The Prog Mill edition 6 (Broadcast on 29th May 2016) is now available to listen any time you like or download, featuring 2 hours of stunning progressive rock from Kaipa, Steve Thorne, Lee Abraham, Delirium, Ranest Rane, Frost*, Elephants of Scotland, The Samurai of Prog, Le Orme, Steve Hillage, Third Quadrant, Napiers Bones and Mostly Autumn
I’m delighted to announce that the podcast for edition 018 of the Francis Dunnery Radio Show is now available!
UK based duo MetaQuorum recently released two new singles which are available on Bandcamp. In an interview for Prog Sphere, Dmitry Ermakov and Koos van der Velde talk about the band’s work.
Define the mission of MetaQuorum.
To have fun and continue on our music journey. To contribute to the revival and emergence of new Progressive Music styles and to continue developing our own Meld music by experimenting with a fusion of different genres. To bring out Meld, a new wave of Progressive Music, both instrumental and songs, to all generations of music-lovers. To help in shifting the balance in the general population’s preferences from ‘dumb’ music dominating radio waves and… well, TV, Net etc. towards ‘intelligent’ music of any kind.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your new video single “Jonathan Livingston.”
Jonathan Livingston is inspired by and dedicated to Richard Bach’s book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ (pub. 1970) which influenced and inspired Hippie and successive mass cultures with its calling for inner (and outer) freedom from the bounds of mainstream dull society, which is so needed today. Anyhow, for our previous video, North Sea Fret, we shot the footage ourselves and then it was edited by Ákos Páll Gecse of Tone Troopers (https://www.facebook.com/tonetroopers). But we didn’t have a budget for making a Jonathan Livingston video and that meant that we had to do it ourselves. We had some atmospheric footage of seagulls, clouds and Carol dancing on the beach by the autumnal North Sea so I had an idea to film us playing the track and then blend that with those bits of video. So I did it using Premiere Pro. It is a simple idea but I think it worked.
There’s the idea of freedom, flight, going beyond… in the synth solo, so that’s why we put the seagull and cloud footage as an overlay there.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
I used Cubase to record the sketch. I often use a score and note the theme by hand.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
If you’re asking about Jonathan Livingston – Yes and no. The first and middle parts were improvised while the ending was composed. Then during the production and mixing we carefully adjusted the dynamics through editing and sound-engineering.
Describe the approach to recording the single.
One day I had a feeling a piece wanted to come out so I switched on Cubase and started playing on my Yamaha Motif – within five minutes I had a bass lane, organ and synth solo recorded. I stored it on HD and it was lying there for a couple of years, I have many pieces like that in a dormant state… Then when Koos joined the project, I remembered about this sketch and we recorded the end piano part, drums and percussion. During production we added sub-bass, rhythm guitar, pads, sound effects and recorded a Tibetan singing bell for the very beginning. Then we went to Dunstanbrough Castle on the Northumbrian Coast to record several soundscapes with seagulls and the sea which we then added to the sonic palette of the track. During mixing we processed the audio using various plug-ins and positioned the individual instruments and sound in 3-D, visualizing where they would be on stage if we were playing live.
We wanted to keep an organic feel, we didn’t want it to be too mechanical, so we kept things more natural by not quantizing too much.
How long this song was in the making?
As I said, it was in work for about three years on and off but if we add up the actual time it took, I’d say about a month.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on “Jonathan Livingston”?
I’d say that the main musical influence behind this tracks is “Nightingales and Bombers” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Other influences are Marcus Miller and Miles Davis’ ” You’re Under Arrest.”
What is your view on technology in music?
Amazing new music recording/production tools are appearing all the time and that is great! They offer new and intuitive ways of composing, playing and producing music in every style. That is awesome but… the most important thing for any artist is to be able to play and compose without using any of the new gadgets – that is, to have a great technique, taste, feeling and intuition, i.e. to have a mastery over however many music disciplinees one has learned.
This doesn’t just apply to our modern times. There is a story about a harpsichord contest between J. S. Bach and Louis Marchand… well it didn’t really happen as Marchand, fearing defeat, just fled!
“What would have happened if the contest had taken place? Marchand was probably right to anticipate a defeat. As a composer and improviser, he was considered a master of the French style. The trouble was, Bach was also a master of the French style, as well as of the German style, the Italian style, the Spanish style, the English style… There would really have been no contest at all.”
Anyone who endeavors to play progressive music must have a vast erudition in all things musical, including music genres from various cultures all over the globe and the music of the past like baroque and classical etc…
Technology is a double-edged sword: if used rightly in the hands of a proficient musician, it can be a tremendous help in creating masterpieces and it is much easier to release music now than ever before but… Since it is so easy to get your hands on some soft and gadgets for making sounds and ways to record them, potentially, anyone can make some kind of noise from prepackaged samples, grooves, loops etc. The music market is over-saturated with music of this kind and to be brutally honest, the bulk of it is simply dumb and crap. It is made by unqualified people simply because they have the tools. Don’t get me wrong, we use samples, too, and I’m not talking here about great Hip-Hop, IDM and Electronic artists who use sampling a lot, i’m talking about the general ‘consumer’ musicians. It is too easy… they just need an Internet connection, a bit of cash for the tech and promotion and there you go… General level of culture has been steadily declining since the 80-s and so this kind of music is very popular now. A lot of mediocre to bad music is promoted by the music industry simply because many major labels look for the lowest possible common denominator so that they can sell to the largest crowd possible and make maximum profit. This kind of music has influenced a whole generation, if not two or three. Many kids don’t know any better, they listen to poor imitations, remake after remake, remix after remix, without ever trying to get to the source. Even if they listen to good bands, they often have no idea about what their influences are and what their contribution to the genre really is… This is really sad… That is the negative side of technology.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Sure, music acts as a bridge to connect various peoples and cultures and can become a catalyst for social cohesion or a movement. Music can directly influence the positive development of cognitive and intellectual abilities and, depending on what kind of music it is, it can have curative properties and spiritual benefits.
What are your plans for the future?
We plan to release another five new singles: one at the end of May, two in June and another two in September or maybe July, have not decided, yet. We are also releasing re-masters of our debut single North Sea Fret and album Midnight Sun in June. Then we have several tracks I recorded with bass player Viktor Mikheyev back in 2012-13. Finances permitting, we want to re-produce them, replacing programmed drums with Koos on live drums and re-arranging them a little. So that is material for new EP. At the same time, we’ll be working on four songs and, also, on several quite complex pieces which I composed using the ‘old’ technique of actually writing a score. Oh, and I’d love to bring out a nu-Baroque – n-Progression EP sometime, too – it would have a fugue by Handel, a fuge and three variations by Frescobaldi, my own double variation on those two themes, as well as a fugue and a rondo I wrote myself some years back.
Visit MetaQuorum’s official website here for more info about the band.
Italian Modern Metal band Diffracture present the video for “Janus,” first single taken from the upcoming debut full-lenght album Oneiros, which will be released on June 24th. The band teamed up with Prog Sphere for an exclusive premiere.
The album was mixed and mastered at 4D Sounds Studio by Acle Kahney (TesseracT), and produced by Ralph Salati (Destrage). It will be released by German label 7hard (a division of 7us Media Group).
The band issued the following statement: “After this journey alongside with Ralph, the signing with 7hard has been both an achievement and a reward for us. While waiting for the release, you can now get a sneak peek at our debut Oneiros with the first single ‘Janus’.“
Oneiros Track Listing:
01. To Klondike
02. Karman Line
04. The Cartographer
05. Continental Drift
06. Sky Burial I – Shaman
07. Sky Burial II – Arahant
08. Sky Burial III – Oneiros
09. Between Pulse And Mind (feat. Ralph Salati)
10. Of Steam And Coal
Here is something for a change! We at Prog Sphere are definitely a big fans of DOOM franchise, and we had great expectations from this year’s take on the game. What’s even better about the new DOOM is the soundtrack composed by Mick Gordon.
Mick did great job with the combination of electronic and metal; he decided to implement extended range guitars in the sound and the outcome is quite epic: you get a game accompanied with a straight-to-the-face OST.
We talked with Mick about his work, working on projects, DOOM soundtrack, being involved in many different projects over the years, and more.
How did you get into composing for video games in the first place?
About 12 years ago I started making music on a basic computer setup and just started sending it around to different studios. After I while I was lucky enough to get some call backs and just started working from there.
Most people think that game and film soundtracks are basically the same when it comes to the structure. Do you agree with that?
Fairly well – obviously film is linear and games are interactive, but the approach is largely the same.
What is your creative process like once you have a new project before you? How do you get into the story for a certain game?
The developers usually send through concept art, story documents, etc. We chat a lot, talk about vibes and feelings and sounds, etc. Usually at this point there’s not really any game to play – it’s all on paper.
Let’s talk about the new DOOM game and the soundtrack you scored. Where did you look for the inspiration?
Just the DOOM universe itself. id Software has always had a strong legacy which is full of inspiration.
This soundtrack kinda makes me feel that it incorporates musical elements that are something you absolutely love to do: guitar sound and electonic music. Am I right?
Yeah totally man – I really love loud aggressive sounds that punch through the speakers. DOOM allowed a lot of that – it’s a lot of fun to do. It’s funny, because the music itself sounds loud and aggressive but making it is a really slow and calm process. You’ve really got to concentrate for long periods of time tweaking various frequencies and transients – it’s zen, really.
The DOOM OST is probably the “heaviest” soundtrack for a game that you worked on. How did you get into the world of extended range guitars?
We just wanted to bring a bigger, heavier and more modern sound to the game. Sure, we could do six string stuff, but that’s been done so many times before. Bringing into extended range guitars opened up new sounds.
For the purpose of getting the most evil, straight-to-the-face sound for the new DOOM, you picked a 9-string guitar. I am sure that many of the guitar players who are also fans of Doom franchise and the new soundtrack wonder about the guitar you used and its specs. So can you tell me more about it?
The 9 is just a stock Schecter Damien Platinum 9. It’s fairly basic – super light. I think I’ll swap out the pickups in the future – the stock EMGs tend to fall apart with the lower notes. I have a beautiful Mayones 8 string that I used a lot on the game – it’s featured in BFG Division. It was BKP Aftermaths in it and they hold up really well.
What’s the tuning on the 9-string you used?
It’s really stupid – ADADADGBE. Damn, right? Anyway, the point is that you have three octaves in a single fret. This frees your fingers up for other bits and you don’t have to hold weird shapes on the huge neck.
Did the guitar parts come before or after the effects? Provide some insight into the writing process for the Doom OST.
It was pretty basic – I’d set up a video of some early gameplay of the level and tap out a tempo that felt appropriate for the level of on-screen action. Once I had the tempo, I’d just set up a metronome and jam out riffs for an hour. Then, I’d take a break and come back and comb through it all looking for cool parts.
What kind of equipment, besides already mentioned guitar, did you use for scoring? Let us know about your signal chain.
Man, so much. Too much to mention. STACKS of gear. Synths (Korg MS20, Polivoks, Eurorack, etc); Pedals (Metasonix, Trogotronic, MuTron, Dwarfcraft, DeviEver, Copycat, and literally anything else I could find); Compressors (1176, Doublewide, LA3A, old massive broadcast limiters, etc). Just, heaps of gear, man. One cool trick I picked up from Sean Beavan was to record really distorted guitar parts at double speed up an octave to tape at 30ips. Then, play it back at 15ips. It’s such a cool sound – it’s really distorted but the note is still super clear.
What about the software and plugins?
Oh man, everything. Ha! My main DAWs are Ableton Live and FL Studio for designs and Pro Tools for mixing/arrangements. Plugins – all UAD, Waves, FabFilter, Slate, Softube, iZotope, etc. I like plugins for controlling things but I still prefer hardware. When I slam something into a hardware compressor it goes KAPUT! Plugins just don’t get there!
How do you go about overcoming challenges of fusing different styles into tracks? Doom OST is full of metal elements wrapped up with plenty of different effects and beats.
There’s obviously many different solutions. I try to find a clean, blended approach where the synths/guitars/drums/FX/whatever are all working together to reinforce an overall groove. This makes things tight and musical. Otherwise you run the risk of “Mr Potatohead” music, where you’ve got something corny like synth arps over chug chug guitars over double kick drum and it sounds like 4 bands playing at once.
Did you listen to a lot of metal when working on the DOOM OST? I’m asking because many metal fans, especially those that follow the so-called djent scene, will connect the soundtrack with bands such Meshuggah, Sikth, Periphery, Monuments, Vildhjarta, etc.
Honestly, not a lot. I had the huge pleasure of working with Fredrik Thordendal on Wolfenstein – he’s honestly the most amazing person. He’s such a nice dude!
Will the DOOM soundtrack be available for purchase?
I hope so… sigh.
I have played many of the games that you worked on in the past, and I would always have an impression that your soundtracks extend the stories of the games in a way that they form a unique entity. What is your secret for maintaining this?
Man, that’s such an awesome thing to say – thanks so much. I really don’t know how to answer that one. I guess I try to uncover something deep and meaningful about the game/character/story/whatever and find ways of accentuating that with music. Honestly, there’s a lot of luck involved. I think sometimes the placement helps, too. If you have a single piece of music – a theme, for example – and you play that over certain special moments in the story, it becomes linked to that adventure.
Over the years you worked with some of the biggest studios such EA, Microsoft, Bethesda, Ubisoft, to name but a few. How much did these experiences help you improve as a composer and a sound designer?
Every project is different and you learn so much throughout the process. Everyone works in different ways. There’s a lot of super talented people in the game industry – artists, designers, writers, programmers, etc – and these companies employ some of the best. It’s super inspiring being able to meet these people and work with them.
What’s your view on technology in music?
Music and technology have always been hand in hand – from carved wooden flutes to wooden/cat gut violins to industrial period saxophones to amplifiers and guitars to electronic engineers and synthesisers to programmers and plugins. You could say that music reflects technology almost perfectly.
You work as a freelance composer, so basically you are on your own. What are the benefits and drawbacks of being a freelancer?
The best part about the job is I wake up 10 metres from where I work. The worst part about the job is I wake up 10 metres from where I work.
Do you work on anything new at the moment? What is the future like?
Dude, so much awesome stuff! Got some announcements coming at E3, some non-game collaboration projects in the works, started working on an album, mixing some stuff, lots of trailers, etc. Lots of fun stuff, man!
I’m out of questions… Thanks for your time today, Mick. Is there anything you would love to add?
PROG SPHERE RULEZ!!!
Some photos in this post are from Mick Gordon’s archives. Visit Mick’s website for more info about his work.
The post Interview with MICK GORDON, Composer or DOOM 2016 Soundtrack appeared first on Prog Sphere.
I’m delighted to announce that the podcast for edition 149 of Live From Progzilla Towers is now available.
In this edition we heard the following music:
- Sniff ‘n’ The Tears – Driver’s Seat
- Admirals Hard – Whip Jamboree / Let The Bulgine Run
- Yes – Tempus Fugit
- Peter Hammill – The Lie (Bernini’s Saint Theresa)
- Radiohead – Ful Stop
- Ukandanz – Tchuetén Bestsèmu
- Starcastle – Babylon
- Frost* – The Raging Against The Dying Of The Light Blues In 7/8
- British Theatre – Blue Horror
- Paul And Linda Mccartney – Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
- Pil & Bue – No Is The Answer
- Cosmograf – Arcade Machine
- Frumpy – How The Gypsy Was Born
- Big Big Train – London Plane
- Drifting Sun – Intruder
- Anderson/Stolt – Knowing
- Nick Mason & Rick Fenn – Lie For A Lie (Extended)
- Syndone – L’urlo Nelle Ossa
- Peter Gabriel – My Head Sounds Like That
iTunes/iPod users*: Just search for ‘Progzilla’ or subscribe to: http://podcasts.progzilla.com/cliff/podcast.xml