Sound habitat: a 24 hour ambient album

Hello lines friends!

I’m sharing a project that I began in the early spring, during the first few weeks of intensifying coronavirus spread and the resulting sheltering-in-place. It’s a (very) long-form ambient composition titled sound habitat.

Its runtime is twenty-four hours; it was recorded in situ, at home, in single takes ranging from four to eight hours in length. The finished composition is meant to accompany a single day, from start to end, and its individual movements aim to be a kind of substrate or support for the phases of your waking and sleeping life.

Recording this album was incredibly therapeutic and grounding, and I hope some of this healing and regenerative power might be passed along to you.

I’m currently streaming the album on a round-the-clock loop, synchronized to my Pacific Western time zone. I’ll schedule some broadcasts for listeners on the east coast and beyond shortly!

Finally, at the end of the first month of broadcasts, I’ll be doing a short-run physical release of the album.

You can find the stream here, on “outer spaces,” a virtual performance space that I created for this project but will soon open up to community contributions!

Thanks to all of you for the inspiration and support! This forum has been a constant source of companionship for me during these weird and painful times.

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wow

seems like a fantastic idea

love the concept of this & excited to listen in

good encouragement to follow up on my idea for a 4 second release :slight_smile:

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wow this is amazing. i’d had this idea a long time ago, to make a whole day record, back when it was a lot harder to do (pre-digital). but there is a colossal gulf between an idea and actually doing it. great work.

Rock n Roll, zuliani. Great idea. Will enjoy dipping into this later.

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Thank you, @glia! It was a massive undertaking, which was part of the point… I wanted a meditative “deep-dive” project to sink myself into. And boy did I ever get one.

So much of the work was in retraining my instincts with composing for modular synthesis — away from wanting quick, dynamic changes, towards making a single tonal or harmonic shift play out over anywhere from five minutes to a half an hour.

And then, of course, dealing with a 24-hour audio file, which even boiled down to a lossy mp3 was still several gigabytes. :scream:

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Thank you @andrew!!!

And, yes, please do the four-second release. Every maximalism needs a corresponding minimalism!

@fourhoarder I’d love to hear more about what you had planned — there have got to be many ways of going about doing what I did, and your idea of doing it pre-digital is both impressive and also kind of horrifying. So… many… cassettes…

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Awesome, I’m looking forward to spending some time with this!

this sounds really beautiful. are there particular times you are especially fond of? also, can you elucidate your process for making the music? would love to hear how you think about composing long form and your instrumentation.

Thank you so much, @infinitedigits! I think my favourite section at the moment is the afternoon one, so from ~11 AM to ~3 PM. I also am very happy with the sleeping segment, which is eight hours of a looping filtered noise patch that combines white, pink, and brown noise, with some ASMR textures from a WMD Fracture.

The composition and recording process was in some ways an exponential expansion of other ambient work I’d done, but with a big conceptual shift around scale. When I was working on half-hour long ambient pieces, I got used to a certain temporal relationship with the synth — how to set up changes, how to pace things, etc. Much of this had to do with physical associations that I hadn’t really thought of. For example, I realized that I’d matched my adjusting of faders and knobs to the pacing of a single breath, or with a kind of open-closed gesture of the arm that was doing the tweaking, etc. A lot of the process for making sound habitat was learning to slow this down.

There are moments in this album where I remember sitting in front of my synth, turning a knob or dropping a fader as slowly as I physically could — like, feeling for the level of pressure where the resistance on the potentiometer released and the knob would turn, and applying just a bit more than this pressure so I could turn the knob a fraction of a degree. I’d bring a knob from six o’clock to noon over the course of half an hour’s worth of slow, incremental movements. If I could hear the change, chances are I was going too fast!

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yeah if you think that a 60 is preferred to keep wear on your motor down, you’d need 48 cassettes!! you can see why I never got past the idea stage.

my concept was probably born from listening to Pink Floyd’s “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” and thinking it was really nice morning music, whether it was psychedelic or not. I was going to try to do themes for things, based around a mapped out grid of events in the day. Now I think I would try to democratize the experience a little more, not make it based around MY day. listening to your work today makes me think I would have leaned heavily on ambient transition music, which I wasn’t really doing at the time to this degree.

very interesting to think about again and loving the sections I’m getting. right now in the exciting 11-3 section.

thanks Canada for sponsoring the arts!!!

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brilliant idea, have enjoyed having it on the past few minutes. thanks for sharing and congrats on making it happen! :clap:

Hi everyone! We’re in the final week of the round-the-clock stream, after which there will be a little short-run release of the album in physical form. So if you want to drop in on the stream, please do!

Equally exciting for me is that, at the end of the stream, I’ll be collaborating with my very talented friend Max Ammo to turn the ”outer spaces” website into a virtual performance space for sonic and visual work! So please stay tuned for that :slight_smile:

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Ah, I’m so flattered, thank you so much!! I’m very happy with the website, and excited to start having virtual “residencies” and sharing the love.

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Hi all! It’s the last day of the 24 hour stream — lining up with Hallowe’en, which we’ll pretend was deliberate. What’s spookier than long-form ambient music? :ghost: :ghost: :ghost:

Please pop by if you have time, and stay tuned for the album’s “proper” launch tomorrow!! Thanks to all for your encouragement + support.

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Hi everyone! The “sound habitat satellite kit” is now available on my bandcamp — it’s a weatherproof, heat-sealed foil bag containing a little art card with info on the back, a USB key with a 24-hour mp3 file, and a printout of the waveforms for the whole duration of the piece.

It’s a limited run of 20 but I’ll make more if I run out! And might use a bigger foil pack next time so I can stuff more goodies in there.

If physical media isn’t your thing, you can buy a digital copy of sound habitat for $10 CAD (or ~$7 USD). As per always, please let me know if you’d like a download code!

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Fascinating concept, will be checking out the Bandcamp link when I’ve got a minute or 1440

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