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Messages - Kaarinen

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Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Battery operated sound generators?
« on: November 21, 2010, 02:29:23 PM »

The Monotron looks simple enough and if I owned iPad, there'd be good stuff to choose from. And thank you for the listing, modulator_esp! The mobile cube seems like an affordable choice for a speaker for these kinds of things. I've had fun looking into some of those you mentioned by watching youtube videos of the instruments in action :). The downside is, that you really start to want all those things (and more)... In a way, in addition to the Kaossilator, the Kaoss pad mini might also be a fun toy to play with, combined with some good sound source(s) to sample from.

Thanks again to the both of you,

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Battery operated sound generators?
« on: November 20, 2010, 01:40:33 PM »

With laptops and even modern cell phones being able to do just about anything imaginable soundwise, I'm personally getting more and more interested in really simple gear. Like monophonic synthesizers with only a few knobs to turn that you're able to carry around (like, for example, this one: There's a lot of neat stuff out there but what I'm really looking for is gear that a) runs on regular batteries (meaning I don't have to have external power for it) and b) in the best scenario, has some sort of speaker of its own.

One reason for this is that I got really excited over the idea of having small improvisation gatherings, with 3-5 people singing, chanting, playing some bells and whistles - but with some additional electronic touch to it all. There's plenty of great, even inexpensive acoustic instruments to choose from but some gritty electronics would be just great alongside them.

The idea hit me one day when I bumped into this old tunnel, in the middle of a nice forest nearby. The place has a pleasant (if a bit bassy) acoustic feeling, theres the constant sound of water dropping from the ceiling into a big puddle (if it has been raining lately) and it's quite nicely shielded from outside noise. The place is big enough to make you forget your real surroundings, to have your imagination and inspiration work more effectively. I spent some time recording the clichéd water drop sounds and realised I could sing and hum a simple melody to make things more interesting. This simple thing felt and sounded surprisingly inspiring. Now, to have a few more people singing, making simple use of some instruments... That would really work in this tunnel and there's of course dozens of other places to be found. Sound improvisation with ambience and slow, harmonic motion in mind sounds like the second most interesting thing to do with a group of people, I can think of right now.

So, back to the actual question, can you recommend any interesting synths/sound boxes/other electronic instruments you think might suit a situation, where you don't want to carry big gear or there's no electricity :)? Thanks in advance for all ideas!



Just ordered Michael Stearns's Planetary Unfolding LP (continuum montage), second hand for 35$. This is simply the best space ambient release ever :). Then again, after checking whether the  maxi single version of DJ Krush's Meiso is still available somewhere, there was a dozen copies in Discogs, and I got mine for like 4$. If you haven't listened to it, the DJ Shadow mix of Meiso from this single is a track that I really, really recommend to all none hip hop oriented people as well ( ). I never thought I'd be this hyped up about a track with rap in it ;).



Interesting post - thank you jkn - and some good replies here on the forum as well. I basically agree with mgriffin and others on the release treshold raising effect of a physical copy but I have doubts on the size of the effect. Since, as jkn also said, making a CDR release isn't really that difficult or expensive these days (in terms of producing the physical disc, not the whole process of making the release ;)). This is especially true if the releasing label does not put too much effort in the artwork of the album.

I personally find it hard to value a  CDR with an unoriginal, basic one page booklet  more than a properly documented web release with decent artwork. That's of course a black-and-white exaggeration but maybe makes my point clearer. And, well, I've also come to question why I hold a real CD in so much higher acclaim than a CDR*. Maybe it's just because I know that it costs more to make so I make the unconscious evaluation that it must be better in musical quality as well. Heavy vinyls raise this effect to the upper limit for me... Which is silly.

Releasing some interesting bits of music in the future has been on my personal agenda as well, which is why the question of format is also of practical interest to me. I know I personally would not want to take the route of releasing a CD/vinyl just to guarantee more serious attention. But releasing an album on an unknown netlabel probably goes easily unnoticed if I don't come up with any royal ideas on making a name for the artist/musician in question (myself or some other).

So far I've enjoyed the idea that a limited special release, for example a CDR in a handmade neat-looking recycled-material sheet (maybe in collaboration with some artist capable of realising this really well), would go in combination with a high-quality download option. The limited run - maybe just 50 copies - serves as a well-crafted physical item for the few initial fans and maybe creates more interest in the music in general. This would clear the way, so to speak, for people to take the mp3/flac files more seriously.

Best wishes,

* I understand there are some technical issues with CDRs not working in some audio systems or that they might physically deteriorate more quickly. I haven't run into these problems personally but I understand that some of you might have.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: show us your field recorders-
« on: September 04, 2010, 05:55:44 AM »
Here's my Maranz PMD-620 in action, recording a summer night soundscape with some really nice clinging sounds from a flock of sheep and an adjacent herd of cattle. All the animals had bells around their necks but the sheep and cows had different ones, which fit together nicely :). I even found a use for the recording in a dark ambient track...

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Interesting 2010 releases?
« on: September 02, 2010, 02:43:35 PM »
Alio Die - Horas Tibi Serenas. His best work since Aura Seminalis. Solemn, melodic, organic ambient.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now reading
« on: August 20, 2010, 03:56:03 PM »
A good autobiographical take on religion(s) from the experiental (in contrast to, say, theological/dogmatic) perspective:

Huston Smith: Tales of Wonder. Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography.

Good insights to a mystical mindset, yet written lightly, very personally and in an amusing, positive fashion from this lively 90 year old seeker.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: bvdub - the art of dying alone
« on: August 20, 2010, 03:42:36 PM »
I agree, it's great! And it's definitely something new under the sun. A combination of vivid, fresh sound and serene movement. I actually played some takes from this in a bar some time ago and boy did it flow nicely, in between some more pumping tecnoish/whatnot tracks...

Hypnos News and Announcements / Re: Hypnos In Vital Weekly
« on: August 03, 2010, 06:44:17 AM »
That Aningan review sure is awful.

Reviewing huge amounts of music, and not having enought time to get to know a release before reviewing sounds detrimental, especially in case of ambient/dronish stuff. Small, subtle things in the structure of the album can make a huge difference and at least I tend to miss a lot of those details on the first listen. Then again, it's difficult to say when you've listened to something enough to feel that your opinion is a well founded one...

I'd personally like to see more critical reviews of ambient/experimental electronic/etc. since, thanks to modern technology, there's dozens of albums released every week if we're counting all the netlabels/web releases as well. Not every piece of music is a good one and it might benefit the artist as well to know why some listeners don't enjoy their release. Very often all you (or, at least I) see is positive reviews or reviews that are really politely trying to evade saying anything actually critical.

Saying that a particular album is, for example, "nothing new under the sun" is of course all too easy but in some cases there's actual grounds for demanding something novel. That doesn't have to mean reinventing the whole genre but there's just so much ambient that sounds unambitious, and plain nice at best, and it feels there's nothing more to it. If this is what a reviewer feels like after giving the album enough time, I think that's what she should write, then. (This is not meant as a comment on this particular FDW case but just picking up from here...)


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Rural Colours Netlabel
« on: July 18, 2010, 04:11:47 PM »
Thanks for this new, interesting netlabel. The idea of just releasing EPs feels fresh and good, since I personally don't like listening to just a track or two from an album, yet every now and then don't feel like going through a whole 74 minutes...

Judging by listening to all three just once, Listening Mirror works nicely and has a sound of its own. Beginnings was nice, yet didn't do anything special for me (on this first impression), until the last track which I enjoyed a lot more than the first two. I'm hoping to hear a Beginnings EP more in this vein in the future :). The Finglebone release, however, sounds really good. The combination of beautiful guitar work, environmental sounds and lo-fi'ish production is a balanced one, but not to a boring, dimensionless extent.


Dye? Are you sure :)?

My latin isn't very good, but I'd think it would be closer to d-eh (the di part, as you'd pronounce letter D and e with the e audible, unlike in dye/die, like in the first sound of 'ale').

I could of course be wrong, and latin is/has been pronounced in a variety of ways.

Also for a fair price from our small Finnish ambient webshop,

(Sorry about advertising ;))

Since Pärt is mentioned, I think this Estonian composer might also do the trick for some of you. A friend of mine  recently recommended Urmas Sisask and I've now really taken a liking to his Magnificat. Haven't heard anything else from him yet, but I think I'll have to look for more soon.

Veijo Tormis has some interesting stuff as well, check it out!

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: September 09, 2008, 02:57:45 PM »
From immersive ambient - through perversely captivating contemporary classical - to magnificient, more percussive soundworlds:

Thom Brennan -  Mist
Charles Ives - Sonata no. 2
Byron Metcalf, Mark Seelig (& Roach) - Wachuma's Wave

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now reading
« on: August 08, 2008, 06:00:14 PM »
Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture (by Barry Blesser & Linda-Ruth Salter). This is a book that should be of interest to quite a few people here as well, since it's got a lot to do with reverbation and the way we experience space around us. Ambient is, after all, music that often takes place in a quite unique, virtual acoustic environment (e.g. a lush reverb a gazillion seconds long!). The book's been very good so far, although the sharpness of analysis seems far duller on the historical/cultural studies side of the equation (the opposite being that of acoustics) More about it here:

Thanks for the thoughtful replies, the both of you! I agree that the best way to go is the one through which as many people as possible get their hands (or iPods!) on the music, even if it means losing a buck or two. And I'm sure that's the driving force behind all - or at least the smaller - labels :). And even thought I said I don't mind paying for something that's good, money still limits the amount of purchases I can make. Especially, like in the example given by Deepspace, if it's an album you haven't listened to before making the purchase. A real-life example: a great, respected record store near me that specialises in jazz and world music/ethic stuff. It's got all sorts of cool stuff, ranging from Tuvinian throat-singing to ancient finnish (sung) oral poetry. The problem is, that the price for a CD's around 22€ so there's no chance of picking up too many new CDs just out of impulse... Getting rich would help, though :P.

I agree, that extras give people the feeling of getting more for their money and would help the sales with higher pricing. The problem, in my experience, with extras (in addition to increasing the 'material junk to musical experience' -ratio) is their qualitative inferiority to the actual product your buying. This obviously depends on one's expectations, but often all you get is some crappy additional DVDr where a few of the album's songs are playing alongside some mediocre image slideshow :). Live shows and the like might be nice, IF well videoed/recored and produced (e.g. not the unedited 'reel' from some show attendees handheld videocamera). Extras close to the actual thing, like additional CD singles etc. might, of course, generally be better if made by the artist in question. Or why not by another artist, like a semi-split :).

Just some thought and ramblings here too, no answers ;).


Thanks for the interview (both Mike and Phil!). It's sad to hear that Ambient sales aren't doing that well in general (but I'm glad to hear Hypnos is doing fine) and it's not easy to say what could be done about it. The interview brought up an interesting question, though; pricing.

Since ambient is, for the most part, a really small genre saleswise, how much additional revenue can be gained by dropping prices/keeping them low?  I've kind of enjoyed the idea that it's fine to pay for something you really like, no matter if it's marginally pricier than the next best thing. Coming from a listening background of more mainstream stuff and, say, metal, CD prices for ambient seemed really, really low at first. So, do you (the all of you, not just Mike/other label owners :)) think pricing higher, say 16$ for a CD instead of 12 would be of any actual help or just bring the sales down proportionately? Or would you be willing to pay more for music and still buy about the same amount of stuff or are the low-ish prices actually giving you the chance to get substantially more music? I understand that hiking up prices would be difficult if done by just one label (since its releases would suddenly seem relatively expensive), but hypothetically...

I'm an old-fashioned chap who likes to have a pretty physical item to touch, so I don't know much about buying/selling downloads :).

Everything and Nothing / Re: Favourite dramatic piece of music
« on: July 18, 2008, 03:55:02 PM »
One very good (and at least somewhat popularily used) dramatic song is Arvo Pärt's 'Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten'. Not my favourite Pärt stuff though, a bit too overtly dramatic for casual listening :). Well, an outstanding work anyway...

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