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Machinefabriek (x 4)

Seeker

I could easily fill all of this blog with Machinefabriek/Rutger Zuydervelt releases. Blink twice and the release pages (solo/collaborations) will probably be updated with a new title. And, contrary to what you might expect with such prolific output, each release promises different surprises and thus deserves attention.
Time for a roundup of some recent releases:

Seeker

AARON MARTIN & MACHINEFABRIEK – SEEKER  Also on Spotify

Aaron Martin (cello, banjo, organ, ukulele, vocals) and Machinefabriek (electronics, processing, editing) have worked together before (on Cello Drowning, 2007). The tracks for Seeker were originally conceived for a dance piece by choreographer Iván Pérez called Hide and Seek.

The CD album version presents the (reworked and refined versions of) the original sketches that were created in preparation for this choreography. A remarkable combination of sounds covering a wide spectre of emotions – from gritty  and noisy electronics to smooth vocal arrangements and organic folky strings… and many things in-between.

Included with the CD-version (and with the digital edition, of course) is a download of a 53 minute continuous remix of these pieces. This is what became the final score for the choreography.
This continuous mix is a perfect example of the added value of a good mix: take the original tracks (which are good enough to be played on their own, make no mistake about that), put them in a different order and they will tell a completely different story. Context is everything. You’ll recognise the tracks, but still it feels as if the mix is a completely different album from the version with the separate tracks.

Seeker has waited to be released for more than two years. It was intended to be released on a different label but it was postponed for many reasons. Finally, Dronarivm came to the rescue… and we definitely should thank them for doing so.


Becoming

MACHINEFABRIEK – BECOMING  Also on Spotify

The collaboration with choreographer Iván Pérez became a fruitful one: after Hide and Seek more Machinefabriek scores would follow.  Becoming is the fourth product of their fruitful collaboration (following Attention The Doors Are Closing and Exhausting Space). 

What was new for this particular production was that the score was produced live instead of using pre-recorded material. During performance, the dancers and the musician (Rutger Zuydervelt) have a real-time dialogue and so each performance is different.

“The choreography and music were created simultaneously, rehearsing together, and developing a movement and sound ‘vocabulary’ for the piece. The end result is structured, but still leaves a lot of room for improvisation in order to keep a natural flow. “

The CD release of Becoming is a ‘studio version’: a 40-minute piece edited from sounds recorded during the rehearsals. Again, Rutger Zuydervelt guides the listener through a landscape of contrasting extremes: from distorted noise that sets the listener in full alert mode, to dreamy drones and angelic choirs performed by Mariska Baars (soccer Committee/Piiptsjilling).
To illustrate the way each performance can vary, the CD/digital edition includes a 46 minute live version recorded at the première performance of Becoming in Bassano del Grappa, Italy.

It is worth noting that this majestic sound is created using a relative ‘lo-fi’ setup of tools: pocket piano, pre-recorded cassettes, coil pick-up mic, contact mic, slinky spring, radio, dictaphone, tuning fork, scourer, micro amp, looper pedals, effects pedals.
Watching Machinefabriek perform live is nothing like the usual ‘laptop artist’ – it is watching a true sound alchemist at work.


Astroneer 2

RUTGER ZUYDERVELT – ASTRONEER VOL. 2  Also on Spotify

Exactly one year after the Volume 1 release of the Astroneer game soundtrack a follow-up is released, simultaneously with a major game update. In the game, the music plays continuously and reacts interactively to the player’s decisions.
But for the CD/Download-release the eighteen tracks are presented as separate compositions. They are an addition to the 26 tracks of Volume 1, so that’s quite an impressive soundtrack altogether!

Astroneer shows Machinefabriek at his most playful. Like on Volume 1the synths have a retro sound that matches the games physics. Relatively short tracks, most of them quite light-hearted (except of course when danger or caves are involved).

Compare this release with the previous two and the one below, and you’ll probably find it hard to believe that these albums were created by one and the same person!


What it seems to be

MACHINEFABRIEK & SARAH PAYTON – WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE  Also on Spotify

What it seems to be (Dutch: Wat het lijkt te zijn)  is a collaborative project for an installation by Sarah Payton:  a temporary artwork near the Buiksloterweg in Amsterdam.
It is a viewer made of concrete and rusting steel. When you look into the viewer you do not see the surroundings but watch a video with images of the city. You won’t find it there anymore: the installation has moved to different locations near the shores of the IJ until the end of october, and its current location is unknown. But we still have the soundtrack, thanks to the Dauw label.

With a beautiful and relatively soft-focused Machinefabriek‘s soundtrack, Sarah Payton  tells stories “about things, such as a journey to another country, the properties of water, and the Wizard of Oz. Of potatoes, immigrants and homeless men that she encounters in the city. Threaded throughout is the search for a story in which everyone in the city could feel at home.” 

Sarah Payton

For some reason I personally have concentration issues with spoken word performances – the same reason why I cannot listen to an audiobook: after a few minutes I hear the voice but not the meaning. I hear but I don’t understand – the voice has become an instrument and could’ve very well been a trumpet or any other solo instrument. Still, Saray Payton has a nice voice, and her observations are definitely worth concentrated listening.

The cassette release (or digital download) contains the original installation version (spoken) as well as the instrumental version on the B-Side. It is another example of Rutger Zuydervelt‘s versatility: no abrasive noise here but a soft, gentle, piece. Music that fits Sarah Payton’s contemplative observations about the world around her like a glove.

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Inner Vision Laboratory; Strom Noir; Atrium Carceri; OfftheSky; Colbets

The Old City

Austeros

INNER VISION LABORATORY – AUSTEROS
The third release by this ambient project of Karol Skrzypiec presents deep, dark and ominous sounds. It could be called dark ambient – but it’s completely free from the ritualistic brouhaha often present on ‘dark ambient’ releases.
Inner Vision Laboratory “unites sounds from the surrounding reality […] torn alive from random, lost radio broadcasts, the cacophony of everyday life, or unspecified ether.”
It’s not exactly a bright and happy surrounding reality, it seems… more like a post-apocalyptic vision – but the dark suspense is frightening and beautiful at the same time.


Glaciology

STROM NOIR – GLACIOLOGY
From Slovakia comes Emil Mat’ko, more familiar as Strom Noir. The four tracks on this album cover the glacial territory that ambient music is so often associated with. Not because the music is ‘cold’ (often the opposite), but because it paints desolate landscapes.
So does Strom Noir in these “static drones that resemble a snowy picture. They unravel very slowly and subtly into one another.”
 The “four songs about Snow and Ice” are completed with an additional 20 minute bonus track, “Niekedy Sa Vracajú”, which originally appeared in a shorter 16 minute version on the Tanec Rusaliek” cassette release (still available digitally too)


The Old City

ATRIUM CARCERI – THE OLD CITY (OST)
There’s a close relation to ambient music and  movie and games soundtracks. It’s not hard to see why: ambient soundscapes are all about creating moods and atmospheres.
The “soothing string like atmospheres, distorted drones and brooding atmospheres” of these 15 tracks were created for the ‘narrative philosphical’ game called The Old City: Leviathan” – where “the player is put in the shoes of a sewer dwelling isolationist in a decaying city from a civilization long past.”
Now this probably appeals to a lot of ambient music devotees, but even if you’re not a sewer dwelling isolationist this beautiful and melancholic soundtrack could still very well appeal to you!


Also on Spotify


Light Loss

OFFTHESKY – LIGHT LOSS
The beginning of spring may not be the right season for listening to this new OfftheSky (Jason Corder) album “describing a change of seasons – from fall into winter when the sun hangs low and the day’s shy light dominates. It describes the heavy mood and psychological affect that comes with this seasonal evolution and the changing tide of friendship and love alike that occurs through this seasonal shift”.
On the other hand, every seasonal changes has its similar disturbances and it’s not just ‘darkness’ creeping in on this album: there’s still enough light to cling on to. From the rather indeterminate and abstract beginning “lighter melodic sounds are coupled with darker atonal noise moments to create a rich dynamic hue.”
It’s interesting to pair listening to Light Loss” to Corder‘s recent Juxta Phona project: the two albums relate to each other as night to day.
Or better: as Fall to Spring.

Also on Spotify


And Silence

COLBETS – AND SILENCE
Japanese duo Saitoh Tomohiro and Kari Takemoto release their fifth studio album, full of “silent music of resounds, time sleeps and warm air.”
Five atmospheric tracks take their time to evolve around the Takemoto’s guitar sounds, Tomohiro’s synth and trumpet playing, with guest appearance of cello player James Bryan Parks. The physical edition is extremely limited to 50 (as usual on the Twice Removed Records label).

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Dutch Harvest: Barnhoorn – Veldhuis – Tamea – Banabila

Ambientblog

Here’s a batch of most interesting recent releases by dutch artists (that definitely should be heard outside Holland):


Antichamber

SIDDHARTHA BARNHOORN – ANTICHAMBER
Siddhartha Barnhoorn‘s relatively young biography (since 2004) already boasts a great number of soundtracks for movies and commercials. His latest release is the soundtrack for the “Antichamber” game (released through Steam) – a game that does quite well in the gaming community as far as I can tell by the ‘metacritic score’ of 82/100.
I cannot tell anything you about the game experience (if anyone reading this has played the game please share your experience in the comment section) – but as far as the music goes: this is spectacularly atmospheric, breathing a calm that seems to be the complete stylistic opposite of the preview images’ atmosphere.

Creating game music is quite different from creating soundtrack music, as games are mostly unlinear, and it’s never known how long a player will remain at a certain scene. So it’s all about creating an atmosphere, especially one that you would love to stay in longer … and this is what Barnhoorn does very, very well.

He takes his time, creating long drone-bases tracks slowly introducing subtle rhythmic details. And, most important for this release: the music stands firm even if you listen to it completely outside of the game context.
For prolonged environmental pleasure, there’s an additional CD with (only) the environmental field recording sounds from the same game, released by Robin Arnott. No ‘musical’ content, yet very pleasurable to listen to… so I advise you to check out the “Antichamber” double packfor three hours of sounds and music.



Blue Forest

WOUTER VELDHUIS – BLUE FOREST
It’s easy to keep floating from the “Antichamber” soundtrack right into Wouter Veldhuis’ “Blue Forest“, which is released on Organic Industries in one of the label’s distinct foldout packages with a beautiful photography determining the atmosphere
(I know, I know, I’m late again, sorry: only 5 copies left at the time of writing – but luckily the digital download remains available still).
As the cover image already indicates, the atmosphere gets somewhat darker from here, but Veldhuis‘ drone soundscapes are also of an indefinite calm. It must also be noted that “all tracks are made out of captured and processed pre-heard, found sounds and field-recordings. No samples, synthesizers or electronic audio sources were used during the production process”.



Atomism

MARK TAMEAATOMISM
If you’re already familiar with the previous work of Mark Tamea (if not, you may want to check out this 2009 mix), you know this will sound different from both releases mentioned before. These are not ‘drones’ but fragmented pieces of sound, electronic as well as (semi- )acoustic. Post-classical sounds, avant-garde-like composition techniques, musique concrete mixed with environmental field recordings and short melodic fragments – but always recognisable as ‘genuine Tamea’ because of that bright sound that is different from what most contemporaries do.

This is not ‘easy music’ – it requires dedicated listening because it’s as abstract as the web site liner notes. But if you dive into it it really pays off!
(Physical edition limited to 25 copies).



Banabila EP

BANABILA, ERKER, MACHINEFABRIEK, ZENIAL
MICHEL BANABILAZOOMWORLD
I don’t think Michel Banabila needs any further introduction here.
Even apart from his work for theatre and dance performances, his musical output has accelerated with lightspeed, meandering from electronic experimental music to eclectic world music. Shortly after the Machinefabriek collaboration and the (name your price) “47 Voice Loops“, here are two new titles also worth investigating!
Apart from some new tracks,Zoomworld is built around samples and fragments of tracks that you may recognise from his earlier work (In Other Words, 47 Voice Loops, Mltvz7). But the overall feel is quite different, as if the light has shifted completely. These new versions are created in collaboration with sound artist Radboud Mens,with whom Banabila engaged in live performance sound ‘battles’. The musical result surpasses the ‘ambient’ genre label in any possible way, but it definitely is some of the most engaging electronic music you may encounter.

BANABILA, ERKER, MACHINEFABRIEK, ZENIALis a limited vinyl release showcasing some of Banabila’s diverse collaborations along with a few new tracks. Tracks earlier released are “Deep in the Forest” (from “Route Planner“) and “More Signals from Krakrot” (from “The Latest Research From The Dept. of Electrical Engineering“). “Crowds”, however is an excitingly different version than the one known from the Sum Dark 12 release. The two new tracks are the opening track “Ill Rave” (with Machinefabriek) and the delicate “Drops”.
B-E-M-Z.clearly demonstrates Banabila’s versatility. But then – most of his albums do!
The impressive artwork is also very much worth mentioning: it’s taken from a collection of kite aerial photographs by Gerco de Ruijter.

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Sounds of Spellborn – Alternate (mix)

tcos

The Chronicles of Spellborn‘ came with so much interesting soundscapes, that I decided to create a second mix, an alternate version to the first one published last week.

Basically, the ingredients and the atmosphere are the same, but different tracks and samples are chosen.
In fact, both of these mixes can be played together and be listened to as one (two-hour) mix.

Read the information in the previous podcast entry for more details about this mix and about the Chronicles of Spellborn game.

Spellborn-logo

THE SOUNDS OF SPELLBORN – ALTERNATE MIX PLAYLIST:

  1. Spellborn Intro English (voice: Anna Drijver)
  2. Arena – Tune
  3. Music  Menu: The Chronicles of Spellborn
  4. Character Creation
  5. Deadspellstorm – Armada
  6. Trialcave  lvl 45 – Ambience
  7. Death
  8. Chamber of Whispers
  9. Shop – Rune Ambience
  10. Ringfell – Exploration
  11. Green District – Amsell
  12. Raftyards
  13. Parliament – Hoggsridge
  14. Ritual Fight Music
  15. Ancestral Quest – Ormuburu Lair
  16. Music – Credits (Lullabye)
  17. Ringfell – Holy Ground
  18. Shop – General Store
  19. Shop – Forge Ambience
  20. Green District – Day Park
  21. Quartestone Exploration – Palace and Oracle
  22. Deadspellstorm – Drydock Inside
  23. Slywood – Tavern Ambience
  24. Mines and Dark Places
  25. Parliament – Sorrowmist
  26. Mount of Heroes – Cave Wind
  27. Mount of Heroes – Entering Cave
  28. Trialcave – Outer Burial Grounds
  29. Trialcave – Mine Ambience
  30. Ringfell – Hearth
  31. Slywood – Exeto’s Lair
  32. Mount of Heroes – South
  33. Slywood – Tavern Ambience
  34. Mount of Heroes – Mines
  35. Ringfell – Tombs Area
  36. Ringfell – Lower Exploration Music
  37. Quarterstone – Oracle Day Roads
  38. Slywood – Day Ruins
  39. Demon Army Camp – Wheel of War
  40. Statue District

Music by Jesper Kyd
Ambient atmospheric soundscapes by Matthew Florianz


Download Spellborn (Alternate Mix) Now 89Mb (58 min.)

 

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Sounds of Spellborn (mix)

If you have listened to previous mixes on this weblog, you may have grown accustomed to the kind of format that they share. This one has a different approach.

I noticed that a lot of people are unfamiliar with ambient music, but still get exposed to it more than ever: in movie soundtracks, and even more: when playing games. It may not be recognised as ‘music’ at all, but more as sounds to create/enhance an environment – but still: that’s what ambient music is about, isn’t it?

When The Chronicles of Spellborn was released early 2009, I decided to create a special mix from a selection of the sound and music that comes with it.


Spellborn Logo

The Chronicles of Spellborn‘s musical soundtrack was created by Jesper Kyd, while the ambient/environmental sounds were created by dutch ambient music artist Matthew Florianz.  

“Whereas Time is the leading element in movies, it’s Location in games. That’s why these media are so fundamentally different. Sound design in games means creating landscapes, surroundings, atmospheres and the movement within it. In games, the player decides where to move next, thus creating their own mix” (Florianz)

Unfortunately, after it’s release, Spellborn ‘slipped through the cracks’, as it did not get the attention it deserved, in spite of critical acclaim. It is now under redevelopment, and while it is, the current version is available to download and play for free.

This mix is intended for gamers ánd non-gamers to listen to the music without the game context. I’ve chosen parts and samples from the soundtrack (which is over 20 hours of immersive sounds!) without relation to the gameplay and story development.

I don’t know what the future may bring regarding this online game, but The Chronicles of Spellborn deserves to be remembered for its great soundtrack!

This mix was created in february 2009.

Please note that this is part 1 of a 2-part mix. Part 2 can be found [here].


spellborn

SOUNDS OF SPELLBORN PLAYLIST:

  1. Chelicerata
  2. Spellborn Intro English (voice: Anna Drijver)
  3. Parliament – Gravesbow
  4. Character Creation
  5. Tutorial Intro (voice: Anna Drijver)
  6. Atheneum – Largeroom
  7. Lullabye (Music Credits)
  8. Mount of Heroes – Night Research
  9. Tomb of the Ancestors – Burial Grounds
  10. Slywood – Bealemeadow
  11. Dungeon Entrance
  12. Arena – Inside
  13. Arena – Inside Low
  14. Arena – Inside Lower
  15. Ringfell – Shorathmesa
  16. Ringfell – Shorathmesa – Shrine of Currents
  17. Ringfell – Night – Shorathmesa Marsh
  18. Slywood Tavern Ambience
  19. Tavern – Drowning Maiden
  20. Tavern – The Gleaming Cauldron
  21. Parliament Tunnel Suspence
  22. Parliament Tunnels
  23. Mount of Heroes – Howlers
  24. Ringfell  – Smokespires
  25. Tavern – Drowning Maiden
  26. Ringfell – Day Shorathmesa Forest
  27. Ringfell – Lower Exploration Music
  28. Exarchyon – Shardship Explodes
  29. Trialcace lvl 50 – Rune
  30. Exarchyon – Cutscene
  31. Parliament – House Shroud
  32. Slywood
  33. Tavern
  34. Tavern – The Grim Lie
  35. Tavern – Traiter’s Rest
  36. Mount of Heroes – Research Day
  37. Deadspell Storm Music
  38. Tutorial Strange (voice: Anna Drijver)
  39. Music Menu: The Chronicles of Spellborn
  40. Quarterstone – Graveyard Night No Music
  41. Slywood – Graveyard

Music by Jesper Kyd
Ambient atmospheric soundscapes by Matthew Florianz


Download Sounds of Spellborn Now 89Mb (59 min.)

 

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The Sounds of Spellborn

Ambientblog

Logo

There are quite a few ways to listen to ambient / environmental sounds. Apart from buying CD’s and finding new musical releases, you can listen to the sound of your own environment. Take a walk and open your ears to the sounds you don’t normally hear.
Or: play a computer game.

A few years ago, the creators of Myst were praised for the use of sound in their game. They hád to pay attention to detail, because the game was a sequence of beautiful but non-moving images (can you imagine that nowadays?).
Currently, games tend to be almost lifelike experiences. Not only in graphic detail, but also in sound.

There may be quite a lot more people listening to ‘ambient music’ on daily bases, maybe even without realising it.

The MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) The Chronicles of Spellborn comes with almost 20 hours of sound.
About one hour of that is ‘composed’ soundtrack music (written by Jesper Kyd), the rest is environmental sound enhanced with ambient musical effects (created by Matthew Florianz).

Composing for a game is quite different compared to composing for movies, because most games are non-lineair. A the player moves in the 360 degrees landscape, he creates his own mix of the sound details (even more when he listens to the sound in full surround).

A lot of care has been given to this sound design (and not only that of course, but we’re focussing on the sound here).
Due to the nature of the game, there’s a distinct ‘fantasy-feeling’ in some parts of the soundtrack, but most of it will also appeal to listeners interested in ambient music and environmental recordings. 

For NPS-Folio (dutch Radio 6), I recently created two mixes of this material. 

One was broadcast in the radio program itself (but can still be heard on-demand). The ‘alternate mix’ can be listened to as extra on-demand webstream.

For this mix, I concentrated on the sounds alone, not caring about the storyline and the different worlds from the original game.

<<this mix will be published as a podcast/download in december 2009>>

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