Kurodama – Intimate Spaces (released!)

I’m very excited (and somehow nervous) to finally be able to post this! It’s my first proper album, the culmination of 5 years of work. I’ve made this a pre-order for now, because I need to finish assembling the tapes (yes a small run of tapes is coming!) and a few other things. It will be released December 4, 2020.

Here’s some download codes (let me know which ones you’ve used in the comments):

bwf4-3ev5 | wsah-cugr | pq7p-cpfl | rbwr-wrej | x76b-e2pw | hm3w-3dus | hrvq-hhal | 4xb9-5e3e | 4cvu-b3du | qsfa-h44p | bhdr-vpe2

redeem here: kvsu


About the Album

Intimate Spaces is a musical exploration of non-inhabitable architectural spaces and their sounds, performed and produced using a mixture of field recording, sampling and synthesis.

It is an album about the dark, cold and claustrophobic interior of a concrete bridge, the sounds from the street heard through a 5-storey cavaedium and the dripping noise of a pool leaking into the service room below it.

The sounds of the outside become the sounds of the inside, but not before having been radically changed and shaped into something new.

Ultimately, this is an album about inhabiting the sounds of uninhabitable spaces.

Making of and track notes can be found here: kvsu.net/kurodama/intimatespaces/index.html

Thanks and Credits

Heartfelt thanks to: Elizabeth, Nicolaj, Ubumaic, Akirasrebirth, John Mitchell aka @jlmitch5 , Matthias Puech aka @mqtthiqs , Razvan Lazea-Postelnicu aka @zanscath , Émilie Gillet @pichenettes , Fabio Franz, Agriturismo il Gonzeto, Rachele Malini, Barbara Nagl, Marc Weidenbaum aka @disquiet , the local noise/experimental scene in South Tyrol, all the nice people here on the forum, who have been an inspiration and a source of interesting discussions!

Recorded and composed between 2015 and 2019 in Bolzano/Bozen, Montepulciano, Caldonazzo, Italy

Mastered by Robert from Ronin Mastering, who also helped me a lot with the mix!
Design by our dear friends at Brave New Alps


I have a lot I would like to say about this album, but it’s going to be a very long post and I’m also not really done with writing all my thoughts down. I love it when artists share their process and show how their tracks were made. So I’d like to humbly contribute to this, by sharing how I made the tracks on this album: Not that there’s anything special about how I made these, but perhaps it can be start of an interesting conversation.
Let me start with the track that is currently available on the preorder, “Bridge”.

Bridge

There’s a torrent close to where I grew up. It’s mostly dry in summer, but carries a lot of water when the snow melts or when it rains a lot. The torrent bed is relatively large and mostly made of sand and rocks. I loved to play there when I was a kid.

The loud “thump” sound, which vehicles produce when transitioning from the street to the bridge, became the sonic foundation of the composition, resulting in this bass drum-like pulse, which can be heard throughout the track. The sounds I recorded in the metal funnel were then used to add further percussive elements.


The same “thump” sound was also used as an impulse response inside a convolution-based reverb plugin (Liquidsonics Reverberate). This enabled me to apply the same spatial quality found beneath the bridge to synthesized sounds.

To create more pitched materials and to add harmonic elements to the composition, I used a modal resonator module (Rings from Mutable Instruments) to process the percussive sounds from the bridge and the funnel. The bass drone is just a simple patch made with Ableton Live’s Analog synth.


22 Likes

This is very cool! Will you be releasing it to the streaming services?

Can’t wait to listen to the whole thing! Awesome concept.

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Sorry no. I really don’t like streaming services. I’m personally not using any of that, so I wouldn’t even know where to start.

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Also Bandcamp is a streaming service, just a respectful one with an album focus vs playlist focus.

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I used hrvq-hhal, thanks so much for sharing!

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I just noticed that the album did go online without the tape pre-order being set to plublic, but they are now online. Sorry about that, if you just bought the digital album but are interested in a tape let me know. I’m sure we can work something out!

Super! I used this code: x76b-e2pw

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Redeemed qsfa-h44p

Thanks for sharing. Enjoying it so far…

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I used the code pq7p-cpfl. I’m excited to check this out, thanks for sharing the codes!

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I redeemed code bhdr-vpe2 Looking forward to listening - thanks !
(Unlikely to get time to listen properly before the weekend but from what I’ve managed to listen to earlier it sounds great)

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I redeemed
4xb9-5e3e

Thanks so much!!!

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I used code rbwr-wrej. Thank you greatly.

Looking forward to listening it!
:slight_smile:

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I used 4cvu-b3du

Thank you so much for sharing! Looking forward to listening. :slight_smile:

Edit:
Popped back to congratulate you on a beautiful recording–thank you for sharing it here and generously providing download codes. From start to finish it was engaging and enjoyable. I am beyond impressed at the quality of recording and mixing–really great job!! What you achieved with your sound design was immersive… I didn’t feel like I was sitting in my studio listening. Thank you for a lovely experience and for the inspiration.

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Used code: 4xb9-5e3e

Thanks. Am looking forward to listening to this.

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Thank you so much! I have to admit that mixing proved to be a great exercise in patience and endurance. I went through about 6-7 different versions of the mix, with each one I learned a whole bunch of new things, but it was also a tirning, slow process. One that I would usually indulge in late in the evening, after a long day of work, once the kid was put to bed.
I have to thank 2 people for helping me out with this, one is Robert from Ronin Mastering, who gave me some great tips for the spectral balance and the dynamics of the mix, and @jlmitch5 who – apart from giving me some great inputs and feedbacks on the compositional side of things – helped me a lot with a big problem I faced: stereo field balancing.

Most of the field recordings I used were not very symmetrical or balanced in the stereo spectrum. This was partially due to the recording position (note taken: need to pay more attention to that) but also to the geometry of the spaces themselves.
Since I was often using IR files to apply the spaces’ reverb to synth sounds, this unbalance would also transfer to most of the non-field-recording sounds.
Add to this some further factors: I don’t have an ideal listening position, my studio corner does not have acoustic treatment (which would be a bit hard to do), my monitors while being OK really aren’t super great and I also hear some frequencies better on my left ear, than on the right one.
@jlmitch5 suggested the plugin Can Opener Studio, which really helped a lot to compare what I would hear on monitors to what I would hear on headphones, and get a visual representation of the various frequencies on the stereo field.
I went though I think 3 mix revisions until I had the feeling that the spectral content was balanced enough and also balanced on the stereo field. This while trying to keep the correlation kind of in check and trying not to loose the spaciousness of some of the sounds.
Because the one thing that made me create this album is really the enveloping, spacious sound that some of these spaces had.

So it’s really great to hear that all of this worked out as intended at the end!

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I listened this album last night in a darkened room and it was a great experience. A wonderful blend of field recordings and synth sounds with a slightly dark edge that envelops the listener. Thank you for this inspiring piece of Art.

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Thank you so much for your beautiful words!

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the album is now finally out!

Time for some more making-of! Let’s carry on with track #3

Cavædium

Years ago, while still living in a tiny apartment in the city of Bolzano (northen Italy, on the border with Austria) I became fascinated with the sound of the building’s cavaedium. The cavaedium is a tall rectangular pit-like structure usually found on the inside of a large building. It serves the purpose of bringing light and air to the rooms that would otherwise not get any. Our cavaedium was 5 stories tall and had a large roof window on top.

This track is made with recordings from this cavaedium.

The cavaedium had a very peculiar and strong sound, and worked as a resonator and amplifier for the city’s noises, melding these into a constant drone, which was audible especially during the summer. When keeping the windows open, you could hear all sorts of things: music, voices and sounds from the adjacent flats, trains passing by, car noises, etc.

The cavaedium was also colouring and shaping the sound in a very specific way, through resonance and perhaps comb filtering. It created this constant drone, which you could hear all the time. Here’s an unprocessed recording, to give you an idea:

This drone had a very specific and clearly audible root frequency around 150Hz.

Most of the sounds you can hear in the track, even the ones that sound like a slightly noisy synth, are actually field recordings.

This track defined my process for the whole album. Initially I only wanted to work with field recordings, but I was not very satisfied with the result, so I started to experiment with the modular, adding things here and there. I decided to make all synth sounds revolve around the fundamental frequency of the cavaedium’s drone, in some parts blending the two together, making it harder to distinguish the synthetic sounds from the ones I had recorded.

I don’t usually spend much time taking patch notes, but I somehow liked the idea of being able to reproduce this one live, so I did actually make some detailed notes about my patch and later cleaned them up on the computer.

Similarly to “bridge” I wanted synthetic sounds to have the same reverb quality as the recordings, so I created some custom impulse responses (by popping a balloon and recording the thus produced noise).

Here’s an early recording of just the synth lines:

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Service Room

My process here was a little different from the other tracks in that I used a simple, homebrew Puredata patch to come up with a first musical sketch. Short loops taken from the recordings were pitched down, layered and sometimes reversed. I was mainly after the implicit rhythmic quality of the sounds, which emerges in the second part of the track.

Later, I recreated this sound collage in the DAW and combined it with rhythmic patterns made using a granular processor (Mutable Instruments Clouds) and several layers of drones made on the modular synth.

The main sonic element here is the drip sounds coming from the service room. I really liked them, and due to the strong reverb, and the added resonance of the room, they were even more interesting when pitched down and/or reversed.

Like all the tracks, this one underwent several changes over the years. An initial version featured a drum part, made from the drip sounds, which later was removed. Here’s an early version in which the watery sounds were a lot more present. Later, also thanks to some valuable feedback from a couple of friends and fellow musicians, I turned these sounds down a bit, moving them more towards the background.

Some of the modular sounds provide hints to the knowledgeable listener that while working on this track I was testing – a then still to be released – module from Mutable Instruments: Tides v2. I really liked the “different frequencies” output mode, which quantises the output to just intonation intervals, and I used it extensively.

As in all of these tracks, not everything that sounds like a synth really is one. Often, it’s just the recording that was heavily processed and mangled. For example, the dark drone sound that can be heard from 3:20 until the end is mostly just the noise floor, from the service room itself.

4 years after making the original recording, I went back to the service room. Interestingly, I could hear completely different sounds this time. The highlight was a plane passing by, resonating in the pipes and creating this wonderful roaring drone.

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