Kamelmauz: Evolusi Spontans Project

Kamelmauz - Evolusi Spontans
new Kamelmauz music, below via Bandcamp

What I’ve been doing with generative music is making systems — in the particular case we’re talking about, an app — which generates music. The way it generates, it is somewhat under your control, somewhat under my control, and some part out of either of our control. That’s a move from the picture of the composer as a kind of architect, to a picture of the composer as a sort of gardener. So you now think of the composer as somebody who plants some seeds, and then watches them grow. Brian Eno

Composer Dave Stafford inspired me to revisit Eno & Chilver’s deep generative app for the iPad, Scape. Stafford has been posting examples of his own “Scapexperiments” on youtube. It is a very deep app in the class of audio apps for IOS I term configurative-generative.

This melding of configurative with generative captures the entwined fundamental concept of this class of apps: the user/composer configures the app and then lets the app generate the sound world. The user/composer can dip back into the configuration if he or she wishes and guide to some extent–often to an unknown extent–the subsequent re-generation.

There is a lot of meta hanging in the background because, given generatively, in the operational context are features that are: random, guided by hidden formulas, emergent, uncontrollable, unpredictable, indeterminate, and, autonomous.

One crucial meta aspect of such operations is that the user/composer is neither the controller or conductor. Making sound this way is to partner with a mysterious colleague, to join with the ‘machine,’ and to come face-to-screen with contingencies driven to highlight the chanciness of production.

This chanciness is part of any robust creative processing and production. However, usually, the creative effort is asserted to be necessarily centered on control rather than submission to chance.

iTunes podcast about Scape by Brian Eno & Pete Chilvers

Three apps plugged into three separate tracks Logic (on a laptop) and then being let loose to generate their magic.

iPAd Studio Set Up

The initial goal of the experiment was to see if Mike Giesen’s Drone FX would behave and play properly as a web-based application. It worked fine, running on an old MacBook. Drone FX’s interface was set to randomize the instruments and progressions, although I did do some responsive ADSR programming as it tipped into new configurations.

I used a dark, slow patch I devised on Scape on the iPad. And, the last track was input from an iPhone 4S using Immersion and another patch set to simply run and evolve.

The over-arching goal was to let the soundscapes evolve. This half minute video shows the set-up running.


Here’s an example of the raw three track rough mix.


I intervened a couple of times to refine the Scape patch and ride the envelopes in Drone FX. Later, after reviewing more than an hour of raw recordings it became clear that the ripest soundscape could be derived from melding the three track raw mixes together. This was a conscious decision to utilize the rough three tracks recordings and build up a finished track from, in effect, layering edits (or slices,) on top of one another.

full track:

Kamelmauz Finds Little Bits of Slow Time

Kamelmauz reports, two new EPs will be released by Duty Free Records via Bandcamp in March. The above track, however, is slated to be completed and included on the delayed O meu toque, forthcoming, to be released in May 2013.

Kamelmauz Rainbringer

Kamelmauz Naked Strands

Produced primarily on an iPad using the touch paradigm and a handful of amazing IOS audio apps, both reflect a great deal of experimentation unfolded on the temporal margins of a fairly wild last half of the year. First the flood, then the house hunt, then the leaky ceiling in the studio, and, finally a new place–but, today, still on the far side of the big, heavy move in a week.

The upshot of all this volatility in comparison to the usual determined and laid back approach has been a lot of recording activity, but activity committed in very small blocks of hardly-available-at-all time.

The fuel for these hot little bursts have been an amazing surge of interesting sound creation tools released for IOS platforms; in my case, the iPad. I’ll be highlighting the wonders of Gestrument, Borderlands, Feed, Scape, and DrumJam, once things settle down in the new place.

The other element is that the calming effect of sitting down and transforming catch-as-catch-can time slots into brief creative immersions readily evoked elliptical improvised or generative drones, or, combinations of improvised and scripted sound. And, no guitars had their feelings hurt in the making of a surprising inventory of iPad-based ‘slow music’ over the past months.

Scape, a new app and form of sound design from Eno

Dave Stafford’s Scape Channel

I’ve been doing some scapin’ myself recently. With my studio thrown together for the moment in a spare bedroom and an uncertain period marking our waiting to close and move into the new house, I’ve been grabbing little chunks of time to do soundabouts. And, surprisingly, the works-in-progress are piling up.

The Longitudinal Mode of Vibration


In 1981 Ellen Fullman began developing the “Long String Instrument,” an installation of dozens of wires fifty feet or more in length, tuned in Just Intonation and ‘bowed’ with rosin coated fingers. Fullman has developed a unique notation system to choreograph the performer’s movements, exploring sonic events that occur at specific nodal point locations along the string-length of the instrument.

The artist’s description of her breakthrough discovery from her fine web home.

From there a few excerpts from her artist’s statement.

My work resides between the fields of sound art and music.

My music explores natural tunings based on the physics of vibrating strings. Through observation, I have determined that there is an optimal bowing speed in which strings speaks most clearly in the longitudinal mode, presumably based on a relationship to the speed of the wave moving through the material, which in turn regulates the pace of the walking performer.

Ms. Fullman first came to my attention in 1997 when she released a record Suspended Music shared with the Deep Listening Band. After hearing it, I tracked down The Long Stringed Instrument, her annunciation of her innovation recorded in 1985.

A new recording, Through Glass Panes, is just out, its on its way; here a review at The Liminal UK. Full notes at Important Records. MP3 Download of the title track at Free Music Archive. embed:


Videos at Havenozen. h/t too.

Harmonic Cross Sweep download at Epitonic.

Fullman is an exemplar of the sound explorer. There’s much I might say about the essential gravity of the feminine principal in what the untutored might term avant-garde music–of the last fifty or so years. Called to mind are Eliane Radigue, Eleanor Hovda, Dana Reason, Ikue Mori, Hildegard Westerkamp, Zeena Parkins, Maryanne Amacher, many many more, and, above all, Pauline Oliveros*. Yet, to honor this principle means to me to just deeply stop and deeply listen.

*“Deep Listening is experiencing heightened awareness of sound, silence and sounding”

Wrapping Up 2010 IV. Electro & Beyond


Flight Patterns

Open Graves

Ruins of Morning

Praha Meditations
Alio Die
Yellow Swans
Going Places
The Art of Dying Alone
The Effective Disconnect
Brian McBride
Sigh of Ages
Steve Roach
The Ominous Silence

Desert Phase

Kaya Project

The New Emancipation

Soweto Kinch
Variations for Oud and Synthesizer
Keith Fullerton Whitman
Funeral Mariachi
Sun City Girls
Ninja Tune XX
(various artists)
My Friend Rain
Robert Millis (recordist/compiler)
Into the Deep 3-4-5-6

Turning to genres of music that can hardly be encompassed by either electronic or experimental, the challenge mention in a previous post, is how to deal with the flood of musical creativity. Again, one can’t keep up. I don’t try. I follow my favorites, keep a close eye on credible blogs, and am open to completely out-of-the-blue investigations.

I have no problem with accepting and receiving this flood as documentation of prolix artistry. This is different than being the musical equivalent of a picky eater.  I like it that a new find, the noise and dark ambient guitarist Aidan Baker rolled out over ten recordings last year, under is own name, with Nadja, (duo with Leah Buckhart,) and in partnership with other sonic explorers. I have experienced six of ’em. Steve Roach, in my pantheon of sound painters, released four recordings; a wave of riches, and, yes, some better than others. Yet, I want to hear every last note.

For me it’s about the documentation of artistry for better or for worse. Still, I can’t try everything at the buffet. Overall, the rise of the cheap digital studio has inspired a prolific, oft lo-fi, tendency. This has caused an explosion in the aforementioned documentation, and, paradoxically, amplified the challenge of being selective, and this against wishing to take in every last note.

Half of the sixteen recordings listed here are by artists new to me last year. Pride of place goes to Open Graves exercise in deep listening, and the flood of ambient noise unleashed by Mr. Baker. Ruins of Morning is both heavy and heavenly. The Kaya Project‘s ambient post-rock meshes pedal steel with slow moving sound worlds. I have a weak spot for what I call slow music. Even Soweto Kinch‘s marvelous down-tempo hip-hop unfolds at a leisurely pace.

It’s all every-last noteworthy.

Prolific Glorious Slow Sounds

Synthesist, composer, and ambient maestro Steve Roach, in my world, is an iconic music maker. I have this week collected his autograph for the third time on a new release, provided directly via the artist’s web store. He also serves as a paragon of skipping the middle dudes and providing one’s artistry directly to the consumer, and doing so with the human touch. In fact, he’s been doing so for about a decade.

The beautifully packaged box pairs The Desert Inbetween and Immersion Five: Circadian Rhythms (two discs.) The former record, made with Brian Parnham, mines Roach’s tribal sonics with the help of multi-instrumentalist Parnham, especially his didgeridoo. Immersion Five is indeed the fifth release in Roach’s series of minimalist and meditative ambient explorations.

Steve released five recordings last year. Too much? No. I’m an advocate on behalf of artistry of the profound type, unleashing as much as is necessary. Sign of Ages was my favorite of a glorious outpouring. Here we are in the first month of 2011, and I’d describe the three discs of Roach’s new set to be necessary chapters.

Here’s a year-old taste of the Steve Roach sound, produced by Andres CV; on Vimeo.

Steve Roach music New age from andres cv on Vimeo.

Bird Maniax

Trained as a musician and composer, French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways. His installation for The Curve will take the form of a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other instruments and objects. As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape. | Barbican Artgallery notice

On one hand, of course one had to be there. On the other hand, something of its moment is able to be retained, thanks to persistent RSS, google image search and youtube.

h/t to Trudi Esberger, whose blog tipped me off to this exhibit from the spring. Short personal review from Skittle Muster on the worthwhile 365 Days of Music blog..

Deep Riches

Robert Rich

I’ve mentioned Robert Rich is a big influence on my own approach to sound design and ambient music. (The biggest difference is he is a master and I’m a charlatan.) What I have always responded to in Rich’s soundworld is the way he conjoins slow developing abstract sonics with at times tactile organic, and painterly ambient landscapes. As a listener, one can almost reach out and touch his sound.

As a musician he has been plying the analog waters for decades. Although he conducts his soundworld from a laptop these days, his genius is expressed through his command of modular synthesis. To this he adds (usually,) heavily treated flute, pedal steel guitar, and percussion.

Here’s an example of his innovative use of modular synthesizers.

Ambient music pioneer Robert Rich uses the MOTM-730 VC Divider to trigger 4 voices in synchopation, but with non-standard timing. He refers to this as the ‘penny in the dryer’ effect. | src

Robert Rich portal at Synthtopia. Interviews, performances, and a five part series on synthesizers.

Robert Rich Live @ Klusa Daba Festival 30.08.08 from Viktors Keino on Vimeo.

Interview-podcast podcast at solipsisticnation/

In the years that followed he developed a complex range of sounds founded upon the seamless integration of electronic, electric, and acoustic instrumentation, and the exploration of complex just tunings. His music continues to tend toward the organic and much of it is based on a concept in synthesis he refers to as glurp. His interest in using unique sounds has inspired him to create a large collection of original field recordings and homemade instruments. One of these instruments is a range of flutes made from PVC pipe. | wikipedia

Rich has issued, on average, about one record per year over 30 years. He’s collaborated with a lot of similarly evocative artists such as Alio Die, Ian Boddy, Markus Reuter. This includes masterful work with Steve Roach. Having absorbed almost every one, the best ones count as major masterpieces against his minor masterpieces. Sure, there have been a few missteps, but even these count as fascinating experiments. His so-called sleep concerts, where he unwinds hour after hour of archetypal lunar ambient sound are legendary. His very slow sleep music has been recorded, with Somnium being a highlight of his output.

Here’s are a handful of stone masterpieces to consider.

Robert Rich-Steve Roach - Soma
My favorite of his collaborations with Steve Roach.

Robert Rich-Lisa Moskow - Yearning
Peerless tribal ambient that achieves pride of place in that section of his recordings inflected by world music.

Robert Rich - Troubled
This compilation features recordings from 1993-1995, including The Simorgh Sleeps on Velvet Tongues, that was anthologized by Asphodel on Swarm of Drones. With drones, tribal meditations, and dark ambient excursions, this may be the only Rich record able to showcase the breadth of artistry.


My favorite Rich record is a collaboration with Brian Lustmord. Known for eerie, if not downright frightening, dark ambient, Lustmord’s aesthetic is slowed down and given the cinematic treatment by Rich, and Stalker ends up for me a relentlessly beautiful desert island disc.

Alio Die

Alio Die is a mystical sound designer and auteur of ambient musical soundscapes. (Like good ol’ Kamelmauz, he has a regular name too, Stefano Musso.) An Italian, Alio Die is mining the same electro-acoustic wellsprings that deep divers such as Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, Ian Boddy, Peter Namlook, Robert Rich, are also mining. However, he strikes me as the audionaut most secure in gathering in olden European sources, especially voice.

His music is too graceful to fall down into the dark layer. Airy and serious, very focused yet open–Alio Die is sound to travel on.

Alio Die:
home page
MySpace I | MySpace II
@ Projekt Records