Work continued on Altara long-distance over a long period of time. In the nineties, before fast, ubiquitous broadband internet, and interoperable multi-track recording platforms, most people collaborated long distance by sending tapes in the mail. Barry worked with ADAT multitrack but I didn't have one of those (they were big machines that used S-VHS tapes to record 8 tracks of digital audio).
I recorded everything to DAT (tiny 4mm tapes that record stereo digital audio only) and imported those into my PC for editing. Barry had a DAT too, so he'd work out multitrack parts on ADAT, mix them down to stereo DAT, and mail these to me. I'd load these into my computer and layer them with atmospheres and effects of my own, then make a new stereo master of the complex-ified mess and dump that to a DAT, and send that to Barry. We worked on this album almost constantly over a very long period of time. After about six months I thought it was done, and felt very happy with it, but Barry thought it was too much drone, not enough rhythm -- or in other words, too much M. Griffin, not enough A Produce.
Incidentally, I've found this is usually the way musical collaborations go, not only the ones I'm personally involved with. It's a back and forth tug-of-war in which each participant yanks things so far in their own direction that the other party must take back as much territory as possible. The sound goes from being too much of one person to being too much of the other person, and sometimes feelings are hurt or frustrations are given voice, before a sort of equilibrium is reached, or one or the other becomes exhausted and gives up.
Neither Barry nor I gave up. We kept volleying tapes back and forth, and my recollection is that at the six month mark and again at the twelve month mark, I thought we had a finished album. At one point it was to be called "Seek Nothing," a title which arose out of my own pursuit of Buddhist meditation during those years, until Barry decided he couldn't stand that. He told me he'd let me pick the album title with no further objection from himself, as long as it wasn't "Seek Nothing," and he'd even allow that title to be used for a single track. That weekend I re-watched Forbidden Planet on DVD. It's one of my favorite classic science fiction films, and somehow Altair (the planet) and Altaira (the girl, also known as Alta) stuck in my head. Additionally, Altara had what I perceived to be a Zen or Tibetan Buddhist quality. So the album became Altara.
As I mentioned, we "finished" the album twice before it was really done, and released to the world. At the time I was pretty frustrated and impatient, but in the years since then I've learned to admit that the final product was better for having been held up in the seemingly endless repetitive cycle of Barry's "not good enough, let's keep at it," rejections. It's a lesson I've tried to hold onto, whether in collaboration with others or in my own creative endeavors. Sometimes you want to be done with something, to call it finished and let it out in to the world, and sometimes you want this so strongly you convince yourself it isn't possible to make it any better and that to try to do so would be foolish. All it takes is a single instance of pushing through this convictions and actually finding that the work can be improved to recognize the game you were playing with yourself. I thank Barry for helping me recognize this, though it frustrated me mightily at the time.