In the northern hemisphere, it’s winter. Really. Here’s today’s winter storm warning for the New York City area, as composed by the bards of the US government’s NOAA National Weather Service:
SNOW…TRANSITIONS TO A WINTRY MIX OF SLEET…SNOW AND FREEZING RAIN AROUND MID MORNING…AND CONTINUES FOR MUCH OF THE DAY BEFORE BECOMING A PERIOD OF FREEZING DRIZZLE AND LIGHT SLEET THIS EVENING. A HEAVY MIX OF SNOW…SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN THEN DEVELOPS OVERNIGHT…LIKELY CHANGING TO ALL FREEZING RAIN WEDNESDAY MORNING…BEFORE GRADUALLY CHANGING TO RAIN BY WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. THERE IS STILL SOME UNCERTAINTY ON THE EXACT TIMING OF CHANGEOVER WEDNESDAY…WHICH WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON ICING AMOUNTS.
Feed that into a text to speech engine, sample it, add some absurdly long-tailed reverbs to a couple of sparse sparkling figures and lonely, symmetrical drums and you have an IDM hit on your hands.
Winter for me is a great time to listen to and make music, watching spirals of snow and sleet blow against my fifth-floor window. Canadian Mark Templeton has produced a wintry mix of his own with an extended ambient set for our friends at Percussion Lab radio. I could describe it, but it’s just too easy. Crackling layer of frost on a glacier in an ice storm of timbre blah blah blah. It’s beautiful.
Mark Templeton Winter Mix 2011 [Free download/stream from Percussion Lab]
It’s also worth another listen to Mark’s 2009 Sea Point EP. He’s a member of the small, tightly-curated stable of artists on Anticipate Records with Morgan Packard, Ezekiel Honig, and others.
My other choice in recent days, perfect for coding a new project in one of our string of snowstorms, is one of my favorite releases of 2009, Tim Hecker’s expansive LP “An Imaginary Country.” (available from many, many sources) It really does provide the sense of traversing a far-off land, an ambient outing that’s anything but featureless.
Here’s what Robert Henke, Monolake and Ableton co-founder, had to say about winter to CDM:
In Berlin winter,
there are only two possibilities.
One: go with it, by creating cold,
icy wavetable sounds with low bit
resolution. No chorus! Avoid ‘nice’
chord progressions. C-minor on
a low octave is never wrong. If
melodies are a must, make sure
to have falling motives. Think
snowflakes, think rain and dirt! A
slight touch of melancholy also
can’t hurt. If creating your own
little glacier fails, put Joy Division
MP3s in your playlist.
Or, alternatively, create analog
warmth as compensation. Does
not need to be real analog; it
is only important that the user
interface provides you with some
visual clues of warmth. Wood
panels, warm color scheme,
vintage looking knobs. Add
reverb with chorus and a crackle
loop from an old record.
Talking about old records, it
cannot get warmer then witht
he fantastic new Honest Jones
Records release, “Springs of
Time”, a collection of 78s from the
EMI archive. Oldest possible vinyl.
Alcohol also helps, but I heard
there are minors visiting this
website, so stay away from that;
What does winter (or summer, southern Hemisphere) mean for your music listening and production? What’s on your playlist or in your studio at the moment? Let us know.