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The Experience Of Humans Being

Music has the ability to get humans to circle around a fire – its sounds stoke the aural, leading to the visual, and still more, the emotional. The relationship between humans and sound is wonderfully complex – especially when we find ways to emulate, manipulate and enhance the soundtrack of our lives with musical instruments. Music is the experience of humans being.

The Endless Sonic Adventure

Everything and nothing changed with the birth of my son. What hasn’t changed: the concept of the endless sonic adventure, which seems to occupy my mind most days, while my son and I find ways to relate to each other. The idea that we create sonic vibrations, followed by an often more complex and dynamic reaction, is magical. Blowing bubbles in the bathtub and barking nonsensical words and tones into plastic cups – my son and I play every day. The funny thing is, I never stop being a kid in a sonic candy store. Every seemingly insignificant sound catches my attention, often to the chagrin of the company I keep. Feel free to diagnose the struggle for my focused attention – certainly don’t mistake it for being uninterested or unaware. As sound flies like a baby bird from its proverbial nest into a world of complex harmonic, and spatial, ebb and flow – the baby bird’s flight plan requires real-time, calculated actions and reactions, requiring further actions and reactions, etc… the walkabout of a single sound is an endless story, should you choose to listen.

‘Waiting’, An Immersive Audio Experience

SnowGhost Music is happy to announce the release of our second installation of ‘SnowGhost Stories of Sound’, which begins with an audio release of  a song that was recorded and produced at SnowGhost this summer. ‘Waiting’ will be available on all streaming services this Friday, January 12th.  

Another One Down

Thanks to Christopher Willits and Envelop for putting on a great show at Luminary (Expanded):art|tech|music last weekend. Our immersive sound story ‘Into The Dark’ has never looked and sounded better. Coupled with an amber LED-light performance by Alingo Loh, ‘Into The Dark’ literally shined, in lieu of any video images, during the intense ‘fire’ scene. It’s amazing what the imagination conjures up when given the opportunity.

‘Into The Dark’ to be shown at the Luminary(Expanded) art.music.tech show at The Midway in San Francisco Nov. 4th

SnowGhost Music is excited to announce that our immersive audio story, ‘Into The Dark’, was selected to be shown at this years’ Luminary (Expanded) art.tech.music show at the Midway in San Francisco this weekend. For those of you in the bay area, please stop by and check it out, along with the rest of the incredible music and art that will be performed and presented at the event. You can watch the trailer for ‘Into The Dark’ here: https://snowghostmusic.com/stories-of-sound/

Thank you Google Play and everyone who came out to see ‘Into The Dark’

We had a wonderful time at Playtime 2017 and would like to thank Google for allowing us to share our spatial audio piece ‘Into the Dark’ with the attendees. We were overwhelmed with the turnout and are extremely pleased with the response to the piece, and by the high level of excitement around the concept of immersive audio stories. For those who attended the showings, we handed out gatefold packets that included information about the piece as well as 10 postcard images, each of which represents another supporting story that surfaced while conducting research for the Granite Mountain mining disaster. Butte is one of the more fascinating of the lesser known places that we have visited. It is rich with history and amazing to see what it has become in the 100 years following this event. There are many other stories that we have to tell around ’Into the Dark’ and we plan to release one per week on our site for the next ten weeks in association with the postcard images in the packet. For those of you who weren’t able to attend the live showing, this is a way for you to hear all of the stories and see all of their associated images. Please stop by our ‘Stories of Sound’ page on the site to check out the other stories. Thanks again…there is more to come.

‘SnowGhost Stories of Sound’ pilot episode, INTO THE DARK to debut at Google’s ‘Playtime 2017’ developer conference:

  We are excited to announce the upcoming release of our spatial audio content series called ‘SnowGhost Stories of Sound’. This VR content series utilizes audio as the driver of narrative to tell compelling stories in multi-channel spatial sound. Unlike a traditional audiobook or podcast, the SnowGhost experience is designed to transport the listener into the story or scene as if they were actually there. For context, consider the storytelling format of Prairie Home Companion, in which the author or storyteller is able to expand their characters and plot using rich audio content to create a theatrical experience that is much larger than the story’s words. Utilizing the spatial audio format, SnowGhost elevates the audio storytelling experience to a new level. SnowGhost will debut their first episode, ‘Into The Dark’ , at Playtime 2017, Google Play’s annual developer conference. The event will take place October 19th at Envelop, a live spatial audio event space that is located in The Midway in San Francisco’s bourgeoning Dogpatch neighborhood and will be experienced exclusively at Playtime 2017.

Moebius Story Leidecker, Familiar’ Album To Be Released On October 6th

Brett Allen, of SnowGhost Music, was honored to serve as the audio engineer for one of Deiter Moebius’ later projects. Recorded at SnowGhost Studio, ’Moebius Story Leidecker, Familiar’ is set for release on October 6th, 2017 and is a collaboration between Jon Leidecker of Negativeland fame, and Deiter Moebius of Cluster. It is an album that explores the juxtaposition between the natural and artificial world and was inspired by a few days of hiking in Glacier National Park, Montana. I grew up listening to a significant number of bands who were directly influenced by the Krautrock bands of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was born in the early 70’s so it makes sense that I was listening to the next generation of bands that followed suit. Once I realized the origins of influence, I took a trip back in time to explore the forefathers of the avant-garde. Krautrock was a movement that was given it’s ‘name’ in jest by John Peel, and the name stuck. An important fact that should be mentioned by anyone writing about the genre is that Krautrock was originally a form of free art. Krautrock bands gave their records away at free art fairs. It was truly a ‘movement’ of artists, and one that has been hugely influential over a vast and varied spectrum of genres. Kraftwerk is most likely the household name that this generation knows as somehow being connected to the birth of hip hop and sampling via Afrika Bambaataa. Kraftwerk, though brilliant in their own right, was not the first to emerge from this movement. In 1968, the Zodiak Free Arts Lab was created in Berlin by Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Conrad Schnitzler. Schnitzler was an early member of Tangerine Dream and founder of the band Kluster (Cluster). Schnitzler started Cluster with Deiter Moebius, who sadly passed away in 2015. He left behind an incredible body of work and was still recording new music up until his passing. ‘Vexed’ is equally mesmerizing in audio and video form and can be seen below…

Congratulations to the ‘Lil Smokies’ on Their New Release ‘Changing Shades’

All of us at SnowGhost Music would like to congratulate you on the release of your new album ‘Changing Shades’. It was such a fun record to make and we are extremely pleased to see it out in the world today. The musicianship and cohesiveness of this band is astonishing. The album was live-tracked in a little over two days and completely finished, mixed and mastered in eight. It is a production approach that we strongly promote and believe in and we were fortunate enough to have a band like the Lil’ Smokies in to elevate the bar for live analog recording. There’s a great interview with lead vocalist Andy about the recording process in the Missoulian. Best of luck as you travel the world sharing your music and yourselves. I hope that all of the people who hear these songs will experience as much happiness listening to them as we did making the record with you. All the best!  

Thalpein

Thalpein is an audio composition arranged in three variations of dimensional sound that unfolds over the span of 31 minutes and 21 seconds. This piece was composed for a video installation art piece in collaboration with artist Lana Vogestad and will be shown in various gallery spaces in the upcoming months. The composition itself was first sketched out on a sketchpad in the middle of the night – which can be seen in the image to your left. The sketch shows three natural environments: Underwater, surface area, and atmosphere. The atmosphere took on an orbital role in creating a 3-dimensional component surrounding the other layers, with the third layer being contained in the 3-dimensional ‘atmospheric’ sphere. Brett was brought in to help determine how to creatively move forward with the sound design and spatial audio strategy. In order to simulate the unobservable real-time nature of this particular phenomenon, we performed this piece using analog instruments and effects over an extended period of time. We decided to build an instrument using a combination of instruments, providing us with various sound options that enabled us to perform the entire piece live. As we listened over time, there was a strong connection to the imperfections. For the recording, I found myself snug underneath a Hammond B-3 organ with the keys taped to hold the chords. I was playing a Moog analog filter, a tape delay and pitch bending effects processor, while Brett stayed above playing the resonance on the organ. Just prior to recording this piece, we had recorded with ambient and spatial audio artist, Christopher Willits, and had been inspired by our conversations from those sessions. We realized that we had a creative concept that actually warranted spatial audio recording to properly represent the visual sketch that inspired the audio and video. Our live performance was recorded through a rotating Leslie Speaker to give us that orbital third dimension surrounding the other variations within the piece. We placed microphones around the Leslie, recording 3-dimensional/spatial audio the old-fashioned way – using a rotating speaker. Music by Kirk Cornelius + Brett Allen. Video by Trevan Strean.

‘The Avant-garde Guard – My Week In The Studio With Matmos…’

Matmos is most widely known for their musique concrète approach to electronic pop music. Their albums are highly conceptual and they are regarded as the crème de la crème of experimental electronic pop music. With that being said, I was extremely honored to be invited up to SnowGhost studio to take on a very undefined role in helping them gather and record sounds for their upcoming album. An ‘undefined role’ because working with Matmos is an extremely fluid process that is steeped in experimentation. You simply design scenarios that create an environment for something to happen, all within the boundaries of an overarching theme. We picked up Martin and Drew at the Kalispell Airport and immediately headed out to go record sounds at a conceptually relevant location. They instinctually navigated their surroundings for new sounds. Each sound is potentially part of a larger composition, or conversely, can be melodic and rhythmic on its own. The week was chalked full of magical moments, some misfires, intentional brilliance, some happy accidents, many late nights, an entire spectrum of emotions and finally ended with a high school marching band. Without knowing what to expect, it is exactly what I had expected.

Synth Tuning

‘Escape From Nashville – The Towne Sessions’

Having lived in Nashville myself for 11 years, I am acutely aware of the benefits and trappings of ‘Music City’. Nashville is an industry town, and while there are some benefits to being close to where things are happening, it can sometimes have an adverse effect on creativity, where the business can often overshadow the creative process. Such being the case with Nashville country duo ‘Towne’. For the reasons mentioned above, Towne decided to take a trip to Montana to write and record new material. SnowGhost was hired to produce something completely different than what they were accustomed to writing or recording. Nowadays it is rare for a band to be sent on a writing trip with no expectation of outcome. What transpired, on day one, was a late night candle-lit writing session in a remote off-the-grid cabin which produced the song that was recorded the following morning. The song was recorded live using analog modular synths and programmed drums – there were no guitars. What emerged was a beautifully hypnotic 8 minute ambient electronic pop song about yearning for something real to happen. The song was an audio representation of what can happen when you intentionally let something unfold.

New Music? New Instruments.

There has been so much music over the course of human history – I am positive that every rhythm and every melody has been explored in one way or another. So what makes music original? Think about how many times we have heard the plagal cadence, or blues and rock chord progressions, and said to ourselves, “wow, this is really original”. The answer is, all of the time! The truth is that it has nothing to do with the notes, and everything to do with the way those notes are being played and captured. Played and captured? What plays, and what captures? People, and sometimes machines play, instruments capture – and they all have a remarkably unique way of doing that. They all sound different, and all have different ways of conducting themselves. Whether it be a human voice, or a violin, or a totally new form, like sampling and granular synthesis, what is so cool about this concept, that all of these instruments require a different mindset and approach. This is what promotes and manifests new musical ideas. That is why I am always looking for new ways to play and capture the melodies I hear in my head.