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Topics - Altus

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Introducing the definitive version of Winter Embrace by Altus (Mike Carss), a Canadian musician with 40+ releases over the course of his career. For the first time, Altus is available on pressed CD. The album was originally released in 2002, and then rebuilt from the ground up in 2017. This is a long-play album that begins in a slow-motion neoclassical minimalist structure, transforming into an ambient bed of sound over the course of 62 minutes. The music was created to accompany the sights and sounds of the first snowfall of the winter season.

CD & download available to purchase on Bandcamp

Europe / Asia / Africa / Australia
Please purchase the CD at Databloem for lower shipping fees

The Creation of Winter Embrace

Stream the full-length version on YouTube

Free MP3 download will be available on December 21st.

While this isn't "tech talk", I figured here was the best place for this post.

Something I've been musing about recently is my process of creating music. I've found over the years that attempts to reproduce an idea I hear in my head often ends in failure. I can usually get it out of my head and into my DAW just fine, but in the process, the magic is lost.

There could be many reasons for this. The simplest answer is the soundsource. Either modifying or creating a patch from scratch just isn't cutting it. Another could be the fact I have no formal training in music theory, nor any training in playing an instrument.

In the end, what works best for me is to noodle on the keyboard. Once a seed has been created, the music often writes itself.

One last thought. I have no trouble creating a specific mood in my music. If I'm feeling sombre, I can sit down and produce something that reflects that feeling. I find it strange that I can reproduce something so nebulous into musical form, yet attempts to reproduce a melody or chord progression ends up falling flat.

Returning to my original question: Are you able to sit down with an concrete idea in your head and successfully turn it into a song?
Another way to put it: I'd like to hear your own findings regarding what your intent is when you sit down to create, and what the outcome is.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Steve Roach - Bloodmoon Rising
« on: October 08, 2014, 03:56:40 AM »
Hey all,
Steve quietly released an album for this morning's blood moon via Bandcamp.

It's a beautiful, brooding 70-minute long-play. Check it out.  :)

Everything and Nothing / TIDAL - Lossless audio streaming service
« on: September 03, 2014, 07:04:35 PM »
As one who wishes lossless audio was as prevalent as MP3 and its ilk, this sounds like an interesting service. It'll be available in the US and UK this fall. A shame I live in Canada.

Does this interest anyone, or am I alone in my snooty audio ways? Haha!  ;)

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Aphex Twin
« on: August 16, 2014, 09:58:52 AM »
I came across this article today about what sounds like an Aphex Twin publicity stunt.

I'm cautiously optimistic for something like Drukqs. Any Aphex Twin fans here?

Everything and Nothing / PressPausePlay
« on: November 28, 2012, 07:41:50 PM »
An excellent documentary about what many of us have been talking about for years. Technology has allowed everyone to be creative, and ultimately share it with the world. Is that a good or bad thing?

The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities.

But does democratized culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world's most influential creators of the digital era.

PressPausePlay on Vimeo

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Windows 8 and your music rig
« on: October 27, 2012, 06:19:46 AM »
As we know, it's smart not to install a new OS on a mission critical computer (aka your PC/Mac you use for making music). At minimum, I'd wait a year until the kinks were worked out. However, it seems Microsoft might've done something...right? Crazy, I know, but hear me out.

Check out this in-depth article from Cakewalk about using SONAR in Win8.

Here's a few snippets:
Desktop apps still have access to low level audio and can communicate with drivers at a low level to get low latency performance. There are no changes to how drivers work as far as desktop applications go, so its very likely that your Windows 7 drivers will work on Windows 8 without modification. (unless the driver installation prevents it)

The results of the benchmarks were surprisingly good! Windows 8 performed better than Windows 7 across the board in all categories, and in many cases with fairly dramatic performance gains.

Very curious given OS upgrades generally run slower on the same hardware, and in doing so, breathes new life into an aging rig. I guess they finally decided to remove some of the bloat. Haha!

Software is generally forgiving when running on a new OS, and will run without a hitch. My biggest concern is normally driver support (especially for older hardware), and how the hardware interacts with the OS. The possibility that Win7 drivers will work in Win8 is very encouraging. I know that Vista drivers sometimes worked in Win7, but it seemed a rare occurrence.

Obviously, there'll still be bugs to work out, but it seems we're so much more ahead than ever before when dealing with a new OS. I noted Mike G's message on FB that it was quite different. Personally, that doesn't scare me. A new experience can be fun, as long as the change provides improvements to the user experience.

Has anyone taken the plunge or test-driven Win8? What are you thoughts?

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Har / Altus - Shadow District
« on: August 27, 2012, 04:52:37 AM »

Har / Altus - Shadow District (MP3 & FLAC)
1. Descent to Street Level  [ 12:50 ]
2. Abandoned Playground  [ 07:51 ]
3. Borough of Shadows  [ 10:25 ]
4. Victims of a System  [ 07:49 ]
5. Burning While They Watched  [ 08:13 ]
6. Along The Shattered Waterfront  [ 08:49 ]
7. Betrayal at Twilight  [ 14:10 ]

Words from Darrell Burgan (Earth Mantra):
[...] the raw emotion barely held at bay in this powerful music, the palpable sense of despair and determination, of pain and hope, of disastrous loss and hard-won victory. One can picture the grit and grime of this dark underworld, of this merciless street that punishes so many and allows so few to escape to the light of day. And yet one can also sense the moments of triumph amid the ruins, when the human spirit rises above its miserable surroundings to fly free despite all odds. The duality in this music both inspires and awes the listener, with something for fans of nearly all ambient traditions to love. Truly magnificent work.

Har / Altus - Shadow District (Promo)

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Altus - Complex Silence 22
« on: February 24, 2012, 06:31:50 PM »
Phillip Wilkerson, fellow artist and curator for the Complex Silence series, shared his thoughts on this release created for his on-going project.
I'm humbled. Thank you, Phillip. It's an honour to be part of it.

1. In Search Of  [ 08:30 ]
2. The Unattainable  [ 09:41 ]
3. Lay Still and Listen  [ 09:45 ]
4. To the Urban Silence  [ 05:07 ]
5. Conticent  [ 03:41 ]
6. At Peace  [ 09:22 ]
7. Yet Still in Search Of  [ 05:38 ]

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Altus - ECOTONE
« on: November 13, 2011, 06:02:09 AM »

Free download

Utilizing rhythm, epic chords and gentle soundscapes, Altus invites you to accompany him in a journey away from everything.  A land where man can't ruin.  Perhaps this is only a place in your mind.
Available to download in 320kb MP3, and FLAC for those who prefer the higher fidelity it provides.

Altus - ECOTONE (Promo)

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Altus - Sleep Theory Volume 1
« on: March 27, 2011, 06:09:52 AM »

Sleep Theory Volume 1

Promo Video on Youtube

Introducing a new series from Altus called “Sleep Theory”.

Originally I had planned this to be warm drone style release for sleeping purposes, but I found what I had created to be tedious and boring. In fact, after completing the first pass of the three tracks, I considered scrapping the entire project.

Instead, I decided to re-purpose and re-design the existing elements into something more pleasing to my ears. These are tonally active yet hypnotic soundscapes, and in my opinion require multiple listens to get the most use out of them.

It’s best experienced at lower listening levels, and headphones are encouraged. Available to download in 320kb MP3, and FLAC for those who rather to burn to CD.


Everything and Nothing / 24-bit for the masses
« on: February 23, 2011, 05:15:06 AM »
For a number of years, I've long wanted the MP3 format (and similar lossless formats such as AAC) to disappear.  In its place would be a lossless, high fidelity format (preferably open source).  But unfortunately the masses don't know any better and simply accept what's given to them.

The other problem of course is that most handheld players don't accept or support these audio file formats.

I read this interesting article on Engadget, and it certainly sounds like they're FINALLY heading in the right direction.

...Slowly working towards 24/96 being the standard.  Well, we can dream.  ;)

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Audio interfaces
« on: April 28, 2010, 07:21:36 PM »
Hey all.
I'm using a PreSonus Firebox and not very happy with the output of this thing.  I get random pops/crackles when the harddrive is active (I've confirmed it's not latency problems).  Very annoying when doing final mixes with lots of WAV files playing in the multitrack.

The output is also very noisy.  When the CPU is under load, I hear sort of a squealing noise that changes in tone depending on the load.  I've contemplated sampling it because it sounds kind of cool, but I digress...  I know it's not a shielding problem.  The 1/4" to XLR cables going from the Firebox to my monitors are fine, because the noisy output doesn't happen under I turn on the device.

On the positive side, latency is practically zero.

Anyway, I'm looking for an audio interface that "just works", and would love to hear what you guys are using/happy with.
Oh, to add to my problems, I'm using Windows 7 (64-bit) so getting driver support for a lot of these units narrows down my choices.

Thanks for any advice you might have.


Black Trees Among Amber Skies

Promo Video on YouTube.

The latest from Altus is now available to download in MP3, and FLAC for those who rather to burn to CD.

Ambient music for night-time Winter walks in the city.
Originally planned to be released in early January, this album was put aside for other projects... Hence the reason it's an out-of-season theme.  Even if you're not a lover of Winter, don't let that stop you from enjoying the album.

Full-length previews are also available at


Mister Vapor & Altus - "Falling Out of Orbit"
now available on Just Not Normal netlabel.

Quote from: Just Not Normal
And if you think we’ve heard the best collaboration works yet, then let this one surprise your ears. Mister Vapor (aka the extremely prolific Mystified) joined up with Altus (one of the ambient great netlabel artists). Well fitting in some of the other ‘deep sea dives’ of this months JNN releases this album takes you deeper. Where the wonderful string-drones of Altus meet with the dark-drones of Mister Vapor this is a clash of experimentalism that cannot be missed. We are proud to host this for your ears.

FLAC version available on

Welcome to Earth Mantra Netlabel's one hundredth release. To celebrate this milestone, we decided early on that this album should be a compilation of the artists who made up the previous ninety-nine releases.

Little did we realize how many of our artists would want to contribute and how excellent the music would be. As a result, this release has grown to encompass four full discs of sublime ambience, with more than four hours of music end to end. We're very proud of the result.

Special thanks to all of the artists for their contributions, both to this compilation, to Earth Mantra, as well as to the ambient community at large. Your generosity helps make the ambient world a better place, and Earth Mantra simply could not exist without you.

Finally, we would like to thank our listeners, without whom there would literally be no point. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the first one hundred mantras, and we look forward to many, many more.

Features original music from the following artists:
Alex Tiuniaev
Carl Sagan's Ghost
Copal River
Darkened Soul
Darren Harper
Desert Mystic
Emerald Adrift
Incandescent Void
Jacob Newman
Kit Watkins
Lucette Bourdin
Medicine Man
Michael Sandler
Mister Vapor
Musir von Vidalia
Phillip Wilkerson
Shane Morris
Stephen Philips
Sylvie Walder
Tone Ghost Ether
Tony Gerber

A promo video I put together for the release.  If you enjoy timelapse photography, be sure to check it out.

And of course, the link to the release itself.

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


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


Rapid Eye Movements

This new release treads the darker territory between Artifacts of Distant Memory and Only One Earth to Destroy. I wrote this not as a sleeping aid, but more as a sonic voyage through one's dreams and the secrets they can reveal.

Available as full quality OGG download.

Altus will be performing live on Blue Water Drift Dive. The show starts at 11pm EST, and the live performance will begin around midnight. There is a chatroom you can join during the show to chat with other listeners.

For the curious, I will also be feeding a video stream to watch while I perform. You'll see how simple my setup really is.  ;)
No audio will be streaming through this site, so you still need to tune into StillStream to hear the show.
Note that you DO NOT need to register on this site to view the show.  Thanks to Jason Sloan for bringing this site to my attention.

If it looks like the page isn't loading properly, you'll need the latest version of Flash.

Hope to see you there!

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