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Messages - mgriffin

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Everything and Nothing / Vinyl
« on: January 17, 2008, 02:30:08 PM »
This topic isn't about vinyl siding, or those yellow vinyl pants you wore to the club last Friday... I'm talking about vinyl records.

I know this has been discussed on here before, but I'm thinking about it again.  Partly because I'm about to set up a turntable on my home stereo for the first time in over 15 years, partly because I've had Hypnos artists talk to me about vinyl releases, partly because I just received a charming 7" transparent vinyl release from Mico Nonet in today's mail.

So I'm wondering where people stand on vinyl now?

I know there are some people around here who talk about playing certain albums that are vinyl-only, but my question for them is, if that album were available on CD, would you have bought the CD instead?

Some have discussed using their turntable to play old records that don't exist on CD, and my question for them is, if most of those LPs were easily obtained on CD would you prefer a CD to the records?  Or would you say the LPs are good enough and just continue to play those?  Or would you prefer the LPs, and think I'm crazy for asking the first two questions?

If you're a recording artist or other "music biz" person, what are your feelings about your own releases on vinyl?
1. don't care or don't want your music released on vinyl
2. kind of curious about it, might like to have a vinyl release at some point just for the novelty
3. think it's quite cool and really love the idea of a few vinyl objects in your discography
4. much prefer vinyl and wish the dumb music industry would make it easier to release everything on vinyl

Myself, as a music lover, I can remember how great it was to look at big 12" record covers and liner notes, and one thing I didn't like about CDs when I switched, was the smaller space for artwork.  But I've never been a believer in the superior sound of vinyl, and yes, I've listened to turntables on stereo systems that cost more than my car, and even though those systems mitigate most of the problems with the vinyl experience, they don't get rid of the noise floor and "wear and tear" issues that are deal-breakers for me with vinyl.  So I guess I'd chalk myself up as #2 on the above list.

I might be crazy, but it seems to me that even as digital downloads are gaining momentum, vinyl records are re-gaining momentum as well, as more than just a retro curiosity, or a way of getting a copy of Kings of the Wild Frontier for 25 cents, or as a tool for DJs.  Curious what others say about this.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 17, 2008, 02:03:59 PM »
Also, especially with Windows configurations, some computers just conflict with the setup (particular the driver's resource demands) of a given interface.  And then, if your only experience with a given interface is that it just didn't work, or there were all kinds of problems, it would be tempting to say "this device sucks, the drivers are buggy, this isn't reliable" when in fact the problem might be, say, a conflict with your Direct X driver or some buggy shareware/freeware app that's running processes in the background, either of which could interfere with the operation of a digital audio device.

So, I'd take a small number of critical reviews with a grain of salt, for sure.  I was pretty alarmed, though, at the uniformity of negative reviews on the Alesis interfaces.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Kombucha tea
« on: January 17, 2008, 12:02:40 PM »
I may be crazy but I felt a bit of a "buzz" from it... nothing too crazy but just a sense of mellow well-being.  I bought a commercial, bottled type of kombucha with a little bit of flavoring added.  I'm not into trying to "grow" my own tea cultures -- too much work. 

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: January 17, 2008, 11:13:50 AM »
Been playing Matt Borghi - The Phantom Light fairly regularly lately. 

A very nice minimal ambient piece, shame about it being such a limited run (only 30 copies).  One of my favorite things by Matt that I've heard (though I have a few more of his things on the way).

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 17, 2008, 09:10:18 AM »
There is a control surface for some of the Presonus interfaces, in fact after I purchased my Firestudio, I found that one of the big online stores ( or but I don't remember which) was offering the control surface for free with purchase of the interface.  Still, I got such a good deal on my interface that I don't regret buying where/when I did.  I could probably find a control surface on E-Bay from somebody who received the free throw-in, for pretty cheap now.

Anyway, I don't know if the control surface works for all their firewire interfaces or just the Firestudio & Firestudio Project.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 17, 2008, 08:01:31 AM »
Look at the Presonus web site for the little "videos" that demonstrate the virtual mixing/ routing app that comes with their interfaces.  It's damn cool!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 17, 2008, 07:19:28 AM »
I looked at the Alesis interfaces too but found a huge number of complaints, warnings, and bad reviews online. Most had to do with driver problems and instability, so I decided to stay away.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Kombucha tea
« on: January 16, 2008, 07:30:33 PM »
Hey cool... you know, Tazo is right here in Portland.  I remember when they were a little, tiny company and they sold their tea in these fancy, artisan-like containers, with special paper and cardboard, and woodblock print logos, etc.  You still get a sense of that with their current package design, but they're BIG now.

Everything and Nothing / Kombucha tea
« on: January 16, 2008, 04:32:12 PM »
Has anyone here ever tried kombucha tea?  I had been reading about its substantial health benefits so I picked some up to try with my lunch today.

It's a strange, fermented tea with active enzymes and cultures just like yogurt, and a weird, tangy taste like kim chee or vinegar.  I mean, it's more like tea than like vinegar, but it smells like the easter egg dye you used to use as a kid.

Anyway, I don't exactly hate this stuff, but it's so weird and unprecedented as a liquid refreshment, that I was really curious to hear what others think of this.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 16, 2008, 04:09:08 PM »
I'd always vote in favor of getting features that you think you might very well need, if you can stay within your budget.  But even this little box seems to have plenty of capacity.

A few additional notes:

Yesterday when I posted the cover images for the Sense and Nebula discs, those were posted as "rough draft" images that had not been approved by the respective artists.  Since that time, both cover images have been approved and are now the final cover artwork for both discs.

Also, the new, upcoming web store mentioned in the last big update, can now be made public -- not that there's a store or anything too compelling there yet.  I just didn't want to mention the new web site and have a bunch of people type in the address out of curiosity, and receive an error message.  There's at least a front page there now, with a "coming soon" message of sorts.  So, the new web store we'll be introducing some time this spring, will be called "SoundSwim."  It'll be located at:

We'll have much, much more on this subject later.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 16, 2008, 12:38:00 PM »
I love my new Presonus Firestudio, not that it's one of the models you're considering.  Excellent build quality, excellent interface software, no complaints at all. 

I also have a Presonus headphone amp (so up to 4 people can monitor on headphones at once) and it's about the size of your interface... same great build quality, good knobs, nice solid metal case.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 16, 2008, 12:01:19 PM »
That's just a breakout cable connection.  My older Audiomedia PCI card uses one like that, looks like a VGA connector on one end, and several cables come out the other side, such as analog i/o, MIDI and SPDIF.  It's just a way of outputting several things from a space too small to house all the connections.  The device would definitely come with the breakout connector.

Everything and Nothing / Re: What are your plans and goals in 2008?
« on: January 16, 2008, 10:16:36 AM »
Nothing brings an interesting topic to a screeching halt like the discussion of geeky books.

Just edited some of the above posts, added a few additional images for cover art that isn't definite or final, just for fun.  Obviously these are subject to change.


Some of the other things coming in 2008 don't yet have titles or release dates, and some might only be ideas or proposals at this point.  That's how a record label work -- it's a sort of assembly line, and the stuff at the end of the line, near the front door of the factory, is almost finished and looks recognizably like a final product.  Those are the projects in the "part A" posting up at the top.

The stuff earlier on the assembly line may have major parts missing (like a CD with no cover image or no title, or an undetermined track listing).  That's the "part B" posting, projects that aren't quite ready or complete but most of the way there.

Way back toward the beginning of the assembly line, you have pieces and parts, and before that, just sketches and ideas.  That's what I'll talk about here.  Almost all of these things will be worked-on during 2008, many will be released this year, but some will not be finished until 2009 or even later.


First, I mentioned in "part B" regarding the new Viridian Sun album, that VS recorded a full album's worth of material in 2001-2002 or so, and it just ended up never being finished all the way.  It had nothing to do with the quality being poor, or lack of interest in the project by the duo.  It was more about people being busy, and delays happening, and procrastination, and when you leave something up on the shelf for long enough, you forget about it and work on other things.  The good news is, there's another Viridian Sun album that can be polished up out of these materials with relatively little effort, and once these new 2007-2008 tracks are released as a CD, there is a very good chance that this "missing" Viridian Sun album will be released one way or another.... maybe on Hypnos Secret Sounds, maybe as a regular Hypnos album.


Second, I personally am planning to undertake two separate collaborations with well-known artists, both of whom have released multiple CDs on the Hypnos label previously.  I won't announce these or talk about them too much (they're totally separate projects) until they have moved forward a little bit, and not a note or a sound has been recorded in either case.  I know from past experience that sometimes (like the newest Viridian Sun efforts), the decision to collaborate results in a nearly-complete album almost immediately, whereas other times the decision to collaborate can stretch out into planning, and tenative efforts, and a bit of give and take and various false starts... and before you know it, a year is gone and there's not much that looks or sounds like an "album" in sight.  So, that's why I'm not talking about these yet, not because I lack faith in the abilities or the artistry of both of my friends and collaborators, but because I don't want to add pressure to the process until there's something more substantial to support it.


Very soon after getting underway the Binary compilation Nevertime (see above, part B), we plan to launch a new series called Binary Explorer Series.  Simply put, Binary Explorer Series is to Binary, as Hypnos Secret Sounds is to Hypnos.  We feel that the HSS imprint has been a great success, has exposed many new artists to Hypnos listeners, and vice versa, allowing us to change the threshold at which we consider something for release on our label.  Binary Explorer Series is intended to do the same thing, to give us a running start toward the regular and frequent releasing of electronica and minimal techno and IDM and rhythmic electronic experimentation... starting where the  Nevertime compilation left off and running off in a few new directions, quickly.  We'll very possibly be releasing full-length or EP-length discs by a participants in the  Nevertime comp, as well as possibly taking on BES releases by people who never took part in the compilation.  After the first 3-6 months we'll shift the emphasis more toward Binary "proper" and slightly away from Binary Explorer Series, but this sub-label will be a good way for us to quickly define what we're trying to do by releasing several recordings in a fairly short time.


We're very much interested in beginning to strengthen and diversify the Binary sub-label starting this year.  Here at Hypnos HQ, we're every bit as interested in rhythmic & experimental electronic, as we are in ambient & atmospheric sounds.  We'd love to start using Binary (and the just-mentioned Binary Explorer Series sub-label) to explore those forms.  Our goal is that eventually, within a year or two, Binary should be at a level of standing and emphasis equal to Hypnos itself... maybe at some point we'll even create an entirely separate but equal web site for the Binary label.  For now, we'll start out with the compilation, and we'll make major efforts to associate Binary with the right kind of artists so we can release an ever-greater number of interesting and worthwhile recordings.


The Hypnos Online Store has been a very successful and long-lived internet store, and we have no intention of shutting it down until we have something better to offer.  For at least the next year, The Hypnos Online Store will go on exactly as it is now (except with an ever-expanding selection of music to offer).  Some time during 2008, though, we will roll out a new internet music store that will exist in parallel to the Hypnos store, and probably eventually be its replacement.  The new music site will offer downloads of digital music files, in addition to CD sales, and will represent a wider range of genres, and a deeper stock, than the Hypnos store does now.  Right now, the Hypnos store has available something like 500-600 titles, almost entirely focused on the ambient, atmospheric and minimalist genres.  Eventually we would like to broaden out to carry even more sounds, primarily to better serve our existing customers (because we know most of you listen to other styles of music) but also to be able to reach potential new customers.  The goal is to list over 1,000 recordings between the two stores (there will be much overlap at first) by the end of the year, and 2,500 different titles by the end of 2009.  At some point, carrying all this different, diverse music, the imprint of the "Hypnos" name on the store becomes misleading or irrelevant -- if we're selling psy-trance or glitch or minimal modern classical, what does the ambient label Hypnos have to do with that?  And if people come to the Hypnos store to find things that are similar to Hypnos, would they feel misled if the store with the Hypnos name on it, starts selling music that has less and less to do with the Hypnos sound?  We have already purchased the internet domain where this store will be located (it will not be a label web site with a store added on, but a domain entirely dedicated to the online store, the way is entirely about amazon's store and nothing else) and will announce the domain and put a placeholder/announcement once we have finalized the logo.

There are more items to be added, but this has been a lot of typing today, and this should be more than enough "2008 plans" for now.  Thanks for reading, if you've made it this far!


Nebula | The Path of White Clouds 2008

Some time during 2008, Hypnos will be re-releasing this album, originally released by the Stella Maris label.  "Nebula" is an ambient supergroup of sorts, featuring Oophoi, Tau Ceti, Mathias Grassow, Klaus Wiese, Lorenzo Pierobon, Luna, and Mauro Malgrande.  OK, I'll admit to not having any idea who those last 3 are, but the first 4 are pretty significant!  This is a beautiful, ethereal and abstract ambient recording, which certainly deserved greater attention than it received prior to the demise of Stella Maris (which existed only long enough to release 2 Nebula albums).  For more information about the original release, look here:

Various Artists | Echoes of Polyhymnia

Hypnos manager (and artist) Lena will be curating this specially-themed compilation which gathers an assortment of ambient & atmospheric sound works from around the world.  This project is already partially complete (though some spots on the roster may still be open so if you're a female and you're making cool ambient music, get in touch), and will end up revealing a totally new angle on ambient music.  Ranging from ethereal to dark to pretty to spooky to melodic, we think this album will have solid musical and soundscape content beyond just the curiosity and "I've never seen that before" factor of the theme. 

Various Artists | Nevertime

It's been mentioned here on the Hypnos Forum several times that one of our goals for the coming year is to revitalize the Binary sub-label, and further to redefine it to some degree.  One big step toward this end will be this upcoming various-artists compilation, for which we'll begin accepting submissions starting in February, which will emphasize a more modern and edgy style of electronic music, ranging from minimal, pulsing techno to what some call electronica and some call IDM, to glitch and minimalism.  We hope to get a strong and diverse selection of artists to take part, and this will serve as a sort of announcement to the world that Binary intends to get into the middle of things, and explore the cutting edge of 21st century rhythmic electronic music.

Viridian Sun | As-Yet-Untitled album

It has been a long hiatus since the last-released studio album by Viridian Sun. Perihelion came out in 1999, and the more recent Live Paris Theater was, you guessed it, a live recording. In between was a never-released third studio album (which may still subsequently come out, later) but the guys in VS decided the best way forward was to record something entirely new and release it without delay, before revisiting 2001-2 works that remain on the shelf.  The Viridian Sun approach of live-in-studio improvisation continues, and the new tracks have a warm and organic quality, deriving from guitar and bass this time, with synthesizers entirely absent.

M. Griffin & Various Artists | Vapors and Magnetism

Yet another "first" or new direction for us, Vapors and Magnetism will be a video DVD, combining abstract video experiments with exclusive ambient music tracks.  The idea of combining sound with video art is one we intend to pursue to a greater degree in the future, and we would like to release multiple video DVD releases every year.  We think abstract video and abstract music go great together!

Note: artwork is not final


Here are a couple of things worth mentioning, that I didn't include above because... they're not new albums.

Robert Rich | Somnium (dvd)

We're re-pressing the most popular disc we've ever released, Robert Rich's epic sleep concert experience, Somnium, a 7-hour recording on a video DVD (no picture content, just sound) that plays on an ordinary DVD player.  This one has only been out of print for a few months, but both Hypnos and Robert agree that it needs to be put back in print, as demand continues to be significant even after 2,000 copies sold.

Jeff Pearce | Daylight Slowly

This 1998 album sold out 4-5 years ago, and Jeff Pearce felt it would be OK to let it stay out of print for a while, and allow demand to build back up again.  We didn't intend to leave it unavailable for so long, though, and we're going to get some more copies made.  And also... I've created new cover artwork!  We both (Jeff and I) always liked the original Daylight Slowly cover but it didn't seem to fit with the brighter and more luminous images on his other Hypnos CDs.  I was glad to have a chance to re-work it.

We don't have exact release dates on either of these, as there are small details to be worked-out before the re-pressing can begin, but I would say no later than the end of February we should have copies of both of these ready to sell.


We have quite a few items lined-up that are really close to completion.  The first two were intended for the end of 2007 but didn't quite make it.  A brief comment after each.

Austere | Solyaris (Hypnos, Jan 2008)

This is a creative peak for this much-overlooked ambient duo, their first release on Hypnos, following their Hypnos Secret Sounds album Pulse in 2007.  It will be the next Hypnos release, with the exact date subject to agreement between the label and the artists, relative to their release of a big retrospective box-set.

M. Griffin | Fabrications (Hypnos, early 2008)

This one is down to the final editing, and would have been done by now if not for all the unexpected flurry of activity surrounding the move of the Hypnos web site to a new server.  Ah well, life intrudes, and this is at the final stages of editing, 99% done and ready for production within a week or so.

Various Artists | Message From a Subatomic World (Hypnos compilation, early 2008)

This is the "sister project" to the recently-released Hypnos compilation, Sounds of a Universe Overheard, and should meet or exceed the high standard set by that recording.  To compare the second compilation to the first, I'd say the second is perhaps a bit more abstract and deep-space, more mysterious and strange, whereas the first is a bit more musical and structured overall.

Track listing (not in order):

Evan Bartholomew - Sacrosanct
Austere - Crystil
Phaenon - Quantum Silence
Stephen Philips - Down Deep
Jason Sloan - faded.forgotten [trace]
Numina - Nadir Ever Spirals
Relapxych.0 - Distant Radiance
True Color of Blood - Choosing to Remain Blind
Svartsinn - Cold But Strong
Oophoi - Icelight

Evan Bartholomew | Tidal Phases of the Moon I (Hypnos Secret Sounds, early 2008)

A fairly recent addition to the roster of releases, but when we heard Evan's latest recording, a sharply resonant and multi-layered set of repeating loops that develop into a complex and slowly-musical drone structure, we couldn't resist it.  We'll have more information and sound clips from this one soon, and it should be released in February, but here's a glimpse of the cover for now.  It will be a bit of a departure for the Secret Sounds imprint -- by special agreement with the artist, this album will be released on standard pressed CDs, not CDRs, and the limited edition size will be larger.

Sense (Robert Logan) | The Sublime and the Beautiful (2cdr) (Hypnos Secret Sounds, early 2008)

We don't have final approval on the cover art yet, but this too will be a departure for the Hypnos Secret Sounds imprint in that it will be a two disc set.  Sense is an alter-ego of Robert Logan, who releases experimental electronic music under his full name, including the truly amazing debut CD Cognessence (see here:  This album careens from drone ambient, to churning, confrontational Aphex Twin style rhythms, with perhaps more rich and diverse sound content than any album we've ever released.  Normally we'd have reservations about releasing a double CD by a young, emerging artist but this one justifies its duration without question.  We look forward to sharing samples with everyone very soon, and the release should occur later in January.

(edited... Sense CD cover artwork updated, and title changed)

Thanks very much, all of you, for your comments.

This Sounds of a Universe Overheard compilation (and its "sister" project, Message from a Subatomic World) represent to me not only a collection of nice ambient atmospheres, but much more.  To me, they also signify a re-engagement by Hypnos in the wider world of ambient music, bringing some new artistic talent under the Hypnos umbrella, and cross-pollinating for everyone's benefit.  It's very gratifying to get to know these artists, some of whom I knew vaguely before, others who were total strangers before this process, and many of whom I believe will be increasingly discussed (not just in the context of this compilation) in the future, on this forum and elsewhere.

Several comments were made about the track sequencing.  I took special care to try to make this disc a unified sound statement, to choose only tracks that I could imagine hearing one next to the other.  In a few instances, I left off material that I liked, but which I couldn't picture working along with the others.  To me, a compilation has the potential to be not just a bunch of pieces stuck together, but more like the ultimate mix-tape (ultimate in the sense of the tracks being exclusive and unavailable elsewhere), with care given to the flow of the experience and the way one piece fits with the next.  This kind of "flow" can be faked a bit, by cross-fading one track into another but I think that's cheating a bit in this format.  My preference was that each track should stand just fine on its own, and should also work very well shoulder to shoulder with the other tracks (or, in the case of the first and last track, just one shoulder was next to someone else's!)

It is this very issue that I'm dealing with right now, with the second compilation, trying to figure out how to integrate a couple of tracks that are very good material but which don't easily settle in with some of their neighbors!  Thing are made a bit more tricky by the fact that some tracks don't work well as a first track or a last track, and the general "feel" of the different tracks suggest that some should be earlier and some should be later.  It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle with only ten pieces but vague shapes, and fuzzy edges! It should be solved soon, though.

Thanks again, everybody.  I'm gratified to see more and more people ordering this, and the initial reception seems very positive.

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