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Messages - Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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If I don't like parts of an artists repertoire I have choices - accept I don't get it and don't listen or listen and see if I can find the music.

I love this quote Seren. I have always tried to live by this, and I usually find and force myself to do the later. Its how I have learned to truly appreciate and enjoy everything from Ravi Shankar to Willie Nelson and everything in between.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Any Genesis fans?
« on: August 17, 2014, 04:22:54 PM »
Cool idea Dave!

If I was to put all of the Genesis albums in order for me it would be:

1. Selling England By The Pound
2. Duke
3 Trick Of The Tail
4. Wind & Wuthering
5. Foxtrot
6. Abacab
7. And Then There Were Three
8. Trespass
9. Nursery Crime
10. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
11. Genesis
12. We Can't Dance
13. Invisible Touch
14. Calling All Stations
15. From Genesis To Revelation

I do like the live albums too and would rank them

1. Seconds Out
2. 3-Sides Live
3. Live
4. Live Over Europe 2007
5. Live The Way We Walk

For Gabriel

1. Gabriel 3 (Melt)
2. Gabriel 4 (Security)
3. So
4. US
5. UP
6. Scratch My Back
7. New Blood
8. Gabriel 1 (Car)
9. Gabriel 2 (Scratch)

And I should mention that Gabriel's Passion is one of my top 2 favorite albums of all time!


I would like to add that I prefer ambient music by a person with no technical skills and superb creativity. In my area technical experts are the people doing TD jobs which consists assisting REAL artists when they reach technical difficulties. Both are necessary of course.

But don't underestimate the raw power of naivety, children are the most creative humans using divergent thinking and divergent thinking should be used plenty in arts.

I am in no way underestimating that. There is great stuff done through naivety. I love the naive happy accident just as much as a tool in the hands of a master. However I have also witnessed naivety turned easily to arrogance in the arts when someone finds out that they did not invent the wheel or that someone is actually better at something then they are.

The inherent problem of naivety is that it really only happens once. In the example of a child, their mind being open and divergent is not the same thing as them being skilled at something and able to communicate it successfully so others understand it.  A baby may be the smartest or most creative person in a room, but if all they can do is babble and drool, their brilliance may take time to be understood until they learn how to talk.

I am not one of those parents who tells my child he is good or worse yet, the best at everything he tries. As a good parent it is my job to let him know when he fails and teach him to do better. If I see that he is good or even gifted at something then it is my job to set him on the right path for his growth, challenge him to keep growing and even push him to reach his full potential in a given area.

In any school, be it a university or a person seeking a mentor or a guru, the job of the professor, mentor, teacher or guru is much the same. To find and unlock the inherent potential in a person and push them to reach it.

I think of a master musician like Ravi Shankar who devoted his life singularly to the pursuit of his art and craft equally. I can truly think of few musicians who ever lived that were better than him. It would be ridiculous and even disrespectful to put a sitar in the hands of a person who has never played one before and believe it to be equal or better than what a master can do. It would be a starting place, it may even be interesting, but it would not be what the master could coax out of it.

What we really want is a person who is a master, but one that can retain the beauty of child like wonder in what they do  ;D

Gently wading back in here... :-[

Lest I be misinterpreted as attacking any one specific person or not...all I was pointing out with my previous post on low end and where it sits in certain songs hitherto being discussed here, I think that it is perfectly valid to like or dislike anything based on ones own personal taste. I like low end in my ambient music...Great!!! You don't Great!!! I do think the line gets crossed when a person makes presumptive statements about the music along the lines of "so and so must be loosing their hearing" "or "its all due to their switch from gear X to gear Y that said artists music now sucks".

Again, you can say, "I don't like the music now as much as I did before", you can even say that in your opinion you preferred when said artist used synth X, reverb A or mixer C.

However the statements here lately take on a tone which is more along the lines of, "The artist is making a BIG MISTAKE because they switched their gear, or workflow, or they are going in a different direction". Again, you may not like it as much. This is valid. Accusing them of going backwards or not knowing what they are doing or whatever based solely on your personal flavor taste profile is not alright. Its the artists decision to go in what ever musical direction they want, with what ever gear they want, in whatever studio that they want. If you like it or not, thats what you get to decide.

One other thing that seams to be popping up here often which is a very interesting blend of gearslutz meets audiophile discussion. In this arena of gear geakdom there are two schools of thought:

1. Good music can be made with any gear no mater how expensive, cheap, hard or soft.
2. It takes the highest end, cream of the crop gear to make it

In some ways, both are right, but it depends completely on who is wielding the tools. No more and no less. It can also be equal parts studied expertise or naive happy accident.

This brings me to my final point which is tolerance and respect of each other...probably not in the way you think though.

One thing internet culture has dumbed down is opinion vs expertise. (there are many interesting articles on the subject so google it). The crux is that "my opinion is just as valid as another persons years of study, use and expertise in a given subject."

The reality is that there ARE experts in the audio field when it comes to gear and its use. There are experts at mixing and audio engineering. There are people who have spent years learning composition theory. There are people who are expert craftsmen at creating and shaping sounds. Best of all, all of these exist within our own genre.

You would be wise to consider their opinions with an appropriate weight. Not that one never challenges or questions ones elders or sages in any given area, but a wise person always gives them respect and takes what they have to say to heart. A fool does not.

Example if someone has used high end gear gives a new person advice on how to do things better, the new person would do well to listen and consider what is being said. The key here is that the person with the experience should give the new person advice on how to succeed first with what they already have, and only suggest upping their gear if said gear is wrong for them or is causing them to hit a wall. This is the same for compositional advice or whatever. Its the old adage that before you break the rules, you should learn them or at the very least be aware of them and respect them.

Ok...I lied, one final point which rears its head every few years is "what is ambient music anyway?" Well in this day and age, good luck describing it and pigeon holing it. Some of it is deep and droney with little reverb or tonal movement. Some of it has "gasp" a melody played by "gasp" a real instrument...often which may be "gasp" acoustic in nature. Some of it is tribal with ethnic hand played drums. Some of it uses electronic programed beats. Some of it is bathed in more reverb than the deepest reaches of the galaxy. Some of it is lo-fi, some hi-fi. Some has analog sequencers. Some has string sections and choirs.

Its ALL various facets of what we call space music or ambient or whatever.



With all due respect, there is no "Low End issue". These tracks sound great to me and I am sure that the low end is intentional. What this comes down to is a matter of taste. I personally like some nice low end in my ambient music from time to time and even song to song, others here don't. I am not sure anyone could make the leap that this low end is due to a lack of skill, equipment or even something like a person's hearing.

I say this because the low end, love it or hate it taste wise is indeed well seated in the mix and not overblown, crackly or boomy.

Just sayin'

Although my personal favorite Roach album is "Halcyon Days", I do feel that his 3 best albums that each in their own way are era defining pinnacles of different parts of his career are "Dreamtime Return", "On This Planet" and "Mystic Chords..."

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Any Genesis fans?
« on: August 12, 2014, 08:11:17 AM »
I guess I will be in the minority but I pretty much like it all from "Genesis To Revelation" all the way to "We can't Dance". There are even a few good songs and a nice edge to " Calling All Stations" even if it is largely forgettable as a whole.

I think in someways Genesis are one if the only Prog bands who made a successful transition into the 1980's without sounding forced or fake. Yes had one good pop album but could not sustain their trajectory. Genesis on the other hand, along with Gabriel on his own really had a hand in defining pop in the 80's rather than simply being followers.

I think all in all " Duke" is a masterpiece and the best album of the trio era.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Top Oophoi discs
« on: July 28, 2014, 11:35:02 PM »
Spirals Of Time - Still my favorite
Mare Vaporum - I have always resonated with this one
Athlit - the Cd that sparked my interest in working with Gigi
The Rustling Of Leaves - this one is special to me as I have vivid memories of lying in bed in Gigi's guest house listening to this on a Cd Walkman and drifting off and thinking how beautiful and pastel it was.
Dreamfields - please excuse what could appear to be shameless self promotion but, this album is special to me due to the deeply personal level of back and forth collaboration on this release. Gigi kept calling it his most psychedelic work, and the concept of the directions was his. I also have memories of taking a daylong retreat out in nature and listening to the final mix and master and being completely lost in the bliss of the moment of the atmospheres blending with nature. He was really pushing for avant guard sounds, movement and startling artifacts and instances on this one.
Bardo - I will pick a 6th one to be fair, I like this one for its sheer intense power.

Are you Mac or PC ?

I have been using a Zen Studio for about 2 weeks on a Mac with no problems.

What problem are folks specifically complaining about?

First of all, there is nothing middle weight about the Zen Studio or The Orion 32. Both units are full on professional grade.

Yes there are more expensive converters from Prism, Lynx and Apogee (which too be fair is my personal favorite), as well as really upper end pieces by Burl, Benchmark, Lavry and such, but the difference in quality gets pretty narrow once you hit any of these levels, IE over $2,000.

I have reviewed, tested and used most everything in the above list and more, with the exception of Burl and at this stage it becomes becomes a matter of taste as the sonic differences in units is in the 10-15% range, usually less. Most people I have had in my studio cannot tell the difference in side by side tests of the Lynx Aurora, Antelope Orion (or Zen) and an Apogee Symphony I/O. I hear nuance, air, sweetness and depth differences but again they are very slight and I am listening on a very expensive monitor set up.

Now between the Zen Studio and the Orion 32, the conversion is the same sonically. The choice comes down to inputs, cost and if you want/need 12 really nice mic pres.

If you do not ever see yourself needing 32 channels then I would go with the Zen. If you don't need 12 mic pres or plan on getting a selection of differnt outboard units then the Orion may be better. Also the Orion has 32 channels in, and 32 channels out. The Zen Studio has 20 analog inputs and 10 out.

Other factors are that the Orion is made to be a studio piece that lives in a rack. The Zen Studio is designed to be portable and cannot be rack mounted.

Anyway whichever one you pick it will be amazing for you! Best of luck!!!


Very cool Pete! Has almost a vintage Mick Karn-wordless-art rock feel to it. This needs to be played loud folks!  :)

It's jazz - but still with an ambient / atmospheric feel to it - but primarily jazz.

Thats an awesome quote John, I need to put that on the band camp page somewhere!


Marketplace / A whole batch of music gear for sale
« on: June 20, 2014, 10:44:17 PM »
Hey music friends, I have a few pieces of studio gear I am going to be selling...Message me for prices and pics if you are interested

Lynx Aurora 16 - 16 Channel AD/DA converter
Lynx AES 16e (I have two of these with cables) - PCIe cards for connecting 16 channels of digital devices to your PC
Milennia Media TCL-2 Compressor with tube upgrades - High end mastering compressor
A pair of Blue Robbie Mic Pres with upgraded tubes - Mic Pre amps
SPL MTC 2381 Monitor Controller - Multiple source audiophile passive monitor controller
Shure KSM44 - Large diaphragm multi-pattern microphone with case, shock mount and bag

All devices come in their original box, except one Blue Robbie and one of the AES cards

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Eventide UltraChannel for FREE
« on: June 11, 2014, 10:55:46 AM »
Just an FYI, it uses Ilok/Pace as a protection scheme, but you do not need to own a physical Ilok. Its something new the company have been doing. You can authorize an Ilok and use your plug-in on any computer or simply authorize it through the Pace/Ilok system to a single computer of your choice.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: What synths did O÷phoi used?
« on: May 27, 2014, 08:58:32 PM »
Nice pic Paul - any chance you have one of the other side as well?

No sorry

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: What synths did O÷phoi used?
« on: May 25, 2014, 09:58:31 PM »
Ok, I found a picture from when I was in Italy with Gigi. Most of the synths have been mentioned but given the spirit of the thread I though you might enjoy it.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: What synths did O÷phoi used?
« on: May 10, 2014, 01:43:46 PM »
I can not remember for the life of me what Gigi had in his studio when I was there. I do know that he used a fair bit of sampling and sound worlds recorded to various DATs and CD recorders which he then manipulated and recombined into his finished products almost always through real time performance. I will try and find my photos from that era and see if anything jars my memory.


Hey friends,

Although not an ambient album in the strictest sense, last year I released a new album as part of a modern jazz trio call the Moss Garden Sessions.

I played drums as well as engineered and mixed the album.

Each song started life as a live in studio improvisation and if we liked what we just came up with, we would quickly start a second and even a third take of the newly birthed piece. The album was recorded and mixed old school, meaning very little editing and ZERO overdubs. On occasion we would merge takes like the begging of take one into take two just like they used to do it in the early days.

Most of the songs are heavily Eventide & TC effected guitars along with a miked Mesa Boogie Amp, soprano and tenor sax and a 4 piece 1966 Slingerland drum kit augmented with odd percussion bits and a remo mondo snare.

In a few spots we also added EWI instead of sax and korg wavedrum again all played live.

The album was mastered by Robert Rich at his studio and he did a fantastic job!

Chris Short of Ma Ja Le and Gerry Baccash join us on bass for three songs making it a quartet as well.

The album is available on itunes, amazon and you can get the physical CD from me or on CD Baby.

Or I just added it to bandcamp where you can preview the album as well as purchase it for a mere $8, if you are a hi-rez fan be sure to download the album as a 24-bit flac file.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Reverb Plugin Sound Demos
« on: February 24, 2014, 10:42:06 PM »
Found this just now...really reflects what Paul was talking about.  Give it it chance its not your usual sales demo.... it may surprise you, it did me!

I forgot about that demo, but it pretty well sums up why the 224 is my most used plug-in reverb. I have used it on Pop, CCM, Jazz, Ambient and Folk projects and it has never let me down. Dont get me wrong, I love the PCM Bundle as well, but that is modern Lexicon where as the 224 is the sound of classic records and even classic space music that is ingrained in our memory.

I also love Will's UA demo as he is one of the few people I know in the industry who like and get the whole ambient, art rock thing and his demo shows. Its not your usual this is a drum room or acoustic guitar in a space thing.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Reverb Plugin Sound Demos
« on: February 21, 2014, 10:20:05 AM »
One interesting thing to think about here is that back when hardware reverbs were all that there was, you bought a box, or two and you dove in and made it work for everything, now we have plug-ins, most of them at mere fractions of the cost of the old hardware and we can have one that is better for ambient reverb, one that is better for halls, one for rooms. Its like each plug-in is akin to what would have been a preset on hardware.

That said, I find out of the current crop that you have listed here that I own.

Usually use the Tsar for simulating woody sounding rooms for drums, percussion and acoustic guitar.

I use the Lexicon PCM bundle (which like the PCM 96 which I also own) really is not what most of us old timers would consider "the lexicon sound". The PCM plugs/PCM96 are really closer to a TC M3000/M4000 style of verb as they are very open, pristine and clear. They are great for those types of high quality verbs where you are not sure what the verb is doing to your sound until you take it away.

Spark verb has become my new - recent favorite for both working quick, fast and intuitive editing and more importantly does the big, effecty, cloudy classic bathed in verb, 10 to 20 sec tail thing that we we have
come to equate with classic 90's space actually remenid s me of what I use to get out of my Alesis Wedge (a secret weapon of many space music guys and Alesis' clone of a PCM 70) only cleaner.

Not listed above, I am a sucker for true old school emulation and as such my single most used reverb is UAD's Lexicon 224 emulation. I use it for vocals, space music, drum rooms, you name it. It just has that awesome classic, studio album sound that when you hear it in a mix, your brain tells you that you have heard it before. It is the reverb sound of mid period U2, Daniel Lanois, David Sylvian and more. Plus what I like about the UA plug-ins is that it is the real thing as they went back to the original papers, the original designer and the original parameters and algorithms and put that into the software. This is the vintage Lexicon sound, cuz it just is. UA also did the same with the digital EMT240 and while it sounds great, I find less uses for it in my music.

Lastly if you want a good in the box plate, the UAD EMT 140 is hard to beat.

Also you should check out demo's of PSP Spring reverb its pretty effecty and weird, but great for sound design.

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