Here’s an album a friend and I made, which just came out through Kate Carr’s lovely label, Flaming Pines.
Shanan Holm and I have made music as Montano for almost 20 years, albeit very on and off. Our first go at it was making music entirely from field recordings, but often made unrecognisable in a sort of “IDM” fashion (I’m never comfortable with that label, but it has become an easy shorthand).
In the last couple of years, living in different places, we’ve gotten into a really enjoyable, easy exchange of ideas online. We use Slack to organise ourselves, which I’m happy to talk about if that’s of interest.
And now we’re writing what you might call trad ambient music - aiming for that middle ground of interesting and easy to ignore that Eno wrote about more than 40 years ago. We still always incorporate field recordings, but we’ve almost entirely flipped from shredding them for faux synth and drum sounds to just letting them sit as a layer, with bad mic technique and other idiosyncrasies providing prompts for our writing. In this set Hydrogen Dreamer might be the least like that, but we still let more of the field recording come through than we would’ve back in the day.
Shanan has a room full of gear he has pulled together through a guiding principle of keeping things under about $50. So a lot of second hand stuff that maybe can’t interface with a computer in any sense, from old Casio and Yamaha synths and sequencers through to an acoustic guitar. I was at this point working entirely in Audiomulch on a laptop, though I’ve moved to Bitwig since we finished this set of tracks.
So we use Slack and Google Drive + Sheets to keep track of what we’re doing. I’m going to write this assuming you know how those things work.
Each time one of us starts something we put files in Drive, create a new channel for the track in Slack, and paste a link to the files in the channel topic.
Then over in the general channel we have a link to a Google sheet where we have all the channel names and whether something is in progress, done, abandoned (though we will just delete the last category often).
As we work on something we chat about it in the relevant channel, share ideas and links and such. I’ve found it a really easy and useful way to write. It’s certainly not like being together, writing in the same room, but we tend to mull on each other’s most recent pass for a while and work through processes that can be a bit more like sculpting or weaving than performing, so I don’t feel any need for greater immediacy.
Free Slack only let’s you search back so far but we haven’t found any problem with that and we have that sheet where we keep the point in time view of where we’re at.
It probably will down the track. Flaming Pines don’t do digital distro but we’re not opposed. Previous albums are there already, although we’re trying to get those top tracks split off to their own page.
I’ve recently discovered Splice, which works well for Ableton collaborations, handling much of the file sharing and versioning. Not great for detailed note sharing but we’ve used google sheets and docs for some of that. More recently we’re hanging out on Zoom, which is nice for the face to face conversation vibe…