Michael Stearns: Chronos (2022 Remaster — Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix) (CD)

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Product Description

Corridors of Time — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix
2 Essence and the Ancients — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix
3 Angels, Bells and Pastorale — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix
4 Escalator — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix
5 Voices — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix
6 Portraits — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix
7 The Ride (Finale) — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix
8 Credits — 2022 Remaster, Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix

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Projekt makes available two mixes of the Chronos soundtrack. This page is the remaster of Michael’s X-86 Stereo Ambisonic mix; this mix was originally used on the CD and LP at the time of the film’s release and is Michael’s favorite of Projekt’s two re-releases. For collectors, we’ve digitally released Michael’s 2012 stereo fold-down from the film’s 6 channel print master.

A soundtrack tuned to the timescales and rhythms of human life on earth

In Greek mythology “Chronos” is the personification of time. On composer and electronic musical visionary Michael Stearns’ 1985 album, Chronos serves as the tempo of a cascade of celestial movements, terrestrial sonic luminance, and morphic electronic harmonies.

Composed as the soundtrack for the IMAX film by cinematographer Ron Fricke (previously of Koyaanisqatsi), these 8 tracks combine to form a continuous 43-minute pandimensional experience, a sensual sound voyage with stops throughout the ancient and modern worlds.

Scored as the film was shot, Stearns’ Chronos leads us through earthbound and aerial spaces, the long plains, the cosmos, the big cities and the tracing of the spiritual and corporeal lights which inform each movement. The symphonic and majestic main theme in “Corridors of Time” hints at vast spaces and soulful longing flowing with cosmic poetry. The track reaches a powerful crescendo resolving in ghostly atmospheres, driving escalator steps and whispered voices. It returns half an hour later weaving into the themes of the swelling incandescent tapestry of the final two movements.

Working seamlessly with director-cinematographer Ron Fricke, composer Michael Stearns embraced the roles of soundtrack producer, music supervisor, sound editor, and sound effects producer — effectively creating the sonic and emotional context for every scene in Chronos. This rare unity of music, sound, and image elevated the film from an unusual documentary to a classic work of art.

In the tumultuous years since the 1985 release of Chronos, it’s been easy to forget how innovative this film was. Its subject matter, motion-controlled time-lapse visuals, and powerful wordless soundtrack all broke new ground — redefining what was possible in the immersive / giant screen / surround sound format.
— Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space
One cannot be closer to the cosmos and life on earth than listening to Chronos, a deep cosmic symphony. That was (when) I realized that EM could definitely have a soul.
— Sylvain Lupari, Synth & Sequences

Reflections from Michael Stearns on the creation of Chronos

Chronos was one of the most inspired musical pieces I’ve had the fun of creating. Having an hour-long reel of tape to record one ‘longform’ piece of music, start to finish… in surround!… For amazing time-lapse large format film / images… And being paid to do it! Couldn’t be better!

Chronos gave me the canvas to paint musically with an amazing array of instruments. From Constance Demby’s “Space Bass” on the opening track, the Serge Synthesizer, the Beam, acoustic instruments… an incredible musical palette.

In early 1983 I finished two years of working with composer Maurice Jarre on four pictures back to back. That fall, Chronos associate producer Steven Marble approached me about scoring a large format film, something I had always wanted to do. He introduced me to director / cinematographer Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson. Ron had been listening to two of my earlier albums, Ancient Leaves and Planetary Unfolding. He invited me to score Chronos.

I set up a studio in West Los Angeles and installed the instruments including my Serge synthesizer, a mixing console, a 16 track 2” tape recorder and a 6 channel surround monitoring system. The surround monitoring system enabled me to write and record the music within the same sonic space the audience would hear it in.

Before shooting began, Ron and I had several conversations about the structure of the film, the different movements and how the film would unfold.

In the spring of 1984 Ron and his crew went out to shoot at their first location, the Egyptian pyramids. I traveled with them to get a sense of the flow of time Ron was capturing with his time-lapse 70mm camera. From the pyramids, to the traffic in Cairo, to the call to prayer from the mosques, to the herds of camels on city streets… it was a wonderful introduction to the movement through time and space the film would capture.

When I returned from the shoot in Egypt, I began writing and recording the music in the new studio. I worked over a three-month period to finish the 43-minute composition.

When Ron returned, he and Alton Walpole began the editorial process, editing to the music that was already completed. The images and music worked beautifully together.

Chronos opened in 1985 at the Rueben Fleet Space Theater in San Diego, and La Geode in Paris.

Before the opening, I mixed a stereo recording of the soundtrack using Ambisonic surround encoding onto a Mitsubishi X-86 digital recorder. The “Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix” was the source for the 1985 CD and LP release and was remastered for Projekt’s CD & digital release.

A second “fold-down mix” was created in 2012 from the 35mm 6 track surround film master. As such, it is not a discrete stereo mix but a rebalancing of the 6 channel print master folded-down into stereo.

In the spring of 2022, Bob Ohlsson remastered both versions of Chronos. The fidelity and dynamic range revealed during this process is fantastic! With digital technology not available back in the day (level, EQ adjustments and further processing), Chronos takes on a vibrant new life; I’m so impressed with the sound of these releases on Projekt. They bring excitement and magic back into the unfolding of this seminal piece of my work.

Projekt release: November 4, 2022
Original release date: 1985

Also released November 4 2022 🔹 🌱 🔹 🌱 🔹 🌱 🔹 🌱 🔹 🌱 🔹 🌱 🔹
Forrest Fang: The Lost Seasons of Amorphia

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Weight .3 lbs



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  1. Reviews Editor

    From Darkroom Magazine
    The celebratory collaboration between the stainless Projekt and Michael Stearns continues. Already started a few seasons ago with the remastered reissue of the seminal work Planetary Unfolding, to which we refer to our review; an album selected by the label and the American musician because it is re-proposed as a seminal example of Stearns’ immense career, in all its beauty and elusive nuances, even more astral if enjoyed with today’s cutting-edge technology, of which Our we can say it is also a precursor. For the record, Michael Stearns was born in 1948 in the desert Arizona, which would later inspire many villagers to take inspiration from those same wild and metaphysical places; inspiration then collimated in musical expressions that gave birth to new age, space-ambient music and all the various ramifications. The same birthplaces of a supporting axis for the scene like Steve Roach, so to speak. And even Stearns’ artistic contribution has always followed that direction, celebrating a rediscovery of nature, even the most silent and introspective one, for a sound, philosophical and spiritual rebirth. A universal pantheism, which puts man (and his machines) at the centre, but pushes him to seek balance with the surrounding nature. This new six-panel digipack reissue, remastered by the artist himself, is a vivid example of the ontological work of Michael Stearns that we have just summarized. A very important disc, because it was the first real soundtrack composed and produced exclusively by the artist, for one of the many films he dedicated himself to, in any position that kept him at the recording console.
    “Chronos” is a 1985 medium-length film directed by the American Ron Fricke. An experimental cinema film that can be identified in a certain vein born in the 80s, where the power of images and music merged together for an almost mystical experience. It is no coincidence that Fricke was director of photography for the filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, famous with Philip Glass for the Qatsy trilogy (three very avant-garde films and still today difficult for many, but still recommended to the more curious), who would later undertake his career also as a director, producing several similar films, accompanied by his enthusiastic friend Stearns (the most famous, “Samsara” and “Baraka”, which also contains a historic hit by Dead Can Dance). “Chronos” is practically without dialogues and actors. Stearns’ music accompanies Fricke’s camera in symbolic and sacred places around the world, between timelapse effects and alternating montage. An absolutely abstract work, which without the contribution of Stearns and his compositions would be crippled, but it is precisely in the magic of the union between music and images that the spell is fulfilled. Chronos is an electric symphony, a divination between space and time. Space harmonies, deep melodies, ambient carpets, world beat syntheses so enveloping with an almost orchestral dimension. All for a far from naive reflection on the meaning of existence, among the images filmed by Fricke, of relics, places of worship, historical monuments, and the incomparable notes of Stearns that strike the soul, bordering on the sublime. Sincere and brilliant, therefore unmissable. Rating: 9/10 -Max Firinu

    Original Italian:
    Continua la collaborazione celebrativa tra l’inossidabile Projekt e Michael Stearns. Già iniziata qualche stagione fa con la ristampa rimasterizzata del seminale lavoro Planetary Unfolding, a cui rimandiamo alla nostra recensione; un album selezionato dalla label e il musicista statunitense perché riproposto come esempio seminale dell’immensa carriera di Stearns, in tutta la sua bellezza e le sue inafferrabili sfumature, ancora più astrali se gustate con l’odierna tecnologia all’avanguardia, di cui il Nostro possiamo dire sia anche precursore. Per la cronaca, Michael Stearns nasce nel 1948 nella desertica Arizona, che avrebbe poi ispirato molti paesani a prendere ispirazione da quegli stessi luoghi così selvaggi e metafisici; ispirazione poi collimata in espressioni musicali che hanno dato i natali alla musica new age, space-ambient e tutte le svariate ramificazioni. Gli stessi luoghi di nascita di un asse portante per la scena come Steve Roach, tanto per intendersi. E anche il contributo artistico di Stearns ha sempre seguito quella direzione, celebrando una riscoperta della natura, anche quella più silenziosa e introspettiva, per una rinascita sonora, filosofica, spirituale. Un panteismo universale, che mette al centro l’uomo (e le sue macchine), ma spingendolo alla ricerca dell’equilibrio con la natura circostante. Questa nuova ristampa in digipack a sei pannelli, rimasterizzata dall’artista stesso, è un vivido esempio dell’opera ontologica di Michael Stearns che abbiamo appena riassunto. Un disco importantissimo, perché prima vera colonna sonora composta e prodotta esclusivamente dall’artista, per uno dei moltissimi film a cui si è dedicato, in veste di qualunque posizione che lo tenesse alla console di registrazione.

    “Chronos” è un mediometraggio del 1985, diretto dallo statunitense Ron Fricke. Una pellicola di cinema sperimentale che si può identificare in un certo filone nato proprio negli anni ’80, dove il potere delle immagini e della musica si fondevano assieme per un’esperienza quasi mistica. Fricke non a caso è stato direttore della fotografia per il cineasta Godfrey Reggio, famoso con Philip Glass per la trilogia Qatsy (tre film molto all’avanguardia e ancor oggi ostici per molti, ma comunque consigliati ai più curiosi), il quale poi avrebbe intrapreso la carriera anche da regista, producendo svariati film simili, proprio accompagnato dall’entusiasta amico Stearns (i più famosi, “Samsara” e “Baraka”, il quale contiene anche una storica hit dei Dead Can Dance). “Chronos” praticamente è senza dialoghi e attori. La musica di Stearns accompagna la macchina da presa di Fricke in luoghi simbolici e sacri sparsi in tutto il mondo, tra effetti di timelapse e montaggio alternato. Un’opera assolutamente astratta, che senza l’apporto di Stearns e le sue composizioni sarebbe come azzoppata, ma è proprio nella magia del connubio tra musica e immagini che si compie l’incantesimo. Chronos è una sinfonia elettrica, una divinazione tra lo spazio e il tempo. Armonie space, melodie profonde, tappeti ambient, sintetismi world beat così avvolgenti dalla dimensione quasi orchestrale. Tutto per una riflessione tutt’altro che ingenua sul significato dell’esistenza, tra le immagini filmate da Fricke, di reliquie, luoghi di culto, monumenti storici, e le ineguagliabili note di Stearns che colpiscono l’animo, rasentando il sublime. Sincero e geniale, perciò imperdibile. Rating: 9/10 -Max Firinu

  2. Reviews Editor

    From Synth & Sequences

    A reissue which reaches here a whole other musical and sonic nirvana

    One of the great pleasures of listening to music is the thrills she gives. And there is a world of difference between listening to a track versus a full album. A track often makes us feel nostalgic by linking it to a specific moment of our life where we lived a happy or unhappy moment. An album is an adventure in music where we go from discovery to discovery, our senses alert and our ears dazzled by the often novel character of a book, which has become the story of an hour, of which we are the author inspired by the muse who is the musician-composer. Has it ever happened to you to have the hairs on your arms pulled up so hard that it almost hurts? It happens regularly when I’m listening to an album of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis (oh-Vangelis), Kitaro, his first albums are of pure cosmic beauty, Jean-Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, Steve Roach and/or Bernd Kistenmacher. I forget some? Yes, there are albums that I can’t get enough of by lesser known artists; Let the Night Last Forever by Walter Christian Rothe, Univers by Thierry Fervant, Cords by Synergy. And memory being what it is, I still forget half a dozen others. This preamble to get to CHRONOS! An album where I would say that if listening to it didn’t give you a thrill, didn’t make you sigh or shed a tear, then your soul was dead. Well, here is another chance to resurrect it!

    It was announced with the reissue and remastering of Planetary Unfolding, the Projekt Music label is going to reissue 13 albums from Michael Stearns’ vast catalog, and CHRONOS is the second album chosen by the American label’s management. I have already written a review on this wonderful album in 2007, here is the link to this review Chronos, where I stated that EM could definitely have a soul with this album. And it is even more true with this reissue which offers us nothing less than the original version with the ambisonic mix. The Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix version comes from a stereo recording of the soundtrack using the Ambisonic surround encoding on a Mitsubishi X-86 digital recorder. It’s this recording, remastered by Bob Ohlsson in the spring of 2022, that Projekt offers us. And let me tell you, the difference is more than noticeable…It is huge!

    Just hearing the synth breathe in the ascent of Corridors of Time already makes the ears quiver. You can clearly hear the difference as you feel Michael Stearns’ concentration behind his Serge Modular synth. The tinkling are also more perceptible and these sound rays that sweep, such as a monstrous lighthouse, the sound horizon roll with threatening rumblings even more amplified in this opening where the hairs of our spine are already squabble in our back. And these synth layers which spread their lyric wings? The musical dimension is once again more detailed, as if Stearns was painting layer by layer and sound by sound his immense cosmic canvas. The details, like around the 6th minute, where the subdivisions of the tones in the plaintive synth layers and those shooting stars that we hear better, give an immeasurable depth to this landmark work by the American musician-synthesist who is a pioneer in the manipulation of the Serge Modular. And we are even more in the front row to hear the secrets of the synth as well as its warm musical tones in this reissue of this 9th album of Michael Stearns, if we count Desert Moon Walk realized in 1977. I won’t write a deep review of this CHRONOS rerelease as I did in 2007. But, imagine all those little crackles, think of Essence and the Ancients, that are better detailed, those synth groans whose breaths you can almost hear, those rumblings that roll with more consistency without ever altering the delicacy of the musician’s visions and those muffled percussions that sound like a heartbeat that refuses to die. These elements run through our soul, making it shiver even more. Even almost 40 years later and over 600 listens further (I still listen to Chronos at least once a month since I discovered this album in the late 80’s), I have shivers of pleasure that never reached such this dimension with this new CHRONOS Original X-86 Ambisonics Mix. The quietness, the sharpness in the harmony of the bells as well as in their pastoral passion reach a new dimension in Angels, Bells and Pastorale and in the timeless ascent of Escalator. And what about Portraits! This is where the soul of CHRONOS was first revealed to me back then, and my bowl of tears is filled to the rim. The fluty air is not just beautiful, it is extraordinary! The Ride (Finale) is even more majestic with its interplanetary momentum that makes us want to hear Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene again. The power of the movement is as detailed as if Michael Stearns was explaining it sound by sound this finale that makes my soul shake as much as the walls and the floor of my listening room. This CHRONOS (Original X​-​86 Ambisonics Mix) reissue includes a track from the documentary that serves to close its ending, Credits. These slow musical wings, built on the harmonious movement of Corridors of Time, are devoid of its muffled beats, screwing twice as much this earworm that obsesses our senses and stimulating this irresistible desire to hear the whole album again, which reaches here a whole other musical and sonic nirvana.

    This is quite a gift from Michael Stearns, Bob Ohlsson and Sam Rosenthal! And if you are one of the first buyers, Project will give you the remaining DVDs of the Ron Fricke documentary, as long as there are some left. I’ve heard there are close to 300 copies left. When I was saying gift…! Rating: 5/5 -Sylvain Lupari (November 10th, 2022)

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