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Surachai – Asymmetry Codex / Temple of the Weakening Sun

It is always a guess, an experiment and an art to try to capture a glimpse of it. All the equipment, time and obsession is an attempt to translate and capture an emotion I can come back to and evoke. The production and release of Asymmetry Codex and Temple of the Weakening Sun was a way to process then archive several versions of loss – it has served its purpose with me – I hope it can somehow find a way to serve you.

The album was released a week early on Bandcamp, Friday September 22, the autumn equinox, because there are actually no rules to this and we’re flexible to do what feels right. Streaming services will activate September 29th and vinyl will begin shipping early/mid November. All Wax Mage Editions and Test Pressing Editions have sold out, Standard Editions are in stock and everything will ship early/mid November. Every record, shirt, and piece of merch has been shipped personally, I’ve read every e-mail and note you’ve sent, and know many of you by name from the orders. Thank you for supporting a challenging artist to follow and keeping me busy with something I love doing.

Alessandro Cortini, Richard Devine, Hypoxia, and Surachai will be playing in at Berghain in Berlin, October 5th. More shows and announcements coming soon. Hope to see you around.

Recording
The centerpiece of Asymmetry Codex is the Nord Modular G2. I acquired the G2 five years ago and was seduced by its clarity, dynamics, and general smooth sonics. For months I found distinct sounds that I could pinpoint to some of my favorite albums, though most of the time was spent scanning and dissecting several hundred patches that Richard bestowed upon me. I made dozens of terrible patches and while I admired the G2 and was happy to have it, I knew it wasn’t something I was ready for at that very moment and so, for the next few years, I loaned it out to people. In those years, I released albums that focused around the modular synthesizer and various hardware pieces, and became increasingly aware of how saturated the modular scene was becoming. I made a conscious decision to move away from my hardware modular trajectory and to finally become acquainted and focused on the Nord Modular G2. After a lot of studying and programming dozens of patches between a few songs, I recorded the G2 into the Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15 and that fed into a RME UFX. Aside from the recording signal chain, Asymmetry Codex is mostly digitally composed and Temple of the Weakening Sun was created with analog tools.

Arrangement & Mixing
After all the patterns and stems were recorded to audio, I arranged them into Pro Tools. All of the editing was done with dozens of plug-ins including: Valhalla DSP, INA-GRM, Sound Toys, Izotope, Soundhack, UAD and a few Richard told me to keep under wraps. I recorded and mixed the album using a pair of headphones that I was not familiar with which is a direct result of the heavy bass – something I normally wouldn’t have done but have grown to love. I have to thank Josh Eustis, Deru, Richard Devine, and John Hughes for guidance and advice and insight into my own mixes.

Mastering
Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities helped me tame these two projects into one cohesive experience. My mixes weren’t in the best form and we worked together to get the album to sound as rich as it could.

“We approached the mastering a little differently for Asymmetry Codex / Temple of the Weakening Sun, as the first set of mixes I mastered ended up shedding some light on an unintended overall aesthetic in the mix that was much too bright. Rather than apply heavy processing to reverse that, Surachai went back to the mix and returned with a new set of files. From there, the process began in typical fashion with gear selection and careful gain staging. I experimented with several different pieces of equipment and order, and eventually chose a mostly tube-based setup for this record. The main pieces were a Knif Vari-Mu II compressor, Hendyamps Michelangelo EQ, and a tube preamp called a Creamliner 2 from Sonicfarm. With these main pieces, I carefully balanced and enhanced the overall frequency range, while controlling various areas of both micro and macro dynamics to give them that final glue and polish. The various tube stages driven at carefully chosen levels imparted really sweet additional harmonics that I felt helped the many small detailed layers that live and breathe in each song. This was all captured cleanly into the workstation where the final limiting was applied.” – Shawn Hatfield.

Artwork
Francis Kmiecik and I storyboarded a video for Asymmetry Codex and as time was running out, and our lives became increasingly busy – we decided to roll it back to a few shots for the album artwork. We shot on a stage in Portland, OR with Katrina Mishler who was tolerant, patient with us and overall a pleasure to work with. Francis spent the weeks leading up to the shoot designing the set pieces and we used some of his chainmail jewelry he created but never utilized. The wardrobe and jewelry was provided by Hvnter Gvtherer. Laura of Hvnter Gvtherer has a visual and sensory aesthetic that I subconsciously envision when planning out images. I knew from Francis’ work, the shots would be very studio and staged and clean, so I enlisted Moe Espinosa to take our selects and run it through a circuit bent video machine. Anj Puglise and I then overlapped the studio images and the pixelated assets and pieced it all together. Essentially the same core team that worked on Temple of the Weakening Sun created the visuals for Asymmetry Codex. Overall, two covers were chosen, an elegant version to grace the physical vinyl copy and a harsh digital treatment for the digital version.

Lacquering and Vinyl
Off of the recommendation of Joshua Eustis and former Hefty label owner John Hughes, I got in touch with Jason Ward of Chicago Mastering Service and will say that this is the best possible sounding record it can be. Gottagroov handled the pressing and printing and as always, its always beautiful to hold a complete project in your hands. Wax Mage does what they do and created some of the best looking records I’ve ever seen, the pictures don’t do it justice and only some of you will be lucky enough to see it in its full glory.

Temple of the Weakening Sun
For more information about the creation of the soundtrack and video go: HERE

Asymmetry Codex / Temple of the Weakening Sun
Hvnter Gvtherer
Audible Oddities
Chicago Mastering Service
Temple of the Weakening Sun Production Notes

Havin a summer

BL_K Noise – 8th Annual Event. Jan 22. LA.

How many times must we warn you?
Tickets
Event information

FINAL

Surachai – Temple of the Weakening Sun

This version of Temple of the Weakening Sun is an abbreviated cut from my live show which you can see January 22nd at Bl_k Noise. Please forgive my technical ignorance regarding anything video, and even audio – I still have no idea what I’m doing. We hope you enjoy.

Pre Production
We researched high frame rate cameras that were cost effective and came up short. The only way to achieve what I was envisioning, without a compromising work around, was using the Phantom camera. The Phantom Miro is an interesting camera which turns a few seconds of footage into a few minutes. It shoots in 3 second bursts, making choreography and planning essential for a useful shot. Luckily the Phantom has onboard editing for heads and tails which helps with cutting the fat and saving disk space. While researching, most footage we came across of the Phantom was clinical, uninspiring and more or less used for experiments and tests – we wanted to create something that was thematic, stylized and story driven. Naturally, I drew inspiration from the world which my previous album artworks lived in, works by Sarah Sitkin (Heavy Mask, To No Avail), Kraw (Heavy Mask, Ritual), and Emilie Elizabeth (Instinct and Memory, Ritual) and expanded on it. The Metal piece, made by Hvnter Gvtherer, and cloak, made by Wulfka, were repurposed from the Instinct and Memory album artwork.

The music was created before any of the story was conceived or written down. I wanted to have the soundtrack create a story through its arrangements and overall mood. Because of the constant versioning up between music and picture, its drawn out process that required constant access to an editor. The tracks were composed using the TTSH and Cwejman S1 MKII with the Arturia Beatstep Pro. The Prophet 6 contributed some background textures and guitars were added after screening a few versions.

Production
The shoot took place in Cape Kiwanda, Oregon over 2 days. A beautiful and deceptively dangerous place where five people died from accidents in the 8 months leading up to the shoot. Being a small crew of 3, we had to wear many hats behind the production. In general and with many exceptions, I was assigned to throwing the cape, Anj was behind the camera, and Francis scouted locations and acted as a general wardrobe / makeup artist. The first day was characteristically Pacific Northwestern with constant cold rain and overcast which obviously is not ideal for a mostly nude model and our gear. The locations didn’t help either for Zara, she was barefoot on slippery rocks, wet sand, mud and grass. Zara was incredibly patient with us, the weather, the wardrobe, and technical difficulties. She came over and watched the selects with us everyday and was quick to learn our unorthodox way of working.

Post Production
Zak and I passed picture and music edits back and forth for a couple weeks and worked out something that flows very well in a live setting. After some debate we decided that the full length was appropriate for a live setting (where you’re forced to watch) but too long for a normal viewer in front of a computer and decided on a concise and impactful edit for the public. Anj worked on color correction. Francis rotoscoped a lot of details of out the shots like tattoos and piercings, or the climax shot. I tried to stay out of the way in post.

Release
After considering several different physical releases to accompany the film, I felt that this was a learning experience to the many planned future endeavors and that getting the world to see Temple was more important than recovering costs. If you want to support, buy music or merch at my Bandcamp.

Created by Surachai, Anj Puglise, Francis Kmiecik, Zak Kiernan.
Metalwork – Hvnter Gvtherer
Wardrobe – Wulfka
Starring – Zara Luttrell

All photos by Francis Kmiecik
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BL_K Noise. January 22nd, Los Angeles. Lot 613.

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Happy new year everyone. LOOK AT THIS LINEUP. We’ve been working hard and against many odds trying to get the annual BL_K Noise show ready – and we’ve finally arrived. If you’re around the Los Angeles area that weekend, especially for NAMM – come out, hear amazing music, and most of all, lets have fun.

The 8th annual convention inspired event will present an amalgamation of Audio / Visual live performances from various corners of North America. Showcasing avante garde, left field and thought provoking sound, BL_K Noise’s musical program will focus on artists that implement video along with their sets for a full immersive experience. Every performer will be accompanied by expert content manipulators / creators. Oktaform, Effix and others will administer their high caliber compositions live. This will be a unique nightlife experience. Attendance very necessary.

Sunday January 22, 2017. 6PM – 12AM.
Lot 613
613 Imperial Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Tickets & Information
Facebook Event Page

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Alessandro Cortini
[Performing ‘Spie’ from his Make Noise release with custom visuals]

Second Woman
[Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv performing as SW for the second time since Atonal]

Richard Devine (Visuals by: Oktaform)
[Live generative modular mayhem with custom visuals by Oktaform]

Deru (Visuals by: EFFIXX)
[Debuting new material with new visuals with EFFIXX ]

Surachai
Performing Temple of the Weakening Sun, an audio visual experience]

Hypoxia (Visuals by: Oktaform)
[Warming up the night with lush modular synthesis with visuals by Oktaform]

Tickets & Information
Facebook Event Page

Surachai – Temple of the Weakening Sun (Preview)

Created by Surachai, Anj Puglise, Francis Kmiecik, Zak Kiernan.
Full Length Release: Winter 2016.

Surachai – https://surachai.bandcamp.com/
Anj Puglise – http://dailyanj.tumblr.com/
Francis Kmiecik – http://www.halfanese.com/
Zak Kiernan – http://thedoomcult.com/

Richard Devine – Mutant Mesh Drums Patch

Mutant Mesh Drums Patch from Richard Devine on Vimeo.

Short Patch experiment with a few new modules, including the Mutant BD9, Mutant Snare, Pico Drums x 2, running through various effects. The main CV modulation sources in the patch are the Modcan Quad LFO, and the new Forge which was used to create a fast quick modulation bursts to the Amp decay Pitch etc on the BD9. Drones via the Music Thing Radio Music, playing a feedback drone wave going through the Tiptop Z-DSP “Halls of Valhalla card, program 7.
I ran the BD9 through the new black hole DSP module by Erica Synths, and the Mutable Instruments Clouds running a unreleased firmware, and finally some Rainmaker X 2 for the snare processing, pitch delays. There is also a bit of Z-DSP, Eventide H9, AD Reverb, OWL, and ErbVerb too. Enjoy, download to the audio file below. :-)

Track Download: bit.ly/29VjOOS

Happy (make electronic music for your) Mother’s Day!

Nothing but pure love for the Devine crew. Poor Amber…

Live at the Necropolis: Lords of Synth | Adult Swim

Surachai – Instinct and Memory

Instinct and Memory is released on April 29th, 2016 on vinyl and digital through BL_K Noise. All purchases come with additional photos by Emilie Elizabeth and Briana Gonzales. I understand my music is unpredictable and demanding and want to thank you for all your support through the years! Interviews, reviews, and articles don’t do it for me, the most humbling part of releasing a record is shipping the records out across the world – to you!

Instinct and Memory 
A great amount of effort was put into the physical release of the vinyl and it has always been the intended format for Instinct and Memory to be released and experienced on. It includes embroidered patch and logo pin, you can hold Emilie’s incredible artwork on heavy tip-on gatefold jackets and listen to Instinct and Memory as it tries to turn your sound system into dust. It definitely will test the limits of your sound system.

Recording
The centerpiece to Instinct and Memory is compression and the L-1 Microcompressor is the primary weapon of choice. This small, often looked over, dynamic processor served as the main aural centerpiece to the album. The past few albums has had the same focus, just on different tools. Every sound on Instinct and Memory was run through the L-1 as well as the Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15. While the microcompressor is relatively cheap and accessible, it is immensely powerful, aggressive and stereo. It also features envelopes out so you can control a VCA with a similar effect.

Most of the straight forward drum programming was done with the Tip Top Audio Circadian Rhythms using Tip Top Audio 808/909 modules, Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas, Steady State Fate Quantum Rainbow, Synthrotek Dirt/Dly, and Make Noise Optomix/QMMG. The tracks that veer off a BPM grid or followable structure were either controlled by instruments that have random or patterned tempos, like the Harvestman Zorlon Cannon MKII, or the Cylonic TT303 gate outputs as a master clock source – this really messes with the timing and creates unstable tracks that play out differently on every take.

The Sequential Circuits Prophet-6 has its hand in several tracks as well – its been a few years since I’ve used a synthesizer with those white and black things so its been an interesting experience returning to them. Processing included 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonant Filter, Doepfer 12 Stage Vactrol Phase, L-1 Microcompressr, Serge Resonant EQ and Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15 which everything was run through then recorded into Logic, and moved into Pro Tools for editing.

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Arrangement & Mixing
All audio sources began on the modular and then arranged in Pro Tools, which I recently migrated to for work. Live served as a stand-in at times whenever I forgot my iLok somewhere. Logic has been used solely for recording in the studio.

The usual suspects of my plug-in arsenal are UAD, Valhalla DSP, Soundtoys, INA-GRM, Soundhack, and Izotope. The tracks that feature Annie Hall were created with the modern call and response structure. Annie Hall provided samples that served as a foundation for Wolves and Stars as well as Lust Designed. Annie put her trust in me and communication was limited, I kept her updated with new versions and she responded by sending additional samples to include. This process continued until they were completed.

After a general mix was established, all tracks were pre-mastered through the Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15 to cut out some of the bass and reassign the energy to the mids but Shawn somehow managed to put back into the tracks with his mastering. The average of harmonic processing these tracks went through is an average of 4 or 5 times between Shawn and I.

Mastering
Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities, “For each record I work on, I first experiment with which gear to insert into the signal path and in which order, as each piece of gear can change slightly in tonality depending on what piece of gear it’s feeding, and which piece of gear is feeding it. For Surachai’s ‘Instinct and Memory’ I came up with a signal path that sounded complimentary to the material, and after running an analyzer on the system, I could see there was a small bump in the highs from an interaction between some Carnhill output transformers on one of my compressors and the input of a Class A tube pre-amp. I really liked this little bit of air it was adding to the material in a way that I couldn’t achieve with EQ alone. I drove the inputs of the tube pre-amp to do some saturation and analog rounding of the transients which helped take away some of the edginess as well as adding triode tube harmonics to add weight and detail. This was followed by some subtle EQ and compression to help balance and add cohesion to the overall sound. A small amount of ‘tape’ harmonics was applied as it was captured with the Cranesong A/D convertors and then final limiting in the DAW.”

The masters were then sent to Roger Seibel of SAE Mastering to make lacquers which were then sent to Gottagroov to be plated and pressed. This has been the signal flow for the past few records and the results sound extraordinary.

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Artwork
The talent these women possess is not subtle – its something you see and feel immediately in all their work. The artwork process of Instinct and Memory was beautiful to watch unfold and was excited to be involved. I believe we created something beautiful and memorable from the culmination of a few artistic visions and its weight feels incredible in my hands. You can read an extended Instinct and Memory artist statement: HERE

Photography and Art Direction
Emilie Elizabeth and Briana Gonzales. I reached out to Emilie again because her work has elegance and sensitivity that I thought this project required. The imagery and narrative of sex magick and the occult was the main reference and Emilie understood immediately and got to work. Emilie enlisted Brianna Gonzales to help with art direction and together they created something that I couldn’t be happier with. The original idea revolved around a single model but somewhere along the conversation and Briana’s contacts, six more joined. Publications, websites, and reviewers are distancing themselves from the album and its artwork. Win/win.

Jewelry
Hvnter/Gvtherer. After seeing Laura’s jewelry and metalwork through social media, I discovered she was in Chicago. I reached out to see if she would be interested in accessorizing the shoot. She invited me to her studio where we talked about creating a centerpiece that would summarize the project into a single piece, quite an ask! This centerpiece served as the aesthetic reference for all of the artwork. Laura is incredibly talented, driven, and speaks through her artwork, I feel very fortunate to have worked with her.

Wardrobe
Wulfka. The idea of finding a customized cloak seemed like a nightmare so I reached out to Kate to see if she would be interested in creating a 12 foot long cloak specifically for this project. Creating a cloak for a photoshoot required it to be able to be flexible but at the same time, retain a shape for photos – something I still don’t understand how it is achieved. After Emilie and I approved a design, she sent some photos of the actual cloak and I was speechless. Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen it in person – though we have plans to burn it soon.

Video
Simona Noreik. Watching Simona navigate her way into video work while keeping her voice and style has been inspiring. I pestered her into doing some visuals for some upcoming shows and already I feel like her skill set has surpassed the assignment. Her visuals were used for the Instinct and Memory teaser. Nothing like holding back an artist from growing! 

Type and Layout
Francis Kmiecik. I tapped Francis because of his undeniable artistry and stylistic eye. We’ve known each other long enough where I handed off the assets and he filled in the blanks. He calligraphed the font and stitched together the artwork for the vinyl and digital releases.

Vinyl
180 gram, full color tip-on gatefold! This album is sonically heavy and the physical representation of it was intended to reflect that. The total shipping weight is around 2 pounds. There are very special limited editions that Wax Mage Records created, we tried to create a look of old metal being unearthed – flawed, used, but still functional. They were sold out after a few days of being announced! I ship every single order out myself and it humbles me to think of the places this music will be experienced. Thank you so much for the support, truly.

Label
As with everything on BL_K NOISE, Moe and I will do whatever we want. We talk about it briefly in this interview.

Links
Emilie Elizabeth
Briana Gonzales
Hvnter Gvtherer
Wulfka
Simona 
Francis Kmiecik

Annie Hall
Audible Oddities

Gottagroov Records
Wax Mage Records

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