Tuesday, August 23, 2011

High Hawaiian Fog

Roll out the red carpet, all the way down to the bottom of the sea, for the first Coppice Halifax album ever laid to the vinyl format
, High Hawaiian Fog. Six dense constructions of seawater and sand, etched into two black sides, recalling influences such as GAS, Casino Versus Japan, The Caretaker and even Brian's work as Milieu. Soaking wet reverbs gloss softly over creaking, rusty chords that bend and sway beneath the compressed pressure of an airtight bass drum. Light flecks across the surfaces like glitter and textures dance and play inside the slow-motion underwater beauty pageant for mermen and maids on opiates. This is womblike psychedelic techno made by scraping the bones of Stravinsky, Satie, Mussorgsky, Smetana, Debussy and Delius across drum machines on a plush carpeted dancehall, long since overgrown and forgotten by the sea on a silent cruise liner's wreckage. Sunny and sad music for your hi-fi and subconscious.

Comes on thick black 140 gram long-playing vinyl inside a beautiful full color sleeve. WR and Coppice Halifax stickers are included along with a free download of the near-80 minute expanded digital version of the album. The first 100 copies come with a bonus 3" mini-CD-R called Arctic Liner Disintegration, an ambient reduction of the A-side track Equatorial Haze. This LP also features an exclusive vinyl only track titled "Pacific Opal Hex". Limited to 500 copies.

Track Listing:
A1 Miniature Island Fantasy
A2 Equatorial Haze
A3 Pacific Opal Hex
B1 Royal Purple Pageant
B2 Sunken Dancehall
B3 Amstar Paradise

Backwater Fumes

Longtime friends Eric Adrian Lee and Brian Grainger finally unite on Backwater Fumes, a 7" split EP on marbled vinyl. Brian's side starts the affair with Mudd's Boots, a track that sounds as if ZZ Top were recorded on a wax cylinder, performing in a country line dancing club out in the swamp, and just as the band picks up the groove, zombies burst onto the dancefloor spewing swamp muck everywhere, only to be dowsed in bourbon and set on fire. After the panic dies down, Eric puts on his Biathalon disguise and cleverly sneaks onstage to flip the record over. Like aural heroin, the sounds of Moss seep out of the speakers and liquefy the minds of the line dancers. Subtle detuning and modulation vibrates through the walls and somehow, everything feels lighter for a moment. Satisfied, Brian bursts through the club's backdoor and meets Eric in mid-air with a Milli Vanilli style high five. At this precise moment, the PA system explodes but a fuzzed out signal incessantly pushes itself through the smoke and wires. Gigantic bass kicks storm the building as a cloaked figure can be barely made out through the haze...this must be Night Sequels, appearing unexpectedly with his blistering remix of Mudd's Boots. Scrambling, Brian and Eric frantically search for the breaker box, otherwise, if Night Sequels is not stopped, the world could be destroyed. Hell, so could the entire universe. At the last possible second, the boys cut power, dispelling Night Sequels back to his evil realm for another millenia, and Brian quickly restarts a charred black laptop to deliver the last burnt jam of the night: a dense, woodsy Coppice Halifax remix of Moss. Midranges smooth over the din and reverb smears reality left and right until we're left with one blurry camera lens. What just happened?

This 7" is presented in a beautiful full color sleeve and includes a 3x4" Brian Grainger "Lips" sticker and a 3x4" Biathalon "Mt. Hood" op-art sticker. Also included is an immediate 320kbps MP3 digital download of the EP that features two bonus remixes by Brian Grainger and Night Sequels (Nick Huntington of Freescha), expanding the release to 6 songs total. Twenty three minutes of warped electronic psychedelia; the magic Michael Jordan number... Limited to 500 copies!

Track Listing:
A1 Brian Grainger - Mudd's Boots
A2 Brian Grainger - Creedence Swampwater Revenge
B1 Biathalon - Goomy
B2 Biathalon - Moss

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interview From The Euflorian Universe, Part 1

Recently, Rudolf and Alex, the minds behind Eufloria, sat down with me to ask me a few questions, in light of the upcoming Playstation Network release of the game. I asked them some questions back too, but that interview will follow in part 2.

1: You have been making music of all kinds for a long time now, and your ambient work far predates Eufloria’s soundtrack. How did you get involved in this kind of music?

You know, I can’t even remember how it happened. I think the earliest I can remember making ambient music was when I was 15 years old. I had just heard Selected Ambient Works II for the first time and it changed the way I heard music forever. It sounded like music that was from some alien place, and I remember sitting down with a Debussy LP on the record player, running the sound of that through a wah-wah pedal and a delay pedal and overdubbing AM radio static, and that was my first attempt at making this type of stuff. From there, I guess it’s just always been about exploration, improvising, experimenting…there’s kind of always a fascination there with all the freedom involved. I love working in a medium that is never the same way twice, so perhaps that’s one reason why I got involved.

2: Your Eufloria OST is universally loved by people who enjoy the game, Alex and I certainly are fans, but how do you feel about your own achievement? We always see flaws and issues in the games that we make, I wonder if you feel similarly about your own music.

There are most definitely always going to be flaws in my work – it’s totally inherent to my whole process. A few years ago I arrived at a point where I just came to terms with the fact that “perfection” was never going to happen, and instead of focusing on ideals and what COULD be there, I choose to focus on enhancing what IS there, and really making the most out of what is sometimes quite little. I think a lot of great musicians and artists think that way, because all those flaws and incidentals and overlooked things that you yourself may not notice while others do…that’s the stuff that makes your work sound like it’s yours. That’s the charm. In the end, I do feel quite proud of what I’ve done.

3. How do you feel about the rest of the audio design and how it gels with the music? As you know you provided raw sounds and musical snippets and Rudolf mashed and smashed them into something that is often quite different from the source files, but sits well within the Euflorian soundscape.

I think the incidental sounds work extremely well for the whole atmosphere of the game. There’s something very “alive” sounding about all these miniature parts growing, moving, doing things. It just adds to the overarching organicness of the place. I think the music complements the audio design in the same way the visuals complement the music. They’re all working pieces of the same whole, and a lot of the soundtrack is very burbly and almost swamplike at times…lots of foggy sounds and wet sounds and things that evolve over long runtimes. So I think having all the spritely sounds of trees growing and impacts happening just adds to the established “space organic” vibe immensely.

4. Having seen the game go the distance from small competition game to Playstation 3 release, do you feel enthused to do more games related work? It seems your own independent music approach gels well with the indie games scene.

I would absolutely love to do more audio for games. In the grand scheme of things, me sitting here in my studio and self-releasing most of the music I make, and directly getting it to the people who want to hear it, is very much like the indie game circuit. It’s all just a bunch of free thinkers sitting in a bedroom making something they love and cutting the middleman out of the equation as much as possible. I think I’d also be a good fit for game audio work because I already have a tendency to make loads of material and I try not to be bound by genre lines or expectations or whatever. I really love working along the lines of a big concept, as lots of my recordings are quite conceptual and visual, so it’s definitely a good fit.

5. Have you noticed any crossover in your audience where people discover your music via the game, or your existing fans discover the game through the OST release?

I have indeed notice a bit of both, though I have definitely experienced first-hand more people discovering my work via the game, which is a great thing. Just knowing someone picked up the game
because of the game’s merits and promise, then became impressed with my music and got into it enough to want to seek out more of it and buy it, instead of just hear it every time they turn the game on…well that’s just awesome to me. It’s at that point I can see the proof of the music being more than just an effective soundtrack in a utilitarian way – it’s also being enjoyed just as a regular record would.

6. Do you feel restricted at all by the creative limitations a game’s soundtrack puts on you? I can imagine it can be tricky to create so much music that must feel fresh and fit the game universe, yet is open and quiet enough to not disturb gameplay.

If anything, the limitations make the work much more of a challenge, which I usually like because it forces me to think and work in a way I don’t normally, and that keeps the music fresh, as opposed to me having total free reign to do what I like, and inevitably falling back on the little nuances and things that I do subconsciously in my music without really being aware. The format of scoring something requires that everything be completely deliberate and arranged, and it’s always a refreshing experience when you can simultaneously learn something new and create something you still really like. I think that definitely happened with Eufloria, and now because I’ve gone through those motions, there’s a very specific sound that Eufloria has, and it has hereafter become established, making it easier for me to make new things and “play in the sandbox” so to speak.

7. Have you received other offers for this kind of work?

After Eufloria was released on Steam, I was approached by the Discovery Channel to contribute original music to a program they were making for Animal Planet. That went really well, and wasn’t too dissimilar from my work on Eufloria in the context of…total atmosphere. Like Eufloria, they were after very organic ambient sounds and it ended up being a good bit darker than Eufloria’s sound in the end too. Beyond that, I have been asked numerous times to contribute music to online webisode” type shows, student films and things like that, but Eufloria and the AP job were by far the most involved scoring jobs I’ve ever done. As I said before, I’d love to do this type of work more often!

8. Can you describe the process involved in creating a game soundtrack? What are the typical steps you take that end up in a Eufloria music track? Has this stayed consistent throughout your work on the OST or have you been adapting your approach over time?

For Eufloria, the process began with me simply working with a couple demo tracks…I think Meander” was actually the very first one in fact. I had some ideas regarding sort of organic electronics…lots of playful melodies, open spaces in the composition, and a recurring melodic theme that could be revisited in different motifs throughout the entire game. Once those sort of ground rules were established, it was just a matter of creating what I felt were logical “mutations” on that sound. Perhaps some moments would be completely without rhythm, while others had a steady pulse. Sometimes I would focus on darker, more oppressive atmospheres, and others I’d emphasize this sort of playful naiveté in the melody. I wanted a lot of the melodies themselves to sound as if they were “grown” from a single source, like little variants of branches on a tree, almost procedurally generated.

There is/was a definitely consistent vibe throughout all of the Eufloria music, but I can’t deny that the sounds themselves have been mutating over time as well. For example, when I went back to the
soundtrack 2 years after the original tracks were laid down, to create more songs for the PSN version of the game, there was some difficulty, because in my mind, while all that time had passed, I still felt I had a great handle on what was the “Eufloria sound” and in truth, it had mutated in my subconscious to the point that it was pretty different. So I almost had to start all over again and blindly feel around for things that worked, but in the end it all worked out and Eufloria came back to me again. To look at it a different way, the original seeds I had planted were now fully grown into something much more graduated, and I had to go back to the original field and plant some new crops…

9. Do you have a favourite track and if so, which one?

I would say my favorite track is probably “Open”, mostly because it was the first track I did for the soundtrack that felt like I hit a big stride with the atmosphere. It was lengthy, but melodic…ambient, but rhythmic. Playful, textural, a little bit dark and unfamiliar. It was the most perfect balance of all the motifs I wanted present, and quite possibly became the definitive framework for the color of all subsequent pieces. “Pink Leaves” is probably a close second, because it’s a total Eufloria composition in every way, but buried somewhere in there is a pretty classic sounding Milieu track too. It has a special charm that I can still not quite put my finger on.

10. How do you yourself feel when you play the game and hear your own music?

It’s stunning! There’s inevitably always a disconnect when I play it and it’s so immersive and I forget that I was the guy who created these sounds. Also, because there’s so much other stuff going on in gameplay, and you’re not wholly focusing on every bar of the music, and so on, you start to lose your way in it a little bit, and that’s when it’s really like zooming out and hearing my own work for the first time again, and it’s lovely. It just makes me start grinning from ear to ear. I’m very proud of what we’ve all managed to create together, and I can’t wait to spend a few spaced out hours on my couch with a PS3 controller in my hand…

Check out the trailer for Eufloria on the PSN:

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Hello everyone! I write you this first blog post from my new studio, Botany Bay (also hereafter potentially referred to as 124SSR), which resides in the upper floor of my new home. No doubt, many of you have been asking yourselves...where is Brian anyway? Wasn't he moving or something? Why isn't there a Milieu mailer for the month of April? Wait, where the hell IS my previous order already? (and other questions) and hopefully this post will clear all the proverbial fog.
First of all, I've been off the radar since the first week of March, mostly due to our cat Basil passing away. Most of you probably know we were battling a lymphoma right next to his little stomach, preventing him from eating much. After he'd lost some teeth and even more weight, and it looked like the only option he had left as a feeding tube, we made the tough decision to put him to sleep. After this happened, I announced Recycled Plastics along with the month's new releases, and literally a couple weeks later, we finally closed on our new house, which we'd been under contract for since November, waiting on some repairs to be done.
Pictured above is a shot from a sunny, spring day in the backyard of our new place. We've really lucked out with this one...it was built in 1983, and sits comfortably under a canopy of greenery, nestled deep within a quiet neighborhood similar to the one in Pete & Pete. At night, there are so few streetlights that you'd swear you were living in the countryside, it's so dark. My new studio space is about twice the size of my previous one at 114RKD, which is ideal due to the amount of gear I now possess as well as the usual office-related stuff I have to have room for with the label and all that.
So anyway, as great as the house is, moving has been a real pain. It took us forever to get most of our basic stuff in here, and we're still not done bringing it all over yet, and to top it all off, a couple days after we finished painting, I got sick. The whole office/studio was in boxes and unusable for about 3 or 4 weeks, thus delaying all outstanding orders considerably. Many of you have emailed me about your orders, and to all of you: Thanks for being so patient!
I can proudly report that all but 10 or so boxes have been shipped out now, and those remaining are out tomorrow. All of you should be receiving your packages, weather and customs willing, very soon. Oh and also, to those of you who ordered the Workingman's Drone box, either empty or filled - be on the lookout for TWO boxes (that is if you ordered other items as well) since the WD boxes don't fit in my normal corrugated mailers, I had to send them as a separate parcel.
Beyond all that, I wanted to post a little blurb here about my recent appearance on the outstanding dub techno compilation Futur[e]cho, over at Cold Fiction. I've had tracks feature on lots of comps by now, and I really must say this is one of the finest - and it's free! My track is a Coppice Halifax humid ambient dance thing called "Royal Acre", which some of you may remember from the recent Vapor Acre cassette at Wil Ru (which is nearly sold out by the way!). It kicks off the record and from there, it just gets better and better. The closing track by Fingers In The Noise is probably my favorite, and I've since checked out all of his other releases and have been quite happy! Go download this!
Anyway, thanks again to all of you who have been continually awesome, supportive, patient and generous with me - I should be back on track now so I hope you all enjoyed the break! Time for music overload in 3...2....

Kirk Out

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coppice Halifax - Vapor Acre

A new cassette release on a fresh new label out of Portland, Vapor Acre  collects six tracks from a couple different sessions throughout the 2010  year and pairs them with two extended (read: 20 minutes each) remixes by Ndru (aka Bored Man Ganesh at Install) and Radere. Murky and overgrown  organic dub techno, not too far from my work on the Outward Residence split with Axs or much of the Analog Botany series. Spacious and deep  and really well suited to the cassette format. All orders come with a  digital download version of the release, so that means those of you who  don't want to play the tapes are still in luck. Limited to 50 copies in  an audiobook-style cassette case with full color Holga-photo art and an  orange tape with blue labels. A total steal for only $7!

You should also take advantage of the combined shipping if you're buying this tape, and pick up the Biathalon tape too. Biathalon released very briefly with EED years ago, and he and I soon have a split 7" coming out as well. His music is lovely.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recycled Plastics / Phe_

A new (sub)label and a new moniker, at the same time! I'd like to introduce everyone reading this to Recycled Plastics, my new imprint for braindance and bedroom ambient music! And how is that so much different than what's here at Milieu Music, you ask? The aim of Recycled Plastics is, in effect, to pick up where we left off with Expanding Electronic Diversity in 2009. Short runs of limited editions, classy minimal design sense and a refined definition of quality electronic music. It will also be a different beast in the presentation of releases by other artists, and not just yours truly. Indeed, I do have a handful of projects slated for release at RP, but you can look forward to even more music by many of my talented friends: Wisp, Mrs Jynx, EOD, Casio Commander, Ndru, Fieldtriqp, David Tagg, Ourson and others!

("Like" it on Facebook! Blog about it! Spread it around! If any reviewers want promos for some press, get in touch!)

Kicking off the new imprint is the self-titled album by Phe_ - forty minutes of braindancey ambient techno atmospheres backed by forty minutes of stellar remixes by Wisp, Mrs Jynx, EOD, David Tagg, Night Sequels, Casio Commander and UK DJ Simon Meredith. Additionally, the Phe_ album is a fundraiser item: Recently one of the Milieu Music HQ cats Basil was diagnosed with a lymphoma the size of a football, and so anyone who donates $12 or more to his chemotherapy fund here will receive the Phe_ CD-R delivered straight to their door as a thank you. Of course, you can just pay for the CD-R or the digital version like any other release and still acquire all the Phe_ you can handle...but think of Basil! If there is something that goes better with braindance than cats, I know it not.

Workingman's Drone Box Set

After all twelve Workingman's Drone EPs were released last year, and the series drew to a close, I set out to find or build the perfect box to hold the whole set. After some searching and work, I've assembled a rustic lidded brown box with stickers that is priced for the working man. Now all 12 EPs from last year's series are available along with the box for only $50. Compare that to the original price of all 12 EPs ($72) and you know you're getting a bargain. The best you've ever had? You might say so when you find the bonus 13th EP inside your box. "Lavender Billows" is an exclusive WD EP only available with this box set. Additionally, those of you who have collected all 12 EPs throughout the year as they were released will be happy to hear you can get the empty box and the 13th EP for only $10. For a limited time, probably a month or so, all 12 EPs will still be available separately. Anyone looking to complete their WD set is advised to do so soon. After this, only the boxsets and digital versions will be available!