garfkunkel digitally warped beyond recognition.

To give you some small taste, for me the boldest single gesture comes in “Hypertrance” (a fitting name for the whole album). And so we get to premiere that exclusively on CDM.

Based in London, but originally French (yes, he read that book in its original language), Kirmann has now completed his third solo album. This is his second for Denovali Records, the German label. But for me, it reaches another creative level.

I don’t want to overstate the book reference, but for me the frame is perfect, and it’s irresistible fodder for closing your eyes and imagining fanciful future worlds. It’s also telling, though, that the original material came from a sound installation. “Hyper Trophies,” mounted in Berlin with visualists ZEITGUISED, was described as “moving still portrait sculpture.” It involved Kirmann’s sound for the fashion label Franzius and production company ProdCo Stink. An that clearly formed the original source material, the DNA, and the guiding spirit of what we hear now.

Hyper Trophies – "QRQQQQZZZZCKQQQ" from ZEITGUISED on Vimeo.

(more and more)

Techno was once science fiction, if now it sometimes seems laden with baggage either nostalgic or goth. But this is something different. So I got a chance to talk to Franz about how it was made and why.

FranzKirmann2014-6870_by_HeloiseFaure

CDM: Let’s talk about Hyper Trophies. What stage was the visual at when you came in on the musical side? Do you find you work differently when there’s a visual inspiration in a commission like this? (Or do you tend to imagine visuals on your own with music?)

Franz: All the clips were completely finished when they asked me to do the sound design.

And yes, it totally influences the sounds and the music when I have visuals to work towards. And also there is a brief — we talked a lot with Zeitguised about the sound world, what they were imagining. It had to be quite minimal, sparse and give a sense of a physical space. In the clips, the people and clothes are real, but the environment is digitally created. I wanted to reflect that mix of artificial and real, so I used my own voice and speech processors as well as noise of my saliva, organic things like this…

But when it comes to my own music, I don’t really have precise visuals, but more ideas, loose directions and a feel. It’s not super precise, but more instinctive.

I want to touch as well on the influence from The Possibility of an Island. I mean, with something this evocative sonically, it’s really beautiful to have a programmatic layer there, whether people choose to refer to it or not. What was the point were you decided that you wanted to go there? Did you flip a page of the book and say, “I need to make an album out of this”?

Not really, no. And yes you’re right, it’s important that people have the freedom to follow that narrative or not. It’s actually quite important to me that the music has enough ambiguity for people to put their own feelings / thoughts into it.

I read The Possibility of an Island” a while ago, a few years before I started putting the recordings together. But it stayed in my mind. I found it so relevant to so many things I was observing about society, people, and media. So I think it found its way naturally in the music. And then I realised that the music was about the book! Or more precisely some aspects of it. And then I read it again to be sure.

I was very interested in the central idea of the book, human clones looking back at us from a post-apocalyptical distant future, and the portrait of a selfish, success-driven society.

It made me think about music… I was thinking what would people think hundred of years from now when they listen back to some of the music we produced at the dawn of the 21st century, what will it say about our civilisation. And the answer is quite similar to Houellebecq’s, it’s a pretty sordid portrait of our world, if you think about it. A lot of today’s relevant music deals with chaos and noise and fear and amongst that searches for some kind of kindness, tenderness, or beauty. Most modern music is pretty confused, actually and also sometimes pretty happy with itself — comfortable. It’s quite telling of our times. And I found most of mainstream chart music quite frightening, to be honest. It’s like Disneyland, you know? No alarm, no surprises… everything the same.

But there was no big moment where I went: “my album is about the book”; it’s more a spiritual influence. A certain vision of the world.

How narrative is that programmatic element? Did it structure the tracks?

No, it didn’t really structure the tracks, but the overall arc of the book I suppose had an impact on the sequencing of the tracks. It gets more and more naked and peaceful towards the end. It’s like a story. On the record, the tracks are very static, they don’t really have breakdowns and build ups, but the overall record has a structure, a journey.

It also helped me accept that it was okay to have a record visiting different sonic worlds. The book borrows to science fiction but is not really a sci-fi novel per se.

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There’s all this dense and creative sound through the record. What’s your toolset like for sound design? (Be as specific as you like; our readers will follow.) Do you have some go-to tools you come back to for inspiration?

I use a few granular things, Omnisphere 2, Guitar Rig, some Reaktor patches, CS Grain and CS Spectral on an iPad. For Elysian Park, the first pieces are quite old, and I don’t quite remember how I did them, but it was mainly recording voices and speech processors and then manipulating them, lots of time stretching and things like that.

Everything is sampled on that record or generated by random midi players. I use GRM tools as well. And some hardware, but mainly pedals and effects such as Eventide Space, Roland tape echo, Mooger Fooger pedals. I don’t have a go to thing, it depends on what I do. On Elysian it’s very digital and sample based. And then layering, layering, layering! I have realise that most of the processing I use in music is about slowing down, freezing time etc… Because it is so digital I got it mix and mastered with a sound engineer, and the stems went through Manley and Neve stuff.

I know you’re sometimes starting with a sample … is the process in working toward creating timbral elements a matter of doing a string of things, layering processes, or are you sometimes finding a single process that yields a sound right away? And if it’s unrecognizable, why start with something like Simon & Garfunkel?

I very rarely create timbral elements with sampling, so it’s more multi processing of audio.

I’m interested in the traces left by music, a piece of music is like a memory to me, it takes you back somewhere, that’s why I tend to use known pieces such as Simon and Garfunkel or old 50’s / 60’s songs because popular music touches everybody, it’s like in the collective subconscious. And even if you can’t clearly hear it, you might subconsciously hear it, it’s there, somewhere under the layers!
I’m also into in re -purposing sounds, re-using, recycling. In the case of Elysian, it was trance music. Because to me Trance is associated to this mass raves, and also to loosing yourself. It takes me back to horrid holidays in Benidorm years and years ago. And I like the idea of decomposing that, exploding that sound, depriving it of its euphoria to turn into something introspective. Elysian is about being sedated, and I find this massive big trance tunes kind of annihilate thinking in a way. They are about forgetting.

franzstudio3

franzstudio1

Out of this sound palette, there’s of course a lot of form – some of it seeming to be very freely composed or dreamlike, other bits more structured. How do you go from the sound material into a finished track?

It’s like painting I suppose. I keep on adding things. And then I live with the piece for a while, or forget about it. And then I come back to it and what’s missing jumps at me, or I realise it’s boring, or I realise it’s actually done! It’s finished when I feel there is nothing more to add. And the older I get the less I add!

The character in the book is leading a privileged, rockstar lifestyle of sorts – maybe not so much what the life of an adventurous musician lives. Have you ever struggled to carve out space and time for making music like this, or getting attention for it?

Hmm… yes, sure. Elysian Park took almost 4 years to make. It’s shaped from experiments I made on and off in between other projects, commercial ones or other artistic collaboration. It’s only at the end of the process that I really edited everything onto an presentable album form. So yes, I have to make time for it and it’s sometimes difficult.

And then getting attention is also difficult. There is so much out there! How do you get heard? How do you stand out?

For those not familiar with Denovali, how has it been working with them – where you see your place on that label?

Denovali are a great label to work with because they give me total creative control. So that’s pretty amazing and they take great care in the finished product. They also very nice people, very real. And they are not afraid to take risk, to put out different kind of music. I’m not sure about my place on the label! First it is my project Piano Interrupted that caught their interest. And I’m very grateful to them for also giving me a chance with my own work as well.

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franzstudio2

What’s next for your – live shows, new projects?

There is a couple of live shows, at Golem in Hamburg on December 10th and in Berlin at Roter Salon on the 11th. Subheim will be part of the line up and David Sagberg is doing the visuals live.

Right now I started working with Piano Interrupted on a soundtrack for a documentary as well as new material for a possible 4th album, but that’s all early stages! And my club project Days Of Being Wild is now developing into an all analog, computer less live act and we are working on that too. Busy times!

We’ll be watching for the final release Friday. Thanks!

http://www.franzkirmann.com

https://www.facebook.com/FranzKirmann

Studio photos courtesy the artist.

The post The making of a fanciful album imagining a post-apocalyptic future appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.