Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Strange Environs

Strange Environs, my 12th studio ambient album, was composed in entirety between November 2014 and August 2015 in San Diego CA USA.


The concept and creative process for the album was influenced by my personal experiences exploring the desert and mountain regions of Southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert and surrounding areas. This region is characterized by strange, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous environs that provided me with an escape from the stresses of urban life. Examples of these environs include craggy peaks and ridges a mile above the desert floor; the shores of the Salton Sea, a strange sea in the desert with remnants of a bygone city and dead fish everywhere; Palomar Mountain, where the famous Hale telescope peers toward the firmament; and the barren desert plains and dunes, where by day the terrain is scorched by the sun and by night the sky reveals star clusters and syzygy of planets that are not visible under the blanket of city lights. 

Compositional approach:

With this album, I once again make use of the interplay between light and dark, tension and repose. I focused on having heavy drones in the bass frequencies with flowing synth and string pads and melodies over the top. The underlying drones are dark, while the use of string pads and minimal melodies provide a since of lift and light. Unlike traditional classical or other modern styles of music, Ambient electronic music provides the freedom of unconventional of sounds and composition; the genre is not bound by any creative restrictions.

Production Notes:

I used a combination of virtual synthesizers and hardware synthesizers, particularly virtual analogue synths from Alesis and Korg. Most all of lead melodic parts were tracked as live performances with out sequencing. I used Steinberg Cubase for my DAW. I painstakingly mixed and mastered the album in September of 2015 in my studio in Olympia Washington (home to Wayfarer Records label). The album artwork was done by the extraordinary Michal Karcz. And yes, that is me standing on the ridge.

 The album is to be listened to from beginning to end as one listening experience (how, in my opinion, albums should be listened to). I hope that those who enjoy this style of music will take pleasure in the exploration of moods and soundscapes of this album. Strange Environs is available now from iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon, Bandcamp, and other download/streaming sources.

Read a review here.