Progressive Energy Transfer

I don’t normally prefer to use this blog to share news about musical productions i’ve been involved with, but this is a special occurrence, so i’m going to. Deal with it!

For the past close to a year, i’ve been working on recording and mixing a collection of original songs by Shavano, an 76-yr old piano player / singer who lives in the same mountainous, forested region of Colorado as me. He dwells in a house built with his own hands, which is powered exclusively by solar and wind energy, on an amazing property with stone-lined paths twisting here and there. It feels like something from a fantasy novel, a magical space that is totally separate from the rest of the world.

Shavano’s House.

It took me three years of occasionally urging Shavano (at events like birthday parties, weddings and such) to convince him to begin recording his original songs, to be able to share with his extended family and in order to document his compositions. Once we started the project rolling, i would go over to his house every couple of weeks with a laptop, audio interface and microphones, and record takes of him playing, then take those back to my home studio to work on. We managed to get twenty-six original pieces out, plus one cover. The composition dates for the originals ranges from all the way back in 1980 to this year, 2019.

Me and Shavano.

I am delighted to report that the project is complete and the music is now available! You can listen and download the album Progressive Energy Transfer for free over at shavano.bandcamp.com. Each song has individual info, lyrics, and a custom image, so it’s worth clicking around between them to peruse the associated lore. There are CD versions (printed with booklet) available to order as well, but these will take a while to ship as they are currently being manufactured. Homemade Cassette Tape (my preferred format for the album) and 5.1 Surround Sound DVDs are also available. Yep, this is my first production project which has been simultaneously crafted in 2.0 as well as 5.1 channels… (which i plan to do for all future production, by the way).

Progressive Energy Transfer album cover by Andromeda Bliss.

These songs were described to me by an early listener as being “both vintage and modern at the same time” and i think that sums up the feel pretty well. The recordings have a very raw, down-home feel, without being sanitized to oblivion… you can sometimes hear sounds come through such as fingers hitting keys and the rustling of music sheets. These touches of reality are kept in intentionally to a degree, preserving the realistic feel of an actual performance happening in a real place. We did not use click-tracks whatsoever, because doing so really wouldn’t suit the style of emotionally-driven music that Shavano writes. There’s more than enough overly polished, perfectly tuned, plastic music being made in this current era, in my opinion, so this to me feels like a refreshingly grounded exploration of authenticity. All that said, care was taken to present the songs with ultra-high-quality production for a tasteful and refined listening experience.

Most of the tracks are solo piano, quite a few include singing, and a handful have extra instrumentation or sound design going on. We used a variety of keyboards and timbres to keep things fresh and tonally dynamic from song to song. There are a few spots here and there where Shavano played things somewhat “imperfectly” due to his improvisatory nature, but in the spirit of going-with-the-flow and in the interest of “actually releasing the music at some point”, we’ve let these “imperfections” slide. You won’t know where they are anyways, i promise. Overall, we’re left with a poignant, rustic, quaint and heartwarming feel.

The joy of music.

In closing, if you feel like you’ve been dragging your feet about producing and releasing the songs you’ve written, don’t feel too bad. This dude is a great-grandfather and he’s just now releasing his first album, including some songs that are nearly 4 decades old. It’s never too late!

Photography credit: Brian Elyo aka mobdividual.

Oh, and here’s a music video for the song “Clouds” i made, just for fun.

New Brian Funk Pack: ADM CHIP

OLD NEW IDENTITY
In case you haven’t heard the news, Brian Funk is no longer going by the name AfroDJMac. You can hear his thoughts on the evolution to this “new” identity at his podcast episode here.

MONIKERS CAN BE AWKWARD
I recall, when i appeared on his podcast for episode 13, joking briefly about the awkwardness of monikers. So from my perspective, this shift has been a long time coming and is totally sensible. HOWEVER…. at the time it happened we were smack dab in the middle of the process of releasing a series of ADM packs, epic agglomerations of his instruments, collected into organized, self-installing, themed ableton live packs, ideal for satiating completionists who desire to access to the catalog of devices in the easiest manner possible.

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Narrow Down Your Plugin Needs

So Many Plugins

Brand new plugins… promotional sales on plugins… they are SO tempting. But do you really need that new compressor plugin that just dropped?

In order to assess which plugin types are lacking in your toolbox, i recommend making a spreadsheet of all the plugins you own by category. You might discover, as i did, that you have such a vast variety of compressor options to choose from, it’s likely that you won’t benefit a whole lot from purchasing any more of them. You also might discover, like me, that you’re somewhat lacking in gate plugins, and could indeed benefit from picking up a few new models. Etc… Continue reading

Before & After Analysis = Awesome

We could all use less “hmm, i wonder what this is doing exactly?” and more “aha, i understand exactly what that is doing!” moments in our lives, am i right?

Well, perhaps you have everything sorted out with absolutely perfect mental clarity at all times… but nobody that i know of does. The built-in perceptual capabilities of human bodies have limitations. Consequently, methods we can use to uncover and keep track of finer layers of detail to our perceptual input than normally possible can be quite useful for stepping outside our our usual—highly subjective and somewhat amorphous—human frame of reference.

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2 New Packs Now Available at Isotonik Sounds: “Spirit Beats” and “ADM AMBIENT”

As curator of Isotonik Sounds packs for Ableton Live, i’ve gotten the chance to preview some amazing material. It’s been a great honor to be tasked with pinpointing unique and interesting artists and nurturing their product development.    -animus invidious
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Optimizing a New Windows PC for Audio Production (w/Profanity)

Having recently acquired a new custom-built PC, various steps implemented to optimize its performance and usability were taken note of. While not an expert in such things, i figured to share these tips in case they may prove useful. Keep in mind that this guide is presuming that you already dabble in audio production and are upgrading to a new—from an existing—system.

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Isotonik Sounds Launches with New Sale Packs (+bonus freebie)

Isotonik Sounds has officially launched, a section at the Isotonik Studios webshop featuring instrument and sample packs for Ableton Live by various developers.

New sale packs will periodically be made available. The first is ADM DRUMS by yes, you guessed it, the acclaimed wizard of Live: AfroDJMac.

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