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Messages - Julio Di Benedetto

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Todays newsletter from Sam

My 20-something friend, Case, and I were messaging about music. She wrote:

I feel like having access to so much of something devalues it. I had few toys growing up. The toys I had were very valuable to me. I knew each of them by name and played with them often. When I went to the houses of other kids my age, I found them filled to the brim with plastic toys and junk. Entire floors covered like a scene from Hoarders, the reality TV show about people living with too much stuff.
Many people are digital hoarders. They acquire something simply because it is there (in this case, music) yet rarely look at it again, or savor it. When I dug out my hard drives from 12 years ago, I found 250 gigs of music. Almost all of it was crap. I realized that I had only acquired it because I could. Once I had it, there was too much to listen to. I didn’t savor each song because everything was the same, a name in a digital list. Compare that to my dad’s music. Thought I would make fun of him for purchasing so much, especially what I considered overpriced CDs, that’s where I got the most joy out of listening. Each CD or album or cassette in the living room was a new experience waiting to be explored.

I feel like the MP3 culture was anemic. Growing up, most of the people I knew who downloaded MP3s had absolutely awful taste in music. They didn’t respect it. At LAN parties we’d trade entire hard drives full of music. Did it make anything special? Did we cherish any of that music? Absolutely not. It was just hoarding behavior. The understanding of a limit had been lost. The exceptions were people with parents who passed down their excitement for music.

I realize now that some people learned about music from siblings, or friends, physically bringing records over, or going to record stores and listening there, or at local live shows. How did you get introduced to the music of Brian Eno or David Bowie?

I've been thinking about this. How did I discover music when I was young?

I was introduced to David Bowie on the radio, along with Kraftwerk, The Strawbs, Frank Zappa, the B52s. It was strange music, compared to the popular mainstream rock of the time: acts such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Meatloaf, Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd – remember, I lived in South Florida! WSHE (103.5) was our local rock radio station mixing in unusual tracks along with the mainstream hits.

The first song I remember hearing a million times on the radio was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (which went to #9 in the USA in 1976). It is a weird rock song! Can you imagine something that bizarre getting radio play today? I remember being at the beach with a friend (and his mom) and the song blasting out of car windows in the parking lot.

Wow! WSHE played odd music, which led to finding more odd music.

I cannot honestly say I remember the first time I heard Bowie on the radio; but it must have been “Space Odyssey” or “Starman.” It was the end of the 70s, but his tracks of 5 years earlier were still new to us. Bowie's music came before his image. I'm sure I was interested in the space theme (teenage boy in the 1970s, of course I was into SciFi), and also the alienation. You know: feeling like an outsider in your own world.

But where was the connection from Bowie to Brian Eno? You might think it was via the Low album, but I don't remember getting into that side of Bowie until a while later. It was the very early Ziggy Stardust-period that was familiar to me.

There were two magazines – Cream and Circus – which covered rock music. Lots of Bowie, Alice Cooper, Stones, etc. Rolling Stone Magazine was a bit too square for me (Hall & Oats, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton) and SPIN didn't exist yet (it started in 1985).

Ah ha! Here's the holy grail. I remember buying the October 1978 issue of Trouser Press with Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. This was the doorway to a variety of amazing English music I didn't hear on WSHE. Trouser Press covered mostly prog and English artrock; then in the early 80s it morphed into New Wave & New Romantic. There were also UK magazines (cannot remember the name, but probably Smash Hits, Slash, Underground or something. I still have some of them in a box in my storage space.)

The three magazine covers included in this blog are iconic in my mind. They bring me right back to that era, pouring over the words before I heard the music, and then eventually entering the new sounds and new worlds created for me within this music.

By this time I had bought the Eno Working Backwards 11-LP box set, yet I cannot honestly say that I listened to the first two albums. I was a fan of Before and After Science, Ambient 1, and Discrete Music. I was more about his ambient side, and wasn’t interested in his glam / pre-punk sound. Nowadays, I love Here Comes the Warm Jets; it's a really catchy and quirky album!

Moving along with the “weird electronic” music, I was introduced to Gary Numan when a redneck friend in high school gave me the “Cars” single. It was alien, distant, bizarre. I liked it and dug into Numan, purchasing The Pleasure Principle, but more importantly, Replicas. From Numan, I leaned about an obscure band that influenced him, Ultravox! (Check out "I want to be a machine:" Ultravox! produced by Brian Eno.) I was late to the game, John Foxx had already left the band. The week it was released, I bought Midge-Ure-era Ultravox's Vienna album. I also hit upon other electro pop / synth bands, such as Depeche Mode (bought the first album when it came out!) and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. A friend in high school turned me on to “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, and I had a new favorite band! And let's not overlook DEVO! Are we not men? was an amazing find (again, produced by Eno).

For me, then, it seems RADIO served as my introduction to music in middle school. In high school it was MAGAZINES, FRIENDS and exploring at RECORD STORES.

There was a amazing shop -- Open Books & Records (1979-1994) -- that stocked all the imports and the local bands and underground USA music. I would read about a band in a magazine, then go to Open to check if they had a copy. I’d listen to a track or two to see if I liked the music. Sometimes I picked things up, based purely on the cover (such as The Last Man in Europe Corporation.) Leslie at Open would say, “David Sylvian’s solo album is coming out in two weeks, would you like me to order one for you?” or “You like Ultravox, have you checked out Visage? There's a different singer but Midge Ure and Billy Currie write the music…"

Case talks about trading hard drives of music, but it having no real value, being merely unseen data without context, unsavored. Our situation was just the opposite back in the early 80s; we had to intentionally work to discover music. Each new musical experience was gained by overcoming obstacles, finding something unique. The hunt gave the music a lot of value. While most of my classmates were listening to The Doobie Brothers' "Minute by Minute," or "Sgt Peppers" for the seven thousandth time, I was adventuring into the musical unknown. These albums I found meant so much to me. The obscure music we followed was wrapped deeply into how we identified ourselves. We were underground, individual, non-mainstream. Music was part of that identity,

I began my fanzine, Alternative Rhythms, to cover a mix of the European bands I was interested in, plus local South Florida bands I'd hear about from singles at Open Records. South Florida's music scene was diverse; we had electro-pop from Futurisk ("Split Second Decision" 1982, on YouTube) and Stones/Velvet Rock-n-Roll from Charlie Pickett ("If This is Love, Can I Get My Money Back" 1983, on YouTube). Writing about music served as a pretext to get into bars when I was underage, I went out to cover these bands for the 'zine.

Music discovery meant everything to me. That's still true today. My job at Projekt is finding new music, and spreading the word. It's a different era, yet it's similar to 35 years ago; the difference is now I have taken on the role of being the person who exposes new music to people. Music is part of who I am.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: On Inspiration - Chuck Close quote
« on: September 15, 2014, 05:05:34 AM »

Any chance for a recipes thread here on the forum - or are they (like some of our 'special' granular/spectral/formant-shifting effects treatments) top secret ? :)

Thats funny Pete......a recipe thread, why not.  I try to take pictures when ever possible of various dish before they leave the kitchen.  Might be interesting for people to see and follow with a recipe.

Recipes are often a good source of inspiration especially when accompanied by a picture....I like to read other chefs cookbooks, not to copy what they have done so much but to see how different ingredients are used and often that will spark another idea and so on.  Recipes are like maps, they help you get to your destination but you have to walk the path. 

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: On Inspiration - Chuck Close quote
« on: September 14, 2014, 10:32:03 PM »
Mr. Julio why do you have an Oberheim Matrix 12 and all this gear? Do you know by the slightest chance that this discussion is because of the righteous need for bashing people using ''unnecessary high-end gear''? have you noticed that you look silly pretending that you are on the side of the people that has talent but little gear?

Do you recognize this studio?

Let me give you some flash news! It's yours!

Cosmic Fabric.....firstly this discussion is about inspiration as per Pete's original post.  I understand that musical instruments are a source of that inspiration so it seems natural that it came up in this discussion.   That I should look "Silly" pretending to be on the side of people that have talent and little gear....never gave it any thought but since you point it out I dont think there is a need to pretend...talent and little gear are a great combination, just as much good music can come from a limited choice of equipment as opposed to an full arsenal of exotic synths and fancy outboard gear...perhaps even better music!

As to my studio....thanks for pulling those up, have not seen them in a while and the studio has changed a bit.  My studio fits into the little gear category, the talent part perhaps not :o.  There is really not much there.  The room is acoustically treated as any room should be if you mix with monitors, there a few good synths, outboard gear and good monitors.  The room is small and everything is close at hand.  I have chosen these instruments (some I dont have anymore) because they work well as a group, each offering a unique voice.  The synths are very deep in programming and require time to understand their full capabilities....a large room full of a lot gear would be too confusing for me and unnecessary.

Let me also suggest you tone your voice down...your not quite shouting but you are getting quite makes for a better conversation.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: On Inspiration - Chuck Close quote
« on: September 14, 2014, 04:51:35 PM »
I bet, they would be really disappointed by hearing, that those special places are cooking the pasta just with water, using vegetables from the local market and - more worse - having cutlery by IKEA ;D


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: On Inspiration - Chuck Close quote
« on: September 14, 2014, 10:01:58 AM »
This whole "Chef" thing has got me into this thread because I intended to stay out of it for obvious reasons.

I have been a professional Chef for the last 27 years and I emphasis "professional" because I get paid to do this.   With all these opinions floating about here some real world facts about cooking are warranted.

1.  The only essential tool a cook needs is a sharp knife, preferable a good one about a $100 and should last many many years.

2. All that "equipment" you may have seen in commercial kitchens is there for one produce food for a lot of people in a short period of time.  Practically every fancy piece of equipment can be done with a good sharp knife if you know how but often a short cut is needed because time is critical and the doors open at 5pm and the show must commence. Hence the need for fancy equipment

3. Anything done in a commercial kitchen can be done in a home kitchen....granted you might not want to smoke pork butt in your house or have a veal stock simmering for 48 hours. 

4. The creative process is a team effort in a commercial kitchen.....I write the menu, source ingredients, look for interesting flavors that work well together or contrast each other etc....but it gets handed off to the station that will actually complete the dish so there is a constant need for excellent technique and often relearning.  Part of my job is that the cooks in the kitchen are exposed to these techniques so that they can do the job and we arrive at the completed dish together during the chaos and fury of a busy service

5. There are no real short cuts.....sort of contradicting myself here....what I mean is if you want to understand sauces you have to know the traditional mother sauce that came out of french cooking.  The principles learned allow one to be really creative or break the tradition and know why you are doing so.  Training is everything and then the creative expression follows.

6. You dont have to go to culinary school to be a good do have to work in several or often many different restaurants to get the real knowledge if you choose to work in this industry

7.The equipment in commercial kitchens is only a means to an end, the most important part is the creative human factor that will make the food taste delicious, look exciting and been full of nutrition to promote a healthy and energized life.

Nice post pete.....its how I feel!  Also Pete Im inspired by your modest needs regarding studio setup, and I mean no racks of synths and mastering grade converts or expensive monitors....wait a minute you dont use monitors  ;D You have cut back or never felt the need to expand and yet the music you compose is beautiful in sound and quality and at the core for me what ambient music is all about!

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Bad Ambient
« on: September 05, 2014, 07:45:43 AM »
If by bad you mean ambient that does not do anything for me.....I know lots but this is personally just not to my taste.  Also music that calls itself ambient and is not, and again thats my interpretation of what ambient is.  Lots of music that in miss cast.  And the last aspect is also music that does not resonate with me at first then later becomes enjoyable .

Like Chris said with the internet I have a good idea of what Im buying.....though Im starting to see artist with one longer excerpt from a single track of an entire album instead of a selection of tracks for preview and recently I have been disappointed by the rest of the album.  Not bad but not good.

Hearing bad ambient music would create an negative emotional response.......have had any of those in years, musically speaking.

Everything and Nothing / Re: TIDAL - Lossless audio streaming service
« on: September 04, 2014, 04:25:16 AM »
Im interested, just joined the mailing list.  Its about time.  Thanks for the heads up Mike

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ableton Live ?
« on: September 03, 2014, 05:40:52 AM »
Nice compact setup there reason that I got Live Suite was for Max which is really good for audio manipulation and there are a few very interesting synths built with Max.  The other reason was the entire soft synths collection which is unique.  Live Suite is a lot of money to put down in one go, though I think its worth it because not only did I get a new work flow but a battery of inspiring synths / samplers.  Actually the sampler implementation in Live has made me think and feel different about what can be done....never really got it samples or samplers before.

Below is a video that turned me on to what Max for Live could do...very exciting!

Max for Live: The Monolake Granulator on Vimeo

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Online Mastering ?
« on: September 01, 2014, 03:47:52 AM »
The SOS article to my reading of it is still traditional mastering and is what I have done in the past.  Upload music via FTP.  Mastering engineer masters the music.....downloads music for review......several email exchanges with changes......master & receive master disk. 

It would be great to attend the session but I have not been able to do so yet.


For sale on ebay......$17,849.00

Its time to start loving your microwave!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Online Mastering ?
« on: August 29, 2014, 09:23:02 AM »
I checked the site out.....I like that they hold mastering engineers in high regard and suggest Landr as another approach.  I could see how it could be useful in our "I need it now" world.  Mastering engineers are not always available have to get in line.  They also say they will not slam the music...thats good.  Got me curious.

Thanks for the heads up Pete.

Buying from either supports both. Sam makes the CDs, Steve gets them from Sam, they both make a little bit off of each disc.

Good to know...thanks Loren

I answered my own question.....just bought 2 Stev...Roa...cds from Projekt. Dont want to mention the full name because all hell my break loose  :o  ::)  again

I feel its is important to support the label & artist because the label is the PR side of the equation and that is powerful when pushed with the right energy.  Artist usually are terrible at it not because they cant do it but because they are or should be busy being artists.   I can support both the music and the word.


Question...if a label releases an artist music and the artist releases his/her own music of the same title who or what do you support?....the label / artist relationship or the artist directly.  Is the label /artist something worth supporting.

Heres so more thoughts from Sam from todays news letter.....I enjoy projekt releases and a few forum members release their music through projekt :)  There are other good ambient electronic labels, obviously Hypnos for one.  Any "news" about this genre is interesting but I dont come across much and as a great deal of music is self released I find it interesting to see what a traditional label is up to and Sam is quite vocal theses days.

"It's become obvious to me: over the last few years Projekt has become a (primarily) electronic/ambient label.

For clarity, I do not mean the EDM/dance style of electronic & ambient music. I mean floating, drifting meditative ambient, or adventurous drone / space-music electronics. For simplicity, I will refer to this side of Projekt's sound as "electronic."

I began Projekt 31 years ago, releasing a few compilation cassettes, and a whole bunch of my own solo-electronic music. In 1986, I released the first album from my band, Black Tape For A Blue Girl; the label's sound began an evolution toward a goth / ethereal / darkwave perspective. Projekt really came to people's attention in the early 90s, with the success of the rock-side-of-the-label acts Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Lycia, and Love Spirals Downwards. Fans and writers called Projekt "the American 4AD." But I wasn't soley focused on one sound; at the same time as the darkwave heydey, I was releasing electronic music. In fact, the fourth band on the label was O Yuki Conjugate, with their tribal ambient masterpiece, Peyote. In late 1995, I released the first Steve Roach album on Projekt, his double-CD collaboration with vidnaObmana, Well of Souls. Parallel to the darkwave sound, the electronic side continued to grow.

I dug into the numbers, to see if my hunch was right about the direction the label has taken. I tallied up the last 12 month's royalty payments, and sorted the artists into electronic or darkwave.

On royalties paid to the label's top-25 acts, 69% went to the electronic artists, 31% to the darkwave artists. Yes, 69%! A big chunk of the 69% goes to Steve Roach, while on the darkwave side much of that 31% goes to Voltaire. If you pull those two artists, and compare the rest of the acts, the ratio skews slightly more darkwave, yet remains nearly the same: 64% electronic / 36% darkwave.

My hunch was correct.

Now, part of this shift can be attributed to the lack of releases from my band, Black Tape For A Blue Girl. We were a big part of those sales in the 90s, but as the label grew busier I've taken less and less time to work on my own music. With Lycia and Love Spirals Downwards and Mira gone, the bands that contributed the bulk of the rest of the darkwave side are no longer here to keep up the tradition.

You might have noticed that Projekt's CD output reflects this switch, with many more electronic releases in the last two years. I still love the darkwave bands, of course. But I want to focus on what you are interested in."/i]

Crossing the Threshold.....this would be a good opportunity to take part.  Express your opinion on what you hear in the music sample Tomas supplied.

"Gold plated wall power sockets"....thats really funny ;D :)


So Tomas...a week has passed......what was the purpose of this?  Did it answer anything for you?

Thanks.....clouds are really interesting.  Look down to change a lens and by the time my head is up what I saw is gone, that fast.  It could  evolve into something better but usually not. Clouds seem so still.  Hence the.....Chasing Clouds.

I think everyone missed the big point here: Julio offered to buy everyone a pint of beer.  ;)

Yep...first rounds on me.  ;D

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