For Your Grammy® Consideration
Best New Age, Ambient, or Chant Album
Markeprang is the name Grammy® nominated composer Gunnar Madsen has chosen as his experimental/ambient avatar. His first release is a rich exploration of acoustic elements and delays and pure synthetic tones and sounds. From the slow, rhythmic breathing beauty of “Starfish Parade” to the rippling pixelated energy of “Pinned Stars”, to the lush cinematic world of “Bird Cricks”, Markeprang builds on his legacy as a deeply emotional and inventive musician, establishing new sonic landscapes.
Gunnar Madsen has written for the Minnesota Opera, Lincoln Center, Universal Pictures, Playwrights Horizons and National Public Radio, and has done music and audio for many hit games.
ambient electronic & experimental music
a lava lamp for your ears
rothko colors, serra massifs, pollock scrambles
hidden snags below a still surface
a corner of your mind
bothering you with beauty
Notes on the synths, the sounds, the music
LION from Unfiltered Audio provided the spinning wind sound (controlled via afterpressure). The hammered dulcimer are a combo of ARKHIS, MASSIVE X, and a Hammered Dulcimer sample in Logic Pro. Drums are sampled Taiko thru Byome, using Instant and Multitap delays controlled by a follower.
The German software company Native Instruments (NI) makes a highly customizable synthesizer called Reaktor. It comes with a built-in set of ways to create sounds, but it also has a huge and dedicated following of people who make their own synthesizers with it and who post those synths online for others to download and use. This piece features Gaugear 666 by Stephen Wey for NI Reaktor, played live by markeprang and recorded in multiple takes, with some processed vocals added on top.
Another great homemade synth for NI Reaktor – SteamPipe 2 reMix by Rick Scott. This synth is 15 years old, but you can create amazing sounds with it. This was played live then overdubbed with another instance of Steampipe 2.
The ‘flutey’ sounds are combo of NI Razor, Kinetic Metals and Heavyocity (with the setting APT Eastern Air). Breath sounds from NI’s Thrill through UA Byome. Long tones are Heavyocity Eastern Air routed through an instance of Byome.
Unfiltered Audio makes some of my favorite processing plugins. Their Byome plugin inspired this piece, the rate of the delay kept me chasing where to play the next notes. It features NI’s “The Grandeur” piano played live through UA Byome Granulator and Filter controlled by Follower and Spectral Follower. Onto this I overdubbed 2 instances of a bass sound from Alchemy wired through 2 different instances of Byome.
Uses Unfiltered Audio Sandman Pro (multiple instances) on Gamelan and Vibes
A little piece for piano. The piece is so little, I felt it needed it’s own sonic space. There was an effect I loved that came from my old (1971) Sony 2-track, where you recorded piano at 7 1/2 inches per second, and slow it down to 1 7/8 ips. The degraded sound, and the Wow of the rubber-band driven mechanism, was other worldly. I used Unfiltered Audio’s Fault and Sandman to give me an approximation of that sound.
NI’s Kinetic Metals was the inspiration for this. I kept tweaking it until I found what sounded like leathery wings beating. The same instrument gave me musical tones, and some bowed cymbals going through their own Byome setting.. For the low tones, I used NI’s Razor, running through Byome.
This was inspired by a recent reverb plugin from Native Instruments called Raum. It has a unique ‘freeze’ function, where you can grab any moment and have it ring on forever. I started playing piano through it, and then began triggering the freeze, which inspired different melodies, chords, and phrasing. I just kept iterating, playing the piano and playing the freeze button, until this piece revealed itself.
Another User-created synth: Metaphysical Fabrikation by Christian Kjeldsen for NI’s REAKTOR. I recorded long stretches, varying parameters over time, then selected sections and assembled the piece. Processed with Unfiltered Audio Byome, Fault and Sandman Pro. NI’s Session Strings is processed through SoundToys Crystallizer and Echoboy.
Used NI’s synth Form, played live and recorded, then extracted sections, processed them, and assembled the music. Processing includes Byome, Shaperbox2, Speakerphone. The string sounds are from NI’s Session Strings Pro cellos.
The piano that sounds like a hammered dulcimer is NI’s Alicia’s Keys through Unfiltered Audio’s Triad w/multitap, pitch shift and some other good stuff running. The “Doink” melody at the tempo change is Alicia Keys through Triad w/2 comb filters controlled by 2 step sequencers. The thing that sounds like strings is NI’s Symphony Series String Ensemble through Triad w/2 comb filters controlled by 2 step sequencers and some other stuff. At the key change the piano is Alicias Keys via Chord Trigger, run through Byome w/Saturation. The delay is NI’s Replika, Logic’s ChromaVerb is the Reverb.
Some synthesizers cannot be ‘played’; rather, they generate their sounds without any input. What they output can be ‘played’ by moving knobs and dials and levers and gears and whatnot. For this piece I used Skrewell and orgaNism 12 :: Banshee, both by Rick Scott. I ‘played’ them live, chopped up, sequenced, sampled and replayed. Used Antonio Blanca’s Drone-E for long windy tones. Processing includes the Boz Imperial Delay and NI’s Replika.
This features NI’s Upright Piano through Pastfabrik and Partikle (Puremagnetik); NI’s Symphony Series String Ensemble Viola through Speakerphone (Audio Ease), and Puremagentik Partikle and Shadow; the Pad is from NI’s Rounds, and there are 2 vaporous tracks of the piano processed, one through Byome and one through Triad.