imbalance computer music | ML 026 | February 2012

CD / double vinyl / download

Created by Robert Henke 2011


How I hate those dirty little flies. Impossible to sleep, it is too hot, no wind, just motionless humid air. Five weeks with no change and the gods are laughing at us. Every part of my body hurts, and I cannot think straight. Last friday the solar panel cracked in the middle of the night, I have no idea why and I almost don't care anymore. They will not find anything here anyway.

Am I awake now?

They set up tons of equipment and the results so far: The strange noises during the nights got louder and louder. Some kind of monotonous moans that seem to come from nowhere. The scientists run around and pretend that they know what goes on but they have no clue. And they are frightened, I can see it. How they look around, how they stop chatting when they get closer. How they avoid talking with me about their work: Ah yeah, we make some progress, it takes time to initialize the system, we have some preliminary data, but things need to be calibrated first...

The fact that Jonathan died in the cave whilst connecting the data lines does not help much to improve the situation. He was not afraid. I am also not afraid. I am just here to write things down. They tell me what they say is important for the world and I write it down. I had more demanding jobs. Apart from the flies.

I found a lovely spot on the hill near the east gate, my private little escape from the madness. I watch the birds, listen to the occasional rolls of distant thunder, and enjoy the saturated colors of the forest.

* * * The poison of the yellow-red frog acts fast and efficient. By the time Jonathan realized something went seriously wrong it was already too late. He tried to estimate if he could make it out in time, but his vision got already blurry. He thought of leaving a note to prevent the crew from coming down and making the same mistake, but before he could think any further his heart stopped beating. When his body touched the surface of the dark lake, he was already dead * * *

Watching the gecko watching the flies.

Hi Sharif, please get in touch with me as soon as you can. Things got a bit out of hand here and I need to talk. Don't use the mobile phone, simply come by and tell the guard you're bringing in the replacement parts for the solar panel. Don't come after sunset, and don't take the northern entrance. You know where to find me.

A1 - 01 Ghosts preview 5:05
A2 - 02 Toku preview 5:42
A3 - 03 Afterglow preview 5:14
B1 - 04 Hitting the Surface preview 7:42
B2 - 05 Discontinuity preview 4:49
B3 - 06 The Existence of Time preview 5:09
C1 - 07 Phenomenon preview 5:59
C2 - 08 Unstable Matter preview5:42
D1 - 09 Lilith preview 5:07
D2 - 10 Aligning the Daemon preview 4:51
D3 - 11 Foreign Object preview 5:19

Total running time: 60:43

You do not exist. Get out of my head.

The title of this album, "Ghosts", came to my mind at a quite early stage. I liked it due of the large field of associations it provokes. I started taking notes about topics connected to the term, read about mythologies and collected ideas. I also often write fragmentary texts, short cinematic scenes that I come up with when my head is idling and I have time to kill. One of these texts is included in the artwork of the CD and the vinyl edition and it is an essential part of the Ghosts album; it serves as a window to a bigger drama, and the music offers another view. The text also links the Ghosts album to the Silence album from 2009. Both stories are related, although I don't know exactly yet: how.

Independently of the aim to create a new album I constantly try out things in the studio. One day in December 2010, a structure started to emerge that had a dark and evil quality. I knew this would become a core part of a future album and I gave that sketch the working title 'Ghosts'. Finding new material with similar color turned out to be more difficult than I did anticipate so I changed my strategy and worked on sounds and shapes of a very different vibe; whimsical little sonic creatures, potentially mean or helpful spirits that have their very own life. I recorded and transformed sounds from objects I found in my flat; glasses, paper, thin plastic sheets, stones, pebbles in a salad bowl and so on. I believe I became a pretty good foley artist by doing so. The track 'Taku' mainly consists of recordings I made with two empty glasses clicking at each other, and 'Unstable Matter' is an exercise in applying complex transformations to all kinds of recordings: a bunch of vintage cymbals, my own voice, metal plates, singing bowls, bells, and a rusty hi-hat.

During the entire year of 2011, I composed a lot of sketches, mainly rhythmical tracks, but most of them I had to throw away at some point. Either I did not like specific elements in them or they did not fit in my theme of a world of ghosts. Very often I assigned the same title to numerous different tracks in that process, since I did like the title and the message it potentially could convey, but not the music assigned to it. 'Foreign Object' is the most extreme case here; a track with that name got completely discarded on the evening prior to the final CD mastering process and replaced by a new composition created in a rush at that very night: During the creation process of the album I spent a lot of time trying out different orders of tracks. Order is important to me. I aim to create a work of art that works as one large structure, not just an arbitrary collection of songs. Even whilst, (or maybe even because) this is not the way most music is consumed in the age of random mp3 collections.

I always felt that my Ghosts album needs to end with the track 'Ghosts' and every other decision had to be a consequence of this paradigm. I wanted the album to end with a dark and sad message: get out of my head. You do not exist anymore. However, when playing back the final edits in Basel prior to the mastering, my friend and host Daniel Teige insisted that 'Ghosts' has to be the first track and just grabbed my computer to completely rearrange the album. Blame him on the final order of tracks on this CD. After his intervention everything seemed to make much more sense, the transitions between the emotional states of each track provided new pleasurable surprises - apart from the very end of the album, which just did not work at all anymore. I decided that there are only two possible ways out; either entirely skipping the last track and ending with 'Aligning the Daemon' or coming up with something new in three hours, with nothing but my laptop on a chair, and two cheap hi-fi speakers. The ghosts and spirits of that night liked the idea, and when they told me to record a Macintosh system voice and showed me how to transform these recordings in a parody of a medieval chant, full of devilish minor thirds, I knew it would turn out to be great.

The album was composed, edited, recorded and mixed entirely in Ableton Live. The synthetic sounds are the results of tweaking the Operator, Simpler, Sampler and Live's audio effects, my Max4Live synthesizer 'Granulator', a bit of convolution reverb and a lot of Live's own reverb. An important role in the sound design also played the creative usage of Live's various time stretch algorithms. The 'Tension' synthesizer's physical model of a violin string bombarded with rapid parameter changes sent from a Max patch is responsible for the odd sounds on 'Phenomenon'. Other important contributions to my sonic universe come from my collection of vintage hardware synthesizers: Resonant timbres of a Sequential Circuits Prophet VS on 'Afterglow', bell-like sounds of a NED Synclavier II on 'Foreign Object', various timbres from a Yamaha DX-27 piped through an Alesis Quadraverb and a Lexicon PCM-80 reverb, pads from a Oberheim Xpander and more, which I have probably forgotten about.

The album was recorded in 96kHz. Only the final master files were down-sampled to 44.1k for the CD / mp3 releases. It has been mastered in December 2011 at Idee und Klang in Basel by Daniel Dettwiler. Transfer to vinyl by Lupo at Dubplates&Mastering, Berlin.

Recorded bit by bit at the Foggy Playground Studio Berlin.

*** distributed by Hardwax ***