March 2021 marks 5 years of music from the Northfield Lenox project.
The EP “1621” was released as a thank you to everyone who has listened, liked, reposted, commented and provided feedback through the SoundCloud platform over the years. The NL SoundCloud page was originally set up as a personal repository but has become much more leading to endless rabbit holes of music listening and an avenue for interaction with other artists.
The EP contains some new material as well as remixes of two of the first tracks uploaded in 2016. “Pop Cans” and “Fifty Six K” were originally released in March 2016 as part of the Depot album. They were made in using the LMMS DAW and the included instruments available in 2015 / 2016. If you want to hear other ‘experiments’ from this starting point, check out the Busy Signals tab on the website.
Cloktacs III (2020)
After two years a return to the ‘Cloktac’ project format, which like Cloktacs and Cloktacs II had tracks added to over time, with no underlying themes. The focus was to work with some new virtual instruments and gain an improved understanding of production, automation and workflows.
The track “Hinterland Grey” is a return to the track “Hinterland” from Cloktacs I. Not really a remix or re-work , but it does incorporate some of the original piano MIDI information. [The bookends are the same, but the books are different.]
“Ritual” is a collaboration with Gonzalo Serrano. Separated by almost 10 000 km we met through the community on SoundCloud. Gonzalo Serrano uploads grooves & drum pieces that he composes and records, which are then shared with others to incorporate into new creations. I strongly recommend spending some time listening to his music and collaborations with others.
Home Atomic Water (2020)
…Take a trip through time and space with scenic stops along the way. The tour includes a flight through scores of waves and particles. Get entangled at the Enormous Fabric Manufacturing Facility. Enjoy clean hotels (relatively speaking) with dual closets, and of course be ready for random wildlife sightings, from a distance…
Media samples were taken from readings of “Relativity: The Special and General Theory” By Albert Einstein originally published in 1916.
I have always had a soft spot for long meandering progressive rock music tracks and albums. One example that always comes to mind is “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis. Not with the same talent or genre, but this album was an attempt to embrace that type of structure, or lack of structure, and hopefully have the listener wonder ‘how did we get here?’ much like the questions asked when delving into the topics of life and the universe.
Coming to terms that, like the universe, there is no actual limit in a digital workstation for number of tracks, so with this project – just kept adding and adding . . . Several instrument were used for the first time including ‘Massive X’ and ‘Spitfire LABS’. Welcome back to Miroslav Philharmonic after a long period of compatibility struggles.
. . . Now, let us return to our old friend the railway carriage . . .
Created during the 2020 COVID19 pandemic, initial music tracks were developed with no solid structure and ‘injected randomness’ in line with this cacophonous time period. Around the same time I received several written vignettes from my brother which were based on dreams he had partly related to the crisis. It seemed to be a good idea to merge these together. Thank you to Glasgow performance artist Tony+Morris for taking time to narrate the text. This marks the first true Northfield Lenox collaboration.
Thank you to everyone who continued to make sound & music during this time.
“Granite” is only available on SoundCloud.
North Bear Tanofare (2020)
Tanofare: From late evening to the middle of the night.
After the electronica laden “Circuit Tension” project, “North Bear Tanofare” makes use of some of the more melodic tone and use of virtual-acoustic instruments experimented with in some of the “Cloktac” tracks.
The songs “Sand Bar” and “Lake Bed” feature a vocal synthesizer which incorporates a word & phrase builder. This, used along with text to speech converters allowed not only creating ‘spoken word’ sections of original content – but the ability to add lyrics into the mix through a virtual singer.
The track “Tanofare” uses only virtual pianos and cello, with no loops, stabs, or preset patterns.
Circuit Tension (2020)
An attempt at some straight up Electronica. I have collected a number of instruments developed by NI over the last few years, which include access to corresponding expansions. One of the expansion components are project templates for use in the Maschine environment. I was curious to check these out, but without the Maschine controller hardware. I was able to integrate the Maschine software into my DAW, and use the project templates as starting points via a MIDI controller. The project templates were stripped down to drum and rhythm sections, the patterns and scenes customized, before then overlaying tracks and samples.
This moved away from the workflow used in the last several projects specifically to reduce the use of percussion loops and drum machine pattern presets, but was a very enjoyable way to create new music.
Coaxial Descent (2019)
The tracks on Coaxial Descent have a nostalgic component, but mainly relate to hearing sounds from various places at the same time, without intently focusing on any one source…. music from a weather information channel on the TV, a small AM radio, a window open to a back lane…
The tracks “Screens & Cables” and “Hallways” contain samples from one of my favourite movies, “My Winnipeg”. They were used with consent of the director. Thank you to Guy Maddin who was gracious enough to take the time to respond to the request and provide some feedback and support.
The track “Hallways” includes a snippet from Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No.1″ as this seemed to be a mainstay of the local Weather Channel track listing.
The EP makes use of 2 tools / instruments not used before – NI Maschine 2 and Izotope’s VocalSynth.
After becoming aware of the existence of Shortwave Numbers Stations, I became obsessed with listening to online recordings and wanted immediately to use them as samples to base a project on.
This EP was definitely influenced by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s album “IBM 1401, A User’s Manual”. I was amazed at how he was able to take a very simple mechanical tone and amplify it into something melodic and emotional. I out and out copied this approach. It was also a unique project in that the finished product was very close to what I had set out to make, completely unlike the Hotelepath EP.
Using Numbers Station samples in music is also not an original idea, I found many tracks using some of the same recordings and stations by other artists on SoundCloud, but I wanted to try with underlying themes around the people involved. Who were they? Were all of the communications one way? Did they know each other . . .
. . .the sender in some stark remote radio station, trans-Atlantic transmissions, the receiver in a hotel room across the world with uneven wooden floors, cautiously dialing in a frequency in the middle of the night on a beat up radio with uncomfortable metal earphones, scratching numbers on a piece of paper, drinking warm vodka on a cold night . . .
A ‘Hotel Themed’ EP released in 2019. The original concept was to create eight to ten very short soundscapes or drones each related to an aspect of either a physical hotel or it’s atmosphere.
The main goal was not to use any external voice or other samples, but to rely solely on virtual synths. That goal was not met at all. The project morphed into a 4 tracks with likely the most intensive use of media samples of any of the other NL projects.
Check in, we will meet in the lobby, have a few drinks, reminisce, sometimes though it all ends poorly…
Symodika #2 – Lake Agassiz (2018)
This is the second ‘Virtual Symphony’ project. As with Symodika #1, it is not intended to recreate physical instrument character. The goal is to create atmosphere with virtual instruments.
In this project the main inspiration was the body of water Lake Agassiz, which, no longer exists. I live in an area once covered by it, and consider the lakes that remain in its basin as part of my home. The music tried to capture the ambiance of being near, on and above the water of such a massive impermanent lake.
Learning a bit from Symodika # 1 – for each movement, the same DAW template was used (although not all the same instruments) which gives it a more consistent feel.
Cloktacs & Cloktacs II (2018)
The Cloktac projects had tracks added over time during 2018. There are no global themes, the focus was to work with new virtual instruments to gain a better understating of sound design, automation and workflows. During Cloktacs , a transition was made from editing loops for drum and percussion tracks, to programming these sections using virtual drum machines and sampling instruments, starting with the three QSB tracks.
The track Tamarack and Pine is unique as it utilizes samples taken from a concert recording from the mid 1970’s. About half of the audio on the track is from that recording, some without any additional layers and minimal processing. More information is available on the track description on SoundCloud. Starting with obtaining permission to use the recording, the track took over 2 years to complete.
The three ‘QSB’ tracks (Valves A-C) are related. The structure of each track is almost identical…. an ambient soundscape evolves into a very simple chord progression and then is accompanied by a drum / percussion track. They all feature samples from 1940’s radio programming.
Phone Book Angels -This track contains samples from an electronic music project recorded in 1984. (The opening strings, alarm sounds @ 5:20, strings @ 6:35, synth loop @ 13:30, and the closing synth solo) The original project was recorded on 4 track cassette tape, so some TDK SA90 hiss remains…. The intent of Phone Book Angels was to create the images and atmosphere that was attempted 35 years ago, close that page, and discard any remaining magnetic tape.
A Telegram from Ronette Pulaski uses a sample of the song “Mairzy Doats” and was originally titled “Leland Palmer” in reference to a character from Twin Peaks. Over time the track changed to the point of view of a character that interacted with Leland, the unfortunate Ms. Pulaski.
The last track created within these projects is Radio Cloktac (Music in Wires). The track came together very quickly in December 2018. Some of the audio samples used were again created from online text to speech synths to have some fun with the Northfield Lenox website tagline and Cloktac ‘branding’.
The word ‘Cloktac’ is random… inspired by Kraftwerk’s ‘Kling Klang’.
The Insulators (2017)
The tracks on “The Insulators” were uploaded en masse as a complete album in October 2017. The album’s themes relate to how people insulate themselves from the cycle of life, with innocence, distraction by faith in technology and religion, or acceptance that life is ‘as it is’.
- The tracks took approximately 6 months to complete.
- As with many Northfield Lenox tracks, sound and audio samples are used in lieu of lyrics or singing, but the album does contain some limited voice recordings.
- The spoken voices in the track ‘White Noise Black Water’ were generated with an online ‘text to speech’ tool, not sampled from an existing source.
- The tracks Insulators I and II use original field recordings as sound and sample sources.
Additional information is included in the album description section on SoundCloud including a listing of samples and loops used.
Symodika #1 – Capacitance (2017)
This album was an attempt to create a symphony in four movements using all virtual instruments with no loops, stabs, or preset patterns. All of the ‘musical terms’ (Symodika, Sonika, Emonik, Synthet & Syntanik) are very loosely based on the structure of a classical symphony.
Static (2016 / 2017)
A series of tracks from 2016-2017. Each one started with a drum track created by cutting, processing and layering existing loops that were downloaded from various share sites.
The last track “The Red Cage” is a rework of the track ‘”The Red House” which is on the “Depot” project.
Dominion & Assembly (2016 / 2017)
Not so much “what would happen if”, but “what would it be like if it did?”
The track “Riverton” provided the idea to start to the Symodika project and is incorporated with different instruments and arrangement in the second movement – Emonik.
Three tracks from these EPs, “Sonia Betovna”, “Carrier Frequency” and “Wheatstone Bridge” have accompanying videos on the Northfield Lenox YouTube channel. The videos used images from the source material that the majority of the voice samples were taken from to construct the music tracks. Check out the Video section of the website for a few more details.
“Vocks” was the first track uploaded after moving from a free DAW platform to a commercial product.
Depot (2015 – 2020)
Depot will continue to be a place to upload any tracks that have no other home.
The first three tracks were created in 2015 using the free DAW application “LMMS” with just a laptop and the included instruments. “Pop Cans” was a first attempt at music production in well over 25 years.
The remix of the Deadmau5 track Snowcone was made using audio stems obtained legally…
The live track included here is only live in the sense that it was recorded in one take using some live keyboarding but mostly loops and samples that were loaded into the DAW’s performance panel. There was no audience, although I think the cat may have walked by.
The Wooden Magnet – A Radio Play was a submission to the 2020 RADIOPHRENIA radio event. RADIOPHRENIA is a temporary art radio station – a two-week exploration into current trends in sound and transmission arts. This is a recording of the track’s broadcast from Nov 18 2020. It is a collage utilizing original soundscapes and music along with repurposed audio samples taken from 75-year-old broadcasts. The theme of these shows from the 1940s include lingering fears of the Yersinia pestis global pandemic occurring in this period. Similarities to 2020 are evident. For more information on this amazing project visit: radiophrenia.scot/