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Topics - jkn

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Other Ambient (and related) Music / AtmoWorks Update
« on: March 07, 2008, 07:04:57 AM »

Vir Unis posted this last night - reposting here.   

Greetings to all,

I find myself writing this in a mix of emotions, as I realize how complex our feelings can be when change is amongst us. AtmoWorks has now been in existence just a little over six years. AtmoWorks was created in late fall of 2001 by Vir Unis and James Johnson and with a huge amount of help from Brian McWilliams. Over the years we have expanded and have included several other artists to our small but growing collective. It's been an honor and privilege to facilitate the release of such great work by some very talented artists. AtmoWorks is dedicated to this very cause. We are designed to expedite the process in which an independent artist or group of artists can release music at will and without any third party agenda.  This is an honorable cause and this is our one and only goal.

This is an exciting process to be a part of. James and I built this from the ground up out of a combined will that resulted in a very transparent and rewarding friendship. It's this energy that carried us over the past six years. This is the part of the emotion in which I am proud and excited to continue. The other part is with sadness as James Johnson has decided to leave AtmoWorks and continue on a different rewarding path in his personal quest for artistic achievement. However, it is with this sadness that I also have a joy in seeing such a talented man and gifted artist follow his own muse.  A chapter of my life has been closed and a new chapter for myself and AtmoWorks begins..I have always, from day one, planned for AtmoWorks to be in existence as long as I live. It is such a part of my life, that as I watch it grow and sustain my works and others, that my will to empower it even more grows by the day.

In retaining the energy of friendship and transparent new business model that James and I have established, I have tapped two individuals who also share many of the same qualities. These are two individuals that I have known since I was a teenager and have shared countless days, years, and months working together on a variety of artistic projects and adventures that friends share. They are like family to me. Please welcome to AtmoWorks John Koch-Northrup and Matt McDonough. Biographies and extended information on both will be forthcoming on, as there is too much to say about these outstanding individuals in this letter. I will say that they bring an extraordinary amount of talent and creative energy to AtmoWorks and I'm honored that they have chosen to work with me in this every evolving labor of love.

In the spirit of this evolution, we are in a state of upgrading to include several new features as well as refine some aspects of our site that have worked well for the past six years. One of them being is the return of AtmoWorks live radio, AtmoStreams, which includes artists from around the world streaming live music from their studios. In the past, we've had such notable musicians as Vidna Obmana, Saul Stokes, DreamState, and the Elf Machine performing live on AtmoStreams. Also planning on a series of talks and conversations with various artists, both in music and other mediums to be streamed either live or taped. This is truly exciting..

New music is coming! Different types of music is coming as well.  AtmoWorks, in essence is a label that has been designed to work with ambient and electronic music. While retaining that essence, we are also in the process of expanding the definition of ambient, as it should, and including all sorts of new and eclectic music that may or may not fit the traditional definition of "ambient'. We'll let you decide on that one. It is you, after all, that we seek to connect with the artists. The artist/listener relationship is a timeless and sacred connection that is our honor to preserve.

Yours truly,

Vir Unis
February 2008

Obviously, I'm very excited!  It's been a whirlwind of a month since I decided to accept John's offer to help him run AtmoWorks along with Matt.   We sincerely wish James all the best (see his announcement here: ) - I'm sad to see him step out of running AtmoWorks, and of course, excited for the opportunity to step in.   


Everything and Nothing / Beatport... Basic Channel mp3's - remastered
« on: February 06, 2008, 09:41:08 AM »
I just saw a thread on discogs about the entire Basic Channel catalog being remastered and mp3's being availiable for sale though Beatport...  since these are all vinyl only releases, this is kind of an exciting thing.   I don't know if I'm willing to plunk down the money for them (at least until I actually buy an mp3 player... :) )    Have you bought from Beatport before?   Experiences?

Here's the thread...

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Gear: Audio Interfaces / Soundcards
« on: January 16, 2008, 11:58:07 AM »
I swore there was a thread for this already (or it's just been discussed in one of the other gear threads).

I'm comparing the Presonus Firebox and Focusrite Saphire LE which are both in the same price range.   Both say they support midi in/out.   I see normal midi jacks on the Saphire - the Firebox on the other hand has a combined midi/spdif jack...

I admit - I'm confused by the jack on the Firebox (see: )

Do I just need an adapter of some type?    Would someone mind taking a shot and explaining that one.   I know there are a few owners of these cards on the forum... 


Other Ambient (and related) Music / AtmoWorks Releases
« on: January 10, 2008, 08:11:28 AM »

John and James have released some fine stuff recently on their AtmoWorks label - well worth checking into.   They also have some releases from new artists out or coming soon.   Check the "news" section on their site.

John and James had posted about their new projects in the old forum before the crash - I thought I'd try to get those discussions going again.   I'm a long time friend and fan of their music.  :)

Everything and Nothing / yikes - first tornado warning of the year
« on: January 07, 2008, 04:06:05 PM »
Wow - we're months early for a tornado warning (I guess jumping from 0 degrees 5 days ago to 66 today might be part of the problem?) - lightening is hitting hard - and it seems like it's right out the window.   I'm hiding in the basement waiting for Heidi to get home from work...  :(

Everything and Nothing / New flatscreen TV recommendations?
« on: January 07, 2008, 12:33:52 PM »
We're thinking about switching to a new tv.   We currently have a 27" Sony trinitron... and are thinking of splurging with something a bit bigger (and a lot lighter!).

It has to be under 50" in physical width - so we're looking in the more or less 42" to 48" screen size.

Any recommendations on brand, type, etc...?    We kind of like the Sharp Aquos at the moment - though haven't looked in depth yet.

I'm assuming there will be some nice Super Bowl sales so it might be a good time to get it.


Jonathan posted this in the Hypnos Artist section.   I thought I'd post a pointer in the Listening Booth in case you missed it.  :)

I'm still posting weekly downloads on my site every Monday. Some of the downloads are complete tracks, others are works in progress, but they're all free.

Thanks for listening!

I've got a couple nephews (13 and 11) that are thrilled to have discovered classic rock songs through games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band...   I have to admit it cracks me up.   We were good aunts and uncles on Wednesday and watched them for the evening and half the night was them playing little mp3 clips on their cell phones trying to stump us on what song was what - bands like ac/dc, scorpions, foghat, and blue oyster cult...    So one of them throws on Don't Fear the Reaper and I roll into the "needs more cowbell" quotes from the Saturday Night Live sketch (which they haven't seen).  Heidi starts laughing.   

Later that evening we end up at Best Buy and they "force" us to completely embarrass ourselves playing rock band in the store playing, of course, the Don't Fear the Reaper song - which starts off with a quote from the SNL skit. It's hilarious... so when we get home I pull out our SNL dvd and play the skit. 

Anyway - my point for the topic was having kids discover classic rock tunes through the video games. It's actually kind of neat - and it'll be fun where they head next in music (they both are learning guitar) - I think the older one has a decent open mind towards types of music which I think is cool....

Anyway - got to get rolling so I can get to work!

Everything and Nothing / Humor: Reserve a Spot In Heaven
« on: December 12, 2007, 09:06:57 AM »

This might be an old one floating around, but a coworker just pointed it out today.  It's hilarious.

Of course, I've probably just bought a one way ticket to hell by posting this...


Listening: Podcasts, Mixes, and Music Sample Clips / jkn's archives...
« on: December 11, 2007, 06:35:48 PM »
I thought I'd post some of my old unreleased stuff for your amusement and/or enjoyment.

Marie - 3:01 - 1996 - piano recorded on a boom box - file size: 5.6 mb jkn_log_03_marie.mp3

This is a short piano song - recorded on a boom box so don't expect even close to good sound quality!   However, I really like this track so thought I'd share it.  I recorded it in 1996 while my wife was away for three weeks with work.   It was written for her.  You can hear our two dogs eating and making tinkly noises with their tags as they walk around - and they bark at the end as I was finishing. 

Evolutionary Dawn - 18:57 - 1989 - 4 track - file size: 34.8 mb jkn_log_01_evolutionary_dawn.mp3

Recorded sometime in 1989 on a 4-track recorder.   There are only 3 tracks used.   First track recorded was the drums using a Roland R8 drum machine and Korg SDD-1200 dual delay.  Second track is the pads coming from a Korg DSS-1 at times run through a Rat Distortion pedal.   Third is the bass/lead line, played on DSS-1, run through a crybaby wah pedal.    

The drums are only three patterns, however, I'm playing live over top of them all the way through.   I ran it out of voices every so often which had a nifty effect of removing some of the other drums - making it sound a bit more active and changing.   The tracks were recorded basically in three straight passes - it's almost entirely improv.  No overdubs or punching in, etc...

This was one of my first big long "epics" (as a friend called them... ha).   There are two others from this same year that I'll post in a while.

A Hole In Time - 14:03 - 1989 - 4 Track - file size:  25.8 mb jkn_log_02_a_hole_in_time.mp3

Added 12/14/2007

This is a 4 track recording which uses a few tape tricks - one track is running backwards the entire way through.  The beginning is made up of several tracks recorded at double speed and then played back at normal speed - some forward some backwards - a lot of punching in on this.    The drums... ha - I didn't have a borrowed drum machine handy at the time so I had to use a sample I pulled from a Psychedelic Furs track (called Wedding Song I think) - I'm running it through a borrowed Art reverb unit (I think it was John's (that Vir Unis guy) or his brothers...).   

During the mixdown from 4-track to stereo - I'm playing drums "live" on the keys of my DSS-1 - so you'll hear lots of other drum stuff going on besides just the drum loop... 

I mentioned earlier that one track is running backwarks throughout the track - that's a Juno 106.   The "flute" playing is me on my DSS-1 - I do like the little flute solos. 

As you get closer to the end of the track you get into more and more feedback and dense noise - coming from everything and the kitchen sink (DSS-1, Prophet 600, Juno 106, feedback from my dual delay SDD-1200, etc...) - the strings and everything else are DSS-1.   

There's one thing I utterly hate about this track - and wish I could remove it, but I've lost the original 4-track and only have the mixdown - and frankly if I went back to the original I'd lose the drum track recorded during mixdown...  Anyway - I hate the vocal sample when it breaks from the intro section into the main groove.    WHAT was I thinking???   Oh well... it was almost 20 years ago... ha!

A Terrible Dream - 15:55 - 1989 - 4-track - file size:  29.2 mb jkn_log_06_a_terrible_dream.mp3

The last of my three "epics" from 1989...  this one I haven't shown very many people at all due to the heavy (over) use of samples.   I've never been a huge fan of samples in my own music - though listened to tons of music that used samples frequently.   This truck uses drums fairly heavily - although it's a very laid back slower beat.   Many, many punch ins on this - since I only had a 4-track recorder borrowed from work - there were very limited tracks to work with (aren't computer DAW's freaking amazing?).  There's some ping ponging down of multiple tracks to one track to make room for another track.  Also - many different instruments are recorded on the same track - so at the beginning it's one instrument, in the middle something else, etc...

The drum machine is a Korg DD5 if I remember right.   I always thought of the DD5 and it's big brother the DD1 as kind of "sluggish" sounding - the drum samples were lower bit rate - it felt sluggish to play - it lended itself to slower beats for me.

Most of instruments are Korg DSS-1 - note, there's no sequencing - I think I've only used a sequencer on one, maybe two tracks - and none of these were.    Heck - you can hear me go out of time from time to time - so the lack of sequencing and quantizing should be obvious... ha... :)   Of course - I like it that way.  :)

Samples samples samples...  the train is from the movie Top Secret.   "You're safe now" is Sting from The Bride.   "I've had a terrible dream" is from the 1960 version of the movie The Haunting.   The screechy door slam whoooom noise is from the movie The Abyss.    Oh!  Almost forgot - there's a big orchestra stab stolen from Depeche Mode... eek.  I like how I used it though - especially underneath the trumpet solo.

The "trumpet" solo is a Yamaha SY22 keyboard - Yes - I threw the chord into the solo near the end as a sort - yep, it's a keyboard not a trumpet moment.    As far as the trumpet playing -I think I got the breathing right for the different phrasings and I like several moments in the solo.   Total improv - one take - as is the entire track actually... (even all the punch ins for different instruments were one takes...)

The last few minutes starts breaking into my more atonal playing - and the feedback really starts to take the forefront in a musical way - I think this is my first song to really push feedback so far forward and yet not be grinding industrial noise, but more of a musical ambient type of journey.

Still - 1:22 - ~1992 - Yamaha SY77 sequence to cassette - file size:  2.6 mb jkn_log_04_still.mp3

Back around 1992 I was still teaching piano at the music store that I'd worked at for 6 years - and one of my students called in sick so I toyed around with a Yamaha SY77 synth for a half hour.   I recorded this little sort of light jazzy sort of thing which I liked and dumped to cassette.   It's a sequence - but I didn't have quantizing turned on (or at least it was at 1/96 or something ridiculous).   The drums are just played on the keys live through the track (which is somewhat painfully obvious in spots... ha.).   

Anyway - I like this short little track - it's not ambient or fantastic or anything - but it was fun to throw together.

Thrown - ~1993 - 4:13 - Yamaha RX-8 pattern sequence straight to cassette - file size:  7.8 mb jkn_log_07_thrown.mp3

This is totally different from anything posted above.   A little closer to industrial than ambient... although calling this industrial is completely laughable...  Lets just say it's instrumental that leans a tad more towards Skinny Puppy.

Another "waiting for piano students" moment at the music store - I think there was a bad snowstorm so a bunch cancelled.   I took a Yamaha RX-8 drum machine and midi'd it up to 6 or 7 different synths at the store - SY's, DX's, the monstrous Roland RD-something or other ( I guess I could go look it up - the one with all the sliders that failed to sell well - but was a cool mix of digital with analogue like controls...).   Anyway - this was a fun experiment.   

The track is completely live -there are no overdubs.  I'm changing volume and patches on the synths - and playing the Roland RD-____ throughout the track.   The geeetar solo is the RD...

Everything and Nothing / TV: Lost
« on: December 10, 2007, 06:15:15 PM »
We had a nice Lost thread before...

Despite a good friend's prompting that I need to put the TV away and start recording again (smile!)... Lost season 3 comes out tomorrow!   We haven't seen any episodes of season 3...  we can't wait!   

Everything and Nothing / Photo Thread
« on: December 10, 2007, 12:58:03 PM »
A thread for your favorite, interesting, odd, whatever you saw through your camera, etc... photos.  :)

I'll post one my wife took - it's of a large clock in our living room shot in negative.

Computers, Internet and Technology / Now Playing - the video game edition
« on: December 07, 2007, 01:29:24 PM »
Picked up two new DS games this week.   

Orcs & Elves

“classic” dungeon crawl first person RPG.   Darn fun to play (if you like this sort of thing) – a bit on the short side – I’m half way through already since Saturday (which is really fast for me since I don’t play for hours on end…), but amazingly fun.    I’ve gotten overwhelmed a couple of times so even the ‘normal’ mode isn’t a walk in the park.   I think I’ll like ‘hard’ mode a bit better though.

Luminous Arc

A tactical/strategy RPG… somewhat similar to the Fire Emblem series (which I love and wish they’d release more titles in the states…) or games like Advance Wars.    Fight a series of battles with up to 15 characters against an army of monsters – move, attack in various ways, cast spells, etc…   This one takes terrain height and attacking from behind or the side into account which is a very nice enhancement.   

The downside of this one is the background story and dialogue is utterly horrible.   Ouch - you'll groan.   So far the battles have made it worthwhile, though.   I'm still happy I bought it.    It's also very much in the anime tradition of 13 year old children saving the world...  ha.


Everything and Nothing / Creating: inspiration, roadblocks, resources
« on: December 07, 2007, 12:36:25 PM »
Please add your thoughts on the creation process (writing music, writing books, painting, etc...)

What inspires you?
What happens when you get writers block?

Some of my favorite threads were the "how we record" threads.   Starting this thread for the gear side of things...

What do you record in? 
What're your main instruments?
Secret studio weapon?

(I'll post later... got to run...)

Everything and Nothing / a poll
« on: December 06, 2007, 01:04:05 PM »
a humble poll.

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