New release – Zen240 – Venus Vulture – Ecosystem 8
Mostly here I’m talking about my writing – after all that’s my main focus. In the background, though, I’m an amateur electronic musician (good to have hobbies, right?). I record and release under the ‘band’ name Venus Vulture. Ambient electronica. I’ve written elsewhere about coming to make ambient music – enjoying listening to it while writing, but having trouble finding it… that’s changed with the advent of the internet, but in the meantime, I found I enjoyed it, so kept making music.
Some of my albums appear on my bandcamp page. Some have come out on netlabels (Resting Bell, Testtube, Zenapolae), and I collaborate with Kendall of December Nightskies as an actual band – Shadows on the Snow, and we have a bunch of releases both independently and on netlabels.
My thanks to arnd from Zenapolae for his patience and back and forth with me while I put together this release. I like his description – “a delicate ambience made with modular synthesis”. That’s what I’m aiming for – delicate ambience.
I’ll write again about the ‘modular synthesis’ side of it – a shift over the last couple of years from computer-based composition to building a modular synth rig. arnd’s put an image of my rig there on the release page.
Taking a leap into the unknown, going, as they say ‘out of my comfort zone’, tonight marks the first Venus Vulture live performance. This is at Swampfest, the Palmerston North annual event showcasing local musicians (and, this year, hosting me).
In about five hours. Hmm! I’ve written here before about the fun I have making music and seeing what I can come up with. Ambient soundscapes and drones and quiet minimal stuff.
But this is a different thing. Live. Performance.
Now, I do make music using a modular synthesizer, so there’s an element of just turning it on and sound comes out. Quite distinct from having to hold the chords on a guitar as the player strums, or, well, actually playing any kind of non-electronic instrument.
I’m using my Unpredictability Machine – which you can see here on Modulargrid. Performing a piece called “Strata”
So, yeah, I do need to turn the knobs at the right time, and cue up the samples in the right order. All while standing in front of people. Actual people. You know, real musicians, who tend to be the people who come to Swampfest.
Fifteen minutes is all. Not long, right. Should be fine. Heh. Do I seem intimidate? Nah.
Anyway, in the lead up and preparing for the night, I’ve recorded some of my sessions and released them on Bandcamp. Pay what you like, or just have a listen online.
With focus, the show might even sound pretty close to this.
And thanks to so many people for their encouragement in taking this leap.
It has been a while since I’ve posted about new music here. Some of you may know that while I’m primarily a writer, I also tinker with ambient music. I release solo works as Venus Vulture, but I am also one half of the band Shadows on the Snow, with Kendall Keeler of December Nightskies. We trade files back and forth, building up tracks that way (Kendall’s based in the U.S, I live in New Zealand. Our plans to meet up earlier this year were put on hold thanks to the pandemic).
We have two new releases, available now from Bandcamp.
After a year of being almost in stasis, of stumbling and letting things slide, focus feels like it is returning.
I knew I would be more focused this year, but then Dean Wesley Smith offered a publishing challenge. I signed up. Nothing will motivate me more than having to report in monthly. I had already planned to release a piece of writing each month, but this ups the ante with each monthly item having to be a novella (20,000 words plus), a novel, a collection of stories (minimum five) or an omnibus of novels.
That’s a level up from where I was heading – I was aiming for four novels, and eight stories. Maybe putting out a story collection later in the year.
Now, I did put out four novels last year.
But it was a bit haphazard. There were a couple of standalone stories in the mix too. This year I’ll be scheduling everything. Doing preorders (hoping I can figure out how to get the paperback to run as a preorder on Amazon, rather than just dropping the moment I complete the uploads).
I’m formally beginning the challenge from May (I have some travel and other commitments through to April), but I’m still sticking with the release per month schedule from January on to April anyway. Targeting the last day of the month. The first is available for preorder now – the short sci-fi thriller “Life Span” (short as in sixty odd pages). I’ll do a proper promo post on that soon.
Life Span will be out on January 31, and the preorder will be pretty wide shortly. Here’s the blurb
Cody Albine watches as her elegant and well-organized presentation collapses. Right in front of her last chance at getting corporate funding for the project of a lifetime. Her absolute passion.
But hope lies with her friends. It might take compromise, but a little compromise between friends never goes astray.
A short biological sci fi thriller with a heart. From the author of Overrun and L-Own.
I’m also putting some focus back on getting music out. Some few of you may know that I make electronic music as Venus Vulture.
For the last few years I’ve still been making music, but letting it linger on the hard drive. Some I’ve been sharing with Kendall, my collaborator from December Nightskies. We release music as Shadows on the Snow.
Even that has slowed down a bit.
So, my challenge this year is to get some music fragments to Kendall each month to see if we can do some Shadows on the Snow releases.
I’m also taking on getting a new Venus Vulture album out every three months. It’s not like there’s a shortage of music (either in the world or on my hard drive), but the act of getting the music out there takes some focus for me.
Chelden River Suite, a four part album, is already up and available at Bandcamp, again as a preorder for full release on (you guessed it) January 31.
I’m also figuring out reactivating venusvulture.com. After all, I’m paying for that URL.
Add to that keeping this site active, posting weekly at prowriterswriting.com, staying fit and healthy, a little travel, a WorldCon to attend and everything else that keeps us going, I think it will be a pretty fine year.
In between all the traveling and novel writing and trying to get my head around the general oddness of the world, I neglected to mention that the Zenapolæ netlabel released my Venus Vulture album Air and Eyes in May. I’m grateful to Arnd for curating this collection of five tracks – in this case effectively becoming producer as we whittled the number of tracks, and worked a couple into better shape.
I’ve always made music to listen to while I write. It usually turns out that I can’t listen to my own stuff more than, say, once, but that’s okay, there’s more out there, including lots from my labelmates on Zenapolæ.
While for the most part I pursue writing as my main creative outlet, from time to time I also create ambient music.
With Kendall Keener of December Nightskies I make up one half of Shadows on the Snow. We exchange music back and forth, remixing snippets of each others work to create something new. Most of our combined music appears on archive.org, some on netlabels and occasional pieces appearing on compilations.
Solo I make music as Venus Vulture. My latest release is Muscari TZ.-1. The long, ambient tracks, with deep levels of repetition. I’m a fan of FM3’s Buddha Machine, so much of my recent music has reflected some of that repetition aesthetic.
I first started writing music because I liked having something in the background while I wrote stories. I couldn’t find enough, so Venus Vulture was born.
Musicari TZ.-1 is available on Bandcamp. You can stream it there. If you’ve read this and it sounds like you might like a listen, PM me/comment and I’ll send you a free download link sometime in late May.
Kendall-my Shadows on the Snow bandmate- has a solo adventure as December Nightskies. Prolific ambient musician that he is, he has numerous releases on various netlabels – Haze, Petroglyph, Zenapolae, etc.
His latest release, however, is a physical CD from This Winter Will Last Forever. Kendall’s CD is right at the edge of the label’s usual fare, which tends more toward the metal end of the music spectrum. I guess the dark-metal, dark-ambient collision makes for a good fit.
Anyway, after many years of collaborating with Kendall, and listening to numerous downloads of his, it was very cool to listen to a physical CD. Yes I do like CDs.
Rainbowdrone fits right there with my list of “music to write to”, or perhaps Eno’s “interesting enough to be engaging, discreet enough to be ignored” (I can’t find the exact quote). An hour of background drones, at times deep and dark, at other lighter. Perfect to put on to unwind, chill, relax. Or write to.
When I first began listening to ambient music it came from a love of that background soundscape that worked well with my writing. It’s cool to personally know someone who’s creating exactly that.
Rainbowdrone is available for €7 from This Winter Will Last Forever’s store.
Kendall’s been busy again, keeping up the releases from our band Shadows on the Snow. This one has sounds mostly by me, recrafted and textured brilliantly by Kendall. This is the kind of thing I like about our collaboration – how we each bring in something new.
You can download Ganymede for free from archive.org.