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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

10-Minute Monolake Drone MP3

A new month, a new free download from one of the great minimal techno artists, Monolake (aka Robert Henke). Up at his website on his “free download” page (monolake.de) is a 14-megabyte, 10-minute piece, which in his brief online description he explains to be a reworking of material that appeared on his 2004 album Signal to Noise. The track is posted for free download, but with the stipulation that no one link directly to it, so just click on the above link (while the calendar still reads November) and snag it.

The track, titled “Oomoo,” isn’t techno — it’s a film-score-ready drone that moves like a single sheet of material buffeted by wind, from rapturous peaks to rumbling valleys. Listening to it in a car alone after dark will turn any routine drive into a scene from a Michael Mann movie.

In text accompanying the MP3, Henke provides some details regarding what went into Singal to Noise and, thus, into the track:

it is mainly a single recording of a longer pad sound of a yamaha sy 77 synthesizer. It has been sampled, transposed, filtered and layered a few times to get to the final result.
The use of the Yamaha is of note, at least to Monolake completists, because earlier this year he reportedly boxed up his substantial collection of hardware synthesizers, the Yamaha among them, in favor of a virtual studio. At the time he explained on his website:
In spring 2007 I dismantled my old studio and put all synthesizers and other hardware in cases. The Synclavier moved to the living room where it serves as an appropriate 20th century version of an old piano.

My work environment now is a laptop, two speakers and software. [Since I have been asked: no, I will probably not sell my old gear. I still like those machines, I just don’t need them anymore to achive the sonic results I am looking for.]

Henke/Monolake is no mere user of laptop music-making software. He’s also on the development team of a popular audio production and performance package called Ableton Live.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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