Archive for the ‘Blog from Sam’ Category
Tucson-based ambient/electronic pioneer Steve Roach presents a dynamic weekend in the southwest soundcurrent. Tickets to Roach’s 3-day No Zone Like Home concert weekend are now on sale at Eventbrite. It’s the place to be in September! See you in Tucson on the 16, 17 & 18th.
Friday: Meet & Greet with the artists. Saturday: Steve performs in the 525-capacity (limiting at 400) Berger Performing Arts Center. Sunday afternoon: Tucson sonic artists Serena Gabriel, Jeff Greinke, and Roach perform intimate sets in the Ambient Lounge at the historic and elegant Hotel Congress’ Century Room. Facebook event page.
👉 After Steve Roach’s concert weekend, stay in Tucson for this workshop: Nada Brahma: The Universe is Sound. Exploring Sound and Music for Creative Expression, Healing, and Transformation. September 22 – 25. Facilitated by Linda Kohanov, Steve Roach, & Serena Gabriel
by Patrick Ogle
Sean Williams is an award-winning author and a professor of creative writing at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. His book The Force Unleashed (based on the Star Wars video game) is a #1 New York Times bestseller. As a youngster he won the Young Composer Award in South Australia, and in 2017 he received the Australian Antarctica Division’s annual Arts Fellowship to research a novel combining the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration with H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.
He is also theAdelaidean, a musical moniker referring to the name of his home city. The musical project is so varied that you might think each release comes from an entirely different artist.
“My music suffers from the same problem as my writing, which is that I like to move between genres. I call this a problem, but for some audiences it’s the exact opposite, because it keeps things fresh. The common thread uniting my compositions for Projekt are that they’re all ambient, but while I started with lo-fi/lowercase textures, I’ve definitely been drifting towards cleaner sounds lately. Still slow, moody, patient, with a bit of a dark edge at times.”
There is continuity in the individual recordings, of course, but from record to record there are significant changes.
“Some, like Isolation and Inner Real Life, are conceptually defined early on: both of these albums grew out of exercises in music-creation based on source materials (tapes I recorded in the 1980s and jazz recordings from my father-in-law, respectively). In those cases, the final results grew organically out of the textures that were available. For other albums, like Solarpunk, the unifying theme came later: I think of these albums like collecting a book of short stories, in that individual works may not have been created with a larger purpose in mind, but just such a purpose forms subconsciously around them, and subsumes them, making them part of something much bigger.”
Solarpunk has a lo-fi indie vibe that might seem at odds with the ambient and almost orchestral stylings of other recordings. It is a record that would not be out of place on Canada’s Arts & Crafts label.
“Solarpunk started as an assembly of two-plus hours of fragments that over some months I arranged and edited into what the album is now, a whole thing in its own right. I think of this as a very powerful metaphor for how positive futures come into being, through the efforts of many disparate people towards an end they might not even be aware of, entirely, until it arrives.”
Over the years Williams says he has had a variety of processes which were dependent on the materials he had on hand.
“I’m not a natural performer of any instrument, but I can and do occasionally knock out progressions on a piano if I’m looking for inspiration,” he says. “I also love the timbre of instruments, and I have a background in sound engineering that taught me lots of old-fashioned techniques to manipulate recorded sound, many of which have been baked into DAWs and can still be useful.”
Sometimes Williams starts with a simple loop that he feels has possibilities. Then he works with the other materials and sounds that he has at hand.
“Occasionally I use randomness to get me started or to get something that’s stalled moving again. I’m fascinated by the many different means available of varying existing musical artefacts and using them to build something new,” he says. “There are a lot of common elements that wind through my music, although they’re so mutated that I’d be amazed if anyone has noticed. My process, like my music, is in a constant state of evolution.”
Williams employs a variety of instruments in his releases. On Isolation, he plays piano, autoharp, tuning fork, alto recorder, bicycle bell, windshield wipers and… slinkies. You may notice some of these items are not, strictly speaking, instruments.
“My most recent compositions are made in a mixture of Ableton and Audacity, and I’m still deciding if either of them counts as an instrument, although obviously they’re both crucial to lots of people’s processes, including mine,” says Williams. “Although I studied music composition and found success with formal styles of writing, I regard my explorations through software as being a very slow kind of improvisation, so in that sense I guess my computer is indeed my main instrument. My study just happens to be full of keyboards and guitars and other cool things that I use to get a particular sound evolving in my own fumbling way.”
Williams is something of a gear head but like many of us his eyes are bigger than his wallet.
“Man, I love gear so much, but I’m constantly forcing myself not to buy any. Space is an issue, and so is money, of course, otherwise I’d own one of everything (old and new: I’ve always wanted a sackbut, for instance),” he says. “ I also like to be portable. Next year, I’ll return to Antarctica to overwinter, making an album while I’m there, and there’s only so much gear I’ll be able to take. Laptop, headphones, a mic or two: anything more than that can’t be guaranteed. So keeping it lean is definitely my current philosophy. When I get back, though, and the home studio I’m planning is built, all bets will be off.”
Music, writing and mathematics are Williams’ three great loves.
“I’ve always said that just one part of my brain handles the labor involved in each of them, and although that’s probably an over-simplification, I’m sure it’s partly true. All three involve specialist language, and structures, and logics that frequently overlap,” says Williams. “I constantly find myself performing intuitive calculations that draw from each of these fields, to the benefit of the final result, I think. I’m sure I’m not unique in this; I’m equally sure that there are other methods of creation that are just as valid.”
Williams says that, unlike many people he knows, he doesn’t create visually.
“I don’t even ‘hear’ what I’m composing either while I’m composing, in the strict sense of the word. I’m playing at a more theoretical level, if that makes sense (and without wanting to claim any superiority in this approach; it’s just how I work),” he says. “This concept of music-without-sound is something I explore in my novel Impossible Music — and one can see audio-visual outcome of this speculation in a work called ‘vocem video’ (link: vimeo) that I created with Ian Gibbins, an acclaimed visual artist, poet and former neuroscientist. The idea is that you can turn off the sound and still gain a sense of the music from the images alone. That, in fact, was how it was premiered at the launch of the book.”
The name “theAdelaidean”, as noted, relates to Adelaide, where Williams has spent most of his life.
“I was actually born a four-and-a-half-hour drive to the northwest in a country town called Whyalla, but “theWhyallan” didn’t have the same ring to it,” he says.
“Adelaide a large-ish city by international standards (over a million people) but considered small in Australian and has always struggled with its role on the national and international stage. Embracing the arts and arts festivals is a big part of its cultural identity — boasting Australia’s first writers’ week, for instance — but the fact of its remoteness has often made it a difficult draw for visitors from far-off. Like Australians in general, we tend to look outside our local community for new and interesting stuff to celebrate, so we’ve perversely suffered a bit of a creative brain-drain here, despite being in theory an arts-friendly place to live and work. I’ve managed to stay here through an international writing and music career that now spans over thirty years, but I know plenty of creators (those who need physical audiences, for instance) who moved elsewhere and never came back.”
Williams says these facts have given the city an interesting, if frustrating, relationship with the arts. There is a tension that helps the creative process, even if this isn’t always appreciated in the moment.
“Adelaide recently became a UNESCO City of Music, which is exciting, although some of the shine has come off that with the cancellation of our Unsound music festival due to lack of government support,” says Williams. “Recent governments have been ambivalent when it came to supporting individual artists too, such as writers and composers, in favor of larger enterprises — TV and computer games, say, or operatic spectaculars by composers who have been dead for centuries. This is a shame, but maybe that makes us living artists work harder, and better, in order to succeed on our own terms.”
Regardless of the trials and tribulations of the arts in Adelaide, Williams says it has been a great place to grow and develop as an artist.
“The landscape influences me (several of my books in particular). Sometimes the isolation from busier cultural centers like Sydney helps me find my own creative vibe: it’s often easier to find a stillness here that’s missing in big cities,” he says. “The reason why I chose the name ‘theAdelaidean’ for my ambient persona is simply that it’s also the name of the tallest building in town. It was being built when I needed to choose a name, and I thought it would be cool for promo shots — taking an ugly apartment and owning it for artistic purposes. But alas, there’s no big neon sign projecting my brand across the plains. Curse them!”
Church of the Heavenly Rest 1085 5th Avenue New York, NY 10128 Saturday, June 4, 2022 Doors 7pm. Show 8pm.
Ambient church website w/ticket link
Soundworlds will flow across time and space at this two-hour journey led by legend of ambient synthesis Steve Roach. Held in an historic cathedral in Manhattan, Roach’s premiere New York City performance will be accompanied by an immersive, architecturally-mapped light performance.
“Expertly curated programs of meditative, devotional, and minimal avant-garde electronic music paired with stunning 3D-mapped projections, covering the church’s interiors with gently undulating New Age visuals…” – The New YorkerSteve Roach Bio
A longstanding leader in contemporary electronic music, composer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Roach draws on the beauty and power of the Earth’s landscapes to create lush, meditative soundscapes. Throughout his decades-long career, he’s explored styles ranging from tribal rhythms to deep space music, and he’s proven to be an enormous influence on several generations of ambient artists, trance producers, and new age/world music fusionists.
Grammy nominated in 2018 and 2019 consecutively, his career spans four decades and nearly 150 releases. His massive catalog of landmark recordings includes 1984’s Structures from Silence, 1988’s Dreamtime Return and 2003’s Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (parts 1-4). His collaboration with electronic pioneer Michael Stearns on 2021’s Beyond Earth & Sky was an opportunity to reconnect with an artist Roach first worked with in 1989. He has maintained an impossibly prolific work rate throughout his career resulting in countless hours of truly sublime, otherworldly music.
Drawing from a vast, unique and deeply personal authenticity, his albums are fueled by the momentum of a lifetime dedicated to the soundcurrent. Always reaching towards what’s next on the horizon, Roach is an artist operating at the pinnacle of his artform, driven by a passion and unbroken focus enhancing the emotive, soul-stirring depth of his music. Capturing peak moments as they occur in his Timeroom studio, he creates a sonic experience that breathes emotion and vital life energy that connects to an ever-growing worldwide audience.
From the expansive, time-suspending spaces reflecting his spiritual home in Arizona to the fire breathing, sequencer-driven rhythmic-tribal expressions woven from all things electric and organic, this innovative world of sound has been nourished by years of transcendent concerts worldwide.Press, Visit: Steve Roach Downloadable Image Gallery and Wikipedia page.
To thank the 260 backers that pledged $13,282 to help bring Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s A chaos of desire reissue Kickstarter to life, the current 3-piece “Serpent” line-up releases a 2-song single with neoclassical reinterpretations of two songs from the 1991 album.
The focus on strings and vocals reveals a new shine upon the dark existential beauty. These passionate tales inhabit a chaotic realm of memory, fear and desire confronting pained emotions. Synthesist Sam Rosenthal is joined by Swedish cellist Henrik Meierkord and vocalist Jon DeRosa.
Sam Rosenthal writes:
While planning the Kickstarter for A chaos of desire I wondered how to bring the 2022-era band into the past and involve us in the campaign. Inspiration strikes!!! We could record new neo-classical versions of tracks from chaos. I formed these recordings by reusing my synth parts from the digitized 1990 8-track master tape; Jon and Henrik added vocals and strings in their respective hometowns (Los Angeles & Stockholm, Sweden). Then — like when I mixed The Cleft Serpent — I pulled as much of myself out of the mix as I could to end up with lush, beautiful, mournful versions of “A chaos of desire” & “Could i stay the honest one.”
Jon and I tossed around ideas and thought it would be a wonderful surprise at the end of the campaign to give the band’s fans something entirely fresh: our reinterpretations of the past. We’re thanking everyone for their pledges which brought us to the funding goal; and thanking everyone who has enjoyed the band in the 31 years since we released A chaos of desire.
The single will be at all streaming sites on April 15. Sam
Friday is the re-release date for Michael Stearns’ Planetary Unfolding. I am thrilled that I get to offer Michael’s early work on my Projekt label. He’s one of the originals; having both Michael and Steve Roach on Projekt brings together the classic American EM artists.
I’ve read your wonderful comments about this album on Bandcamp and youTube, such as:Tony B wrote: Thank you for reissuing Planetary Unfolding. It is a desert island disc for me! Gabriel R wrote: At last! One of my favorite albums, for so long unavailable on CD. Thank you Projekt for putting this out!
Planetary Unfolding was out of print far too long, and it’s my pleasure to make it available for you again. This remastered version captures the beauty and sustained world of Michael’s 1981 creation. The CD comes in a 6-panel digipak with the return of the original cover + full liner notes. Purchase CD or download today, and you can stream on our Bandcamp page. On Friday, the album will be up at all streaming sites, Amazon, etc. (here’s the Spotify link for Friday.) – SamMichael Stearns: Planetary Unfolding (2022 Remaster) Available here at the Projekt website and our bandcamp page, European website, high res digital at SPM
Projekt Records inaugurates an ongoing CD/digital reissue series of 13 influential works from American electronic ambient composer Michael Stearns. On April 1, 2022, Projekt rereleases Stearns’ groundbreaking and long out-of-print Planetary Unfolding (1981). Featuring the sound of the Serge Modular Synthesizer in 6 movements, the slowly evolving atmospheric swirls of this early spacemusic classic are a journey within inner and outer space.
His essential masterpiece tells the story of the cosmos not with words but with mighty, emotional sonics. The pieces have aged gracefully, as powerful today as 41 years ago. From our subatomic origins to our intergalactic destiny, the universe is made of sound held together through resonance where atoms, cells, oceans, plants, animals and humans are all part of a complex orchestration.
“Michael Stearns’ Planetary Unfolding defines the word breathtaking. He doesn’t just take you somewhere, he makes you hear music differently, taking you deep into the vibration of sound. Planetary Unfolding transforms the space of your listening and your mind. It’s a monumental work of ambient music.” — John Diliberto (((Echoes)))”
From Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s Sam Rosenthal: Hi. I’d love to have your support on my crowdfunding for a reissue of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s 1991 album, A chaos of desire. There’s one week to go to reach the funding goal — as I write this 148 people have brought us 66% of the way there. With your help I’ll manufacture three formats: a 140-gram 2-color vinyl 2LP, the CD, and a MiniDisc.
Martin Bowes of Attrition’s remastering reveals a new shine upon chaos’ dark beauty. It’s a realm of memory, fear and desire set upon dense electronics confronting pained emotions. Oscar Herrera’s intense, searing vocals and Julianna Town’s sensitive siren song are complemented by Vicki Richards’ sinewy violin.
Backing this campaign is like preordering and a lot like being a patron of the arts.
📹 To begin the final week I’ve posted a 2nd video from the album on youTube, this one for the instrumental “beneath the icy floe.” I’ve always thought of this song as a passage through the shamanic death & rebirth initiation; it was cool to find a cinematographer with footage that captured this idea, and then edit it into a clip that creates the experimental narrative I imagined. Watch it on your big screen. It’s gorgeous. 🎬<
OPTION MAGAZINE #37, 1991: Melancholy streams of electronics and strings, with either floating female vocals or gothic male intonations – reminiscent of certain Dead Can Dance pieces (especially guest vocalist Loren’s reading of the title track), although without the mysticism, scholarship, and anachronistic plunderings. These pieces are contemporary interpretations of the gothic mind set, and the lyrics are often maudlin and self pitying: try “shine shuddered light into my eyes / I cannot escape, unending lies” from “The Hypocrite Is Me.” The music itself is a pleasant depressive drone, and certain songs – “Pandora’s Box,” with its busy rhythm, guitar, and Roxy Music-like melody, and “Tear Love From My Mind,” with its piano highlights and Skinner Box’s Julianna Town’s fine singing – are good listening no matter what your genre preferences. <
Listen to the remastered 12-track album augmented with 18 bonus tracks at Spotify (or wherever you stream music.)
Kickstarter is all or nothing, We need to pass A chaos of desire‘s $12K goal to make this reissue exist. Thanks for helping make it possible!
Projekt’s artists have been creating entertainment for your eyes as well as your ears. Go to YouTube on your big living room TV and sit yourself down to lovely videos on the Projekt: Music Videos playlist. While you’re there subscribe to the playlist to get our latest clips in your recommendations. There are new videos this week from Lorenzo Montanà, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, and Erik Wøllo. Plus recent clips from Peter Phippen, Jarguna, theAdelaidean, and Steve Roach. Hit play, and enjoy! De-stress this weekend with some great music & visuals from Projekt’s artists. Take care, SamName-your-price at Bandcamp: Descent by Lorenzo Montanà & Neogene by jarguna. preOrder Planetary Unfolding CD & digital from Michael Stearns.
Hi — I’ve created a playlist for you at youTube.PROJEKT ARTIST’S VIDEOS playlist
I update it as each of us artists release a new video. Subscribe and you won’t miss any of the new clips we post. I like that about youTube: I turn on the TV at night (Nova Kitty loves laying on her side on the couch for her late night TV-time-with-pets) and right at the top of youTube are new things to watch from the people I subscribe to. Thanks for doing the work for me AI.
The first clip on the playlist is “Holding Light” a video I create for Steve Roach’s new album. It turned out really atmospheric and trippy. Give it a watch.
Also: recent clips from Erik Wøllo, Peter Phippen, theAdelaidean/Deepspace, Benjamin James Stewart, more…
2021’s Cyber Sale starts NOW! 50% off all downloads, use 50down during checkout. 25% off CDs, use 25cds. LPs are not on sale. Through 11:59pm EST on Cyber Monday, November 29. http://projektrecords.bandcamp.com and http://blacktapeforabluegirl.bandcamp.comPRO7 An Hour of Ambience
Sam Rosenthal’s patrons at Bandcamp are listening to both of his March 1 1985 sets of live electronic music for a three-screen video installation. Performed at Broward Community College’s art gallery, these were Sam’s only solo electronic shows. For as little as $5 a month, your patronage gets you this album and 18 other exclusive stream/downloads. And you help Sam pay the band and cover costs for creating art. Cover photo by Frank Wendeln.
Projekt’s TheAdelaidean is headed back to Antarctic! Sean’s been selected to winter with the Australian Antarctic Program in 2023, the first writer to do so! His first album Isolation was about lockdown. His newest Sounds Like Rain is water-themed (and it’s a Name-your-price download.) Maybe we’ll get a snow-themed album from next, made in one of the most isolated places on Earth!
Sean says: “Returning to Antarctica has been a dream ever since I was there in 2017. That was a nine-day research trip, but this time I will be actively creating while on the ice, writing stories and music, and also podcasting and teaching students back home via satellite. I’ll have six months of long nights and the Aurora Australis to inspire me. I’m so excited to hear what emerges from this incredible experience.”