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Messages - Altus

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While I generally aim for three releases a year (which could be considered too much by some), I try to keep things fresh by having each release sounding different than the last.  I cycle between floaty ambient (borderline new age), darker ambient, and sprinkle with orchestral stuff in a film soundtrack vein.  In doing so, I'm sure there's listeners who only enjoy some releases, but I figure I capture a larger audience in the process.

As an artist to who gives away everything, I think it's hard to find a following from listeners who generally download, listen once, and forget about it.  I'm sure 75% of my downloads fall into that category.  This is the down-side everyone's talking about... about losing the magic of getting your hands on a new release... there's no commitment to the music.  But I do have repeat contact from a number of visitors with their comments, and interest in upcoming releases, so I must be doing something right.

Seren's comment on having listeners recoil from personal contact seems bizarre to me.  I've seen the opposite.  Perhaps since I give my stuff away, I'm more approachable since I'm not seen as "a real artist".  I'm just some guy who makes music.  ;D

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: The ambient 'scene'
« on: September 29, 2009, 03:45:59 PM »
Thanks Mike.  That hair will haunt my dreams.   :o

I think $900 for that build (minus junk) is very reasonable.

Like I said before, I love these custom shops.  Having the support is absolutely worth the little extra cost incurred versus buying from a big manufacturer.  And I generally feel better about giving my money to a local shops... where it actually makes a difference in keeping them in business.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Get Well for Jim Brenholts
« on: September 24, 2009, 06:57:54 PM »
Jim clearly isn't listening to enough soothing ambient.  (Just kidding.  ;))
I hope things get back to normal for you soon, Jim.

I'm glad to hear everything's working out.  But 10 year parts and labour?  Holy crap, I've never heard of that.  Awesome.  :)

Hi Saul,

Sorry to hear about your computer.  There's one thing worth looking into before you buy a new system.  What exactly is the problem?  Does it turn on at all when you hit power?  If not, it could just be the power supply.  I find that a computer power supply is almost always first to go.  Replacements go for around $75-200, depending on quality and wattage required.  If you're still happy with that system, it might be worth checking out.

Of course, this breakdown could be an easy excuse for an upgrade.  ;)

Regarding the two cheapest options dual and quad-core CPUs, here's a generalized speed test.
Dual E8400:
Quad Q8300:

Is that speed bump worth $70?  I think so.

While the quality of Dell is fine, I'm always leery of purchasing computers from big names like Dell.  They'll ding you on the extras.  For example, another extra 1TB drive is an extra $400?!  I'd suggest purchasing a bare-bones system from Dell, and buying any extra components from either a local store or a site like

Personally, I prefer to support local "computer" stores, since the guys running those places KNOW computers and are fairly competitive when it comes to prices.  You can walk in and build a system to match exactly your needs... get the best bang for your buck.  The other reason is if something breaks down, I can deal with that local store for service and support.

One last suggestion:  Get at least 4 gigs of RAM.

Good luck!   :)

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Steve Roach News
« on: September 17, 2009, 02:23:09 PM »
As of September 16th, only about 75 copies remain! The CD's will continue to be sold individually after the Box Set sells-out.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« on: September 17, 2009, 06:01:58 AM »
I assume you're using your computer as the recording device?  If so, what kind of soundcard are you using?  Could it be a noisy A/D converter or badly shielded input on the soundcard?  Maybe just a bad cable?

Mirko does it again.  Absolutely beautiful textures, soundscapes and chord progressions.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Steve Roach News
« on: August 21, 2009, 04:20:38 AM »
The problem I have with Dynamic Stillness are some of the tracks lengths.

I find that 'Birth of Still Places' is too active and the main loop too short to be a 40 minute track.  It seems to never resolve itself and sort of grates on my nerves.  Clearly 20 minutes too long. ;)
Whereas you have the too-short tracks 'Opening Sky' & 'Nature of Things', which seem to end just as they get started.
'Slowly Revealed' is perfection to me.

Personally I found the sound design on-par with his other releases.  There are some harsher tones and washes in the mid to high end, but I'm going to assume that was by design.  While I have no problem with environmental sounds to complement music, I think it would be a detriment to this release and out of place for what he was trying to achieve.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Steve Roach News
« on: August 20, 2009, 07:16:41 PM »
Thanks for the update, Immersion.

In hearing the samples, I understand why Steve's releasing these in a box-set option.  These separate releases all have the same general feel, and could easily be considered parts 1, 2 & 3 of a single release.

It believe "Immersion: Four" could quickly become my favourite of the series.
However, I will definitely be ordering the box set.  Summer's almost over, and I believe it will make for some very deep fall/winter nights.

I'm a fan of all your mixes, but I'm a especially large fan of your mixes that can induce sleep.  Suspended in Air still gets play fairly often.
Thanks for these.  :)

Hey Jim,
Thanks for the comments.  I'm glad you enjoyed it.


City of Ashes

Altus proudly presents City of Ashes, an audio/visual project pairing the music of Mike Carss and the photography of Shawn Sintzel. A mix of ambient and orchestral works, this is by far the most cinematic music Carss has released to date, and acts as a film-like soundtrack to Sintzel's stark and austere photography.

Active listening is encouraged.

Available as 320kb MP3, and FLAC for those who rather to burn to CD.
Full-length previews also available at

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Ambient in pictures
« on: June 22, 2009, 06:38:20 PM »
Those are some excellent finds.

It's interesting you should post this.  I'm about to release an album in collaboration with a photographer, with each track having a photo associated with it.
It was a fun project, and I'm definitely going to do it again.

Everything and Nothing / Re:
« on: May 14, 2009, 05:10:24 AM »
Yes.  People using the software were listening to your music, hence scrobbled.  You can easily take control of that page and essentially make it your own, adding proper information and links to more of your work.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Best way to organize studio layout
« on: May 10, 2009, 08:06:29 PM »
Some very nice designs.  The price is outrageous, but I'm not that surprised given it's a niche product.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Best way to organize studio layout
« on: May 10, 2009, 12:12:52 PM »
I have the exact same problem where my midi keyboard is at a 90-degree angle from everything else.  Seren, I see you do the same thing as well.  ;)  I've been on the lookout for a desk with a very wide slide-out shelf that would be long and strong enough to accommodate a midi keyboard (instead of a standard computer keyboard).

Has anyone seen such a desk?

Everything and Nothing / Re:
« on: May 10, 2009, 12:03:36 PM »

It's an interesting tool to see what people listen to, which in turn tells you what people are enjoying.  For example, one track I wrote called "Magellanic Clouds" has a huge spike in plays compared to anything else.  As a result, I'll be re-working and expanding the sound of that relatively short track into a longplay album later this year.

Everything and Nothing / Re: found sounds
« on: May 04, 2009, 04:43:14 PM »
"The researchers add that the tones are far beyond the edge of human hearing, some 12 octaves below the lowest detectable note. While orchestras tune up to the A above middle C, at around 440 Hertz, the Earth rings at a much more stately 100-5000microHz. That is one vibration every 278 hours, or 11.5 days."

As much as I'd love to hear it too, I don't think it's possible.   :D

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