Virus : I.D.M. ?
If i got it right, there's something about complex rhythm in IDM. I don't really care about terms and classification. After Spiritus, i stopped composing on a no-goal perspective for quite some time. I mean i composed a lot but only for specific projects for which i was asked particular musics. Among those, i was asked to compose Dubstep for some time. I actually found it rather boring though i did what i was asked. the 2-step base and massive bass tweaking was nothing really fascinating to me. Still, i did start to wander in the realm of drum sets and began to wonder what could hits, clicks, hats and kicks express on their own, then together. Could short slashed sounds be the instruments of a bigger orchestra that would speak ? That's what Virus 1#7 is about mostly. So, as susual, i played. in an unconstructed way first, leaving sketches of drum patterns all over the place. Then trying to feel them, tame them, technically also, i started to sense what - i suppose - a drummer is all about : blood and heartbeat. I had been practising african dance once, some years ago. I remember i had been so surprised by what the body could do and say, how it could link itself to the ground, provoking an unexpected communion between weight and lightness. This feeling came back when writing Virus. Like for music based on notes, percussion does speak. And its language is so wide. It's actually free all over the frequency ranges that we can hear. Becoming probably a way to express the unconscious in a way, with lapsus, fantasy and all the rest of it. Don't ask me why this is called Virus. I have no idea. maybe i should see a shrink.
Ombilicum VI. Spiritus Tracklist
3-track electrorchestral project.
A rather pompous way to describe a mixed use of electronic music & orchestral composition. My basis on this 6th project was to work around a field recording done outside recently. Adding layers and treatment to make the background bed like moving in slow motion. I used piano on the first 2 tracks. On the first one, it is only improvisation. On the second, it does set up a melody that will be repeated all through the tune. No piano on the third.
The orchestral parts were improvised while playing the final bed. The improvisation (with alti first, then celli, violin, basses, horns and sparse bassoon, trombone or trumpet) had to follow the unfamiliar movements of the electronic bed beneath. I must say i decided to stay as instinctive as possible. There's nearly no correction to the orchestral improvisation. It's something like automatic writing in a way. the thing is, when i had the electronic texture and the alti on it, i thought 'this goes right to the bin'. Absolutely no magic happened at that moment. It's when the celli came in that some shape was unveiled.
I recorded the celli with the alti midi part on the screen. So I knew when something was going to happen with the movement. Still the notes were improvised though naturally played on the same key as the alti. The second melodic line (celli here) might be the point when the music gets cerebral again maybe. When the violins and basses were added, something did start to come out of the whole thing. I came back to the electronic part for a while, even using parts of the strings part into effects. The come back to the "unnatural" sound was the point when the fusion operated. I then treated the sound of the orchestra to fit in the global mix (in this case, driving strings to higher frequencies, combined with very low reverberation.
The method was quite the same on all 3 tracks and i'm quite happy with the result even though i know it's only a first go.
The religious terms given to this piece have nothing to do with the musical idea of electrorchestrality (?). It just came naturally that there was in the orchestral work some kind of link to something mystical or divine. I didn't stop that from coming out, all the more on track #03 with its latin choir phrases (improvised too).
So Electrorchestral is a term that just fits that combination of classical and electronic in order to make the 2 sources of familiar emotions collide and speak to the mind. There should result in some kind oh hypnotizing effect. Ancient to Ambient, or through.
I decided recently that there would be 7 parts to Ombilicum. I guess this leap into electrorchestralism (??) has something to do with the decision. This is going somewhere else that i need to explore. Ombilicum VII is not in my mind yet. I guess it will be an epic kind of ending then.
Ombilicum V. is a new age / ambient musical work on imaginary lands. Middleearth is a wandering on the green valleys of the Lord of the Rings. As I wanted the whole project to be really quiet, almost turning to new age instead of ambient, i opted for very simple rhythmic patterns. Here it's a clock and a clic. As if time was suspended in those 4 tracks. The background bed of the track is made of a treated guitar part played live. Strangely enough, that guitar part is actually quite fast and nervous if you listen to it solo. Pandora is a walk in the luxuriant forests of Avatar's Pandora with all these tiny little white petal things flying around. This one is major, which is quite rare in my ambient works from the beginning. It's a musical track, i.e. everything is composed and played, only the far background is a treatment of improvized guitar layers. Arrakis is a flight over the deserted Fremen dry and burning lands of Dune. This time, it is treatment mainly. Nothing is played, only looped or cut, pasted, reversed, doubled, slowered down. Quite a basic rhythm as in "Middleearth". I remember the tune in the soundtrack of David Lynch's version of "Dune" when they're flying over the desert : there's that absolutely freezing synth sound that makes such a contrast with the heat all around. Around 3'30, i improvized a string trio part, i don't know why. Maybe i was thinking of Duke Leto listening to music during the flight; or maybe that was the scene in the Amerzone game when the guy gets into the desolated lighthouse and an old phonograph is playing. Neverland sends you to the woods of the enchanted peaceful realm of Peter Pan. Still a guitar bed + movement in the background, ethnic percussions loops and a repetitive melody played live without following the beat. That one is relaxation driven i believe. Nothing really "happens", you just have to let yourself go into the sound.
I'll go more into improvisation on Ombilicum VI, where i would like the tracks to have no rhythm at all (no tempo i mean). I also want to incorporate orchestral possibilities into the electronic work to see if this can create emotion or some kind of familiar healing harmony.
i've done the cover with a photograph taken from the car on a highway : wide greenland and wide blue sky. I turned the picture upside down and made the green turn to strange bluegrey.
Ombilicum IV Compass Tracklist
4-track neo-ambient project.
Of course this is a personal view. I started with East in my very usual way of composing which makes the track quite close to my work on OMBILICUM I. and II. The chinese violin samples goes just fine here, mixed with celtic singing which, strangely enough, might sound chinese too. North came second. i must say i was thinking about Europe and the image i got to mind wasn't exactly joyful. That's why i tried to oppose chaos and regret in this track, with a hectic 1st part, closer to Industrial techno than to ambient. The orchestral 2nd part is some piece of my XIXth century romantic puzzle springing back. West is almost a cover of VANGELIS's Blade runner main theme. It's almost done only with treated guitars improvised on a soundscape bed. last but not least - and therefore 1st of the tracklist - South was a real pleasure to compose with a work on delays and reverbs for the background, and the use of world samples in some sort of political spirit here : the derbuka is from Tunisia, the violin (esraj) from Egypt and the singing from Iran.
After South, I've been going on with a 5th track called "Middle Earth". A 7-minute-track that fed itself of this Compass episode. I'll put it on later, waiting to see if it breeds something else or if it just stands on its own.
i've done the cover again, but this time borrowed a train photograph from my friend Lorin Violege, who's a musician but is quite amazing with a camera in his hands : portfolio here
Ombilicum III Kokura Tracklist
2-track dark cinematic ambient project.
At the very beginning, "Kokura" was a 5th piece to Ombilicum II. Seasons. It should have been called "Spring is back again". You may even spot hints to Spring by the end of the track. BUT. As the composition was going on, the music got darker, much darker. I had read that article abouit the city of Kokura, Japan, which was the original target of the 1945 2nd nuclear bombing. It was only because of the bad weather that it was decided to choose Nagasaki instead. The fact is that the plane actually turned back 3 times over Kokura before leaving. that was just after the Hiroshima bombing. I tried to imagine what feelings could people have there, before, and after. Probably a terrible mix of fear and relief. That's how the nice ambient Spring II track became a dark cinematic violin led dramatic piece. Though i tried to mix drama and relief through the use of the church organ (flute mode). The piano ending, apart from approaching the harmony of the original Spring track, is here to depict the silence after, the return to quietness, though the harm lingers on. Dresden is even more cinematic as it's based on an ethnic percussion scheme, with military snare rolls and taiko hits. The background is a live treatment of field recordings i had done before. the idea here is that you're in a plane over Dresden, where you're going to drop hundreds of bombs, in a sort of hysterical way. So this is chaos really, continuous hum and hits of human madness. The orchestral line (with horns) reminds of action movies, with that ridiculous/heroic touch. That track may be listened to with headphones to get that constant sea sick panning of background electronic lines.
I ended up calling the duo "Ombilicum III" though we're quite far from the cool relaxing ambient works of Ombilicum I & II. Only because we're still following that original idea of Filiation i had in mind from the very beginning.
You may find info on Hiroshima on http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp
I would like to thank the memorial Peace Museum for allowing me to use the painting as a cover. The painting is called "Corpses Piled Like Lumber" Author is Kiyomi KONO / under exclusive license to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (please do not use image without permission)
Ombilicum II Seasons Tracklist
4-track ambient project to relax a while more.
Ombilicum II. Seasons is the second volume of a work on the idea of filiation and memory. the four tracks were composed in this period of the year when the weather changes all the time, between november and december. Which makes it quite difficult for the mood to be constant as you wake up one morning with a crystal clear blue sky, and then face a black rainy climate the following morning, which ends up in a teerible wind all night to open up with snow the next day, then sun, ... I was wondering if any could still find some kind of harmony in this, some kind of balance within the uncertainty of the next step. The four tracks try to turn around this possible balance.
Composed in the same way as Ombilicum I., with slow tempo, repetitive drum lines, melody and sound processing in the background. Contratry to Ombilicum I., the textures this time are a means to link the seasons together. On "Autumn", it's wind and rain, wind only on "Winter" but treated as in a cave, wind again on Spirng but through branches of trees, and sea waves on "Summer". All this is mixed with reverbs and delays with hi EQ damping as the overall sound is more medium than on Ombilicum I. Winter, contrary to the 3 others, is based on a piano line and completely changes in the middle with a more rock approach, to stress on the winter depression side of the season. The track, because of that piano direction, even turns to some kind of jazz at some moments. If Autumn was clear descendant of Ombilicum I., Spring comes as an evolution of that ambient style through the use of arpegiators which aim at picturing in some ways those millions of tiny particules flying around when spring comes. The flute part at around 2'30 is a mix of Irish low whistle and Egyptian Esraj. The double bass and the introduction of Orchestral harmony by the end stresses on the definitive change of mood that will go on till the end of Summer. Summer is quite light hearted and could be said more "lounge" than "ambiant". It was the last track composed and i must say i needed some fresh breeze after the long and complex composition of "Winter". It's the only track with human voices heard, as if humanity was coming back to life. It's the more simple track of the four, quite linear, but really enjoyable to compose with live parts (the arpegiator-like parts are actually played, not processed). Next step, Ombilicum III., is not defined yet.
01. was it something i said ?
02. if i was
03. falling down
05. talk in peace
This is probably the first volume of a series of works on the idea of filiation, a questioning on where we get
what we are from and what trace we leave in others without knowing it, everyone growing up fed by unknown
textures that are mostly invisible though they do build up personality.
When I was a kid, there was an old upright piano standing in the living room of my parents’ house in the
countryside near Lyon (south east of France), with loads of my mother’s bibelots throning on its cap, which would make it nearly
impossible - even outrageous - to open when time had come to tune it. I would sit there for hours, playing it
with my right hand while blasting heavenly pads chords on my casio synth with the left one. It was mostly improvisation and repetition. I used to record these on a tape recorder then I would listen to it thinking “waow, those five seconds there are just beautiful”. The tracks were most of the time about twenty minutes long! Since then, when working for other musicians or artists as a producer, I’ve always tried to stick to those five seconds miracle, thinking that if you had these in a track, the track was ok. Or you would have to look for them.
You see, I’ve been more on the rock side of the road from college on, head banging over a strat or strumming
wildly to the chorus of an irish song in a pub somewhere. Only a year ago, to me, the guy with the computer
was the guy in the studio, talking plugs and effects, gate, threshold, cardioid, insert or vst, words i would just
nod to, as long as it sounded ok to my ears. I’ve always been writing folk songs when time allows, cool melodic
s low acoustic guitar stuff. As I had eleven new songs, I thought I might as well record them though I had no
budget for this project and could not afford to have it recorded and mixed in a studio.
So i bought myself a D.a.w. ?? Digital Audio Workstation. Which i’m married to now.
From january to may 2010, i got to know her, learnt to speak her language, basic everyday words first.
I spent hours on the net, watching video tutorials, reading hundreds of threads, clicking madly through
sites links to the big new VST plug of the century. I realized quickly that software was quite expensive too.
Hopefully on the world wide web, you can get a professional advice on how to use a compressor for free.
You can actually get the compressor itself for free too (see freeware list below), and sounds, and effects,
loops, even Daws. You can find people on the net too, real stunningly brilliant people. This is the place where i would like to thank those who build up virtual machines that way, with genius, talent and freedom of thought. You get to learn to click on the “donate” button. Today, i’m painting moments of sound with their amazing tools.
I spent spring and summer mostly on the machine, choosing sonorities, conditioning them to alteration so they
would speak that language i was looking for. I realized that all this sound manipulation had a friendly taste to me. It was not easy, but it was curiously familiar. As if i had done this in some other life, or was it childhood showing up?
By the end of august, i had composed nearly sixty pieces of instrumental music, mostly orchestral stuff, + a dozen of new age / ambient / chill-out (call it what you like) tracks that friends found so relaxing and soothing that they said they wanted that, home. So it’s in your hands now, or on your hard drive, OMBILICUM, which I hope will give you some time of rest or just nice background music while talking with friends over a 2004 French Bordeaux bottle. There’s no particular extremely philosophical hard-boiled concept behind all this. The thing is just an attempt at marrying sounds from different sources that will bring something back to memory. I think that when a music is relaxing, it means that it is actually doing something to the mind, by re-assembling pieces of reassuring memories that eventually make you think there might me some order in this chaos.
Track #09 "sketch" was actually a work-in-progress version of track #08 "Filiation" and was put on the web with the video below for feedback. "Filiation" is the result of this feedback, thanks again.
Track #10 was composed on 10,10,10th for the One Day On Earth project, see video on the far left of this page (with the coffee pot;).
spoken voice by Elizabeth Virosa /
composed in the summer 2010 at home, Lyon, France // Cover picture taken and remixed by Bruz. ///