HF5 REMIX

Major thanks go out Biblioteka Records label mate HF5 for producing a brilliant remix of how the night came’s track RED VI: Shadow Play.

Hear HF5’s Red VI – Shadow Play (HF5 Wraith Remix) here:

… and the original RED VI: Shadow Play here:

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Free Music Archive

It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Free Music Archive – a joyful corner of the internet, dedicated to promoting an eclectic array of great, free, independent music – is to shut down after nine years due to a lack of funding. The FMA site is gradually being transferred over to

https://archive.org/details/freemusicarchive.

I archived the how the night came FMA page at

https://web.archive.org/web/20181106080308/http://freemusicarchive.org/music/how_the_night_came/

I would like to take this opportunity to wish Cheyenne and the FMA team all the very best in the future. Hopefully this is just a temporary situation, and we will witness the FMA rise again at some point in the near future.

Tome to the Weather Machine

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Many thanks to Tome To The Weather Machine for featuring the opening track from Acid Music on their beautiful blog:

how the night came creates uneasy and unsettling drones from Japan written using a chordal sequence following the chemical formula for acid. Influenced by everything from House of Low Culture to the Silent Hill II soundtrack, this floating piece of astral fog is a wisp more than an island enveloping mass. It curls and snakes around changing tonal frequencies, heavy chord changes and an omnipresent heaviness that settles over “I:HNO3” like low ground cover condensation.

Tome To The Weather Machine also kindly linked to the review in a Facebook post.

Acid Music

I wanted to produce some ambient music in Ableton that, at least in part, helped to compose itself. I struck upon the idea of using chemical formulae to provide some basic structure, and began by selecting four simple acids:

  • Nitric acid (HNO3)
  • Sulphuric acid (H2SO4)
  • Phosphoric acid (H3PO4)
  • Citric acid (C6H8O7)

These acids – ordered from the lowest number of constituent atoms (5) to the highest number of constituent atoms (21) – contain between them six different elements, so my next move was to assign a different instrument to each element:

  • Hydrogen = Sadness Pad
  • Nitrogen = June O Pad
  • Sulphur = Space Pad
  • Phosphor = Seashore Pad
  • Carbon = Light and Shadow
  • Oxygen = Celestial Pad

Since hydrogen and oxygen appear in all four acids, I decided to make them the basic drone instruments in each track, and followed the general written structure of the printed chemical formulae by panning the hydrogen instrument (Sadness Pad) to the left channel and the oxygen instrument (Celestial Pad) to the right channel.

For variation, I assigned two notes to hydrogen and two notes to oxygen for each track. To keep things flexible for later in the project, I worked in fifths. This is what I ended up with:

  • Nitric acid (HNO3): hydrogen (C0-G0-C1) + oxygen (G0-G1-C2)
  • Sulphuric acid (H2SO4): hydrogen (G0-D1-G1) + oxygen (D0-D1-G2)
  • Phosphoric acid (H3PO4): hydrogen (D0-A0-D1) + oxygen (A0-A1-D2)
  • Citric acid (C6H8O7): hydrogen (A0-E1-A1) + oxygen (E0-E1-A1)

Then, to add subtle rhythmic variation across the tracks, I decided to use the number of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in each formula to determine the rate at which their respective notes played over the length of 24 bars. So, for example, phosphoric acid (H3PO4) has the hydrogen notes repeat three times over 24 bars (i.e. once every eight bars) while the oxygen notes repeats four times over the same 24 bars (i.e. once every six bars).

To impose a different rhythmic layer, I totaled the number of atoms in each acid and used that number to determine how many equally spaced chimes would ring out over the central 36 bars of each track. Using the Tinefull Ambient instrument with some delay, I added the following:

  • Nitric acid (HNO3): 5 total atoms = one chime every 7.2 bars
  • Sulphuric acid (H2SO4): 7 total atoms = one chime every 5.1 bars
  • Phosphoric acid (H3PO4): 8 total atoms = one chime every 4.5 bars
  • Citric acid (C6H8O7): 21 total atoms = one chime every 1.7 bars

I also correlated the total number of atoms of each acid with the tempo of it’s respective track, arbitrarily starting at 80 bpm and progressing in increments of 10 bpm:

  • Nitric acid (HNO3): 80 bpm
  • Sulphuric acid (H2SO4): 90 bpm
  • Phosphoric acid (H3PO4): 100 bpm
  • Citric acid (C6H8O7): 110 bpm

I finally allowed myself some freedom when composing the music for the remaining four elements: nitrogen, carbon, sulphur and phosphor. I explored minors, majors and ninths.

After adding various delay, reverb, oscillator, pitch glide, and pulse plugins, I balanced each instrument’s volume and timbre, applied gentle compression, then exported the audio files.

acid music screenshot

Using chemical formulae to ground the basic structure for a set of related ambient tracks was an interesting way to impose parameters within which to compose ambient music.

There are two accompanying videos for I: HNO3 and IV: C6H8O7:

 

 

 

Both videos are based on the public domain film Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? (University of Southern California, 1958).

Biblioteka Records Interview

Over the past year, Biblioteka Records have interviewed The Wonderlust, 3Hands4Milo, HF5, and Tenebris. Recently, it was my turn
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If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?
I really like this question, and I tested the waters by asking my son, “If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?” He instantly replied, “I’d be a piece of furniture … is that it?!” Setting aside his deadpan answer, I’d be a bookshelf. I love books, and over the last few years I’ve read Homer, Ovid, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Melville, and Proust. I’m currently rereading Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller. There’s always a tension though. When I’m gripped by a book, I become fully absorbed in it and I don’t leave enough time in my life for music. Conversely, when I’m fully immersed in music, I don’t reserve enough free time for reading. I’m hoping that someday I’ll find a way to balance the two. (The solution may have something to do with not having such an obsessive personality!!)
What’s the overarching theme of your music?
I always think of my music as suggesting a narrative. I never have a clear story in mind — no definite plot, no specific episodes, no sharply defined characters — but I try to create moods or atmospheres or soundscapes that could set the tone during a storytelling session. Occasionally, when I’m at the cinema or watching a movie at home, I find myself taken in by the audio more than the visuals. At those rare moments, I just close my eyes and enter the world of sound. Perhaps that is the overarching theme of my music — a possible soundtrack for an imaginary movie.
What is your favourite instrument or piece of gear that you own?
My guitar pedal board. Does that count as one piece of gear or many? It’s many, right?! Well, if I had to choose just one pedal, it would be the Red Witch Pentavocal Tremolo, which I managed to pick up used on the outskirts of Tokyo last year. As soon as I play through it, I’m transported to a world of outlaws riding black horses through red deserts under a punishing sun. Which is odd, because I don’t like violence (too frightening), I don’t trust sand (too small and invasive), and I hate summer (too hot). I guess that says something about music and escapism …
How does making music make you feel?
My feelings while making music go through four phases: time-consciousness, emptiness, recognition, familiarity. Initially, while playing or composing music, time seems to slow down: I’m often shocked when I glance up at the clock and realize how much time has ‘really’ passed. Then, at the end of the session, I feel quite calm and empty: there was an idea or image or mood inside me that has slowly emerged — through music — and become a thing externalized, now existing independently of me, thrown ‘out there’. Later, when I listen back to the recorded track, I get a growing sense of recognizing myself in the music: it contains a voice I’ve heard before, although that voice is nestled in amongst other, more alien, sounds. Finally, after hearing the song a few times, the music ceases to sound like an open-ended dialogue and becomes more like a familiar monologue: it feels like I’m talking back to myself. By this stage, a desire to do something different has emerged again.
What’s next for how the night came?
I’ve started work on a project entitled “(5×5)”. This will be a series of five EPs, each containing five songs. Each EP will be based on a colour and will explore a distinct musical style: RED (electronic), YELLOW (piano), GREEN (ambient), BLUE (solo guitar), and BLACK (noise). Several tracks are already close to being finished, and I have demos and ideas for a few others. I’m hoping that the (5×5) project will help me get clearer about my own musical direction, and open up new paths for me.
I would also like to do something with Jose Louis Borges’ stunning short story, The Library of Babel. Borges clearly plots the mathematical properties of the library, it’s books, and their script, and his math is ripe for musical exploration. For example, each gallery in the library is hexagonal, so one possibility would be to generate overlapping rhythms that plot out, play with, and undercut, the number six. These overlaid and looping structures would be part of an attempt to get at that creeping sense of vertigo, that spiraling promise of the infinite, that haunts Borges’ fantastic creation. Don’t forget your library card!!

“Imprints in Time” teaser trailer #1

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Simple Mountain Films are currently working on a documentary entitled “Imprints in Time”. The documentary will contain music from the “how the night came // <1” split EP.

The film’s maker, R. A. Moore, wrote:

A poignant window into a vanishing Appalachian tradition, the loss of a world famous family legacy and the impact of modern influences on one of the last traditional Appalachian potters. (Currently in Production, Slated for Release 2019)

A teaser trailer can be found on Simple Mountain Films’ Facebook page, and also on how the night came’s YouTube channel.

Praia Pixel

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Thank you to Ricardo Mello for including “[1594] The Comedy of Errors” in his beautiful video for PALEOLÍTICOS. See the video here.

When asked about the project, Ricardo Mello wrote:

Our goal in the video was to show the passion of two woodworking professionals and professors, and we had decided that we would not use interviews or even the interviewees’ speech so the film could express the sensitivity and passion of these two teachers. In this case the emotion of music would be fundamental. It was against this challenge that I came across your music at a first audition we knew it was the right song for the film. The word emotion best defines what we get by putting that song into the movie. Thank you very much for your partnership.

The Paleoliticos video is also available on how the night came’s YouTube channel.

Please check out more of Ricardo Mello’s work (PraiaPixel) at Vimeo.