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.
I’ve probably mentioned before that while I’m a relatively prolific writer, and probably not too bad at it either (a couple of awards along the way, so I must be doing something right on occastion), I can a little tardy at keeping this site up to date. What happens then is things build up and I end up jabbering about a half dozen things every couple of months, rather than one every week.
Hoping to change that. Maybe I’ll even schedule it. After all, I write fiction every day, why not talk about it every week? Similarly, I need to keep that sidebar, that’s probably showing on the right there, a little more current. And the pages links at the top.
Anyway, there are bits and pieces of news about new releases.
My novelette “Problem Landing” appeared in the March/April issue of Analog, which was kind of cool. This story comes from watching footage of the SpaceX rocket boosters making their landings for re-use. The story, though, is set on Mars.
I have another story coming out sometime later this year in Analog – “Eyes To The Height”. Again, a failing technology story, this one set on the moon.
Yay for space.
Analog also have their own blog – The Astounding Analog Companion – and I have an interview in that, about “Problem Landing”. That came out quite a few weeks back. There are other good interviews and opinion pieces on the blog too.
I have a new book out – Core Runners – book 5 in the Captain Arlon Stoddard series. Available in all the usual places. The blurb goes like this:
“A missing ship. A distressed mother. A planet of mysteryThe disappearance of the Astro Astoria challenges the capabilities of Captain Arlon Stoddard and his crew in new and desperate ways.Finding the ship, and the familes aboard takes every resource the have.And More.Another thrilling installment in the exciting Captain Arlon Stoddard series.Space adventure at its best.”
Core Runners is available in print and as an ebook from the usual retailers – check here to grab a copy. Paperback is $9.99, ebook is $3.99.
Book 6 – Underworld Climbers – should be out in June. The copy-editing is complete, just need formatting and to organise the cover.
In the meantime, another book in the middle-grade Matti-Jay and Dub Adventures series – Blast Crater on Endemo – comes out on May 20th. This is standalone, as all my series books are (as in, you can read them in any order), but it does chronologically follow on from last year’s Great Wall of Endemo, so if you’ve read that you might enjoy this one as a continuation.
This is the blurb for Blast Crater on Endemo:
“Filled with exotic wonderful sights, Endemo ranks as one of the most mysterious worlds in all of Ao space. With some time off after the challenging events at the Great Wall, Matti-Jay and her crew pay a visit to the stunning ancient crater in the northern reaches. Surrounded by gorgeous scenery, none of them expect bandits and crooks.But the crater holds secrets. Holds them close.Faced with impossible choices Matti-Jay and Dub dig into every resource they have. The crater gives no second chances.Another thrilling adventure in the Matti-Jay and Dub series, from award-winning author Sean Monaghan.”
Lastly, for now, I have a new Venus Vulture EP out on bandcamp. “Crystal Falls” is a suite of three tracks of gritty, drone ambient. This is my first real release of music made with my modular synthesizer system. Previously I’ve worked with FLStudio, Oscilab, paulstretch and GoldWave, among others, to put together music. It’s quite a different experience working in the analog world, and doing more actual playing of the instrument, rather than clicking on the screen.
I’ve been building the system for the last couple of years, and it’s been something of a learning curve. Maybe that’ll be a good topic for one of those every week posts.
Crystal Falls is available on Bandcamp – $5.00 for the download. You can listen online for free.
Well, thanks for reading this far.Right now I’m working on a new SF novel (which might end up just being a novella), then want to do some more short stories, and then some more thrillers. Later this year I’ll be repackaging my existing thrillers with new covers, and launching a new series. More on that to come, but there are three novels written so far – I should have two out before Christmas, with the third in January. Fair chance I can write and prep another before then, so there might be four of them by March next year.
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.
Thanks to Candy from Studio 4632 for putting the release out. Available now to stream or download from Bandcamp.
In the meantime, I am working on writing always. Lately I’ve been producing lots of short stories. It’s an interesting shift from novels. Also working on preparing the files for the updated releases of The Hidden Dome trilogy. Plan to have all those out at the start of August. Also working on final edits to Gold Embers, the third of the Chronicles of The Donner series. Yes, I have too many series, and I need to do a better job of tracking them.
I’m still writing a post a week for Pro Writers Writing, which keeps me on my toes. I’m going to be away for a while later in the year, so I need to get well ahead on that to have a few posts in the bank. Heading off to Papua New Guinea, Korea and Taiwan. Should be able to do some great story research there. Looking forward.
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.