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.
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.
2016 feels like my best year ever. Publishing went well. Work went well. I wrote more words than in any previous year. I also published more than any previous year.
My goal this year was to publish nine novels. I got eight. Failed at my goal, but, well you know… eight novels out there, so more successful than any other year so far.
Seven science fiction, one thriller (Taken by Surprise – but I hope that’s obvious from the cover). Three novels from my Karnish River Navigations Series. I feel like I learned a whole lot about the writing process and how to become prolific (I’m still not there). I feel like I’m making all my blunders in public. Busking away as I try to learn to be a better writer.
All of the books are available in print and ebook from most regular retailers. One thing for me to work on next year is maximizing the availability. My personal favourites are Athena Setting and Night Operations.
I’ve been working to keep my stories circulating (unsurprisingly, my stories don’t always sell to the first editor. Sometimes they don’t even sell to the tenth). I’ve made almost 150 submissions through the year (145 as I type this – I hope to get an extra few by year’s end).
I had around six acceptances, and seven publications, plus one reprint:
Scour in New Myths (a Karnish River Navigations story, so ties in with some of the novels above).
Penny of Tharsis Montes in Amazing Stories (this was my Gernsback Amazing Stories contest co-winner).
Ink for a Verbal Contract in Ad Astra (this was my Writers of the Future contest finalist from a few years back – nice to see it find a home).
Also, my story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” made the cover of the January/February 2017 issue of Asimov’s. It came out on December 20th, so I’m unsure whether to count it here or next year. Maybe both. 🙂
With that last story, I’ve had to make my final entry into the Writer’s of the Future contest. I’m now, for the purposes of the contest, considered a professional writer. Next year a change up too: except for a couple close to my heart, I’ll be targetting only pro-paying outlets. Seems obvious really.
Currently I have about thirty stories out on submission.
I had the good fortune to be a finalist for four awards. My novella “The Molenstraat Music Fesival” (Asmov’s September 2015) for the Aurealis Awards (won by Garth Nix), the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Octavia Cade) and the Asimov’s Reader’s Awards (Michael Swanwick and Gregory Frost), and my short story “The Harpsichord Elf” (Capricious, Issue #1) for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Lee Murray).
Also music – I worked with Kendall on some new Shadows on the Snow material. I think I should do a separate post about that elsewhere.
Failing to success is a term I got from Dean Wesley Smith – my take on it is that while you might miss reaching your goals, you still achieve something in that striving. While I didn’t quite make all my goals, I feel like I shot high.
Still thinking about how to approach next year. I do think I’ll shoot for ten novels. I have a few at various stages of the editing process (as in four complete manuscripts, copyediting, formatting, etc. to do). I’ll be doing some traveling too, so that might impact my writing time. I have some strategies around that. Pretty sure I won’t make the 150 submissions. Travel, and focus on novels means I’ll have fewer stories to circulate. Some of these old ones have burned through their potential markets. Likely I’ll bundle them up into a collection or two and publish that myself.
All the best for your new year. Reach for your goals: it’s a whole lot of fun.
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.
With some upcoming writing news any day now, it’s cool to have some music news.
By day I’m a writer, by night I tinker with ambient music as Venus Vulture. There are a few Venus Vulture releases around, as well as numerous collaboration albums with Kendall of December Nightskies as Shadows on the Snow. I’m also grateful to Kendall for steering me toward some compilations (like this one).
The lastest Venus Vulture track, ‘Basalt Arches’, is out now on the Xernex compilation Into Hidden Visions – a free download from Bandcamp. My track’s a slight departure for me; less drone, more busy-ness. There are even some drums.
There’s quite a line up of artists there. I’m pleased to be able to discover some new people and new sounds.
Here’s the list, taken from discogs (link also includes more images).
Various – Into Hidden Visions, Label: Xernex – XE40
1 –December Nightskies – Then Darkness Covered The Land 05:29
2 –Badrich – Bog Corpse 06:15
3 –Grodock – Abgleiten 04:21
4 –Visqueen (2) – Downers 03:35
5 –ELMA – The bridge 03:35
6 –BERTHELOT Perturbateurs endocriniens 05:53
7 –Jimmy Watt – Caronte on the banks of the seventh sea 06:36
8 –ZUMAIA – Intense Drama 02:11
9 –Twilight Of Emptiness – Black Stars 03:24
10 –Paranoid Movement – The Hunt 05:12
11 –Venus Vulture – Basalt Arches 03:32
12 –Nebelwächter, Thomas Bannier – Birdtalker 05:24
13 –Thlaaflaa – The Gospel 04:46
14 –Goat tunnel – Last Sorrow Drained 06:29
15 –VAULT (6) – Eridamus Weeping 06:10
16 –[ówt krì] – Attention 04:33
17 –Krāllār – Faster 02:29
18 –L_Arsenne – Âme noire 05:19
19 –No-Joy – Sperma 05:11
20 –PKWST – Untitled 04:06
Kendall Keeler of December Nightskies has put together another compilation of ambient and dark ambient tracks.
Behemoth has 21 tracks by various artists, including my own Venus Vulture track “Components From Air Filter Residue, Daytona Speedway, February 2016”. One of my longer pieces – a little over 14 minutes – that I hope covers a lot of ground, while still being very unobtrusive.
I also sneak in with a Shadows on the Snow (my collaboration with Kendall) track “The Snake is on the Prowl”.
This follows Kendall’s Leviathan compilation from October/November last year. Many of the same artists return. This is shaping up to be a fine series of eclectic sounds. I’m honored to be a part of it.
Behemoth tracklisting – total time is almost 3 hours
1. BERTHELOT – La caverne du Behemoth
2. December Nightskies – Heaven Or Hell
3. Ari Porki – A Great And Mighty
4. Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt – Short Poem For Aretha Cooper
5. eisenlager – NCC-1701
6. Venus Vulture – Components From Air Filter Residue, Daytona Speedway, February 2016
7. Everything From Nothing And Head Joint – The Revolutioner’s Dream
8. Gun Urrainn – Discontact
9. Globoscuro – The Glowing Eye Of NGC 6751
10. Something Like Squids – Imaginary Fireflies (Excerpt)
11. Pixyblink – Observer J
12. nobodisoundz – blakk solarsolstice
13. Shadows On The Snow – The Snake Is On The Prowl
14. Hilyard – Exodus
15. Robert G. Rough- 42 Days (Part 3)
16. CNTV – Renace
17. December Nightskies With Scott Lawlor – The Judgement Of Satan (Excerpt)
18. Mach Feedback – A Fool For Illusions
19. Oystein Jorgensen – Cold Wave
20. VAULT – Presents for Katherine
21. Sir Edgar Carpenter – Perversis
No writing news lately, but the Zenapolæ netlabel has just released my Venus Vulture ambient album Nudibranch.
On a visit to the small but cool Santa Monica Aquarium, I saw these wonderful, graceful and peaceful creatures, drifting and swimming. Their langorous movements and transparent bodies inspired some tranquil music and I’m glad it’s found a home.
The cover is from a photo I took at the aquarium. These are Lion’s Mane nudibranches, one of dozens (well 2300 maybe) of species. Nudibranches are molluscs that shed their shells when they move into adulthood.
With all my focus on being a pulp fiction writer these days, on occasion I neglect the music side. Many years ago, unable to find enough ambient music to listen to while writing, I began making my own. Most of it was pretty awful – not even listenable by me – but some of it was okay. Over time, I got better too. Even to the point that some of my music has been released on some netlabels and has been played on the radio and by DJs. (This is also the reason why the blog URL is venusvulturenews – the music comes out under the moniker Venus Vulture, and music was why I first started the blog). It’s been a while since Pylon Suite came out on Zenapolae, but it was cool to see it very positively reviewed recently on acts of silence. I am slowly working on new music, but it’s more sporadic these days: more will definitely be coming.
Pylon Suite is about 40 minutes long and is intended to be background music while doing more concentrated activities (such as writing). It’s a free download.