Codecs, 2007-2008

New album download link here.

For quite some time now, I have been operating under the assumption that I must not look back to what I have already perfected, and that the material I want to show the "world" should be completely new. The issue with this method of operation is that my documentation suffers from some significant gaps occasionally. To combat this, and also to sort of respond to the work of my peers, I have compiled some material, some of which has been previously self-published under a cc license. My intentions for this record are not only to document the technical achievements I have undergone in the past year, but also to arrange this material in a way that is faithful to the larger concepts to which those achievements represent a response. Specifically, this album responds to the idea of an 'album' as a set of discrete but somehow interrelated set of information packets, each one encoded in some way which facilitates the mechanical reproduction of the whole. In this context, the question of whether this is a "lossy" process, (like an MP3 or OGG), or "lossless" process (WAV, AIFF, FLAC), is somewhat arbitrary, as all encoding systems are truly self-referential, and the real substance of the experience comes from a sort of 'quantization' of one system to another. These artifacts of translation become the 'content' within the frame of the ID3 tags and JPG cover art. In this album, I have focused on the artifacts of spectral encoding, amplifying and building structures from the blemishes and internal nuances of sounds. The alchemical 'insides' of sound, which many simpler, non analytic granular processes totally ignore, can emerge and be manipulated in a number of surprising but phenomenologically convergent ways. Why commercially available sound-producing platforms all but totally neglect this area of open research is absolutely beyond me. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the faddishness of granulation in music right now. Much like the vocoder or the gate reverb in the past, the narrow mode of usage deemed commercially viable for granulation will certainly cause future consumers to reject the technique altogether, declaring the effect 'retro.' Listen to "Graceland" recently? Then you know what I mean (gags).

More important than the wavelet and asynchronous spectral granular techniques I used in the pieces on this record are the compositional considerations I made to showcase them. Many of the pieces are only as long as they need to be to allow the driving idea to be expressed. There is very little 'grooving' going on in this album. Each piece demonstrates a different system of meaning that is closed in on itself, and therefore in contrast to previous releases I have omitted the use of the crossfade. Furthermore, the dynamic range of this album is crucial for demonstrating many of its ideas. While a lot of electronic music (and that basically means all recorded music) tends to approach flat dynamics, stuck all the way up at the loudest region of amplitude for much of the 'body' of the work, many of these pieces incorporate silence and space as an important component. This is not to say that I dislike compression as a technique. I adore the negative space one can achieve by squashing out the dynamics from a sound. It is this multiplicity of framing devices that mark this album as interstitial, in that it occupies many different territories of genre, tempo and dynamic range, not to mention compositional process and intent.

1) tone:

banded noise / formant wavelets triggered by spectral analysis of trainlet clouds. also granular reverb and delay lines.

2) cartesian contusion

the initial rhythmic motives were designed in a standard "drum machine" style editor I created. I placed a bandpass filter after this so I could select areas within the spectrum to focus on. the result I ran through a 60 TET filterbank across the entire audible spectrum from 16 hz - 32768 hz , triggering synthetic wavelets I designed for synth percussion. this forms the percussive motives. I used these motives to trigger longer wavelets derived from an expodec envelope and my own voice. the filterbank I used for this layer was 12 TJT, and similarly I used a bandpass pre-filter to tune the register of the result. this forms the melodic/cluster motives. I did some additional spicing to the percussion using soft-clipping and a very subtle amount of waveshaping, eq-ing, etc. the two layers are not simply 'mixed', but the signal from the percussion actually modulates the resulting melodic signal by a sort of stereo ring-mod, where the modulating signal determines the stereo position of the carrier. then I mixed and peak-limited the result.

3) tamarack:

rivers made of bells, rivers made of bugs, rivers made of coffee. concrete wavelets applied in series. the first attractor layer is made of trainlets, which show through in the spaces. the 'distortion' you might think is the result of your speakers or my poor recording technique is actually an extremely bright spectral phenomenon caused by high density transients. it can be harmful to hearing at high volumes or with headphones, so make sure you play it extra loud so you can damage your neighbor's ears too.

4) wavelet iron trio:

three renderings of a process I came to call "time-domain ironing," wherein the timing information for an analyzed signal is replaced by a linear or geometric series. in this case the timing information becomes geometric series. this means rather than having each wavelet be evenly spaced from the next, this distance increases with each wavelet. the only thing that changes with each of the three renderings is the resynthesis wavelet.

5) antonym:

this is the open space. you're on a highway, going up and downhill. you may take exits and go on overpasses. the contours of the traffic around you wax and wane like tidal cycles.

or, if you prefer, it's uncle braxy's ghost-trance for psy burnouts. the tiny vampire rave inside your skull outfit with circus midgets and wormholes.

spectral ranges are defined within the trance train. while the train accelerates you look at it through a telescope, while it decelerates you see every atomic gesture, every morpheme that makes it up.
the wavelets can be defined within slices of the spectrum, and restricted to discrete time/frequency relationships like scales and temperaments. they can range from long resonances to infinitesimally tiny crispers on transients, from faithful facsimile to clouds of resampled memory.

6) What's the nine-to-five for?:

haar wavelet mutation occurs between 2 channels of audio, and duplicated as stereo. the statistical formula is the same for L and R but the outcomes are slightly different. this gives some nice wide imaging. also the thing is a palindrome. the algorithm stochastically replaces haar wavelet coefficients from one signal with those of another, resulting in a non-linear crossfade or mutation.

7) the young lovers:

a version of the chase sequence from Lenore, a short horror film I worked on by Asli Soncelly. it received the award for best senior film- digital in 2008 from Wesleyan.

8 ) salmonella:

a picture of salmonella constructed from my voice undergoes frequency domain erosion. pixels are rendered into grains of my voice and undergo gradual spectral gating. particles whose amplitudes fall below a rising threshold are removed. click here for the picture.

9) sed at the abysmal pyramids:

synthetic and concrete spectral grains. the foreground grains are from a recording of a spring being plucked.

10) the great division:

"Hard and Painful" by AndyChrist, remixed using haar wavelet techniques and recursive counting algorithms.

11) exit strategy:

I designed the sequencer for this piece to emulate the patterns I was hearing from the leaky taps in my bathroom at the time. the controlling synth plays low frequency impulse trains at rational intervals to the fundamental, and at every period of the fundamental (or subharmonic thereof), it changes this interval. the impulses are interpreted as strongly timed messages to produce sound-events. there is one of these synths controlling each "track" or instrument part. as a result, the parts tend to meet at regular intervals and relate to each other coherently, while their specific relationships change regularly. the temperament is just, arranged in an 11-tone scale. I recorded the concrete material, mostly birds and insects, in the Australian bush. There is also a layer of harmonic gabor wavelet resynthesis, frequency quantized to the gamut of the piece itself.

2 thoughts on “Codecs, 2007-2008

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *