Liner Notes

The Manitoban (2022)

Copy of Copy of Copy of Northfield Lenox (2)

This album is a return to the style produced on the “Home Atomic Water” project. The theme is more introspective, trying to create sheets of sound and music inspired by ‘what does it mean and feel like to be where I’m from’.  I started working on the initial track several months before the death of Queen Elizabeth II but finished it off over the 2 weeks after. The idea for this project became amplified by this event. Whether in support or not of the monarchy, it is impossible to ignore how interwoven her reign was to this province over the decades, so it seems a good time to reflect on the good and the bad.

The first track was released in September 2022, with the plan to add more tracks over time.

From a workflow perspective there is a much larger use of automating sub-mix and send tracks on this project to allow for some more subtle transitions.

Cloktacs IV (2022)

Cloktacs IV

The fourth installment of Cloktacs . These albums are void of any underlying theme or attempt at a cohesive sound.

The first track “Provincial Road” released in May 2022 started off as an experiment with a Mandolin sample library, and uses 4 different vocal instruments.

“Sunday School” breaks a rule of using a sample that does not meet the criteria laid out in the “Dial Tones” tab of this website, but it is so mangled and processed I can live with it, as it fits so well with the rest of the track.

“Cavalarcade” is ‘unfinished but complete’.  For some reason there were many issues with this project crashing and other strange things occurring, so thought I would render it down before something catastrophic occurred at release it as is.  There are two sections of voice samples, they are most of the key phrases from an old film and are tumbled together in a random fashion.

I try and keep to the intent of ‘less is more’ but in the remix of the Cloktac Theme, I just kept adding and adding more and more instruments just to see what would happen.

Crystal Radio (2022)

NL CR

“Crystal Radio” is an ambient heavy project released in 2022. The central thread relates to how time and life flow in an unpredictable pattern, but within boundaries. Lines are created based on decisions we make, big or small. How different would someone’s life change based on these patterns? Even say, stopping or not stopping to have a drink at a water fountain, decades previously. Everything after would have been jostled around, but with what impact?

Two previous tracks have used this theme. ‘Silica Daughter’ appears on the 2021 project “Cloktacs III” and uses a sample where the question is asked, “You won’t fail me will you?” Later in 2021, samples from the 90-year-old movie ‘Back Street’ were repurposed to create a radio play called ‘Back Lane’ which aired as part of the 2022 Radiophrenia event in Scotland. (See the notes below for the Depot album)

This all led to creating a new project, interestingly, by deciding to reach out to another SoundCloud artist for help with some spoken word recordings. As we started working on this new project, Jennifer Roe, took the track ‘Silica Daughter’, added vocal tracks and lyrics inspired by the media samples, and transformed it into something completely new. The result is absolutely beautiful, is now called ‘Silica Daughters [Ft. Jen Roe]’ and was the impetus and first track for the ‘Crystal Radio’ project.

The final track “Tracing Home” again features Jennifer, who contributed the vocal music and lyrics, bookending this project with two fabulous performances.

Silt (2021)

Copy of Copy of Copy of Northfield Lenox

“Silt” was produced to have a more organic feel compared to the similarly structured album “Home Atomic Water”. This was the first album to incorporate two orchestral libraries from Spitfire Audio; BBCSO, and Tundra Albion (which is the main instrument utilized).

The music and repurposed voice samples are intended to reflect a sense of something being slowly built over time. Maybe knowledge, technology, tradition… this will be left up to the listener. The initial inspiration is related to the album cover image which is of a small lake in western Manitoba and it’s dense muggy shoreline that must team with some sort of history as it builds up and erodes year after year….

Regarding the track “Silt (Layer 4)”, it is a very intentional non-melodic ending to the project. It came together very quickly and went from a blank DAW template to being released on SoundCloud in under 90 minutes. This will now book-end the time period of over 2 years it took to complete the track “Tamarack & Pine” from the first “Cloktacs” album.

Concourse Settlement (2021)

Concourse Settlement

Maybe music to listen to while wandering through an airport. They seem to have a unique atmosphere, perhaps contributed  to by the equalization of all people into ‘travelers’. Unique also in cases where you may frequent a specific hub over a period of time, perhaps a lounge inside it, maybe even those who work there. That space can become a familiar and comfortable atmosphere within a city you may never actually step foot in.

The trip starts off with a sample from the song “I’m a Dreamer (Aren’t We All?)” the audio coming from the 1929 film “Sunnyside Up“. It’s amazing to think that some of the samples being incorporated in NL tracks are pushing 100 years of age.

This project is part of a series of themed 4 track albums which includes North Bear Tanofare, Entrawire, Coaxial Descent and Hotelepath.

1621 (2021)

1621 222

March 2021 marked 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.

Cloktacs III (2020 / 2021)

Cloktacs III

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.

Please note that the non-SoundCloud release of “Cloktacs III” is called “Cloktacs 2”. This is due to the fact that back in 2019 the first 2 Cloktac albums (I and II) were combined into one album called “Cloktacs” for release on streaming services such as Spotify. The rationale for this decision has been lost to the years, but there is quiet talk of complex legal strategies, conspiracy, intrigue and surely other nefarious actions.

Home Atomic Water (2020)

Atomic water 4

…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 . . .

Granite (2020)

Granite Cover 4 just NL

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)

north Bear Tanofare

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)

Circuit Tension 2 Combo Final

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)

Coaxial

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.

Entrawire (2019)

Entrawire Art

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 . . .

Hotelepath (2019)

Hotelepath

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)

Northfield Lenox SYM 2

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)

Cloktacs IICloktacs

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)

Northfield Lenox (1)

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)

Northfield Lenox (2)

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)

Copy of Northfield Lenox (2)

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)

Dominion Cover

Assembly These two EPs focus on recreating the atmosphere of living in the 1970’s; being exposed to World War II pop culture with cold war threats continuously brewing.

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 – 2022)

Depot

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/

“Back Lane – A radio Play”  is the second successful Northfield Lenox submission to the Radiophrenia initiative.  This is a recording from the Feb 15 2022 broadcast. I would highly recommend when it is active, you have the Radiophrenia broadcast playing 24/7 if you can… It’s sort of like a radio station Brigadoon, it appears every once in a while, for a short period of time. Back Lane was constructed using re-purposed audio from the 1932 film “Back Street”. The 90-year-old samples are surrounded by original music, new foley, field recordings and various media. The dialog is presented in the original sequence, but with the visuals and many key details and cues removed, more possibilities are opened. The central theme from the original story remains, a chain of events is set in motion by a simple decision that alters the lives of the characters completely, forever, and ends in a classic, ‘what if’…

The track “Exchange 1” is a remix or exchange of 2 previously released tracks:

  • “Oh You Expansive Domain!” from the EP “Assembly” (2016)
  •  “The Graviton” from “The Insulators” (2017)

The idea started while going through old project files and exchanging some of the instruments used. As well, in this case, stripping down the tracks and shortening them. Strangely, the original download link used to obtain the men’s choral sample cannot be identified. This track will be left posted for now as the search continues to locate the source. If you are aware that this recording is not in the public domain, please contact the site [A caution to others using samples, keep track of them!]