If you don't know of the spacesynth genre, not to worry. Neither did I until recently. I have, in fact, loved the genre for decades without actually knowing what it was called. I would, probably wrongfully, describe it as a modern take of the best oldschool "mod" music from the golden Amiga era of the 90s. The duo started making music using Pro Tracker on the Atari, so maybe I'm not entirely under water with my comparison. I find it to be a treasure that melodic elements have been kept intact in the music of mindXpander, even 20 years on!
The album contains 7 lengthy tracks (durations range from 05:30 to 07:32) with a nice variety of tunes. Production quality is excellent and the instruments used are crisp and sound very unlike default presets and patches. I have some insider information from David of mindXpander that quite a lot of time is spent creating new awesome sounds using modular synths. Personally I would freak out if a saw a single cable today, but these guys clearly know what they are doing.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is #4, "Hoshi No Koe", as it reminds me very much of a mod tune named "Space Debris" by Captain. Space Debris is a legendary track that got me involved in making music to begin with back in the 90s. Listening to Hoshi No Koe brings me back memories. Great memories. The difference is that now I can enjoy a crisp modern production and the mix sits great in my Sennheiser PXC450 headphones.
Another great track from the album is the first one, "Blue Creatures." I must admit that the initial 13 seconds are a bit "cliché" (synth music with a typical bassline) - but give it a few seconds and the experience quickly turns into a very enjoyable uplifting melodic journey.
The genre is different from the music I make, but you may find melodic similarities as this style has influenced me a lot over the years. Personally I bought Triumphant Return as an MP3/FLAC album on bandcamp before even reaching the midpoint of Blue Creatures. If you like it as much as I do, consider supporting mindXpander by purchasing Triumphant Return and enjoy it offline in very high quality =)
I will also take this opportunity to inform everyone that I'm working on a little surprise Imphenzia project. Keep your eyes and ears open!
Not long ago I released a new and unconventional Imphenzia track named "Time Travel" - check out the video of the track:
This track rocketed to the #1 chart at soundclick.com and it also received great feedback on facebook. It is, however, a very different style compared to most other Imphenzia tracks released in the past.
The track, the feedback, and some recent expansion pack purchases for Nexus got me inspired to create more music.
Following the launch of the revamped website, Imphenzia Soundtrack is currently my main priority. I tend to switch focus between Imphenzia Music (my trance music), Imphenzia Soundtrack, and Imphenzia Games depending on where I find most motivation at any given time.
The first half of this year I put a lot of effort into Imphenzia Music by rebuilding the entire web site from scratch, creating a new web shop, introducing Full Access feature, releasing new singles, releasing the Chillout album, introducing all my music to digital stores and Spotify. I also made the decision to allow full length streaming of ALL my tracks (previously high quality streaming was only allowing the first two minutes.) I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do because since then the number of Full Access users have dropped and now one person every other month opts for (the low end of) Full Access. I will keep things as they are, but I think the lack of interest in downloading my music is one of the reasons why my motivation has switched to Imphenzia Sountrack at the moment. Not to worry, it'll shift back at some stage =)
There is a hole in my virtual studio
I've purchased quite a few great music products over the past few of years, and my current virtual studio consists of the following:
I'm fairly happy with this list of software but there is one gigantic hole. For trance I don't feel I need anything more than Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1 at the moment - it's such a competent set of instruments for that purpose.
For Imphenzia Soundtrack, on the other hand, I am missing an instrument or library for soundscape textures, glitches, and futuristic grunge style sounds.
I've done some online searching today and I found Native Instruments Abysnth 5 which I think will fill this hole perfectly. Absynth comes with 1800 presets and a, what seems to be an amazing, morph feature that will allow the creation of totally unique sounds. I've been looking at the demo videos and listened to the sample tracks and all I have to do now is to decide whether I should by the boxed DVD version or the digital download version. If I get the digital version I'll have it straight away but I've got boxed versions for Nexus, Cubase, and the Complete Composer's edition (featuring all the large sample libraries) so it would be nice to have the cyan colored Abynth 5 box in that collection. Both the digital download and boxed version is €179 (including shipping) so I'm leaning towards the box after all. My PayPal account is missing $25 so I'll wait to see if any non-exclusive licenses go so I can place the order.
Good hardware for the gigantic sample libraries
The only music hardware I use nowadays is my 88-key Roland FP-7 stage piano as master midi keyboard and to play improvisation to come up with new ideas. Some will find it amusing, but I use the Asus motherboard sound card. I down-mix all the audio without it ever touching the sound card so it serves no purpose to get another one. In fact, I've got a Creamware Pulsar 2 DSP sound card that I bought for £2000 - but it's old now and they didn't bother to release any Windows 7 drivers for it... But again, I don't need it =)
If you found this post because you are looking for a computer with a lot of memory to run the EastWest libraries - I can confirm that my current computer handles it beautifully:
Asus P6X58D-E Motherboard
24 GB RAM using 2 x Corsair 12GB (3 kit) DDR3 1600MHz/CL9/DOMINATOR
Intel Core i7 3.06GHz Quad 8MB Cache Processor
Corsair AX 850W PSU
Crucial RealSSD 256GB (for the sound libraries, they consist of over 177'000 files)
Corsair SSD Force Series 120GB (for Windows 7 x64 Ultimate
I also had time to reflect on the historic designs and trends that my site has endured over the past 13 years. In recent time, for the launch of the 2008 site, it was all about content, content, content, account features, google ads, and more content. Following the trend at the time the font was small to fit in as much text and information as possible and the layout was split into three columns complicating it even further. The 2011 site is the complete opposite with much less information presented in a tidy manner with larger text and without columns. I also think that the time of content packed sites was a natural way to progress as it was expected to make use of fancy layouts and high screen resolutions, where as we’re now back to putting the visitor at the center of attention making sure that the message you want to get across is clearly visible and simple to understand.
For some time I have been contemplating over how I should release my music. In the very beginning it was only possible to purchase physical albums, then the addition of mp3 albums, then single mp3 tracks, then a “donation” to download all tracks for a period of six months. I found the various options, and how they were presented on my site, to be very confusing. What would my visitors think if I thought it was confusing? The idea of a donation, for example, would only make sense if all tracks were downloadable to begin with since a donation is giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Bottom line; it was very confusing.
I hope that the new site has taken a big step in the right direction to combat the issues outlined above. The album section has been totally redesigned with a clean look and a visitor can add digital albums and CD albums into a shopping cart. The donation feature has been replaced with a new feature for full access that still focuses on allowing the visitor to contribute with an amount of his or her choice and is return rewarded with longer term of access depending on the size of the contribution.
Another two years have past since Illusion was released and I was pleased, and somewhat surprised, as I unexpectedly decided to release "Duplicate My Soul". I should probably follow traditional marketing strategies and build up a hype well ahead of an album being released but when I have my creative periods I spontaneously do these things. At the same time I'm quite happy not to follow all the rules and I'd rather take the opportunity and take advantage when the spontaneous outbursts pay me a visit.
On the 19th of March 2010 I started working on a new track under the project name "Logic Surface" (I always have random names of my tracks until they are finished and I can name them appropriately depending on their character). I nearly completed the track on the 19th but on saturday 20th March I also managed to complete it fairly early in the day. As I named the track "False Awakening" I started to add tracks released after Illusion into my winamp playlist and as the total duration grew to 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 51 seconds (including 4 bonus tracks) it hit me - it's time for my next album to be released! By the evening on the 20th "Duplicate My Soul" was released and available for anyone to get as an mp3-album or as a physical album with artwork and the complete works.
So, in addition to creating "False Awakening" what did I do for this release during the 20th March?
Compiled the final track listing
Created the cover artwork for the jewel case and disc label (using a photoshop tutorial on the internet)
Changed ID-tags for all tracks included on album and re-encoded them in MP3, OGG, ACC, and FLAC
Uploaded all the re-encoded and ID-tagged tracks to imphenzia.com
Added album (artwork, zip-archive for mp3-purchases, and individual tracks) to imphenzia.com
Updated the web site to include the latest album
Created promo video for album demonstrating how I created the artwork (+ upload to youtube)
Sent out an e-mail to my mailing list regarding the new album release
Updated common social networking sites with album release (twitter, facebook, youtube, etc.)
Over all I'm very pleased with achieving all of this in one single day from spawning the idea of releasing an album to actually releasing it.
What to expect from Duplicate My Soul Most of the tracks are of true Imphenzia character with a melodic and uplifting sound. The main 9 tracks are all trance styled with what most probably would refer to as a classic (or retro) styled Trance which was more popular in the late 90s. I haven't been on for following trends or releasing what is currently hot or not, I'd rather create the type of music I love as there are still quite a few out there who appreciate this style. The one exception is probably track number 9 named "Vapour Trail" which was a very experimental track incidentally enough also casually released in silence on imphenzia.com in retrospect 2 years after it was created =) Following the 9 tracks of trance is the first bonus track "Theme of Decimation X" which was originally created for the intense retro shooter game "Decimation X" by Xona games. It fits the over all mood and is very much in line with my normal music that it qualifies as a bonus track on the album. The last three bonus tracks are chilled out downtempo edits of some of the tracks featured on the album.
The name of the album comes from the first track on the album with the same name. The name was selected for two reasons. First of all it is a tribute to my first child (a son) so it is in a sense duplicating my soul, and secondly because the track and all the music of Imphenzia really does reflect my soul and the music I create.
For those of you who are curious of what type of equipment I used to create the music on this album I use the following: Computer: Quad Core Intel 2.4 CPU with 4GB Ram running Windows 7 x64 Master keyboard: Roland FP-7 (88 keys hammer action) and an Evolution MK-226C Sound card: Motherboard's own soundcard believe it or not (with ASIO4ALL drivers) Sequencer: Steinberg Cubase 5 VST instruments: Mainly native Cubase instruments, reFX Nexus2 (plus expansion packs) and reFX VanGuard (plus expansion packs)
Finishing off this post, here is the promo video for the track featuring clips from the first four tracks and a quick preview of how the artwork was created: