27 September 2011

Apollo Sound Clips Online

It is always very scary to put a new album out there in the wild, but I guess waiting won't make it less scary ;) So, today I decided to put 5 tracks online for you on my website. Just like it did with  my previous albums these are Low Quality MP3 files. The Quality on the CD will be much better and there are 12 tracks on the CD with a total length of 71 minutes. I selected these tracks, but I could have taken others as well. I think the album is very varied so it is difficult to take a few tracks to represent the whole album, but I guess this will give you a rough idea. The tracks are in a Flash player, so in able to hear them you will need a recent version of Adobe Flash player installed on your computer. If you don't have Flash you will have to wait a little longer until the tracks come available on various other websites. You might need to clear you browser cache by the way if you visited this page before and don't see tracks in the player. I hope you like the music you can find it on http://www.synth.nl/Apollo. The album will be released on CD on the 1st of October 2011. You can already order it from Groove Unlimited. The sales link is next to the player. Enjoy!

25 September 2011

Another Apollo Premiere on Dreamscape Radio

Today a second track from my upcoming Apollo album is getting its first airplay. Ron Boots played the track 'Apollo 13' on his latest Dreamscape Radio podcast #158 today. You can listen to this podcast only this week so be quick to tune in. You can find the podcast at this URL: http://www.dreamscaperadio.nl

More information about the album: http://www.synth.nl/Apollo

24 September 2011

Apollo Radio Premiere on Syndae #148

I know I made you wait a long time for this album and I'm sorry for that. It took a lot more work this time than I anticipated to finish off the album, but now I have good news. Finally you can hear a first glimpse of the music of the album. On Syndae podcast #148 Stefan has another premiere. He plays the opening track of the album called 'LaunchPad'. It closes of the show, so it is the latest track. Stefan didn't play to whole track by the way, but at least it will give you an idea how the album starts. More will come soon, I'm sending out the album previews to several radio shows this weekend. I hope you enjoy it and do let me know what you think. It is always scary and exciting at the same time to release a new album out there. You can find the Syndae podcast on this URL: http://www.syndae.de

21 September 2011

Some Apollo Aftermath

For the musical side of my upcoming Apollo album I have only one more thing to do and that is to compile the final Master CD for the pressing plant tomorrow together with Ron Boots. After that we are going to bring it together to the pressing plant, but even last night I visited my friend Hans for some last second changes in the masters. But today I had time to do some after math and archive of all the files from the project. And then I just realized how much time and data has been involved in this project. So I guess it would be nice to share this information with you and let you in a bit on the process that took me to the end result.

The Apollo project has know several stages. It all started out with an idea to do an album about the NASA Moon mission, since I was born in 1969 and always felt very connected with the Moon Landing by Neil Amstrong. So after I decided this was going to be the subject for a new album, I started looking for original NASA recordings that were broadcasted on the radio in that time. I ended up buying a royalty free set of CD's with 211 original recording of the astronauts and ground control talking. That was about 138 Mbyte data in mp3 format that was the spark that started this album. Then I started reading about these mission and also collected a lot of pictures from the Internet that I use to give my inspiration. In total 124 of them being 272 Mbyte of data.

After that a pre-production stage started. In this period I always start with making a whole library of sound effects on my modulars that I can use later on as details for the music. Don't ask me why I start with this, that is just my workflow and mostly either the samples or the SFX in spark a melody that starts to become a song later on inspired by a picture from the collection that I made. In total I made 387 sound effects being 899 Mbytes of data. In this period I also started to look a lot of documentaries about the Apollo space mission. I also involved the kids in this process and we even started to build plastic model kits of the Saturn rocket and the Moon Lander etc. Very inspiring I must say.

Then the inspirational stage started were I started to play melodies and tried to make arrangements from these song. By then I already had the idea including a picture in my head for 12 tracks that would represent the whole story over the CD. So in fact I had like a story board that animators also use to make a movie. There actually also the idea started to make a movie along with the music. But I'll get back to that another time. In this period I recorded a lot of stuff. I ended up with 941 recordings representing 44.7 Gbytes of data that I had to chose from later on to make songs. I do all my recordings in 48 Khz / 24 bit by the way in case you are interested in that kind of stuff.

Then it was time for the production stage. Here I start selecting the recordings and producing arrangements in my sequencer software that happens to be Cakewalk Sonar X1 Producer Edition. I ended up with 489 files representing 47.7 Gbyte of data where I combined the music I recorded with the Apollo samples and Sound Effects I made before. Since I did 12 tracks on average that was 40 tracks per song and 4 Gbyte of data per song. Some songs even make version 30 or 40. I worked on this process for about 2 years. And based on the calculations of my version numbers per track that represent normally a days work I worked 293 days in this process with on average 8 hour work days.

Then it was time for me to step back a bit and let my good friend Hans Landman do the mastering. He asked me to mix my original tracks down to sub buses that he could work with. He got 237 files from me being 23.8 Gbyte of data. Still in 48 Khz / 24 bit by the way. From these buses Hans made a new mix and added EQ and compression on each of these bussen resulting in much louder, but also more polished and cleaner track. I really liked what he did, but we had several sessions making adjustments. Big in the beginning small in the end. On average for every song there were about 12 versions before we were satisfied enough to go to the next stage.

Hans also did the sample rate conversion from 48 Khz to 44.1 Khz and dithered everything so that I was left with 12 tracks in 44.1 Khz / 16 bit that could fit on CD. In total that was 720 Mbytes of data left from the original 47 Gbytes or so. Amazing right? These track I will take tomorrow to my other good friend Ron Boots who compiles the final CD for me. In the mean time I also worked on the Artwork of the CD and I am still working on the movie with 3D animations that will go together with the official launch of the CD on the 1st of October. I hope this little aftermath has given you a bit of an insight in the whole process of creating this CD. And as always if you have questions feel free to ask. Pictures Courtesy of NASA (www.nasa,gov)

20 September 2011

Final Text Apollo Album Online

Today I finalized the artwork for the Apollo album. It had to be sent to the pressing plant today in order to make the release date on the 1st of October. My friend Hans helped my out a lot with correcting and improving the text and Remy Stroomer helped me out with the layout. Thanks guys! I just put some of the text online for you to read on my website, so you can already read what inspired me to create this album and you can also read what all 12 tracks will be about. There is some more text in the booklet that goes with the CD. So you can read that later on if you buy the album. Concerning the music I just suggested some minor last second changes after listening to the masters again today. Probably nobody will hear the difference :) So we are as good as done with all the music as well. Two radio shows will probably air the first tracks from Apollo this coming weekend. After that some previews will be online, but I'd like to give them the premiere. You can read the text here http://www.synth.nl/Apollo also the pre-order link is on there ;)

17 September 2011

Apollo 3D Project (Part 14)

Last week I was in the USA for a business trip, but I took my notebook and headphones with me. In this way I could continue the mastering process with Hanz by listening and giving feedback. But I could also work more on my 3D project in the time I had left between meetings. On the left you see a picture of the Saturn V rocket on the launch pad. As you can see the crawler that transported it is gone. I simulated the filling of the rocket with liquid Oxygen. During this filling you can see the fumes coming from the rocket. An awesome sight. Of course this will be all animated in the movie.

Another scene I did is the famous Earth Rise picture. I animated this by moving across the surface of the Moon with a steady view of the partly lighted Earth in the back. I also did some work on the whole moon landing and take off sequence, but I don't have any nice still pictures of those at this time, since I'm not completely happy yet with them. But the animations are useable enough now for the movie.

After the take off from the Moon part of the Moon lander stays on the Moon. Only the cabin, called ascent stage, is returning to dock with the Command Module again. This is also called the Rendez-Vous. After this the 2 crew members that were in the Moon Lander return to the Command Module and the Ascend Stage is jettisoned into space, since it is no longer necessary.

After this they return the astronauts return to Earth in the Command Module, but before they re-enter the Earth's atmosphere the capsule separates from the rest of the Command Module that is then also jettisoned into space. So eventually from the whole Saturn V rocket you saw in the first pictures only the capsule on the left remains and lands back into the Ocean.

Tonight I'm going to visit my friend Hans again for another mastering session. I hope we can finish everything tonight actually. I'll keep you updated on that.

07 September 2011

Synthesizers and Effects used on Apollo

Usually when I release a new album I get the question what synthesizers I used and most of the time I don't remember, but now I think I do ;) So here is a list of the synthesizers I used to create the upcoming Apollo album and also a list of the effects that were used. OK here for the synths: ARP 2600, Elka Synthex, Moog Minimoog, Moog Memorymoog, Moog Taurus III, Moog Voyager RME, Roland Jupiter 8, Roland System 100m, Roland SH-09, Roland SH-5, Roland V-Synth XT, Roland V-Synth GT, Roland GAIA, Korg Radias, Korg M3, Access Virus TI Polar, Nord Modular G2X, Waldorf Microwave 1, Arturia Origin,Anywhere Instruments Semtex XL, Alesis Andromeda A6, Eminent 310 Unique, Novation Ultranova and a Acid Lab Miami drum machine. I also used some software synthesizers.

All songs were recorded and arranged in Cakewalk Sonar X1 Producer Edition. Recording was done using Lynx Aurora 16 AD converters and RME MADI interfaces. I used quite some effects from my UAD-2 bundle, but also these hardware effects where used. Bricasti M7, Quantec Yardstick 2402/F, Eventide Eclipse, Eventide H8000, Eventide 2016 reverb, Lexicon PCM96 surround, Lexicon PCM91, Sony DPS-V77, TC Electronic Fireworx, Korg SDD-3000, EH Electric Mistress and AKG BX-15. The mastering is being done in Steinberg Cubase 6.1 and Audiofile Wave Editor on OSX Snow Leopard by my friend Hans Landman.

I hope this answers all questions up front and if not do feel free to ask. I'd be more than happy to answer your questions.