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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ambient Online Compilation #2 - Sample Out!

For anyone that wants to hear a sample of what's on the Compilation #2, they put together a nice teaser track of a bit from each composition in the compilation:

https://soundcloud.com/s1gnsofl1fe/preview-ambient-online

Go check it out! Try a taste, then buy the meal!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We're #1 in Ambient on Bandcamp!!!

I know, I know, I get excited!

Thanks to the hard work, time, and soul S1gnsOfL1fe has put into the album, Ambient Online Compilation #1 has hit #1 in the Ambient genre!  Woot!  If I weren't at work I'd be partying in the streets!  Or not, it's about 45F outside and raining.. I'll have a few beers when I get home.

Can't sit on my laurels, though.. it's time to get my tail in gear and start on "The Feathered Serpent"!  Must.. compose.. perform.. music... AAIIEEEE!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ambient Online Compilation #2 - with a track of mine!

In the shameless self-promotion department, Ambient Online has released for pre-order (available 2/27) the Ambient Online Compilation #2, and yes it has one of my tunes (Pulsar) on it!

This is a collection of some of the best an most interesting ambient music from independent artists.  The money collected from sales will go to support AmbientOnoine.org, the online home of ambient musicians and fans worldwide.

No, I don't get any money, this is kind of a charity thing for me - and I'm happy about it!

http://ambientonline.bandcamp.com/album/ambient-online-compilation-volume-2

For around eight bucks you get literally HOURS of ambient music - I defy you to find a better deal for a better cause!

Go forth and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Statics vs. Dynamics

As I'm sure many of you know, I'm a chataholic!

Realtime chat with other people seems like a decent substitute for real interaction with annoying human beings, as I can ignore anyone and not have to listen to their bandwidth-wasting drivel (heh).  And it almost feels like actually connecting with another person!

BUT!

Come on, you KNEW there was a BUT, right?

Chat never changes.  I was away from one chatroom for over a year and when I came back.. same people, same topics, same behavior from everyone.  It was like Time had stopped.

Now, I don't know about anyone reading this, but I want to grow, to change, to evolve.  I want to wake up tomorrow a little different than I was today, keeping the best and dumping the rest.  To stop changing, is to effectively die.  You are what you are, forever, like a statue.  Blech!

So, I'm going to try to break my chat addiction again.  I've found my place in the musical world, composing and performing ambient tracks.. in fact, one of my tracks made it on to the Ambient Online Collection #2! GO BUY IT, I don't see a penny, the money goes to support our site.. and the music is great!

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to shed my skin!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Officially Hate Windows 8.1

Well, I got this cheap used Windows 8 tablet and upgraded to 8.1, and the damn thing has NOT worked ever since.

It won't stay connected.  Updates stick in the "pending" state forever (known bug, no fix).  Stupid Metro music app will not play music from the SD card.

I will never, ever, for the rest of my life buy another Windows tablet, nor will I ever own a Windows phone.  Google got it right, Microsoft screwed it up completely.

Now if only I can find someone stupid enough to buy this off me...

Meditation, Relaxation, Medication

My blood pressure is making my blood pressure go up!

So the doc gave me these tiny little pills to take, and they're having a microscopic effect on my blood pressure.  Yet less than a year ago, I was in the hospital for my foot injury and my blood pressure was acceptable.

What happened, I asked myself, to screw things up so badly?

Well, the list is immense.  The fire at the place I was staying and having to move, work stress that drug out for 4 months of stop-ship insanity, some IRS woes, and.. me quitting my meditation and also being unable to walk my stress off.

D'oh!  No WONDER nothing is helping!  So, this morning I did an experiment.. when taking my blood pressure, I put on my ambient music mix and did some deep-breathing exercises.  And.. as I expected.. my blood pressure was 10 points down on both sides!  Still bad, but WAY less bad.

And this is BEFORE I took my BP pill.

I think it's time to get back to my meditation and my ambient music, before I blow a gasket.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Unsound Design

The key to a good ambient track is motion, interest, and unusual sounds.

While I have a massive arsenal of audio sources (both loops and synth patches), and have enough effects to mangle the life out of (or into!) them, it's not ORIGINAL sounds.  For Synthetic Aurality, I need something.. different.

There are several ways to approach this.  One would be to grab my field recorder and run all over the place, recording everything that didn't run away (and chasing anything that did), then processing them into new oddities.  The second would be to learn to actually program my more complex synths and come up with new sounds never before heard.  Both of these are paths I intend to pursue.

But there's one more choice: create my own custom instruments and effects.  And this appeals to both the engineer and artist in me.

So today I joined the Steinberg developers list and grabbed the VST SDK, and soon I will learn to create my own VST plugins!  BE AFRAID.. BE VERY AFRAID!

This could be.. interesting.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Music, Video, and YouTube

I've been spending some time thinking about putting my music up on my YouTube account, but.. I find slideshows boring, or those music videos that are just a shot of the album cover and the lyrics scrolling past.

Given this, I've been considering different ways of getting video for my audio.  My choices are:

BORING SLIDESHOW.  Ambient-y stills slowly fading from one to another.  Cheap, simple, yawn.

2D ANIMATION.  I own Anime Studio Pro 8.5, so I can hand-draw all kinds of things specifically for each tune I post.  Cheap, but more manual labor, and might involve me reconnecting my Wacom tablet.. and I have no desk space or USB ports available!  OR - AFTER EFFECTS.  Cough up for a Creative Cloud subscription and use the power of After Effects to help generate ambient-y motion and effects.

3D ANIMATION.  Particle effects! Alien landscapes!  The rising of a black sun!  Anything I want - at a tremendous cost!  My laptop is nowhere near powerful enough so I'd have to invest in a small-form-factor 3D rendering and animation machine.  I do own some kick-butt 3D software (Poser Pro 2012, Vue 11 Complete) so there'd be no software cost.. but I'd end up forking over about $1200 for hardware capable of producing 3D animation.

AUTO VISUALIZER CAPTURE.  VLC will render out its visualizer output to a movie file, which I then just upload to YouTube.  The visualizer does an OK job, but it's kind of predictable over time.  But it's cheap (VLC is free), and easy (visualizer renders out REAL fast even on my laptop).

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gearing up

The last piece of music equipment on my wishlist will be delivered tomorrow - a QuNeo.  The price is going up next month, and Musicians Friend had a mint-quality used one, so.. I bought it!

Thankfully my Ramen Planet order arrived, so.. plenty of noodles to tied me over the month, since I spent all my backup money.  I just have enough for bills and food, sigh.  Suffering for my art again!  But the ramen noodles are high-end imported ones, not like the lame cheap grocery store type, so it's not too much suffering.

At this point, I just need a few specialized sound effects for one music contest and I'm done buying things "in advance".  I have a vast arsenal of effects and instruments, gigabytes of loops and sound effects waiting to be mangled, and all the hardware an ambient/electronic musician could ever use.

Best thing - it all fits in my rolling suitcase!  The EWI, the QuNexus, the QuNeo.. no problms, they drop right in.  Add the laptop, the Tablet PC, and my Win 8.1 tablet and there's still room for critical paperwork and my stuffed toys.  Woot!

This weekend - music ALL weekend.  I have one contest to submit to, and one collection to submit to.  I better get my tail in gear!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Yes indeed, getting old SUCKS!

I have high blood pressure, on top of my diabetes.  Lovely.

I suppose that, after 35 years of enjoying a fast lifestyle of partying, women, and musical instruments (heh) I should expect some damage.  Especially since my young programmer lifestyle when I was growing up involved massive quantities of pizza, sugary soda, and of course beer.

So now I pay, as the Cake song goes, for those youthful magic moments.  Feh.

Today I start on my blood pressure med, Losartan (25mg., the lowest dose).  It should keep me from blowing a gasket, with any luck.  Both the doc and the pharmacist warned me that for the first few days it would possibly make me dizzy, so I'm prepared for it.  Since I don't drive I'm pretty unconcerned.  I had the meds last week, but I decided to start after I got comfortable using my home blood pressure monitoring cuff (yes, more expensive medical gear).

I feel like a medical experiment.

In better news, I love my EWI!  It's a different experience, and it's going to take time to learn to play it, but I'm up to the challenge!  Hopefully in a few weeks I'll have music to share.

Until later!