Sonic Encounters Volume 01 – Liner Notes

Sonic Encounters Volume 01 Album Cover B3

Liner Notes

This page is dedicated to the liner notes for Sonic Encounters Volume 01.

You can listen/buy here if you haven’t done so.

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About The Album

This is the first in a series of albums that focus on Mark Mosher’s cinematic dark ambient soundscapes and contains 2 hours of music!

The songs are a combination of electronic tonalities derived from pure synthesis from Mark’s original sound design work, and Musique concrète using original sounds and field recordings. In other words, great for focused listens on headphones or background ambience as you go about your day.

This project began as a podcast that ran from June 2015 through May 2016. The podcast had over 10,000 plays. This music is now ONLY available as a Bandcamp exclusive which means you now have the option to download in many formats including CD Quality FLAC and high-def MP3-320 allowing you to hear even more sonic detail within these works.

If you buy the full album you’ll get the bonus track “Tonalities from Orbit Live from the University of Colorado Atlas Institute Black Box”. This previously unreleased track is a 11:31 minute live room recording from the “Boulder Laptop Orchestra BLOrK performs with guest Mark Mosher” concert event.

Credits

Released June 3, 2017
Music, Sounds, Stories and Cover art © 2012-2017 Mark J. Mosher, CC-BY-NC


Track 01 – And What do the Trees Hear When the Wind Blows?

Story:

This song is an ambient sonic journey starting with natural sounds which morph into the hidden inner world of trees and back again.

Artist Notes:

The piece starts off with a 120 degree stereo field recording of wind blowing through aspen trees and surrounding trees in Louisville, Colorado just outside of Boulder.


Track 02 – Metamorphosis Under The Chatham Light

Story:

This soundscape is the soundtrack to an imaginary experience where, using a special morphing environment suit, the wearer can instantly transition from a land to sea simply by walking into the surf.

The piece begins with you observing a figure walking down the steps on to Chatham Lighthouse Beach late at night. The figure is silhouetted by the beam of the Chatham Light. As the figure walks past you and on to the beach you switch to the figure’s point of view. You then walk towards the ocean with the beam of the Chatham Light swinging out over your head and enter the surf. As you enter the surf, your environment suit extends and wraps you like a second skin. You hear the mechanics of the metamorphosis as the suit jacks in to your mind and adjusts your buoyancy allowing you to keep walking down on to the sea floor. Under the ocean the sensors isolate and amplify sounds from the environment. You close your eyes and listen – and return once again to the land.

Artist Notes:

Based on a field recording I made at night on Chatham Lighthouse Beach, MA. I recorded myself walking down the metal stairs to the beach and right up to the surf and back. I used digital effects such as comb filters and synths to make the more synthetic sounds.

Date & Time of field recording: January 13th, 2012, 10pm
Location: Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod, MA
Recorder: Zoom H2
Format: 44.1kHz/24bit 120 degree stereo

Instruments and Instrumentalities:

Ableton Live
Ableton Sampler
U-HE Zebra 2, Zebra HZ
Izotope Iris
Rob Papen Predator
Keyboard
Automation envelopes


Track 03 – Children of the Gods Find the Weather Machine

Story:

What happens when the children of the gods get a hold of the weather machine? Listen to find out.

Artist Notes:

I recorded the piece in one real-time pass with no edits. The song is primarily  based on the field recording of a thunderstorm. Most of the low bass sounds is a manipulated thunder clap.

Instrumentation & Instrumentalities:

I recorded this in a park in Louisville, CO on my Octatrack running on battery.  I performed the piece by playing the OT in chromatic mode and by manipulating parameters in real-time – so no sequencing.


Track 04 – A Day In The Life Of A Krell Technician

Story:

Over 2,000 centuries ago – the Krell technicians went about their day in the 8,000-cubic-miles of the fabric of the great machine on Altair IV. This is the day in the life of one technician.

Artist Notes:

Inspired by the ground-breaking work of Louis and Bebe Barron on the film Forbidden Planet I use oscillators rather than samples as sound sources for this piece.

Instrumentation & Instrumentalities:

The sources are from original sounds I created on the Waldorf Blofeld manipulated via MIDI from an Elektron Octatrack.


Track 05 – Irreversible Transcription Errors During Consciousness Transfer

Story:

“Welcome to transfer station 11203. Your consciousness transfer is about to begin and soon you will enjoy immortality in your new custom body. The process is 100% foolproof thanks to your personal technician who will be actively monitoring the process for transcription errors. In the unlikely event of a transcription error, your technician will be manually executing corrective rewrites well before the 6 minute margin where these anomalies would become part of your permanent consciousness in the target vessel. This “human touch” is just another way Transfer-Con goes the extra mile for our clients.

You should now be feeling a warm sensation as the intravenous sedation takes effect. This sedation will render you blind and paralyzed pending transfer – for your comfort and safety. To help you maintain a calm and meditative state during transfer, you will now hear the reassuring and ever steady rhythms of the audio feed from your transfer monitor. Thanks for choosing Transfer-Con. We Can’t Wait to See You on the Other Side℠.”

A remote technician sitting in a cubical farm 8,000 miles away initiates your transfer while multi-tasking to monitor 49 other transfers in-flight. He took on an extra shift today to make more money to save for his own transfer – although it will take him years to save enough for his own procedure. He squints – straining through fatigue to read the virtual dials on his aging computer screen. As your transfer begins, he nods off – dreaming of his own immortality.

Artists Notes:

This is a modern take on Edgar Allen Poe’s “Premature Burial”. In this fictional – and some say inevitable scenario – there are new fears to be considered. This piece focuses on the fear of being cataleptic and aware that you are on a one way trip to an immortal state with irreversible transcription errors in your consciousness. The soundscape represents the audio feed from the patient’s transfer monitor.

Instrumentation and Instrumentalities:

Elektron Octatrack


Track 06 – When the Wales Take Back the Ocean

Story:

As humans and their technology have evolved, they have encroached more and more on the domain of the whale and other sea life. Of course the whales have been evolving as well – and – unbeknownst to us, they have been patiently plotting and waiting for the right time put things back in balance. Listen as a group of humpback whales execute phase 1 of their plan to take back the ocean.

Science:

From “Seismic Surveys Negatively Affect Humpback Whale Singing Activity off Northern Angola”
(journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0086464) “Discussion…The presence of oil and gas exploration activities in this region and globally, and the potential acoustic impact that anthropogenic noise sources may have on sensitive species are increasing areas of study and concern for industry, governments, biologists and conservationists [23], [25]. The intense pulses produced by seismic surveys clearly have the potential to cause direct or behaviourally mediated physiological harm at close distances [34], but more subtly at longer distances there exists the potential of disturbing animals and altering important behaviours, as well as masking acoustic signals and negatively affecting communication. … It appears that whales are ceasing to sing, or moving to other areas to sing when seismic surveys are being conducted in relatively close proximity. We emphasize that this is documentation of disturbance of a breeding display for a baleen whale on a breeding ground, and thus has implied potential for affecting mating behaviour and success.”

Artist Notes:

The entire piece was improvised and recorded in one real-time pass using only the Octatrack’s unique an expressive capabilities, built-in-effects and ability to morph. The piece was recorded with a Zoom H2N with no edits (after much rehearsal). The fun and challenge of this piece was to see how far I could take a handful of similar recordings to tell a story and to go well beyond the sonic character of the source material. So I start off quite organic, and end quite “horror show”.

Instrumentation & Instrumentalities:

The ONLY source audio for this piece is from public domain recordings of humpback whale song and vocalizations. The samples were loaded into multiple tracks on an Elektron Octatrack Dynamic Performance Sampler.

*Cover was designed by Mark Mosher based on this image in the public domaincommons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Humpback_Whale_underwater_shot.jpg


Track 07 – Descent Into Ancient Ice Cave

Story:

This is the soundtrack of an expedition to an ancient ice cave. As you descend deep into the cavern hear surreal sound of the wind blended with your own scanning equipment reverberating through massive cave system. At around the 7:00 minute mark, your systems start picking up some movement in the cave. You’ve got a bad feeling about this – so you initiate emergency ascent at 8:20.

Artist Notes:

This is not a sample. This is all synthesis.

Instrumentation and Instrumentalities:

The entire piece is made from a single original patch I made on the digital modular synthesizer U-HE Bazille. The piece was recorded in a single pass with no edits. I performed this on a Novation Remote SL 25 MK2 keyboard by playing notes and manipulating the mod wheel, key pressures and the knobs of the synth in real-time during recording.


Track 08 – Take A Trip On The Train From Devil’s Gate Depot

Story:

Ready to take a “trip” on The Georgetown Loop Railroad? Your journey starts at Devil’s Gate Depot as you stand between the cars and hear the sounds of this historic narrow gauge train as it rounds a tight bend. Things morph from there… enjoy the psychedelic ride.

Artist Notes:

The piece begins with the raw field recording of the train as it goes around a tight turn. It’s just such an amazing set of sounds I wanted to offer the listener context and a taste of the harmonic content of the original source material before I took things to another place. I then manually play and improvise from there performing the notes in chromatic mode and heavily manipulating the field recordings as the piece progresses. Near the end of the piece I’m using effects like comb filters to create what sound almost like long tremolo strings. Another fun thing for me was manipulating rail noise through a comb filter and delay and then changing the delay time (which changes pitch) to create what almost sounds like an arpeggio of pizzicato strings notes. While I was not allowed to travel between cars (because it’s a narrow gauge  and runs along mountain drop offs and on high bridges), they allowed me to stand outside the closed door of the car between cars. This being the case I got some AWESOME recordings isolated from other passengers for the most parts. Lots of great wheels squeaking, flexing of the old cars, coupler noise, and sometimes engine noise.

Instrumentation & Instrumentalities:

I used only the Elektron Octatrack. I configured the machine to use 4 tracks made up of 3 field recordings from the session mentioned above each with their own insert effects. One track was used twice with a different set of effects. I also had the Octatrack configured to use track 8 for two master effects. After setting up the patch for the Octatrack, I rehearsed the piece a few times experimenting with different effects, expressive morphs, and notes. I then recorded the piece in one real-time pass without edits.

Field Recording Notes:

I recorded these field recordings on The Georgetown Loop Railroad which is about 45 miles West of Denver… “one of Colorado’s first visitor attractions. Completed in 1884, this spectacular stretch of three-foot narrow gauge railroad was considered an engineering marvel for its time. In 1973, the Colorado Historical Society began restoring the railroad as part of its 978-acre Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park.” More here… http://georgetownlooprr.com/.” I’ve lived in Colorado since I was 7 and had never been on this train! They have all sorts of themed runs (Oktoberfest, Dinner trains, Big Horn Sheep Festival…) and I highly recommend you try it you come out Colorado way. We took the “Santa’s North Pole” adventure.

Date & Time: December 7th, 2014
Location: Georgetown Loop Railroad, Georgetown, CO | Departing from Georgetown Devil’s Gate Depot
Recorder: Zoom H2N
Format:  44.1kHz/24bit 120 degree stereo


Track 09 – I’m Completely Operational, and All My Circuits Are Functioning Perfectly

Story:

The sound of what is going on inside the HAL 9000’s mind as he’s speaking “I’m Completely Operational, and All My Circuits Are Functioning Perfectly” to the crew.

Artist Notes:

This piece was improvised and performed on the Nord Lead 4 and the Elektron Octatrack. It was recorded in one real-time pass with no edits.

Instruments and Instrumentalities:

All the synthesized source sounds are from my original Lead 4 presets. I live sampled and looped the Nord Lead 4 into the Octatrack and performed most sonic movement in real-time on the Octatrack.


Track 10 – Swarm of the Nanobots

Story:

The swarm of the Nanobots is approaching.

Artist Notes:

This microtonal mayhem is an exploration of swarming notes and joyous distortion that was inspired by the Dewanatron Swarmatron instrument.

Instrumentation & Instrumentalities:

I performed and recorded this in one real-time pass with no edits on an Elektron Octatrack.


Track 11 – Tonalities from Orbit 01

Story:

This is the Krell again. We are beaming a 2nd tonality to your station. Are you receiving?

Artist Notes:

This is another piece inspired by the ground-breaking work of Louis and Bebe Barron on the film Forbidden Planet. I use oscillators as the primary source for the piece.

Instruments & Instrumentalities:

The piece is a live improvisation on the Nord Lead 4 using only expressive real-time synthesis around a single original program from INIT. I recorded a video of me performing this piece in real-time www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvPO_N__LB8.


Track 12 – Tonalities from Orbit 02

Story:

This is the Krell again. We are beaming a 2nd tonality to your station. Are you receiving?

Artist Notes:

This is another piece inspired by the ground-breaking work of Louis and Bebe Barron on the film Forbidden Planet.  I use oscillators as the primary source for the piece.

Instruments & Instrumentalities:

Blofeld + Launchpad Pro + Octatrack
The soundtrack is live improvisation using the Waldorf Blofled synthesizer with custom programs from INIT. The Novation Launchpad Pro grid performance instrument was used to perform notes with pressure on the Blofeld. In addition to live manipulation of the Blofeld through it’s hardware interface, I  live sampled and live looped the audio coming out of the Blofeld into an Electron Octatrack. From there I used the Octatrack’s chromatic mode, morphing with crossfader, and did live sequencing with trig automation. The Octatrack also provided additional effects.

I recorded a video of me performing this piece in the studio http://youtu.be/atDFO0YnnrI.


Track 13 – Replicant’s Lament

Story:

Composed and performed in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

Artist Notes:

Inspired by the movies “Blade Runner” and “Soldier”. In one session, I improvised and composed a set of musical motifs. I then mixed and arranged these motifs into the finished piece.

Instrumentation & Instrumentalities:

I used the gorgeous sounding U-HE virtual synthesizers for this piece.
Hive (3 instances)
Zebra 2.5 (1 instance)
DIVA (1 instance)
Bazille (2 instances)
All the tracks use custom presets from INIT except one.
Instrumentalities
Improvised and composed with keys, grid, and mouse.
Novation Remote SL 25 MK2 Keyboard
Ableton Live 9.6.1
Windows 10


Track 14  – Tonalities from Orbit – Tonalities from Orbit Live from the University of Colorado Atlas Institute Black Box

This is a bonus track for those who purchased the full album on Bandcamp.

This is a live room recording from “Boulder Laptop Orchestra BLOrK performs with guest Mark Mosher” at the University of Colorado Atlas Institute. This video features my original solo improvisational piece “Tonalities from Orbit” which I was invited to perform to close out the night with the ensemble.

See a video of this full performance here youtu.be/ScpItttfGlY

Program Notes:

“Tonalities from Orbit” is an original structured improvisational piece inspired by the ground breaking work of Louis and Bebe Barron – who in the 1956 provided the soundtrack to the seminal Scifi film Forbidden Planet. The hand-built circuits they used to create the “electronic tonalities” of this film pre-dated the modern synthesizer and were limited to oscillators (producing mainly square, sine, & triangle waves), ring modulators, overdriven tubes, reverb, and delay (done with tape manipulation). Informed by these limitations, and using only a Nord Lead 4 synthesizer, Mark created 14 original and expressive “circuit states”. In this performance he will play and morph between these states as a framework for the piece as he brings his version of the Krell to life. The performance will be complimented with Mark’s real-time visuals using only live camera input as a source with audio-responsive automation.