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Thread: New album by me (that dude from Ephemeral Sun)

  1. #76
    Member Top Cat's Avatar
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    As I wrote earlier, we listened to this on the living room stereo, candles lit and faux fireplace glowing beneath our small but beautiful Christmas tree. The perfect ambience to listen to your new solo album John.

    Words escape me, and after reading rcarlberg's wonderful review, it's hard to top that but I'll still share my thoughts after one listen.

    Let's get the tech stuff out of the way first.
    The mix is perfect and you were very wise to have an outsider master done on this because he did the sound justice. It's also perfect to my ears, everything blends together so well, everything is clear without the slightest amount of too much brightness.
    This should be the template people use to decide if it's worth the expense of having a professional master your project or not.

    The whole collection of songs flow together very nicely and the ending...what can I say but it's perfect!
    Your choice of instruments throughout are also perfect and when necessary blend in together, flowing in and out.
    At times during a darker passage you found a way of letting it evolve into a hopeful uplifting positive piece. Like it was organic with it's roots in the earth and then slowly growing into a thing of beauty and hope.

    This is an album filled with intensity, but in a good way. For me I was taken on a journey for the length of the album and by the end I felt like I had returned home after a long and difficult journey but strengthened by personal triumph.

    One last thing before i forget, the use of a sequencer in music can go one of two ways in my opinion. It can either sound like a sequenced part or if used tastefully it can add a foundation and rhythm which drives the song. These are no Tangerine Dream sequence copies, but original to John and they are as much a part of the song as a lead synth or warm string pad.

    Your hard work and belief in yourself, enough to do a solo project like this, is a total winner.
    Soundcloud page: Open Window, musical meanderings https://soundcloud.com/precipice Bandcamp: https://richardhermans.bandcamp.com

  2. #77
    Oh man...you folks are really putting a serious dent in my cynical disposition Thank you Richard, as ever, for such kind thoughts.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  3. #78
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    Having done an "overall impressions" post, I thought it might be fun to next attempt a track-by-track breakdown. Describing music with words is always tricky, so don't expect much:


    1. Seven Years of Questions - a gentle, mostly-piano prologue, with unpredictable pattern shifts. The mood reminds me of Pink Floyd's finale / farewell to Richard Wright, "The Endless River" or maybe David Gilmour's "On An Island." The slightly melancholy, world-wise artist reflects on everything he has seen or heard in his life -- "things that you people would not believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulders of Orion...."

    2. The Intrepid - Track 1 segues into a very different second track, one that I suspect draws on Tool or The Perfect Circle for inspiration. To me this track is the beating heart of this album, the core that propels the rest of it forward. Big drums and a ponderous beat underpin minor-key soloing on heavily-modified guitar (or is it synth?) The track pauses, catches its breath, and then slams you to the mat again (in a friendly way...) There are very few perfect pieces of music in the world, but the more I hear this track, the more I want to include it on that very short list. It is magnificent. (Wasn't there a starship in the Star Trek universe called The Intrepid?)

    3. Gliding Leviathans Overhead - Next we segue into a piece built on sequencers, with maybe a hint of J.M Jarre or T. Dream but still holding the menace of the previous track. Choral chords and some keyboard flourishes, with a deep bass foundation which is the soul-chilling shadow of the leviathans. In the middle are some wonderfully organic clicking noises, like pistol shrimp recorded underwater (if you've ever heard them you know what I mean).

    4. The Intrepid (Coda) - Elements of track 2 reappear, seen through the lens of track 3. The pieces are woven, the fabric emerges from the loom, there no coincidences only sometimes the pattern is more obvious.

    5. Animatronic Serpent - With a vaguely Middle-Eastern flavour, hints of Sussan Deyhim/Richard Horowitz or Paul Avgerinos although I wouldn't be surprised if John wasn't familiar with either since the likeness isn't literal. Minor-scale melody played on a synthetic duduk, with electronic percussion and some menacing chords underpinning. Halfway through the pace picks up to a dance (with whirling translucent veils).

    6. Of The Mountains and Glaciers, They'll Never Speak - Our grandchildren will never believe us when we tell them there were once glaciers, places on earth where the snow never left the ground. This piece is slow and stately, like Mark Isham's "On The Threshold of Liberty" or "Magnificent Clockworks," depicting vast landscapes as far as the eye can see. Chords arise and flow out to the horizon, dissipating in the distant mists of the valleys. I can even hear an appreciation of Wendy Carlos' "Timesteps" in here.

    7. Through Electrical Storms - Atmospheric disturbance on the plains, is your tornado cellar in order? Menacing chords swirl and darken the sky at noon, causing leaves to dance on the sidewalk. Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it.

    8. Signals from a Supremely Old Satellite - More sequencer, this time in crazy patterns that describe a communications satellite which has lost its bearings, talking only to itself, and developing a theory that it may be the last sentient life left in the universe.

    9. When She Calls Me Home - A return of the piano, bringing back the prologue and an earthbound perspective. Synthesizer chords soon join in, followed by what sounds like a synthetic violin. The "home" here feels warm and familiar, a source of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.

    10. Collapsing Star (Part I) - Over slow rolling chords an organic voice cries, a voice so lifelike it could be some kind of animal. A seal in a cave perhaps, playing with the echoes in a solo Gregorian chant.

    11. Collapsing Star (Part II) - Part I gives way to II, which is very different. It starts with fragments of radio transmissions (a communications satellite dreaming?), followed by ominous chords ("Intrepid" return), followed by a sequencer section which could be Claude Perraudin or Tangerine Dream caught in a nightmare. Shades of Ralph Lundsten's "Nattmara" where the subconscious bubbles up to terrorize! Some quick soloing on guitar (or is it synth?) reminds me of Goblin's soundtracks before resolving to...

    12. Collapsing Star (Part III) - More ominous floating chords in Part III. Sulfurous fumes arise from a bubbling lava cauldron, which is both the end and the beginning of life on earth.

    13. Boarding Pass - Once again the mood shifts, with aquatic electric piano over a shimmering pond in dawn's pink light. Like Richard Burmer's "Bhakti Point" this reminds me of a newly-born world still wet with the dawn of creation.

    14. Once More Unto The Void - A summation, flowing naturally from the previous track into a gradually evolving evocation of rising complexity. Instruments broaden and diversify the aural biosphere, with sequenced underpinning, drifting chords, and gentle guitar soloing tying everything together that has come before. The cycle repeats, the circle is unbroken, the metempsychosis is complete.

  4. #79
    ^^ Since I write mostly instrumental music, hopefully you'll be forgiving if I don't quite have an exact way to express how awesome this is. It's just awesome, and I am so very grateful that you shared it here

    I'm especially happy that The Intrepid hit you in such a great way. That was kind of the catalyst piece for the whole album to be honest; a few of the other bits were floating around but just bits. When this tune came together, it kind of suggested a possible "cohesion" that started to guide the rest of the material together.

    Oh, also...no guitars or anything on this album. Everything came from electronics/synths.

    The leads on Intrepid are a Moog Voyager; I have a Pigtronix Disnortion for the pre-filter loop and then send the final output through a Minifooger OD. As long as I'm geeking out...I've never quite loved the pitch wheel for bends, so I mounted a Doepfer ribbon just above the Voyager's keyboard and set the range to an octave (plus, pressure on the ribbon triggers mod). The resulting bends aren't precise or "clean" but there's something more appealing about that for me, both in terms of playing as well as the end result on the track.

    No one is going to mistake me for Jan Hammer anytime soon, but I am fairly satisfied with the resulting grit

    I'll geek out on the techie side of things as much or as little as you folks like.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    ^^ Since I write mostly instrumental music, hopefully you'll be forgiving if I don't quite have an exact way to express how awesome this is. It's just awesome, and I am so very grateful that you shared it here

    I'm especially happy that The Intrepid hit you in such a great way. That was kind of the catalyst piece for the whole album to be honest; a few of the other bits were floating around but just bits. When this tune came together, it kind of suggested a possible "cohesion" that started to guide the rest of the material together.

    Oh, also...no guitars or anything on this album. Everything came from electronics/synths.

    The leads on Intrepid are a Moog Voyager; I have a Pigtronix Disnortion for the pre-filter loop and then send the final output through a Minifooger OD. As long as I'm geeking out...I've never quite loved the pitch wheel for bends, so I mounted a Doepfer ribbon just above the Voyager's keyboard and set the range to an octave (plus, pressure on the ribbon triggers mod). The resulting bends aren't precise or "clean" but there's something more appealing about that for me, both in terms of playing as well as the end result on the track.

    No one is going to mistake me for Jan Hammer anytime soon, but I am fairly satisfied with the resulting grit

    I'll geek out on the techie side of things as much or as little as you folks like.
    Ok, I have to ask, does rcarlberg moonlight as a music reviewer at Rolling Stone because that was a great, detailed review.

    By all means John, share the techie stuff for us gearheads.
    I was going to ask you what analog synth you used for the sequenced parts? it sounds like a modular to me. I know you use Deckard's Dream, the CS80 clone, but I usually think of that for wonderful pad and leads sounds.
    Also, the Voyager has a touch screen and I wonder why you just didn't assign the pitch bend to the touchscreen and use it that way?
    Although with the panel tilted it can feel a bit awkard and not precise when moving your finger. I've used mine mostly for filter and modulation type changes.
    Also, the reverb you use is sooooooooooooo sweet, mind sharing what you use.
    Lastly, it's not necessary to list what gear you used for each song(although that's a throwback to the 70's and would be nice), can you list all the gear you used(overall).

    I wanted to suggest to you as well, you don't have to worry about your engineering skills anymore.
    Soundcloud page: Open Window, musical meanderings https://soundcloud.com/precipice Bandcamp: https://richardhermans.bandcamp.com

  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top Cat View Post
    Ok, I have to ask, does rcarlberg moonlight as a music reviewer at Rolling Stone because that was a great, detailed review.
    Thanks

    From 1980-1990 I was the staff reviewer for Electronic Musician magazine, over 100 columns published, plus several interviews and feature articles. Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach. Those that can't teach, write.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Thanks

    From 1980-1990 I was the staff reviewer for Electronic Musician magazine, over 100 columns published, plus several interviews and feature articles. Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach. Those that can't teach, write.
    Wow, that's great!
    For years, EM, Keyboard and Home Recording Magazines were my favorite publications. Other people subscribed to Playboy, but those 3 magazines were better to me, although the ads for new gear were sometimes responsible for my going into debt, my wife would often joke about catching them in the post before I could see them.

    I was a big fan of Craig Anderton and his gear reviews, and even bought one of his solo albums on cassette.
    Soundcloud page: Open Window, musical meanderings https://soundcloud.com/precipice Bandcamp: https://richardhermans.bandcamp.com

  8. #83
    I must've seen your writing in EM in the late 80's while I was a subscriber. Very, very cool. And I have some Anode from Bandcamp as well as the lovely album included in the VoD American Cassette Culture box set (plus your liner notes for the Richard Burmer album). So honestly...when you share such positive feedback, that's huge for me. Yet another roundabout way of saying a massive "thank you" I suppose
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  9. #84
    Quote Originally Posted by Top Cat View Post
    Ok, I have to ask, does rcarlberg moonlight as a music reviewer at Rolling Stone because that was a great, detailed review.

    By all means John, share the techie stuff for us gearheads.
    I was going to ask you what analog synth you used for the sequenced parts? it sounds like a modular to me. I know you use Deckard's Dream, the CS80 clone, but I usually think of that for wonderful pad and leads sounds.
    Also, the Voyager has a touch screen and I wonder why you just didn't assign the pitch bend to the touchscreen and use it that way?
    Although with the panel tilted it can feel a bit awkard and not precise when moving your finger. I've used mine mostly for filter and modulation type changes.
    Also, the reverb you use is sooooooooooooo sweet, mind sharing what you use.
    Lastly, it's not necessary to list what gear you used for each song(although that's a throwback to the 70's and would be nice), can you list all the gear you used(overall).

    I wanted to suggest to you as well, you don't have to worry about your engineering skills anymore.
    Yay! I'm seriously happy to hear that It was really important to try and do these songs justice in terms of sonic detail and whatnot. I'm really grateful for the positive feedback in that area

    Let's see...the sequenced bits in Gliding Leviathans and Collapsing Star II are both mostly the Roland MKS-50 (they aren't true sequences in the Berlin-y sense, I played them by hand). For the latter, I also layered in some additional bits using the Arturia V-Collection (I tried to avoid software synths as much as possible this time, but in some places they just fit).

    I had two main reverbs going...for some of the leads and work with the Deckard's Dream I pushed it through one or more of my Meris pedal trio. In particular, the Mercury7 pedal is like a dream for me. Huge, lush washes with shimmer when I want it. With the Polymoon right ahead of it adding some delays...it's pretty much a perfect sound to my ears.

    For stuff already tracked (or tracks where I wanted some flexibility with the reverb) I mostly used the Valhalla Shimmer VST. It came the closest to the sound of the Mercury7, and it's a damned fine price. A few other places used the built-in Lexicon reverb plugin that comes default with Sonar (don't love it, don't hate it...it just kind of works).

    You know, I experimented with the touchpad on the Voyager for pitch but it just didn't work as well. Might be the real estate; the pad is cool but not terribly large so to do an octave can be pretty hairy. I DO use the touchpad for other types of FX in the Voyager. I also use the CV expander to send the mod wheel to the Moogerfooger Ring Mod pedal...so as I push the mod wheel to max, it also starts to introduce some nice distorted ring mod to the sound. It's one of the beauties to the Voyager; add in the CV expansion and a few Foogers that can also use CV input and you can really get something special happening. Very, very flexible.

    You want the gear list? Sure! Might take a bit of time though, I'm surprisingly not very OCD about that stuff so I actually have to spend a few minutes to sit down and take stock of the gadgets (I'm also working on Christmas meal planning ATM). But I'll get something together

    Again, broken record: you are all so awesome and I just can't say enough thanks. I don't know what I was expecting in terms of a response but I wasn't ready for such considered, nuanced, positive and enthusiastic feedback. I'm just blown away and so grateful.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  10. #85
    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Great posts lately! Thank you for all the tech info, John.

    (i have often sat on the fence about the Moogerfooger Ring Mod. But from my earliest days piloting an ARP 2600 I have felt that ring modulation so often gets too heavy and "gong-y." I need to hear more subtle uses of it such as in your pieces.)

  11. #86
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    Thank you John for taking time to provide some details about your equipment and how you use it.
    I'm a throwback to the vinyl days when gear was always listed for each player and I enjoyed that.
    It's less important to me these days, but still fun to read what was used.
    Soundcloud page: Open Window, musical meanderings https://soundcloud.com/precipice Bandcamp: https://richardhermans.bandcamp.com

  12. #87
    Merry Christmas, awesome people! Here's a semi-complete list of things I used for the album (not 100% sure it's exhaustive, but it's most of the big stuff):

    Roland XP-30
    Alesis QS8
    Black Corporation Deckard's Dream plus expander
    Waldorf Streichfett
    Koma Field Kit
    Soma Lyra-8
    Landscape Stereo Field
    Yamaha Reface CS
    Ciat-Lonbarde Tocante Karper
    Elta Polivoks-M
    Moog Voyager plus CV expansion and various Foogers/Minifoogers
    Make Noise shared system
    Various Eurorack components
    Roland MKS-50
    Haken Continuum
    Moog DFAM
    Arturia V-Collection

    FX things (either hardware or software)

    Hologram Infinite Jets
    Retro Mechanical Jekyll & Hyde
    Rat Pro
    Output Portal (VST)
    Valhalla Shimmer (VST)
    Zynaptic Wormhole (VST)
    Meris Mecury7 (reverb), Ottobit Jr (bitcrusher), Polymoon (delay)

    As for my DAW, I still use Sonar 3 XL. It gets the job done
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  13. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    Great posts lately! Thank you for all the tech info, John.

    (i have often sat on the fence about the Moogerfooger Ring Mod. But from my earliest days piloting an ARP 2600 I have felt that ring modulation so often gets too heavy and "gong-y." I need to hear more subtle uses of it such as in your pieces.)
    For me, the big benefit with the 'Foogers is the CV control. You can really make some interesting things happen, like having the ring mod controlled via aftertouch or tied to the filter. I mean, they sound great, but probably there are other ring mod pedals that sound as good for a fraction of the price.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  14. #89
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    Yes the fine level of control on the Moogerfoogers is one of their best attributes. The phaser and filter MFs that I have are so cool, hence my desire to see the ring mid next to them.

  15. #90
    I say go for it!! It's a damn fine slice of electronics.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  16. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    I say go for it!! It's a damn fine slice of electronics.
    See, here is another reason for me to like you.

  17. #92
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  18. #93
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    John, just sampled this and will dl and listen more attentively later, but already I can hear that this a polished work and the sound so-far is amazing: it has real depth and texture. Great sound sculpting and choices avoiding the hackneyed and the bromides - true craftsmanship! I assume your work will not get the recognition it deserves but regardless, congratulations. It is a solid achievement.
    The combined fortunes of the world's 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion last year — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people.

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  19. #94
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    John, just sampled this and will dl and listen more attentively later, but already I can hear that this a polished work and the sound so-far is amazing: it has real depth and texture. Great sound sculpting and choices avoiding the hackneyed and the bromides - true craftsmanship! I assume your work will not get the recognition it deserves but regardless, congratulations. It is a solid achievement.
    Oh thank you!! That means the world, especially because the production / sound quality was something that was really important from a personal growth standpoint.

    As for recognition? Kind words like these, extended thoughts from folks like Richard + Robert...it's more than I could ask for and I am really, really happy with how folks have responded to the album

    I took a bit of a "holiday" to just cheese out and relax for a bit but will start doing a bit more promotion work in the coming weeks...if any of you happen to know places like radio stations or whatever that might like this, maybe drop me a line? I'm going to try and send stuff to Echoes, maybe even Hearts of Space...

    Oh! CDs for those that want them...almost ready to send everything to the manufacturer And for those who love the DIY style...I'm doing the CDs in the same eco-wallet format as Harvest Aorta, but for online I'll upload jewelcase-friendly files to make things easier for printing at home
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  20. #95
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    BtAatS was on constant rotation here for a week, then I took a break for the holidays. Time to break it out again. All the guests have left

    Are you gonna release any more cover images, or should I make my own? I figure vertical track titles, two characters wide, over a two-color backbround. I ought to be able to get 14 of them across a tray card.

  21. #96
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    Sorry dude, due to the length of the title track 6 had to be 3 characters wide.
    John Battema - Between Axiom tray.jpg

  22. #97
    Very cool dude!! I like it

    I went a slightly different approach with the back cover...all the letters from my name, the album title and the song titles combined into 7 rows of 14 characters each form a nice little rectangle. I'm using that as kind of a backdrop along with a slightly-more-readable version of the album title and my name (I suppose I shouldn't make it TOO hard to see what album it is ). Yay math, yay nice even values!!

    Planning to drop a few more tracks on YT this week, probably the ballad and part 2 of Collapsing Star. Still seeing slightly regular sales too...holy crap. Seriously, what a strange feeling.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  23. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    Very cool dude!! I like it

    I went a slightly different approach with the back cover...all the letters from my name, the album title and the song titles combined into 7 rows of 14 characters each form a nice little rectangle. I'm using that as kind of a backdrop along with a slightly-more-readable version of the album title and my name (I suppose I shouldn't make it TOO hard to see what album it is ). Yay math, yay nice even values!!

    Planning to drop a few more tracks on YT this week, probably the ballad and part 2 of Collapsing Star. Still seeing slightly regular sales too...holy crap. Seriously, what a strange feeling.

    Very cool!
    The moment you have those CDs please shout!

  24. #99
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    Hey John,
    When did you start adding vocals?
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
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    Nostalgia, you know, ain't what it used to be. Furthermore, they tells me, it never was.
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    About the same time he started composing on iPhone:

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