Audnoyz Project Vol 3

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Genre mashing music producer Audnoyz releases third album, Audnoyz Project Vol 3 on the Atwood Media label.

This latest work on the Audnoyz creative continuum envelops you in an aural journey, filled with unexpected genre juxtapositions, cerebral electronica, tormented 16th century Baroque motifs, stirring orchestral elements, pulsating techno / eurodance beats, contemplative piano-jazz and sublime vocals from the heavens.

Often in a cacophony of sound, something familiar emerges, only to segue to a well-placed hook or dissolve into a moment of Cirque du Soleil excitement. The 10 tracks that comprise Audnoyz Project Vol 3 are sometimes bombastic, at times contemplative, yet always cinematic, evocative and exciting.

Track highlights include: The Epic Tale using an operatic style of vocalization for its emotive quality, bypassing words. The limitations drawn by languages, and the understanding of a particular language are neatly side stepped.  The power comes across, without the barrier, and clothed in the technique and sound palette of our contemporary world. The entire piece is a grand gesture. 


Random Intersection, deftly paints a contemplative sound scape featuring uber-processed tenor saxophone, sounding like a guitar solo reminiscent of Jeff Beck, but with no pretenses of imitation.  A clear voice articulates a short statement of wisdom, over the heartbeat of peaceful world.  In a different approach to the world’s great composers and previous styles, Bach’s Prelude #6 is treated to a jazz arrangement and then recomposed using Euro DJ techniques with a level of sophistication that while unique, is utterly accessible to any listener in Get Off my Bach


Paris channels some of the same techniques, Euro techno, impressionistic beckoning connected beautifully with jazz style saxophone improvisation, so appropriate, given that the French have always loved Jazz, perhaps more than the Americans whose culture gave rise to it.  M Vision is a haunting reverie that is both a validation and a cautionary tale, depending on who you are and where you are in your life’s journey.

Like the Audnoyz Project releases before it, one does not listen to Audnoyz Project Vol 3 so much as experience it.  This music envelops you in a viscerally spectacular, rich, rhythm driven, and multi-referential-stylistic mind/body experience.

Audnoyz Project Vol 3 is available digitally from leading electronic distribution retailers and sources including: CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Amazon MP3, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody and eMusic, as well as in Compact Disc from Amazon.com

Other albums on the Audnoyz creative continuum include: Audnoyz Project Vol 1 (sometimes found as the Audnoyz Collection, 2007), Audnoyz Project Vol 2 (2011), and the Audistry collaboration with film composer Shawn K Clement, (2013).

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Audnoyz is the genre mashing music producer guise of composer/guitarist/music industry technology veteran Steve Thomas. The audnoyz production aesthetic has developed over the course of the last decade. It was a European music technology journalist to first frame Audnoyz music as ‘Kopf Kino’ (mind cinema) an aural sojourn for the inner eye; like experiencing synesthesia, seeing the music, imbued by amazing multi-referential stylistic cinematic properties. For more insight on the genesis of the Audnoyz music aesthetic please visit http://www.audnoyz.com/aud-insight.html

 

Anatomy of a Track

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Audistry CoverAudistry is the 2012 full-length album release fusing  film/TV composer Shawn K Clement’s deep Other-Worldly cinematic orchestral music and signature guitar sound, with my Audnoyz genre-mashing production aesthetic.

Audistry epitomizes how collaborative work is happening these days out of home studios.  In this case a bicoastal collaboration with tracks bouncing back and forth between IMG_2718Clemistry Ranch, North of Los Angeles and a personal studio outside of Boston, where the final slicing, dicing, mixing, and mangling was done December 2012.

WTF like many of the tracks on the Album is an assemblage of material from past projects taken out of their original contexts IMG_0648blended with new material, united in a form that tells a story.

WTF started with Shawn digging up a dense orchestral cue that I then stripped down to just the tuba and contra bassoon pairing, added a trombone, and then laid that on top of a drum track played by Frank Basile of LiveStudioDrums. Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 10.09.25 PMThe thing is Shawn’s original orchestral stems were in multiple time signatures so I basically sliced, diced, and aligned the voicing on top of Frank’s solid 4/4 beat. Franks simple set up for recording the drums kick: Audix D4, snare: SM57, toms: Sennheiser e603s, hats: Audio Technica ATM11R, overheads: paired Audio Technica 4033s into a PreSonus StudioLive 24 board front end to Sonar.

My goto plug-ins on WTF for achieving that analog-tape sound is the UAD-2 Studer 800 that not only provides “that sound of tape” but also Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 10.12.19 PMprovides a great EQ tool. Depending on what I am going for I’ll tweak the HF setting in the Studer rather than mess with the channel EQ, always netting a pleasant outcome. And, the Empirical Labs Fatso Jr. emulation that’s just awesome for sculpting harmonic content. The more you hit it with input level the more second and third-order harmonics are added to the signal. It’s just great Capture 2for fattening up and spreading out. Both of these plugs were used on the drums, harmonica, and are the secret to getting the phat bass with no bass guitar or synth in use on the main theme section. Next I put together the transitional elements from another of Shawn’s orchestral cues, along with a track from my catalog and the basic arrangement took shape.

The arrangement was then packed up and sent to Canyon Country via the Clemistry FTP. Shawn then got to tracking the heavy guitars at Clemistry with the help of his long-time assistant, engineer James Speight. IMAG1443-2With the multiple mike parings and different guitar takes we ended up with 50+ guitar tracks to work with for the Mix.  Guitars used in the tracking were a 1952 Les Paul Gold Top, custom made Stephens, Yamaha Pacifica 604, and a1960 Dan Electro, all into a Marshal Plexi 100. An assortment of pedals were used, including Pigtronix IMG_0143(the mothership, tremvelope, philosopher king), as well as distortion boxes from Coffin Cases Custom made Yamaha Pacifica, w Fishman Power bridge, stereo outs, custom made pick ups by Seymour Duncanand Vicious Monkey. The Marshall cab was mic’d using a Roland binaural head placed 5’ behind the cab, one SM57 placed in front 6 inches from the cone another SM57 in back of the cab, and Blue Dragon Fly in front positioned 4’ feet back and high. Guitar Viol2Also used was an AKG 414 on a Portuguese guitar placed in front of the cab to pick up just resonance, Shawn likes to play loud! All straight into the Yamaha 02Rs, of which Clemistry has three.  Also, Kellie Rucker’s kik-ass Harmonica was IMG_2733recorded on this session using a hand held bullet mic straight into a 66’ Fender Champ with Kellie getting the feedback effect by putting her face right into the amp.

The track then came back to New England for layers of Audness, ethereal textures from Omnisphere, and Native Instruments Massive and Absynth; lots of guitar comp editing, tweaking and mixed by both of us in the same room.   We stacked up 25 busses with a Studer 800 strapped on all but a few. IMG_0460The very fine SSL Bus emulation in Sonar’s Pro Channel, Stillwell Bombardier, Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 10.28.15 PMand UAD-2: LA2A, LA3A, Fatso Jr, and Precision Limiter keeping things in place. Five busses for FX that included Perfect Space convolution reverb, Sonitus FX Delay, Softtube, passive and focusing EQs; UAD-2 EMT Plate 140 and Lexicon 224 digital reverbs which are great for depth and the Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 10.13.38 PMCSIScreen shot 2014-06-27 at 10.15.23 PM multi fx processor, that I fell in love with years back as it came standard on the original UAD-1 cards. With all the horse power we had on the 32GBRAM/8 Core/ i7 screamer audio system running verbs on a gazillion tracks is not an issue. However, I find tracks sharing reflections of the same reverb brings things more together. The fact is many a classic gold record has been made with just a couple of plate or spring reverbs.

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At the end of the day, WTF like all the Audistry tracks happened organically. We had no creative direction by an outside production, no deadlines; it was just us having fun. The most exciting part is seeing how un-related music can be linked together, and evolves beyond itself.  Also, how with the right tools you can create a performance-like track via a composite process in home studios that sounds good.  In a future article I’ll cover the final mastering of Audistry.

About Influence

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Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 3.18.57 PMRecently I was re-reading a May 2013 Harvard Business Review Article titled What Would Ashton Do—and Does It Matter?  by Sinan Aral.  The article questions the place of influencers in creating brand awareness. Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 3.20.07 PMThe article states that although a celebrity may have a huge social media following, he/she may not be as influential when it comes to motivating followers to make decisions. I also was taking in Forbes Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 3.21.25 PMMagazine contributor Mark Fidelman’s critique: Why this Harvard Business Review Article on Influence is Seriously Flawed.

Regardless of whose story you want to agree with more, one thing for sure is too often, Marketers over-exaggerate the early adopters (who are often alike) role on influence.

This got me thinking about sharing a few of my favorite books on the  topic of influence. So here they are:

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Hook, Spin, Buzz: How to Command Attention, Change Minds & Influence People by Garrett Soden

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 3.44.17 PMInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

 

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 3.47.02 PMAge of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion by Anthony Pratkanis

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 4.11.57 PMThe Power to Persuade by Richard Haass

 

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 4.17.01 PMPredictably Irrational by Dan Ariel

 

 

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 4.18.30 PMToxic Sludge is Good for You: lies, damn lies and the public relations industry and Trust Us We’re Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 4.20.34 PMExperts by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton

 

 

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 4.28.10 PMSPIN by Michael Sitrick

 

 

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 5.07.15 PMBlink by Malcom Gladwell

May the force be with you…

 

 

Flux Capacitance

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I have always put time into ‘Sharpening the Saw,’ as Steven Covey would say.  Marketing products gets down to psychology and I have always been fascinated with all the variant forms of ‘How-to’ influence/affect the human condition towards a set outcome.

Also interesting in these post-recessionary times rife with ever evolving economic change, that chaos has become a fact of life in the modern business environment.

I have always surfed an ever-changing tide of music production and performance gigs also while maintaining technology marketing positions. Then one day, after over a decade in a marketing position with a multinational music product company, I found myself back in the roller coaster reality of running my own marketing consultancy as a full time endeavor.

When I happened across Robert Safian’s Fast Company article “Generation Flux Meet The Pioneers of a NEW Chaotic Frontier,” it had a particular resonance. According Safian, in the Generation Flux times that we now live, “new companies–even industries–rise and fall faster than ever: Witness Apple, Facebook, and Amazon; witness Research in Motion, Blockbuster, and MySpace; witness the iPad and, yes, cloud computing. Accepted models for success are proving vulnerable, and pressure is building on giants like GE and Nokia, as their historic advantages of scale and efficiency run up against the benefits of agility and quick course corrections. Meanwhile, the bonds between employer and employee, and between brands and their customers, are more tenuous than ever.”

And the part of Safian’s thesis that I agree with most in fact live , is business life today can shift radically every three months or so…

Generation Flux describes the people who thrive in this environment. It is a psychographic, not a demographic–you can be any age and be GenFlux. Their characteristics are clear: an embrace of adaptability and flexibility; an openness to learning from anywhere; decisiveness tempered by the knowledge that business life today can shift radically every three months or so.  What’s interesting is how the psychographic is described as the first generation that is not about age but mindset. I have worked in the music industry for decades and often with people much younger.  It has never been an age thing as so much as what somebody brings to the table and respect for creative contribution.

For me, living Gen Flux, north of 40 as a music/marketing/technology and production consultant, has equated to a range of projects.  I have provided marketing/PR strategy, business development and marcom services to a cohort of music technology companies and iOS developers; a technical software how-to-book publisher, primary education instruction organization, and a life sciences company, as well as mixing/mastering artist releases and composing/producing music for TV.

Certainly, the range of services I have provided has been all about adaptability and resourcefulness.  My reality is the byproduct of circumstance and the only prescription for many of different Generational cohorts. Viva la Gen Flux psychographic!

It’s not quite the Wild West but for many, irregardless of demographic, professional lives today are becoming ever more nomadic, digital, flexible and spirited.

About Generation Flux: Generation Flux Meet The Pioneers of a NEW Chaotic Frontier and The Secrets of Generation Flux.

Not Generation Flux specific, suggested reading: Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 12.40.50 PMEVIL PLANS: Having fun on the Way to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod.

 

Here are two great books published by 99U who is on a mission to provide the “missing curriculum” that every creative person and team needs to make ideas happen. 99U is part of Behance, a team devoted to empowering and connecting the creative world.

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Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career  Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 12.44.24 PM

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

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On Mastering

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Recently I was at the studio of a new client when his daughter a singer/songwriter walked in to say hello and asked what’s mastering and can we do it here?  That question gave me the idea for this post where I share a few of my favorite books on the mystical art of audio Mastering.

So what’s Mastering?

Here’s a concise explanation from our friends at Izotope:  There are many definitions of audio mastering.  Most commonly, though, the term mastering is used to refer to the process of taking an audio mix and preparing it for distribution. There are several considerations in this process:

Unifying or adjusting the sound of a record to correct any mix balance issues, or enhance particular sonic characteristic.

Maintaining consistency across an album so that each track sits comfortably within the overall aesthetic of the playlist.

Preparation for distribution, which could mean traditional duplication or replication onto CD/ vinyl or preparing for digital download, depending on the intended delivery format.

nz-2The fact is today there are so many cost effective software plug-ins to aid in producing a final version, ‘master’ audio file. The thing is it’s more than software that determines the quality of the final product. The digital audio playback/editing system with the quality of the individual software components coupled with, the audio sound card, audio amplifier, speakers and acoustic treatment of the listening environment all play part in the gestalt.  That said, there’s the even less quantifiable aspect of the human making the decisions on how to go about treating a piece of audio to net the best result. Indeed, basic physiology is at play i.e., how our ears work based on how they are set on our heads, sensitivities to frequencies and such.  Yet it is as simple as time on task… Like how a good tracking engineer knows from experience what microphone will work to best capture a vocalist sound.  In mastering you learn what tools work best for a given situation.

What follows is a short list of mastering books that I have found informativeScreen shot 2014-06-12 at 10.37.47 PM starting with an excerpt from a 2007 interview I did for Mitch Gallagher’s Mastering at Home.   Although the interview is a few years old the information presented is applicable to Mastering in your home studio today.

Can someone really master their music at home using affordable tools?  The simple answer is yes. The involved answer has to do with quality and what the ultimate delivery format will be e.g., Red Book CD, MP3, etc., Mastering audio as the final step towards finished product has an almost mystical perception due to the fact that it’s a really misunderstood craft.  So can what you do in your home-based project studio supplant a mastering house fitted with discreet chain analog gear and 1000s of hours of experience? Well no and yes. To match the level of product turned out by the likes of mastering craft sages Bob Ludwig, Bernie Grundman, Bob Katz or Eddy Schreyer is not obtainable with a modest DAW-based rig.  But, for some folks achieving a polished final mix inside the box in the comfort of their project studio is all they want to do. Especially, if when the final delivery medium is via the web. For this profile of user publishing your own truly indie art can be achieved affordably, efficiently and qualitatively inside the box.

How did you get started mastering music?  It’s been an evolutionary process for me. I have been recording and mixing music for awhile and discovering ways to achieve polished mixes just came out of necessity.

What’s the best way for someone to learn to master on their own?  Besides having a lot of patience, research by reading books like this one, analyze the mixes you like the sound of, or want yours to sound like. Educate yourself on the techniques employed by those who know the craft and how different processors work for example look ahead Limiters, compression, volume max/limiters, EQ (things like how a dip at 250 Hz can add presence at 5k or how adding just a couple dB at 12k can aerate a mix).

What are the drawbacks to mastering your own music? That’s an age old question with a simple answer: objectivity.  I think it is hard to step away from something that you have labored over, that has a sonic imprint in your head especially, if you are in the same sonic environment. That’s to say tracking rooms, mix rooms, and mastering rooms all work differently. Things like where speakers sit on a desk with a console between you and the sound source can affect the way you hear stuff.

How important are perfect acoustics to mastering?  Controll of the sonic environment is big and like I mentioned one of the drawbacks in DYI mastering. Building a sonic environment that has proper containment of reflections and bass can be a costly endeavor. The good news is today more than ever there are many affordable ways to tighten up a room.

Do you prefer analog or digital mastering?  I think these days because plug-in emulation has gotten a whole lot better that you really can achieve some nice results with computer based tools. And there is the advantage of saving presets rather than laborisly jotting down settings on a piece of paper. Today a combination of in/out of the box tools can really take you closer to achieving at home what you can get with a pricy discrete analog chain. Also, by combining tools from both worlds you can get the best results that you can afford. The use of multiple compressors on a mix is a common practice in the analog world and on a budget if you can afford one good analog compressor you can use a plug-in in combination. I sometimes use the MINI Massive/Neve 5043 chain, and add another digital comp or Multi-band Limiter.  Another thing on limiters, nowadays all digital limiters employ look-ahead functionality, which is an advantage over pure analog limiters since they can’t “predict” input level.  This means you can achieve louder levels via more efficient peak control since you are looking into the future by 250milliseconds preventing any overs.

There is something I want to add to this conversation and that’s the approach to using analog gear is different than that of staring at a screen and moving buttons or sliders around with a mouse. It’s not just a tactical thing with me. I seem to listen differently when I am not starring at screen.

What tools are you using to do you’re mastering? My rig is evolving and currently includes: Lynx converters, Toft ATC-2, Neve Portico 5043, Manley Labs Mini Massive; UAD-1:  Precision EQ, Precision Limiter,  Neve 1072, 1081 EQs and  33609 Compressor; Cakewalk’s Linear Phase EQ, Multiband Limiter and Boost 11, Isotope Ozone, Waves L2, Har Bal, and Algorithmix Red EQs. For hosts it’s mainly SONAR and Sound Forge/CD Architect on the PC and,  Peak XT on the Mac.

What are the most minimal tools someone can get away with having in  their mastering studios
After listening environment consideration, monitors, and converters the minimum in or out of the box is a stereo EQ, Compressor, and limiter.

What’s the hardest part about mastering a song
? Sticking to the Mastering Guys Hippocratic Oath of sorts that goes “do no harm,”  “if it needs nothing, do nothing.” Sounds simple enough but we humans tend to do because, we can… because I have all these tools at my disposal I have to use em… Commercial Mastering Studio engineers will have an assortment of compressors and EQs at their disposal that all impart their own signature (or not) on the material that passes through them. They may use a Vari Mu type of compressor for warmth on certain tracks and a DBX or API on hard-hitting rock tracks. The same can be said in digital domain with plug-ins in how they color or handle a certain process such as limiting. For example, the Waves L2 brick wall sounds different than Cakewalk’s Multi-band or the UAD Precision Limiter. So, it’s about listening and determining what if anything ‘needs’ to be done and then choosing the right tool for the material.

What is the most critical thing in mastering a song well?
Listening and getting the vibe of the artist or genre first, then trying to improve on what you have been presented. It’s really a gestalt thing in looking at how to treat the whole in such a way to achieve the best possible outcome.

Thoughts on the “volume wars”?  Do you participate?
  The whole volume thing is an errant by-product of technology innovation. I mean because we can, we do… I guess I am sounding abit thematic at this point but, it’s back to listening and making decisions to meet the objectives of the project or the artist. When working with dynamic music, like acoustic jazz, the performance is about dynamic highs and lows. Squashing to get hotter does nothing in the way to getting the art across. On the other hand, Hip Hop for the most part is about kicking the low end and being loud and clear.  It’s real easy to over-compress material and, at the end of the day when a radio broadcast compressor gets done with it, quiet material sounds as loud as hot material. Thus, over-compressed material just sounds distorted not “hotter.” Then there is the final delivery of MP3 via earbuds which is becoming increasingly prevalent these days.  Here we have to consider how low frequency information is going to affect a codecs handling of data.  Also, a little bit of headroom can go a long way to better sound representation on the extreme ends of the frequency spectrum.

Final thoughts?  Accept that although you may be able to “fix it in the mix,” you may not be able solve all problems via the mastering process…  At the end of the day there is no substitute for well recorded tracks.

Front end has always been important in analog recording and, it’s as important with digital recording, if not more. Then there is a well put together mix where all the instruments sit in their own space and tell their part of the story.  Have a wide appetite for music in its varied forms. Don’t just get set in one style. The best way in learning by doing is to embrace how different types of music require different approaches to achieve the best outcome. The more musically informed you are the better. Mastering is about making something better, enhancing, polishing and sometimes it’s said, that miracles do happen.

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Here are few books I highly recommend:

Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 10.38.06 PMMastering Audio the art and science                         by Bob Katz.  Bob’s Digital Domain site is probably the best resource for all things having to do with Mastering.  Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 10.36.26 PM

 

The Audio Mastering Handbook by Bobby Owshinski. Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 10.24.14 PMBobby is prolific author on many music related subject areas. Check out his Big Picture Blog as its a great resource on many things music.

 

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 10.25.38 PMDesktop Mastering and Beyond Mastering a Conceptual Guide by Steve Turnidge.  Steve fuses some wonderful Zen-like philosophy into his writing on the subject of Mastering. I had the privilege of an advance read of his first book Desktop Mastering. This quote of mine occupies a nice horizontal place on the back cover: “Written in a way to ensure you read every page and glean the hows and whys of the audio mastering process. And beyond the applied, Desktop Mastering provides valuable business and life advise presented in a practical, accessible, and thoughtful way.” 

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 10.25.58 PMSteve’s second book Beyond Mastering is truly a unique read.  It’s more experiencing a book rather than reading a book.  Here’s an example of his sage-like prose: “The thinking behind this process of “neutralizing and enhancing” rises repeatedly in mastering and in life.  We travel from crude, low  resolution emotional and behavioral states to an understanding of the meaning and purpose behind these states. From this neutral perspective, we can increase the resolution of our responses, and be less distracted from the present moment—the interval between stimulus and response.  None of this means the low frequencies go away—they are still there and necessary; they are just being brought into balance in the context of the fully realized life. Low frequencies and dimensions are what the majority of our lives are based on; they really do provide the movement and motivation underscoring our actions.”

I’ll cover my mastering process including default processor chain and such in a future post. Thanks for reading. –ST

MUSIC

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Audnoyz Music

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A mix of catalog tracks including Hop Hop, Energetic, Underscore, Indie, Alternative, Rocktronica, Bombastic, Hybrid Orchestral, Electronic and Smooth Jazz. Emotive Audnoyz to evocative underscore, action and acoustic/electronic fusions. *Please click image for catalogue music. player

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atwood Media

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Atwood Media is a media/marketing consultancy and music production company. 

We work with select  consumer and music technology companies, including a cohort of music software creators, media, and marketing concerns. 

We produce music for artists, institutions, and creatives working in TV, Film, and all forms of media.

Please send any inquiries to info@atwoodmedia.com

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Please click the Catalogue image player for the Catalogue player~