Most Memorable: Top Music Of 2011
Posted December 30th 2011, at 19:24 with tags , , ,

Sometimes, an album is great as a whole, sometimes singles are better off. I took my favorite tracks from my favorite albums of 2011 and put them into a playlist.

Most Memorable: Top 3 Films Of 2011
Posted December 30th 2011, at 19:23 with tags , , ,

Saw a lot of movies and most of them OK but not the greatest year for movies. Some gems though. 

Glasses / Megane. That's settled then. We're going to Japan. 
Melancholia. I'm liking Von Trier again.  
Exit Through The Gift Shop. I like it tricking up the arts.  


Most Memorable: Top 10 Books Of 2011
Posted December 29th 2011, at 17:59 with tags , , ,

Read a lot of books in 2011. 

Would like to mention all of them, but here are the 10 most memorable.  


The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Good vs bad, east vs west, faith vs science, communism vs capitalism, she vs he, USA vs USSR, mind vs soul, now vs then, right vs wrong, gender vs person, war vs peace, cool vs lame, theory vs practice, doctor vs professor, possesion vs dispossesion.

I think this was the best book I read in 2011, and Le Guin the best writer I have read in the last few years. Her books just seem to become more relevant over time. 


Flaubert's Parrot, Julian Barnes.

Julian Barnes is my new David Mitchell. Litera-clever-ature.

Reamde, Neal Stephenson.

It is actually not science fiction.

It is very real and very possible. But most people I know would think it sci-fi, if they ever bothered to read this, but they wouldn't.

Most people I know, I love them, but they are living in the past. Sometimes I don't know if I should shock them or comfort them.

The Housekeeper And The Professor, Yoko Ogawa.

The beauty of math, the entropy of memory. 

The Elegance Of The Hedgehog, Muriel Barberry

Never read reviews. Read books. 

Songlines, Bruce Chatwin.



The Ketty Jay Trilogy, Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls

The Black Lung Captain

The Iron Jackal

Win x 3 and series of the year!

Wonderful quality pulp steampunk sci-fi delicious utter butter über cyber litera-victori-ature. This trilogy is so bloody perfect escapism, it's like going to a hyper-charged tivoli for the mind. I read these books like a desert wanderer crawls into a bar and drinks barrels of beer, getting happily quenched and drunk at the same time.

The Ketty Jay novels are a flash back to the first love of books. The realisation that books, dead paper or bits on a screen, are secret portals to magic worlds. These books justify it.  

I confess, I also read Wooding's youth literature, absolutely loved the Malice series too. I think maybe my best moments of 2011 was sneaking off on a blue sofa, escaping work or sleep or social commitments, being 11 years old, wide open eyes focused on a thrilling book.

Chris Wooding is absolutely, unquestionably awesome.

 The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Steve Chbosky.

Introverted? CHECK.

Troubled adolescence? CHECK.

Weird music taste? CHECK.

Growing up, defining yourself in the 90ies? CHECK.

Generally confused and disconnected? CHECK.

People having trouble pronouncing creator's name? CHECK.

 Journey To The End Of The Night, Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

Books are portals.

Books can also be portals to worlds which are not necessarily beautiful, but beautifully necessary.

The Mesh: Why The Future Of Business Is Sharing, Lisa Gansky.

And, we are full circle, back to Dispossesion.

This isn't just about business. This is  the sensible and functional way to fix the planet. Because you are not going to give up your comforts. So let's make them into resources. 


Fit For Flight
Posted December 29th 2011, at 16:44 with tags , , , , ,


Fit For Flight (Taken with Instagram).

Berlin Wins Christmas With Flame-Throwing Franken-Tree
Posted December 22th 2011, at 17:33 with tags , , , , , ,
This year, Germany won the EU. And now, Berlin also wins Christmas, by this insanely awesome Franken-flame-thrower-Christmas-tree. 
I heard rumors of a Franken-tree and went on dangerous capitalist expedition to the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz. I found it: The Traffic Tree, a Franken-Transformer-Skeletor tree assembled from - and decorated with - a multitude of eclectic culturabilia. 
As I had myself a hot glühwein and stood there admiring this wunderschönes monster, then it suddenly burst. into. multiple. flames. And it continued bursting and pulsing and burning for a good five minutes! Circling patterns of poofs and roars! Hahaha! Is that my jaw, in my glühwein cup!? 
And if that's not enough, they've also got 3-dimensional pixel lego snowmen!
Mein gott this village knows how to honor the holidays. When it comes to the annual blingbling-feist, me and the doctor are usually sordidly withdrawn as grinches in a dark corner, but this year the flame-throwing baum lifted our spirits. We actually invested in a christmas tree - of course a mobile version powered by USB.
The best wishes from the doctor and me - and our USB tree! - for acceptable holidays, may all your Franken-days have bursting flames and pixel snowmen. 
G / D / USB-3 

Youtube Now Pays Me For Music In Videos
Posted December 21st 2011, at 11:07 with tags , , ,

I am now getting paid (microscopically) for all Youtube use of my music, in any way it appears.

My videos, your videos, your aunt's cat videos, your aunt's cat's mouse videos. There are so many superbly brilliant, thrillingly weird and charmingly awesome videos on Youtube using my music, it's great, and now it is even greater. The Youtube system automatically detects use of the music in videos, and works out royalties and a cut of ad revenue. A much more elegant approach than barbaric take-downs and cruel removals of personal videos. I heart my digital music parents Phonofile and the Merlin Network very much, thanks guys for patiently working things out.  

I have always said yes to all personal and most non-commercial use of my music in Youtube videos, in the rare, polite event that someone asks permission. I've always just been happy the music is being used and spread. Now it is reason to be even more happier, and say yes more yessier. 
How much this generates in real income, I don't know, the deal is just inked, I haven't seen any reports. And I have no idea if it works retrospectively, for all the gazillion past plays over the years. I do not expect a lot per clip, probably sometimes nothing. But it could add up over time. Youtube is the most important channel of music on a global level. I am happy, this is a very good start. 
For starters, I uploaded the whole of the Planet U project for one continuous playlist, and another top 10 Ugress tracks playlist.

I do not expect sudden high traffic to these music-only videos, but I think they're important to have available for those outside of the streaming paradises.

Planet U: Episode 4: Luftslott - Production Notes
Posted December 14th 2011, at 16:11 with tags , , , , , ,

Luftslott is the final and title track of Planet U: Episode Four, also called Luftslott.  

Production notes 
Symphonic ghost-house is a genre I have invented for myself but not quite nailed yet. There's previously the softer Ghost Von Frost and also I'd throw Cthulhu's Night Out into this category. Still not quite there, but closing in.
This track has been a lot of work, way more than usual. It is in the end a combination of multiple sketches; some of them as old as ten years. Depending on how much each sketch influences the others as they are combined, the genre of the track shifts for each version; at first it was spooky trip-hop, it has been a vocal track, and for some years almost normal minimal house (REAL horror). 
(Click for full screenshot.)
There's also been some versions with more melody and musical development but I didn't like them enough to keep. 
Nuke Your Babies 
The final battle of this track was how much voice samples should be in it. I had - and still have - a version where she continues to speak sporadic phrases throughout the track, various surrealist Norwegian messages. During beta listens, the amount of vocal samples was what we discussed most. The current end result, which is "as little as possible", I'm not sure, but at the moment I think it is the most optimal balance. 
At the moment I do not see Luftslott as a live track, but playing live is a typical situation where the vocal samples could be reanimated.
Patience Is A Virtue Until It Is Boring
In my opinion (today), the biggest problem with this track, and possible why samples mentioned above didn't work, is the short running time. The track is hyper-efficient. I'm worried it could be a bit too efficient. I've been constantly torn between efficiency and patience, to let elements develop over longer time. I think a classic, simpler house structure could work. But for now, for the EP release, I choose to go with the short edit. If the track becomes an album candidate I will revise, and also then there will be listener data to aid any upgrades. 
Up, up, up
There are often car chases in the movies. Not so often, or rather never, are there levitating castles chasing each other, slow-motion battles of the skies. With this eternal wisdom of the cinema, I observe Luftslott to conclude the fourth episode of the Planet U project, which as intended provided regular EP releases throughout 2011.
Now if you excuse us, the Doctor and your correspondent have castles to fly.


Ugress - Luftslott EP
Posted December 14th 2011, at 15:49 with tags , , , , , ,

The Ugress - Luftslott EP is out. Pick your poison: 


You can download the whole EP, pay what you want, from my Bandcamp store.

If you haven't already, catch up on episode one Planetfall, episode two The Lost Ruins and episode three Wulfhoken Spaceport Affairs.  There are production and compositional notes for all tracks, just follow the Planet U tag.

Geek Report: A Device To Combat Wireless
Posted December 12th 2011, at 19:23 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

A geek live music investor report. Observations of a new MIDI USB gadget investment.

But Why?
I am using an iPad as a fundamental controller when performing live.  Photos below.  On stage the iPad is supplemented with hardware controllers. The iPad and my custom built control interfaces are critical elements for getting good sound, doing sudden improvisation, and in general clueless messing up and having fun because I have (theoretically) control. 
Until now, the iPad (TouchOSC) has been talking to the laptop (Live via Osculator) via wireless networking. Yes, wireless networking! Also known as: A bloody f*#*ing nightmare.
I've performed or worked in hundreds of venues, rooms, places over the last two years. Statistically, in 40% of these places, I had terrible problems with the wireless networking. Too often and too much to be accidental or just freak situations. I've concluded, wireless networking are not trustworthy on the road. Maybe, theoretically in controlled environments. 
And even when it DID work, there were always dropouts; not enough to be critical, but enough to be annoying. Especially when dropping note-off's, resulting in hung notes (the inevitable release of a pressed key is not transmitted so the note sounds forever or until you buy a new computer).
For some time this autumn I considered giving up custom touch-based interfaces. But with the recent Lemur release, I just can't give up the future. So I'm trying a physical solution. The iConnectivity iConnectMIDI.
It creates a cable connection from the iPad to the laptop. Barbaric, I know.
The Un-Box
It's a thing! It arrived by courier! I signed my name with a stylus! 
It must be honored by proper un-boxement procedure and documentation.
The Happy Notes  

It Just Works. And rather splendidly. I hooked it up and it just worked and that's it. No instructions, no WTFs, no issues. There's a slight latency compared to physical controllers, but I gladly enjoy those milliseconds for custom interfaces with NULL LOSS OF SIGNAL NEVER EVER AGAIN: If I touch it, it happens.  

Possibilities. Right now, I'm simply using it to send MIDI signals from the Lemur app on iPad to the laptop. The box can do a lot more, which I'm not utilizing, too busy concentrating on album production. But look forward to more gadget play when album is finished.  
Ease Of Connectivity. A comparison:
iConnect Midi
  • Wake up laptop
  • Create network
  • Create password
  • Wake up iPad
  • Preferences App
  • Wi-fi
  • Join Device Network
  • Enter password
  • Wait 30 sec for IP hook
  • Controller App, refresh connection
  • PLAY
  • Wake up laptop
  • Wake up iPad
  • PLAY
This isn't so bad if you're only in a studio all the time and this routine is done maybe once or twice. But when you have to perform these start-up routines multiple times each day, and it then often does not work, works somewhat, needs a restart, drops connection, has connection but doesn't talk, HAD connection, NOW during performance HAS NOT, or just doesn't work at all, an then suddenly DOES, then WTF DOES NOT, then it kind of gets rosy cozy SPECIAL FLAMETHROWER MOMENT. Stability prevails over flexibility on stage. 
The Not-So-Happy Notes. But OK-Then:
The Name. iConnectMIDI? It's a kind of like "My First Pony Is A Dwarf Horse" or "Let's Play Doctor Because I Am Sick". When something is stated too obviously there is always something uncanny lurking below.
Wireless-less. I'm not wireless anymore. Can't grab the iPad and run around on stage. Which I did for the first few times, but then it kind of got old. And anyway; I kept hitting the home button when running around. It's the custom interfaces that is the real value of the iPad, not the portability. And I still have the Wii controllers, which now should see less wireless signal competition, maybe that helps. 
Power. I can't charge it during use, the iConnectMIDI device does not supply power. I have to remember to charge the iPad pre-show, which I know I will forget and therefore expect to perform highly stressful shows in the future on 5% battery. C'est la vie electronique.
Weight. And cables. Extra plugging when setting up a new place. The tiny little gadget is surprisingly… hefty. Not heavy, but kind of solid, well-built and set. And it has a power adaptor, which is very light but still Yet Another Thing. This adds more weight and space to my stuff. Not a lot, but if wireless was 100% stable, I wouldn't need it. (It's also one more thing that can and will break down.)
Laboratory testing concludes: Success investment! Applaud investor.
It's a while until next live expedition right now, but I have a school tour and album release tour in spring 2012, where this will see some proper field tests. Until then, I simply enjoy hassle-free, stable signals. And yet another little box with blinking lights.
PS. Photos above are from rigging and soundcheck before showtime, not during actual concert. So it's not like there are 3 or 0 people attendig my shows. There are actually 10 or even more sometimes. 

Pushwagner music video for Regression 22
Posted December 9th 2011, at 13:32 with tags , , ,

Music video premiere! Pushwagner and Ugress battle for control in the Pushwagner universe. Video for the Regression 22 track, final title track of the documentary "Filmen Om Pushwagner", by Even Benestad / August Hansen. Music video directed by Karianne Berge, produced by Indiefilm.

The music video coincides with todays release of the "Filmen Om Pushwagner" documentary on DVD, available now in stores like Platekompaniet. The soundtrack for the documentary is available for streaming and download, right here at, stream in Spotify or Wimp or download from iTunes.

The video is currently featured over at Kreativt Forum (norwegian only). Here are some photos I took of the filming session, and there's also a report from live cinema performances during the premiere weekend. 

Planet U: Episode 4: Tortoise Locomotive
Posted December 8th 2011, at 01:07 with tags , , ,

Sweet patient melodic melancholia, restless lo-fi breaks and gritty cuteness: Tortoise Locomotive

Production Notes 
Did most of this track on a long train trip through all of Germany, from the Alps to Berlin, in November this year. It started out with an experiment of building Franken-breaks (more on this in a later post). The melodic piano pattern came from a sketch recorded earlier that week in a hotel room. I spent most the train ride lost in this, working out a complete structure and adding all the elements. 
Mixing, balancing and tuning of instruments and sounds was done a few weeks later. The mixing process took a few days back and forth, but the track was created in transit. 
There are a lot of Franken-instruments in there. It introduces an early version of Franken-breaks; a sort of breakbeat based chaotic drum-machine that randomly picks a slice from multiple samples of breakbeats. That's kind of obvious to hear in the first few seconds. I'll make a report on that when it's more mature. I add some repeating beats layered below to make it less crazy. Later, there are subtle layers of Franken-pizzicatos for the second melodic line (see Soundcloud comment), and the Franken-flugel is sort of ever-present all the way. 
The simple, repetitive bass pattern is multiple Amiga Protracker ST-disk bass samples mixed together. I like the grunginess of ST-samples, how they seem to fit and complement the dirty sound of the breaks. Wonderful 8-bit fuzziness. The piano also doubles some of the bass pulses. I'm not too found of the piano sound down there, it's a bit dull and sloppy but rest assured it was worse when it was sharper.
Conceptually it's a rather naive track, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It is a bit inefficient progress-wise, elements take their time developing. But I like that, this is how I had it, on the train, letting parts linger, having room for attention to drift in and out, staying in the dreamy, grungy spaciousness. It certainly is a nice contrast to last week's Remote Control Labyrinth, with its ruthless demands to attention. 
The mix is noisy. It clicks, squeaks, beeps, glitches, there is subtle grunge, noise and ugliness in every nook and cranny; this is the consequence of Franken-instruments sometimes picking clean samples, sometimes noisy. I cannot and will not control that, they live on their own. I love how the track breathes and changes in realtime. Every time I play it, work with it, it sounds a bit different. 
For now, I have to render down a frozen version for release. But at some point it should be possible to release tracks where the instruments are running live, computer game soundtracks already does this to an extent. In due time.

The Future Re-Futurized: Lemur For iOS
Posted December 7th 2011, at 14:52 with tags , , , , , , ,

Wahoo, that happened faster than I expected! The Lemur touch-interface software is now available for iOS devices

It is only a year since I parted ways with my beloved original Jazzmutant Lemur; a hardware touch-screen device for custom built musical interfaces. A quirky tactile companion to me since 2006, it was very futuristic until Apple slammed the iPad onto the table; a swift and painless death to custom touch-based hardware.

My replacement for Lemur on the iPad has been TouchOsc, in combination with Osculator. This has worked well enough, pressing the wrong button and messing up your live-show is the same routine on any device.

But I missed the physics. With the Lemur there were virtual physical properties to the touch-based controllers, they would feel "alive", and you could script it for even more mad realtime interaction. I also missed access to my own custom built interfaces; over the years I had developed templates and methods which weren't translatable to TouchOsc, many of them optimized for playing and manipulating the physically enhanced controls live; as I lost them I also lost some of the fun for myself on stage. 

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to discover the new iOS version, which perfectly loads my old setups. Marvelous! It just works! All the effort I spent is not lost, rather the opposite, my iPad is suddenly much more usable. And the iPhone too!

What a great day it is in the future.

The OSX editor works just like I'm used to, with comfy realtime synchronization between the editor and the iPad; a welcome improvement of TouchOsc's offline uploading. Dear me this is sweet and well thought-out.

Can't wait to dive deeper into this, look for new opportunities and start to play live with it. I've only briefly fooled around with it for some hours today; I should now get back to concentrating on writing and producing. 

Just one more touch...? A tiny tap? A subtle slide...? ooooh.


Website Updates: Flush Away Flash, Hello HTML5, Touch, Social
Posted December 6th 2011, at 17:28 with tags , , , , , ,


I spent the day running around in the server room with scissors, cutting holes in punch-cards. Should result in incremental updates to the website. A bit of catching up, and a bit preparing for what's coming... 

The website is now sort of mostly HTML5 and touch-friendly. Flash is gone*. This means, everything should work on any modern device; phone, tablet, laptop, sewing machine, anywhere anytime. Touch till you drop. 
The music players are using the awesome new HTML5 widget from Soundcloud**. I've slowly been integrating this over the last few weeks. It's in beta but it works pretty well as far as I can tell. Let me know if hurts somewhere. Ditto video embeds are now HTML5. 
There's a new social sharing footer where applicable, for instant sharing of content on your preferred network, so far Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. It works dynamically, should reflect external activity. Again, yell if it hurts.
(Also did some tiny updates to the mobile app, mostly cosmetic. It's not ignored, I'm just very patient with it. There's a larger update coming in a few weeks.)
We're in the future so everything is beta of course.
* There might be some legacy embedded Flash in older posts and albums. 

** The Soundcloud widget uses a new way to identify tracks, I'm corresponding with Soundcloud on how to convert all my stuff. Might take a moment, meanwhile older single tracks are still using the Flash version, albums are using the new one. I'll update as I stumble upon them. 



Tumblr: Mechanical Vs Virtual
Posted December 6th 2011, at 09:58 with tags ,

Mechanical vs virtual (Taken with instagram)

Mechanical vs virtual (Taken with instagram)

My New Amazon Kindle 4
Posted December 4th 2011, at 21:32 with tags , , , , ,

I got me a Kindle, the new version 4. Yay! I hearts it so very much it goes to bed with me every night. A monochrome lover with endless stories to tell. Some observations after a few weeks use.  

Why Kindle? 
I read a lot. I read digital books with the Kindle/iBooks app on iPad, iPhone and actually lately also the Macbook Air, which is light enough to grab for casual reading. (I read most of the Steve Jobs biography on the Air, that was kind of strange.) I also read oldskool paper books, if anyone remember those. Ink printed on dead wood. I'm sorry, I like the physical tactility of paper. Rain-forests, forgive me.
So why add another gadget to the arsenal. The reasons overlap: 
First, non-backlit screen. I am OK with reading on a backlit screen but I'm not in love with that, especially late at night. Backlit reading kind of always feels like a temporary substitute to me, not a proper alternative. 
Second, battery. This Kindle, the battery is incredible, it runs forever. I haven't charged it since I got it, and I've read multiple books on that single charge. 
Third; I'm currently traveling and moving around a lot. Over the last few months I've bought a lot of physical books and had to leave them behind here and there. Eventually, I realized I had to take digital reading serious. I wanted a device that actually replaced books, not just "temp'ed" them. 
Fourth. The Kindle app is actually pretty awesome as a reading phenomenon. The Kindle device is a gadget in it's prime youth. This is the future of text and stories and knowledge happening right now and it actually works and I want to be part of it and have the best experience of it. This is also called "a geek". 
Why not the Touch?
I thought a lot about this before going mechanical. As I've become sort of adjusted to touch, I expect everything around me to be touch-able. Purchasing a device where I couldn't touch a word to learn it's definition, sort of scared me. A directional cursor? What do you take me for? A damn dirty ape? 
But as I pondered, what I really wanted, was to have a BOOK. A book, you can hold it any way you want, grab it in any position, and the content does not shift. You can't do that with touchscreen devices; fingers on screen means interaction, intended or not. We've become border-holders. What I really like about this Kindle, when reading, I can hold it any way I want. Doesn't matter if my fingers are covering the screen. I can handle it like a book, not a device. 
Screen refresh rate
I was scared away by the earlier Kindles from the page turning refresh rate. I am allergic to latency. For this device, they've improved on this. It is there, but negligible. There is some kind of buffering trick; it only refreshes the full display with a quick white-black-white flash every fifth or sixth page, in between those, a page turn is pretty much the same as flipping a physical page. I wished it was INSTANT of course, but it's OK. 
Size and physical properties
I was at first a bit uncertain about the size; I thought it would be a bit small. But it fits very nicely in my hand. It's like a flat paperback. The weight is ha-ha-ha! again. I think there is some kind of threshold for things-you-can-hold-and-never-get-tired and the Kindle is way below that threshold. A sewing-machine is not. But why you would hold that, I don't know. 
With some experience I can now read on the Kindle one-handedly, though two-handedly is most convenient. The next/previous page flipping mechanics on each edge of the device is the only thing I think isn't spot-on optimal. The effort to flip is very slight, but I wish it was even slighter; that would make one-handed reading easier. 
There is no keyboard. I like that. Should books have pens in them? I have no plans to type anything on it. There is an on-screen keyboard, typing is like oldskool arcade high-scores. I've had to type the following since it arrived: My wi-fi password. My Amazon account and password. The last name of two authors, just to check out the store on the device. In the case of the latter; there was auto-complete. 
The way I navigate digital books; I'm probably not going to buy anything on the device itself. I tend to surf Amazon either on a laptop or iPad; purchases and literary investments will in all likelihood be performed on other devices. But from my limited experience with the in-device store; I see no problems using it. 
Readability is superb. I love it. Since I got it, I've finished three or four novels, and currently battling the same. If looking closely, no problem locating pixels in the e-ink display, but those disappear during reading more easily than on the iPad. The non-backlit display is comfortable on the eyes for long periods of reading.  
Reading on this gadget is awesome. Period. Consuming text is delightful. And that's what matters. The device does what it is intended to do exceptionally well. It bridges the gap between real books and universal gadgets with reading apps.
And should I ever need to type on it, that would feel like firing off my initials on a Turbo Outrun arcade high-score. I am satisfied. 

Planet U: Episode 4: Remote Control Labyrinth
Posted December 2nd 2011, at 11:52 with tags , , , , ,

If last week's cute and quiet Hollow Wings was to sweet for you, sharpen your attention span and brush up on your sonic navigational skills. Dive into Remote Control Labyrinth

I'm afraid this won't fit as background music for your sophisticated dinner party tonight.
Production Notes
A polite amount of my time is spent looking for sounds, loops, images, words, visuals or simply inspiration. (It could also be argued, escapism.)
One place I love scavenging for material are crazy old weird B-movies and TV-shows. I'm a restless soul and not particularly compatible with everyone's idea of "pacing". Often I watch in high speed, skip ahead, or jump around. I have observed there is a sort of musicality to the way I navigate media. It is rhythmic, it sounds nice, especially when navigating linearly through something, it's not just random bits of noise, there are coherence. Like if you take three seconds of a film, jump five seconds ahead, take two seconds, jump five more, take three… it breaks it up and removes intentional meaning but it keeps some kind of essence, in sound. You can still tell it's from the same source without knowing the source. 
So I decided to try make a track which had that as the core idea. I simply recorded myself skipping through, I think maybe 40-50 movies? My only formula was to keep skipping, especially if someone started talking. I then catalogued the recordings into three; musical cuts, dialogue cuts, sound effects cuts. (Often overlapping.) Then I started structuring the most musical cuts into blocks; so each phrase (cuts from a source) is repeated in average four times, sometimes more sometimes less. Then I layered more music and dialogue where applicable, and spiced with SFX. I added beats; there's a kind of "main" beat consisting of I think around 4-5 breakbeats repeating throughout the whole track, which again is then layered with guest beats for each block. 
The track's been through a few edits; first version was very chaotic and hard to grasp, since then most of the versioning has been to improve grasp-ability; structuring things out, moving blocks around to optimize flow of "sources", creating some air between parts, repeating or pre-ghosting a few elements.  
There is quite the contrast between last week's track and this one. Next week will continue the contrast expansion.

The Franken-Flugel
Posted November 25th 2011, at 12:04 with tags , , , , ,

This is a quirky and skewed, twisted piano, the star of today's Hollow Wings release. It is built the same way as the recently documented Franken-clarinet. Every single tone played is always a random, single piano note sample, taken from a different musical recording. 

The process is quite the same as explained for the clarinet. I spent (quite) some time going through my music collection, picking out all the single piano tones I could find. Then I continued on to iTunes previews and Spotify, Wimp, and HD Youtube clips if I could find them. I got quite good at learning which classical composers likes to start their piano work by a single tone. Also, kind of expecting when (or if) a piece is likely to drop a few single notes.  

Eventually (patiently) I built quite a collection of single piano tones, which where all over the place in sound, tone and frequency. You can hear a tiny excerpt of all the single tones in the widget below. As you can hear in the example (see notes in the player), hitting the same key always produces a new sample (I think there's on average around 10-12 variations for each key).

(This was an early version, from April I think, coinciding with Monument Dilution release.)

Almost all samples where way short, there is rarely any sustain before another note (THE NERVE!) appears and ruins it all for me. So I do some looping tricks, each tail is looped with a short fade and the loop points are then slightly modulated back and forth, giving a weird shivering effect for long tones, which sort of masks the short mechanical loops. You can hear this at the long release phase above. (I found the sound of this more interesting than stretching the tail with granular or spectral tools, which just blurred it all too much - but that technique worked better on a Frankenguitar I'm still working on.)

The first version of the instrument I found too wild, due to some of the more extreme single notes, depending on random selection it could sometimes get too jarring for, so I went back and did more EQ and sculpting on offending tones, to make it all sound more coherent. This created a more average and mellow sound of the piano. It lost some of the sparkle from this process, but I found it interesting how this then further adapted my writing and playing of the piano. I wouldn't like a happy Franken-flugel, yuck.

Here is a more recent demo of use, from October, it's a bit more "tuned" and coherent, there is a dynamic filter envelope and there's a compressor on every tone to even out the dynamics.

There's also some filter and EQ operating on each tone to help enhance the general sound, like a regular sampler would. I haven't quite found the most optimal settings for these, I guess they will always depend on the rest of the mix and how the piano is used. Like in Monument Dilution, it mostly plays the simplistic, monophonic melody. But in Hollow Wings it features more prominently. 

The Frankenflügel is a work-in-progress, I continuously discover ways to improve it, or manipulate it. Kontakt is really awesome, I can do instant realtime processing and manipulation on every single sample, and quickly try out new and weird ideas. Formant shifting each tone over time? Gated screaming filters through amp models? No problem, if it is desired. It's not, I actually seem to be working towards making it more fragile and ghostly, for an upcoming track, I've created a really haunting and ethereal sound from it.

However for the Snowball Windmill Particle track, it was lovingly trashed and tortured.

Finally, the neatest part of building a piano like this... is when I hit duplicate in Logic, and then I have two pianos, dubbing each other. Then I hit duplicate again, and again and again.... and then I suddenly have an army of Franken-flügels playing randomly selected notes from all of music history at my command.

Ah. *Rubs hands*.  

Planet U: Episode 4: Hollow Wings
Posted November 25th 2011, at 11:41 with tags , , , , , ,

A quiet, unobtrusive pause, Hollow Wings continues episode four of Planet U in slow, melancholic Franken-tones.  

Production Notes
The track was originally much longer. Earlier versions had a soundscape-ish middle part, starting where this version ends. Then introducing a glitchy beat, while repeating an advancement of the piano theme. Someone smart pointed out during beta listens that the second half didn't really need to be there and I quickly agreed, it didn't introduce anything of marvelous interest. 
I also like that it is short, it's a peaceful little pause, there is enough beats and bangs and busy tempos in the rest of this episode. 
What I spent most effort on (except building the piano), was timing and speed, especially the little pauses. I'm always terrified of too long stretches of nothingness. But sometimes nothingness is what it takes. I'm still not sure every pause is optimal, but how it runs today is what feels correct today. So there it is.
Like the previous track Undead Funeral March, this one also prominently uses a Franken-instrument; the monsterly wondrous Franken-flugel. I wrote a separate entry on how that is built, with examples of how it sounds and works. 
You can download Hollow Wings by pressing… wait for it… yes! The Download button! 


Digital numbers 2011: Spotify, Wimp, still win
Posted November 24th 2011, at 19:52 with tags , , , , , , ,


Got new digital numbers. Time for an update since previous observations in 2010. No surprises, just happy streaming smiles. Right now, for me, the future… it just works
A few observations after glancing over the numbers.
Graph above shows income from the various sources, for each quarter since 2009.
Wimp jumps up, not a surprise, probably due to their Canal Digital deal earlier this year. 
In general, income from streaming is growing fast. Wow. But to be honest, this is not because I'm growing fast or because services are growing fast. It's a combination of everything growing on their own, and mostly because the payment-per-stream has more than doubled (for me) since 2010. For this I am much indebted to my awesome aggregator Phonofile and the Merlin network, a independent rights agency (for indie labels, like my own) negotiating better deals on behalf of us indies. They are both long-term, patient collaborators understanding of (and adatable to) new challenges in a new music reality, and I am really happy to be working with them. Having had faith in them and the new models for a long time is starting to seriously pay off.
To continue this honesty, my total-number-of-streams are slowly slowing down. I am not surprised, this was to be expected, it is 18 months since previous album in 2009, and albums are still important as centralized mechanisms for generating attention and traffic. But of course I am a little bit disappointed, I hoped the stream of Planet U EP releases would counter-balance the general long-term flow. They DO, but not ENOUGH, not enough to keep things as flowing as I wished. I don't know why, maybe they're simply not good enough, or just not reaching out far enough, due to their small size and marketing effort. I'm not a sales-person. I conclude, I simply must get that album finished and get some marketing resources behind it. 
I've been asked a lot about the real numbers behind my stats, but as previously mentioned I am reluctant to reveal this for two simple reasons; 1) they are my business numbers and top secret business data and 2) I'm not particularly proud of them, they are not THAT awesome. They work for me, but they're not like Apple or anything. However to put things into some kind of human perspective; income from streaming is now covering my basic bills like rent and regular stuff. In a few years they'll cover all of it. Income from production/composing for films and stuff, sort of cover the rest right now. 
I notice, the Pushwagner soundtrack is a surprising success. I didn't expect so much traffic on that. I guess this is because it received promotional help from both Spotify and Wimp, being featured on their frontpages. The Wulfhoken EP, released simultaneously, is not seeing the same traffic.
The latest album Reminiscience (2009) is a quiet ninja long-term patience success. It is equal to debut album Resound (2002) in generating digital income over the same period (since release). The Resound album was a media spectacle and sold to gold in Norway, the Reminiscience album was hardly mentioned anywhere and has sold maybe 1/15th in physical copies. Yet, those two are equally by far the most popular streaming releases. (This is what informs me, regarding point above, that album releases still have importance. Even if I disagree they SHOULD. They actually DO.) 
The Shadow Of The Beat - Neuropolis EP release of early this year, has laughable streaming stats. Ha ha it's like maybe five persons listened to it. However. One of those was the Pushwagner crew, it took only one of those streams to convince them this was what they wanted. So,number of streams and volume of traffic, it is not alway crucial. The least accessible and popular music can often be the most important.
And a final, stuff-that-you-notice-in-the-long-run observation: The recent EPs of Planet U are not generating a lot of income themselves, except upon release when lots of fans buy them (yay for you guys!). However! (Again.) When these EP's are released, they generate a web traffic spike. This spike is then followed by a slower, subtler spike in general Spotify and Wimp traffic. So I guess it sort of works like this; people check out the new track or EP. Some like it and streams it, a selection of those again purchase the release. (Thanks.) But most seem to play it once or twice, then… ah, screw that, drop it, "we like the earlier stuff", but being reminded of old hits or simply tuned to Ugress, they go back to earlier material, their favorite track(s). So, new releases generate a little attention on themselves, but also total activity on the whole catalogue.
Buying out and keeping control of my own tracks and rights, was (and is) expensive, but it seems to have been a very wise, long-term music career maneuver. 

The Franken-Clarinet
Posted November 24th 2011, at 19:42 with tags , , , , ,

The Franken-clarinet, featured in the recent Undead Funeral March release, is a playable Kontakt instrument created from hundreds of sources; every one a single clarinet sample from a different song. It is built in such a way, that it never plays from the same "source". Every time this instrument plays a melody, it sounds a little bit different. I can never know exactly how it will sound, which sources will be used.  

This makes a neat sound for a single instrument playing alone, it sounds nice and organic in a cute, uncanny, staccato way. Example, a simple melody being repeated. 
However! The real reward is when you instruct multiple clones of this instrument to play the same note (or polyphonic chords) simultaneously. It sounds very much alive in a freaky cool way. Here's an example from the recent Undead Funeral March, an excerpt of 12 Franken-clarinets, some playing harmony some playing melody.

Technically, it's pretty simple. It just needs a lot of single clarinet note samples. I patiently (or rather impatiently) listen to songs where there might be a clarinet, and whenever there is a single staccato tone alone, I sample that. When I have a few hundred single samples, I clean them up, edit and organize after their original pitch. Then I build an instrument of these in Kontakt, a software sampler. The instrument uses all of these samples in various groups, where each group contain samples with the same original note pitch. Whenever that specific note is requested by playing or sequencing, the sampler by itself picks any one of them on random. 
So in use, I hit a note on the keyboard, the sampler picks any random clarinet sample for that key, and plays that back. If I hit the same note again, it picks another random clarinet sample. Rinse repeat. Look at this incredible infographic:


Playing a note selects any sample from a random source.
In theory simple... but it kind of needs a lot of optimizing to really work. Both to make it "alive" but also not end up with something "too crazy". Balance and care are needed during preparation and tuning. Most of the raw samples has to be somewhat similar in sound, and often need to edit noise or reverbs. In some cases I use Melodyne to mask out tails of neighboring off-pitch tones but that technology works only sometimes, so loose some time on blind alleys there.
Later, during use, I can notice details that escape me during building, and have to go back and replace or edit single sounds, which isn't hard just tedious, it can take some time to both realize and localize there is a problem. 
The instrument is alive not only in itself but also in that I keep refining it, and a "version" of the instrument that works in one track might not work in another. I've found that I really enjoy this way of working; creating and continually improving the instruments as I use them in tracks. 
I think these instruments are beautiful. (Currently I have this Franken-clarinet, also a Franken-flugel, a Franken-pizzicato, a Franken-guitar and an early beta of Franken-beats). They might be horrible monsters to some, but to me… surface beauty is boring. These are the lonely, innocent and unnoticed children of musical history. Now finally playing together. 

Planet U: Episode 4: Undead Funeral March
Posted November 18th 2011, at 17:00 with tags , , , ,

A study featuring a rather short-breathed ensemble of Franken-clarinets, accompanying a funeral for the undead

In a previous report I mentioned spending some time building various Franken-instruments. This track uses an ensemble of Franken-clarinets. I developed the track simultaneously as the instrument, so they have kind of inspired - and demanded of - each other. I will write a separate entry on the instrument (update: I did), it is built up from hundreds and hundreds of short, single-tone clarinet samples from all over music history. 
About the track
I got the idea out of thin air some time this summer: "I want to make a track with only a bass drum and a clarinet and it will be about a funeral but not sad." I did a quick prototype hammering the laptop keyboard in Renoise - I still have the project file - only a single mechanic bass drum pattern and a terribly squeaky single clarinet sample. Sketching out a helpless melody. 
So that sucked a lot, but I still thought it was a good idea. I decided what the idea needed was an interesting clarinet sound, and that should be a Franken-clarinet. With that in mind, I started off to build a better prototype of the song in Logic, programming a more organic beat, and fleshing out a harmonic structure, using better samples for the reference clarinet. I also started collecting clarinet samples to build the instrument. 
I didn't start on the main melody until I had a working version of the Franken-clarinet, afraid to write something the instrument wouldn't be able to perform. Instead as I got to know how to play it, the melody sort of improvised itself into existence, though not without a lot of editing and worrying about this-note-there or that-note-here? Or no notes?   
I also observed, the Franken-clarinet by itself was fun and quirky but not GREAT, when playing alone in a song, it could sometimes be a bit disturbing depending on which random samples got picked. So to ease this out and create a fuller sound I layered multiple versions on top of each other. I think in total, at the end there are maybe 25-30 or so Franken-clarinets (each monophonic) at work.
The Franken-clarinets picks their own source sample on random, which means, everytime I play or render the track it sounds slightly different. It's sort of like having an always-live-band in your project.  
The track was originally a minute or so longer, but as a release approaches I usually cut away or shorten segments, partly I guess because I'm getting bored with the length myself but also I like efficient tracks. (I still think this track could be at least half-a-segment shorter.)
I found this process of building an instrument, and simultaneously a song using the instrument, rewarding and fun. The Franken-clarinet is not the most exciting thing in the world by itself, but it's a pretty neat thing to have. Especially in funerals for zombies.  


Planet U: Episode 4: The Doctor
Posted November 11th 2011, at 11:11 with tags , , ,

11-11-11 11:11:11. Was supposed to release an album at this moment. But the Planet U story is not finished, so let's just continue that. First track from the fourth episode; The Doctor is entering the adventure.

There is a lot of drama to the Doctor. And he is not the type to exert himself avoiding it.

Production Notes

This track took a lot of time and work to finish and I'm not sure it is. It has changed character multiple times, the only thing stable through all versions have been the church organ. I was sure I wanted growling church pipes to be the Doctor's signature sound.

The first version was sketched out during the summer last year, a version where there is a soft and dull MIDI-ish version of the organ, a reference programmed guitar pattern and a terribly lame beat.

It is interesting (and typical) to notice that the core ideas behind these elements are still kept in this latest version, though in different forms. Most of the ideas I threw at the track during development, are completely gone, maybe just keeping a tiny fragment here and there.

I've tried out multiple directions; including a version with live recorded guitars and bass, before now finally in Berlin last month going back to the very first idea, mixing up the beats, keep a simple bass and SFX pattern, and just subtly adding the Planet U theme (established in Planetfall) through the church organ melody.

Technical notes, I am using Kontakt 5 for most of the formant filter tricks, I have much enthusiasm for the new filters in this version. They sound great and have lots of possibilities. Massive is responsible for the fragmented wavetable morphs and cuts. The rest is as usual Kontakt samplers and regular audio edits.

Going back through the project history I cringe… I observe an extraordinarily bad version from February of this year (2011). It adds multiple synth lines with melodic development. I guess it was supposed to add musical interest to a rather repetitive track. But they all just sound awfully cheesy. I applaud my now-forgotten decision to forget them.

I have even spent insane amounts of time on the tempo of the track, and I'm still not sure it is right. It kind of depends what sort of pulse you've been exposed to before this one. Some days I would like it just a few BPM faster, but then it becomes too hectic in the details. Other times I'd like it a bit slower, but then it sort of becomes lagging.

This process… Adding stuff, adding stuff, adding stuff, pondering, then remove it, remove it, maybe keep a tiny bit, or throw it all. It is like taking 10 steps forward and 9 steps back and then repeat in a new direction. Slowly forward in a broken spiral. This pattern is typical for my work now. It is not efficient (it takes so much time) and it is not elegant (it is brute force creativity). And in the end, I'm not sure if any version is "finished", I know I can still go back 9 steps and take another 10 in a different direction.

Which I might do for a potential album release, but for now, this is the current The Doctor. Available for streaming and download at Soundcloud and of course instant streaming in the Ugress mobile app.

Expedition Report: Final School Tour 2011
Posted October 28th 2011, at 09:28 with tags , , , , , , , , , ,

A report from the final school tour of 2011. Above photo (click for large) is my favorite from the kids tour. It's from the first day, a quiet, rainy and chilly Monday morning, on a small school at the edge of a damp forest. During load-in and setup, two young girls was outside in the pouring rain, very curious to what was going on in the gym hall… they carefully came up to these huge glass doors, rapped on the glass to get our attention, and when I turned to look out at them, they  screamed with delight and ran away with thrilling laughter. Multiple times. A scientific observation of the behavioral pattern of these young humans - they happily do the same things over and over again - so it was just for me to line up with the camera and wait.

A few notes from each day:


We meet up in Oslo, I'm coming in from album work in Berlin, Jens from Bergen. We pick up the system and equipment stashed at Riksteatret in Oslo, head south for the first night, a few hours drive down the coast. The first hotel is in a town so small the hotel is not really open so a friendly woman text me the code for the door keypad and we're all alone in the hotel.


First day is the rainy day mentioned above, with the photo. The gym hall is HUGE, which makes for cavernous sound, probably neat for yodeling but not quite optimal for pulsing beats and noisy samples, but Jens cleverly discovers a carpet wall to lower, which magically fixes the sound. My brilliant assistant! I hearts thee. But I cut my finger on one of the flights when opening it, and it hurts just exactly enough to not be serious or allowed to complain, but it's really annoying so it is most certainly Monday.

We're a little bit rusty for the performance, but it quickly comes back to us. We drive to another city for a new hotel. I have my Monday office routines at the hotel room. We go for sushi for dinner. Without knowing it, I loose my notebook at the sushi place.


Arriving at the school, turns out the teacher who is responsible for greeting and assisting us is ill, and they haven't thought of any replacement. So it's kind of chaotic. But there's lots of kids, and as mentioned in the report from the previous tour… as long as you got kids, it's OK! The kids are super helpful and fix everything for us.

We're playing in a black-box theatre, which means there is really awesome sound, and for that I am surprisingly happy. It's ok to play in gym halls, but the sound is often... challenging, and I am always glad to have proper sound when I get it. This means the sampling of kids, and manipulating their sounds, it works really well, everything is so crystal clear. After the show the kids are extremely curious to how everything works and how we make the sounds.

Spend the evening working on the album at the hotel, as most evenings on the tour. My room doesn't have a desk so I have to work in a common room on headphones, which is a bit more not-nice than nice.


Three shows. Two schools. I develop a craving for ice-cold sugary milk-coffee. After the show, there's a kid who wants us to come back but if we could please play more Skrillex kind of songs then. We sign lots of autographs.

We catch Champions League on a pub at night. We mess up the times and arrive to early and end up listening to a weird couple on the next table argue without arguing. They drive me crazy with their passive-aggressive ballet of words so we change table. The game starts and the taped up projection screen suddenly falls down and I manage to jump up and grab it before it hits the floor and Jens is pretty impressed.


There is another Rikskonsertene production at the hotel. AH, ZE ENEMY IS AMONGZT US! We haven't quite figured who/what they are, if it's a band or a theatre group or something else but we're pretty sure it's another school tour thing. Because like us, they don't look like business men, and like us, they have Apple laptops, and like us, they drive an Avis rental car filled with mysterious flight-cases and stuff. They just don't fit in. We must spy on them.

I discover my notebook is missing. I do not know where it is. Did I loose it at a school? Did this new enemy STEAL IT?


Only two concerts on one school this day, a nice end of the week at a super friendly school. Turns out, there are deaf kids on this school. I learn this during our first performance, as a translator suddenly pops up with us on stage and translates our dialogue in realtime. It kind of surprises me, because nobody informed us this would happen. So for a few moments I think this is a completely crazy teacher trying some weird arms-only breakdance, then I slowly realize ah, she is translating us into sign-language!

And then I notice some of the kids are shifting their attention between her and me in rapid succession, "reading" what I'm saying. It's a little bit disorienting, but I suppose this is how movie stars must feel it when starring in movies with subtitles.

In the afternoon, I start calling around trying to locate my missing notebook. But none of the places we stayed have found it. And the enemy has disappeared.


Have you ever wondered what happens in a moving hotel elevator when the fire alarm goes off? You can ask me. Because it happened to me. At the hotel in Oslo where I was staying during the weekend break. And honestly, it's not exciting, nothing really happens. The elevator continues to the punched destination, but the LED shows a slow scroll of "FIRE ALARM" instead of floors, while the alarm rings. It's a bit stressful being in an elevator with a fire-alarm though. But for a weird reason:

I am terrified of authorities. Any authority, especially if they have uniform, even just hotel receptionist uniforms. So the first thought that crossed my mind as the alarm went off, was: "Oh dear, oh no, the receptionist will think that I took the elevator AFTER the alarm started, and she will be VERY angry with me, I am not supposed to ride the elevator during fire alarms, how am I going to prove to her that I was inside the elevator as the alarm started, oh no I am in trouble, and maybe the building is on fire too"

But I wasn't in trouble, because the lobby was empty when I arrived! Nobody there. So I stole a cup of coffee and a newspaper (removing burnable material from a burning building does not count as theft!) and waited for somebody to appear and tell me it was a false alarm.

Spent most of the weekend in Oslo without any more fire alarms, attended film bizniz meetings and catching up with friends. Doing some small soundtrack stuff for short features in the coming weeks. Sunday spent mostly on trains and busses, traveling back south to the touring area. And a pleasant surprise… the first hotel is a mountain resort, and what does one find at mountain resorts?

BUFFETS! Yeah! Finally we had our buffet! Here is whast I had: All courses for starters, all courses for main course and all desserts for dessert. Ha ha yum!

The buffet was served and displayed in a… boat? Kind of weird for a mountain resort. And there were no other guests at the resort. And my notebook still missing.


Final week. Mountain area schools. They are always super nice, kids so friendly and open, teachers enthusiastic, we have dance-floors at 9:30 in the morning, write tons of autographs. Roads through woods with fairytale atmosphere. But super tight schedule, multiple schools and long drives makes for somewhat stressful and hectic day in the end. Shot when back at a new hotel. I do office routines for some hours, and set up my portable studio. We're staying at the same hotel for the rest of the week, which is nice, creates a sort of base, I can have my setup standby overnight. 

I locate the notebook! I suddenly remember having it at the sushi place last week. And luckily, today we're in the same town, and it is still there! Phew. Extra bonus: Sushi for dinner.


For some reason, cannot manage to get any sleep. Restless mind and noisy street. Slept maybe two-three hours. Pretty low on energy for first shows. I'm happy we have a tight routine, lots of coffee and lots of experience, I run on autopilot, it works, I don't think anybody but me notices. On the second school of the day, we arrive some time ahead of schedule, and we get a few minutes to ourselves in the empty gym hall, just kicking a football around. That's all it takes, I'm happy and energetic again.

Back in town, we have nice lunch. I have hot cocoa for dessert. I've developed a craving for chocolate recently. Afternoon and evening is spent at the hotel doing edits for new film soundtracks.

The room is noisy from traffic, hard to concentrate, and I'm so tired I fall asleep sitting up in the chair for a few moments. But I manage to finish and deliver. The film people respond quickly and I do some follow-up edits through late evening and early night. Very tired.


At breakfast, at SEVEN IN THE MORNING - that is, 7:00 am - the only free table is a huge long-table, and as the only certified bloody early morning pop stars in the room, we occupy it completely, seating us at the single-seat edges like proper aristocracy.

Ha ha we are so great and bold, look at us! We find it terribly funny for 10 seconds, but then afraid some of these grumpy business-men will be mad at us. We reduce our occupation to a tiny corner of the table, sharing a newspaper.

Three shows at one school, in a weird auditorium, mad architect vibe, but even weirder it also has huge aquariums on the walls and nice sound so it's OK. Super friendly kids help us in and out and guide and assist us during breaks.

By now, I'm really good at reading the crowd, knowing how a show will run from before it starts, what kind of reception we will have, how it will develop and how long it will take to get them pumped. We've become quite skilled at turning cold, quiet, early-morning skeptical kids into a highly movable yelling dancing disco mayhem. The process takes us on average approximately 23 minutes and 30 seconds.

The moment before going on stage, we have a ritual backstage of various high-fives and stupid mottos, of which our current favorite this week is "RUN WITH SCISSORS!" and just when I am about to cheer it, I suddenly yell "RUN WITH OIL PLATFORMS!" instead. There's a freeze moment before laughter. I'm not going into where that came from.


Final day, final shows, only two, and conveniently both at the same school. There's a journalist doing an interview with us before the show. Great shows, pumped kids, full dance-floor, good acoustics, great samples. Before noon, we're finished, having had two full dance-floors. It's really weird I never get used to this.

I will be traveling a lot for the next few months, living in flight-cases and bags, and have to reconfigure and pack everything differently, most of the tech will be stashed at Rikskonsertene in Oslo until the final tour next spring, but I need some of it for independent Ugress live shows before that. And my personal stuff also need to be organized. So there we are, I'm in a gym hall packing my life in different boxes and backpacks, surrounded by 20-30 kids asking thousands of questions, having thousands of opinions and advices, and all of them helping me put wires there, t-shirts here, laptops there, books here. It's a bit surreal.

As we're packing the rental van for the final trip to Oslo, some of the youngest girls wants to help us, buzzing around us holding up flight-cases and boxes and bags as we stuff them. One of smallest ones struggles to bring me a box of equipment, but she manages to lift it up, hold it for some moments, and hand it to me with a satisfied smile. And says:

"Oh... This is kind of heavy. But... it's also kind of light."


Album Progress Report, October
Posted October 24th 2011, at 20:17 with tags , , , , , ,

I very recently spent a month sort of quietly offline, working on new material, concentrating on the upcoming Planet U album and not much else. (But I did take photos and posted daily shots to my Tumblr, a few used for illustration here.)

The album was supposed to release November 11th, but back in September I concluded; current material for the album not good enough. Too many sketches too sketchy. And too short time to get anything sensible done about it. In agreement with myself, management and crew, we postponed the release and the adjoining tour. I disappeared to Berlin, a place I really like to stay and write.

Because they have separate lanes for bath-tubs in the massive avenues.

The delay was unfortunate for my release schedule. I would like to keep full albums within a 18-24 month release cycle. I'm way past that for this album.

But this break was a correct decision. If it results in better music... I really don't know, but it results in a better me. It is not a problem to produce and release material on tight deadlines, my time is usually compressed and hectic. Not-enough-time is normal-time. But that time is not comfortable-time, and some ideas cannot be realized (for better or worse) if their execution depends on prolonged time and concentration. 

An example. Earlier this year I stole some time and built the Frankenflugel, an instrument built from hundreds of single-tone piano samples, taken from all over music history, each individual sound coming off a different song, album, artist, composer. The idea is simple, but to build it takes a few days, at least -  tracking down single piano tones in songs, edit and prepare them. But the Frankenflugel showed great promise when built, and I quickly decided I wanted to build a whole Franken-orchestra of Franken-instruments, which themselves then are again are built up of hundred of single samples from unique sources. This isn't terribly difficult, but it takes time to build, especially finding all the samples.

What I didn't expect was that it takes even more time to learn each instrument, how to play them musically usable and interesting, and how to compose with them. A Frankenguitar sounds and behaves differently to a normal (sampled) guitar, and as I learn to play it and write for it, I realize various structural edits, so it's a back-and-forth process of building/optimizing the instrument and playing/composing for it. 

So now finally, I got space and time to work on this, and can report four Frankenstruments so far, and more in the planning stage. Work in progress certainly, but sounds promising. Sounds pretty awesome actually!

Simultaneously I write sketches of tracks for the album, intending to use these instruments when they finally become alive. But as noted above, a Frankenstein version of an instrument does not necessarily behave as expected, tracks have to be adapted, it's just a long process, lots of bits and pieces to sculpt and adjust to fit. I'm really happy to spend proper time on this.

I had a lot of really proper coffee. When my world domination is achieved, only Germans will be allowed to serve coffee. So efficient, so perfect! The Italians can concentrate on building the machines, and the Germans fix the coffee. Look, I solved the Euro crisis.

I also found time to learn some new production techniques, been curious to how some tracks, producers and artists get their sound, and nice to have time to do musical and sonic forensics, learning new tricks. I can sometimes be desperately intrigued by a certain old hit, a new sound, a musical theme or exciting new artist/producer - doesn't mean I want or will use the phenomena in my own work, but I am curious to how things are done and often there's just a little bit of translation and voila, a new technique is usable in my own work. 

Some techniques doesn't necessarily come from other artists or songs, and most definitively, not all research is a success. For example:

Swarms. Sigh.

I've been wanting to try developing some kind of swarm system that I could use in various settings, maybe like a lead element with a cluster of fluctuating followers, or an effect, or for visual effects in live shows... I thought it could be a neat trick. I did some research, built a prototype, found some externals for MaxMSP that I could route and manipulate. And after some time I concluded: Wow. This REALLY sucks. Nothing that cannot be handled by a bunch of drifting LFOs or manual controllers with random slew or whatever. Project terminated so hard, never getting THOSE days back, thanks a lot, me. But, in earnest, I'm pretty happy that I was able to spend a few days diving into it, and I'm sure at some point some of the work will come in handy on something else.

And I did some other things that are TOP SECRET because they are still work-in-progress and not concluded as success or failure yet.

But, of course, mostly I spent time on new tracks. I worked on lots of new material, for all projects, thought mostly Ugress which is most urgent to me.

Wrapped up five finished tracks, of which I expect two or three are candidates for imminent EP release. I just need one or two more tracks, and this EP is ready. The album itself is steadily progressing. I'm on school tour now, and there's a bunch of minor projects to execute, but I'm working when and where I can, and will drop offline again as soon as possible to wrap things up and release the EP track by track.

Not setting a date, but I reckon it's pretty suddenly.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011
Posted October 6th 2011, at 09:39 with tags , , , , , , , , , ,

This photo of the Apple logo on my Macbook Air was taken with the app Instagram on my iPhone, then grabbed from the automatic social network posting via Expose corner drag and drop gesture from Safari to the desktop on my Macbook Pro, resized in Preview on Mac OSX Lion, further dragged onto a desktop droplet for automatic upload, then using Safari to insert it into and edit this post.

I click "post" and will now swipe with a gesture into the application Logic Pro Studio, to continue working on my album. Creating, editing and structuring sounds in an intuitive graphical interface, assisted with a custom touch-based interface in the app TouchOsc on my iPad, which further enables me to play notes and manipulate sounds by simple finger touches and gestures.

This is my life and my job. It is dependent on insane amounts of complex technology. But I never ever really worry about THAT. It just works, it's magic, I'm in the future.

Thank you Steve Jobs.

Thousand-And-One-Word Tumblr Reports
Posted September 26th 2011, at 20:22 with tags , , , , ,

I'm currently lots of places, but mostly in Berlin, Germany working on upcoming (delayed) album and EP releases.

Not writing much about it, there isn't much to write about. I'm just working.

But I'm documenting the time and work, by posting daily photos to my Tumblr, most of them taken with hipster app Instagram on my phone.

Next Ugress Album Delayed
Posted September 26th 2011, at 19:50 with tags , , , , , , , ,

"Bad" news first. I'm postponing the upcoming Ugress album.

It was supposed to be released this coming November 11th. That would mean delivery from me by the end of this week. Ha ha ha! Your correspondent reports directly from the war zone: Not happening.

The material is very far from releasable. I've known this for a long time, and been quietly trying to convince myself that I would be able to wrap it up "in spare moments" during the rather hectic recent months, but uh-uh. I wasn't able to. No excuses, only explanation; I've simply been too busy and preoccupied for too long time, with too many non-album projects to keep focus properly and follow the intended schedule. (Who planned this anyway?)

But the "good" news. The scheme of continuously releasing EP's works delightfully well. Especially for me. Releasing an EP digitally is so much easier to pull off than executing a full, physical album. And turns out, continuous EP's are strategically more important than sporadic albums every eon or so. So, I'm focusing now on getting out an EP as soon as it's ready. Which isn't long.

Your correspondent is not setting a new date for the album. Ready when it's ready.

Journal Update, September 19th 2011
Posted September 19th 2011, at 09:19 with tags , , , , , , ,

Just finished a three week marathon of releases and tours. Awesome and exhausting.

I am now having a cup of coffee, and then disappearing offline to finish the next Ugress album, prepare for the release and new tours.

So, quiet from me now, here and everywhere else, until I'm ready.

Report: Ugress Kids Tour 2011, Week Two
Posted September 16th 2011, at 18:25 with tags , , , ,

A report from the second week of the school tours. We're playing primary schools in eastern Norway. Early in the morning. This is the final week this round. There's another round later this fall and the final one in the spring 2012. Early in the morning.


We have the weekend off. I have a trip-full weekend, traveling around eastern Norway in and out of Oslo on pleasure and business. Nice being able to catch up with friends. But there is a lot of... transport. And schedules. "Hi it's so nice to see you how are you thats great lets have a coffee whats up can I charge my laptop oh no I must be going". Especially Sunday is a lot of planes, trains, busses and cars, bringing me to another town for the first shows of the week.


We're playing coastal schools now, driving along idyllic seaside villages and towns of south-eastern Norway. It's early morning, and storming rain. We kidnap an umbrella from the hotel desk attendant, but still manage to get completely soaked just walking to the car. Great start.

At the first school, one of the three LED TVs we're using for visuals, it has forgotten the setup, out of battery for settings memory or whatever, it simply doesn't work, claims "NO INPUT". Well, dear TV, there IS input, you bloody brain-dead piece of pathetic pixel poo, but the "brains" at Samsung engineering clearly doesn't use their own products. Why not auto-cycle inputs until it finds a signal upon booting? Grrr.

The remote is dead, batteries empty. I cannot find any buttons on the TV for manual menu navigation. GREAT, IT IS MONDAY. I AM WET. THE CHILDREN WILL CRY. But a super cool practical teacher at the school fixes us new batteries, and with a reanimated remote and a cup of coffee I get it up and running a few minutes before showtime. Phew. After setting the new properties, there's a dialogue box on the screen asking "Save new settings? OK Cancel". I instantly hit the OK button on the screen with my fist, nothing happens and it takes a few beats before I realize I've spending too much time with iPhones and iPads, the LED TV is actually not an touchscreen and everybody laughs a lot and everything works and 25 minutes later 100 kids are dancing around us and this Monday isn't terribly terrible anymore.  

Getting back to the hotel, around noon, after two shows, we discover there is a massive water park connected to the hotel, with slides, waterfalls, wave-machines… and no other people. It is noon. On a Monday. There is a storm outside. And we're lounging all alone in a huge water park.

Jens falls asleep in a beach chair. There are no guards, no other people. I climb the water slide tower above him and scare him awake with a terrible splash attack. It's pretty awesome Monday now.

I then spend some hours working office routines and boring stuff at the hotel room.

We have late dinner at the hotel. We are excited children for the dinner, because the both of us expect a hotel like this (with a water park!) to have a huge dinner buffet, so we could have chocolate puddings for starters. We are seriously disappointed when there is only a menu, a couple of stiff waiters, and everything is really expensive and fancy and that's awesome when you want it but NOT when you expect a pudding buffet. We sulkily have gastronomic treats.

A Monday, with lots of lows and highs.


Another great start of the day: We steal coffee from the breakfast buffet and then rorschachly spill it all over the hotel entrance on the way to the car.

There are some clueless Asian tourists orbiting around the entrance area, I think they're not quite sure where to enter or smoke or they are just tourists marveling at… hotel entrances? so we quickly disappear hoping they will get the blame.

There is a spider in the wardrobe at the school gym!

We play three concerts at this school, for different mixes of ages, it's nice to observe the different responses of different age groups. Usually we play for a mix of all ages. Some of the silly stuff we do, the background story of why the kids needs to help us create noises, it is pretty funny and works with the youngest but a bit daft for the oldest, they catch on quicker, but the enthusiasm of the young ones lift the spirit of everyone, so we prefer to have a mix of ages.

In the afternoon I work for some hours on the hotel, doing an edit of a track for commercial project. After sending of the edit, I'm heading for Oslo for a music video shoot tomorrow, Jens drives me to a nearby train-station and on the way we have a cheap wok dinner at a local place, tastes ok.

I spend the evening traveling.


Music video shoot. We're making a video from the Pushwagner film, for the Regression 22 track. Took mobile photos during the shoot. Here, at Flickr and Facebook.

After the shoot, lots of traveling again getting back to the hotel. Looking forward to the day when I can green-screen myself anyplace in the world. Unless all trains are cute.


The last two days of this week we're playing all the shows at a huge school. Arrive as usual early in the morning, load in, set up the system, all instruments, preparing for show. Helpful kids, enthusiastic teacher, great atmosphere. We're starting to be able to tell in the first minutes, if a place is going to rock, and this is one of them.

During the last track, after we have sampled all the noises we need, we usually encourage to a dance floor in front of the setup. At this school they explode, everybody dancing, and most of them come up to our setup, wanting to play or participate, hit buttons and try the AirFX'es, the Wii remote, I let them hit and play as much as possible, I have controls of everything and can adjust them when they go to crazy. Eventually, it's not possible for me to play or Jens to adjust anything, we're completely surrounded by kids going bananas on everything that makes noise.

After the shows, we're back at the hotel early, no need to pack down, the system can stay rigged until tomorrow. I spend some hours on the mobile setup fixing final edits for the commercial project.

Then we spend some hours in the water park, the water slides are finally open. We set new world records in speed, or more likely, noise. Then we head into the nearest village and have completely absolutely non-surprisingly conform but exactly-what-you-know-it-will-be "Chinese" for dinner.

At the hotel, there is an arcade, I spend some time on the Elvis flipper, I manage a few rounds of ok scores and an impressive run of 3 x multi-ball, but fail to reach the highscore.


Final shows at same school as yesterday, awesome atmosphere, especially the last show is just super fun all the way, lots of laughs. Which is really neat, because we are pretty tired, I've been playing, jumping, dancing, rocking, running, performing 30 shows in 14 days. Without LIFE-VEST. Or helmet. (But with a lab coat so it is perfectly safe.)

We pack down, and head north for Oslo, we're storing the system and instruments there until next tour late October.

We're both exhausted, the drive is mindless but neat, we're content. The tour has been great. I'm now disappearing into dangerous European cultural wilderness to finish an album, which at the moment has a terribly fast approaching release date.

I notice I'm very much looking forward to spend more than 4 hours in one place for some time.

Pushwagner soundtrack featured in Spotify too
Posted September 15th 2011, at 13:59 with tags , , , , , ,

Wow the Pushwagner soundtrack is getting neat attention - it's now featured in Spotify, under new albums! Here's a direct Spotify link to the soundtrack.

I tried constructing a clever joke about music and streaming and push technology and virtual reality and mobile devices and Wagner and all that which really is connected somehow but sometimes I know my limits so I went for a screengrab.

Thanks HMM!

Photos from Pushwagner music video shoot
Posted September 14th 2011, at 16:11 with tags , , , , , ,

We're making a music video for the "hit single" off the Pushwagner soundtrack, the "Regression 22" track from the Unicorn album.

My incredible acting talents was needed for a few shots. Nobody plays me worse than myself so I interrupted the school tour, heading for the studio in Oslo. A bunch of behind-the-scenes (or rather in-front-of-the-greens) photos.

Watch my luxurious film star life at Flickr or Facebook.


Report: Ugress Kids Tour 2011, Week One
Posted September 12th 2011, at 22:17 with tags , , , , ,

We're on the road with the Ugress kids show, touring primary schools in eastern Norway, organized by Rikskonsertene (Concerts Norway) and Kulturskatten. A report from the first week.


Transport day. Played live adult shows with full crew and production Oslo/Bergen this weekend. After the show at Parkteatret and a short night on hotel in Oslo we stop by the Rikskonsertene production house, swapping out musicians and technicians with a sound system and some tech replacements from broken stuff (always something breaking down).

Jens in front of car in front of Riksteateret/Rikskonsertene in Oslo.

Rikskonsertene generously provide replacements of broken technology. For the school tours I'm only travelling (and performing) with my regular sound tech Jens, it's a much smaller production (and performance) scaled to small stages and gym halls. We head south from Oslo. I'm having a salad in car. Arrive late at night at first hotel in  Skien, first show is early next morning, straight to bed.


First shows on Monday went surprisingly well, considering it being a year since last time and we had no preproduction to freshen our skills. Everything works, we work, a bit rusty on the delivery of some of the material, and it IS early Monday morning, but the response is great. It IS early Monday morning, we're high on coffee and we have a dancefloor. We play three shows at the same school.

We're staying at the same hotel all week. It's old but that's OK I prefer old hotels, the air is better, less air conditioning.

Hotel in Skien. Nice color. Nice weather.

I'm happy to stay in the same room for more than a night now. I spend the afternoon catching up on emails and office stuff on the hotel. We have weird but ok sushi (maki) in town for dinner.

The waiter warns me the miso is terrible. I think that's pretty neat of her, so I like the place even if the sushi is weird. The rice was too fresh.


Hard day's work - two schools, three shows, short time, no breaks, lots of transport, lots of sampling, lots of coffee, lots of beats, lots of dancing. High-fiving all the kids - as everywhere, if ONE kid starts doing something, everybody else wants to, so we end up high-fiving the whole school.


One of the tracks we play is built completely from sounds sampled from the kids, they're providing all drums and melodic sounds. Last year I thought this track worked pretty well but something is different this year, or the delivery is rusty, it's not working as well as I want. Maybe because we're trying different microphones, looking for one mic that works in all settings/rooms/situations, so the sound is always a bit tricky, but eventually I end up spending the afternoon rewriting and restructuring the sampled-kids track.

Edits at the hotel. Awesome inspirational view.

We go to a beef place (in a small town) for dinner and I'm a nasty rock star rebel and choose to eat vegetarian. The waiter comes back twice to make sure the order is right. No meat? Then we watch the football qualification match for Euro 2012, Denmark and Norway at the lounge in the hotel. Norwegian footballers are also nasty alternative rebels and... decide to loose.


Multiple shows, multiple schools. Busy time. I set up the iPhone with a timelapse app and shoot photos of us every 10 seconds. Here's a few memorable moments.

Ugress Live Kids. Kids joining Ugress Live.

Ugress Live Kids & Kids.

Later in the afternoon, at the hotel after shows, I receive a geek post shipment, a few moments of geek time... Komplete 8 from NI, being very curious to the new version of Kontakt, the sampler which I'm using for pretty much everything (except live sampling since it can't... sample.) Install it and giving it a quick run-through - a super quick first impression informs me the new sample engines sounds great, this is good for my kind of work. Will look into this and the rest of Komplete when time. Rest of evening is just office and emails. I'm kind of too exhausted at nights to really do something meaningful or creative. I wash my clothes in the bathroom sink.

We have "chinese" for dinner. I had seafood. It was surprisingly not-terrible.


Sampling and dancing at 09.30 demands a serious poster breakfast.

Thursday is hilarious. We've been performing for a few days, growing warm and confident on stage, this spills over to the kids, they become confident too. Too confident! At first show today, during one of the sample moments, we promise to pay them back if we use these samples on the next album. A few tracks later, when asking for sampling another sound, one of the kids yells: BUT WHAT ABOUT OUR MONEY! Timing is impeccable. We break down on stage, cannot stop laughing. The rest of the set is just laughs from everybody.

A later show the same day, during the "ballad" of the show, we're playing one track ("The Princess Song", Turning Wheel in sample edit version) it's low tempo and melancholic atmosphere to balance the set, we're kind of deliberately making fun of the track being a ballad, and ourselves being melancholic, and as this track fades out…. one of the kids yells "BOOOORING!!!!" and again, it's just so perfectly timed, I cannot help laughing, the timing of the comment is perfect. Eventually everybody laughs. And then dancefloor, which makes everything OK.

Later we have steak for dinner, and this being the final night at the hotel, spend the evening packing down our stuff. Checking out of my current home tomorrow morning.


We're exhausted, but happy. Last day. Three shows today, when finished, if we survive, we've performed 16 shows in 7 days. First shows of the day is in a gym hall, as usual, lots of friendly kids help us carrying the equipment in and out. Teachers are friendly and helpful. We get a super-awesome welcome basket.

Coffee and snacks backstage at Klevstrand.

We bribe some kids later with the stuff, for helping us carrying stuff so we can drink coffee while they work.

Hard work making a dancefloor on the first show, mostly because teachers are sceptic to let them loose, a regular challenge. But on the second show, they're all rebels and out there, and I think we're really just surviving on the energy from the kids. Then, pack down, load out, drive to the final school of this week, load in, set up, wait for showtime in a weird wardrobe below stage. There's a massive xylophone, and some strange stage probs, candy in 100 x size. The places I see, the hours I wait, in the strangest rooms and settings. I'm too nervous and focused to shoot much photos in these situations. But here is the venue before we start. And we're waiting a floor below.

If the places are weird, the kids are not. They're awesome. Always. I am constantly amazed by the kids we meet, like this last school, above, just one of many: We're arriving and this teacher greeting us is very friendly, but kind of stressed and distant and busy, and then replaced by another, again quickly disappearing after briefly hooking us up with a bunch of kids that's supposed to help us load in and set up the perfomance space. It's not always like that, and the teachers are always nice but… it's always these kids who is cool and calm and easy, full of energy and full of will to get things done, to help, to get stuff to work. More real, kind of? They're right there, right then. We're talking, chatting, laughing, joking, about music, about playing, performing, about sounds, about sound systems and technology, concerts, performance, how we do stuff, how they do stuff, about apps, about music, technology, creation. They are politely curious, in a kind of highly confident manner. After the shows they give us compliments. No way I was like this when I went to school.

After the final show, wrapping up, packing down, taking farewell with kids, both of us heading for different parts of the country for 36 hours, various projects and commitments, hooking up Sunday evening again for second week of the tour on this leg.

Report for week two follows.

Photo Report: Pushwagner premiere, Ugress Live, Bergen, Oslo
Posted September 10th 2011, at 17:06 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

A photo report from last week; what it looks like from my viewpoint... Premiere at the Pushwagner documentary in Oslo, Ugress playing live after the premiere at the cinema in Bergen, Ugress playing live at Parkteatret in Oslo.

I took photos most of the way, or some shots from others. They are in chronological order. I wrote notes to each of the photos. It's all available on Flickr.

Currently on week one of a new school tour, report on this follows.

Photos from cinema show at Bergen Kino
Posted September 8th 2011, at 17:32 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Ugress - Pushwagner

Photos from the recent live performance at Bergen Kino, by usual suspect Ugress documentarist Eivind Senneset.

Available at Flickr and at The Facebook.


Pushwagner featured album in Wimp
Posted September 7th 2011, at 18:37 with tags , , , ,


Norwegian streaming service Wimp is featuring the Pushwagner soundtrack, in the Norwegian category.

That is all.

Pushwagner Soundtrack Now Available
Posted September 6th 2011, at 17:41 with tags , , , , , , , ,

The soundtrack to the Pushwagner documentary is out.

It is available everywhere, for streaming at Soundcloud, in Spotify, in Wimp, download in iTunes or any other digital service, or grab it directly from the Ugress store, including lossless versions.

There will be a physical CD release, but only packaged together with the DVD when the time comes. I don't have any information about DVD release date right now. 

Sharp-eyed readers and sharp-eared listeners will notice the soundtrack is built from excisting material released over a long span of time, within almost all of my various projects. I consider this release a soundtrack and not a score.

Some of the tracks have already been released as-is on other albums, others have been polished and/or remixed to various extent.

Photos from Parkteatret, September 2011
Posted September 4th 2011, at 18:04 with tags , , , , , ,


Photos from yesterdays show at Parkteatret, Oslo.

Wulfhoken Spaceport Affairs
Posted August 29th 2011, at 12:00 with tags , , , , ,

Ugress - Wulfhöken Spaceport Affairs by GMM

Wahoo, the full Episode Three is out! Wulfhöken Spaceport Affairs, with rebelling robots, avenues of pixellated silhouettes, fluttering particles and sinister evenings in dubious clubs. 

Free download, pay what you want, available in lossless HD quality.  Six tracks, most of them have posts with production notes in the blog.

Planet U: Episode Three: Robot Revenge
Posted August 29th 2011, at 11:55 with tags , , ,

Ugress - Robot Revenge by GMM

Final track from Episode Three, mechanical space-opera: Robot Revenge. Featuring the sensual voice of a revolutionary-minded Commodore 64 voice synthesis.

Production Notes

This is the current live version of Robot Revenge, but I think a live version is pretty suitable for the EP release. If the track should go on the final album I could use the single edit, which is shorter. I've been experimenting with this track, an earlier version seemed to work great on kids. The only issue I had with that version was the vocals was originally too complex. Both soundwise and content wise too much was going on. After reducing the lyrics to simpler and fewer words, spacing them out, the track now feels less cluttered. We're going to try it out live for the next round, and I'll see how it performs online. 

The vocals are programmed with the SAM Reciter program on the Commodore 64. I sampled that, re-pitched the voice with Melodyne and then stretched and timed the syllables to the rhythm. There's quite a bit of processing on the voice to try and make it fit, and subtle effects to make it a bit more alive, the original raw voice is pretty sharp and sterile in tone.

Track is available from Soundcloud (tiny arrow pointing downwards in the widget above).

Report: Ugress Live, Kongsberg
Posted August 29th 2011, at 11:41 with tags , , ,

A super quick report from the live show in Kongsberg this weekend.

It was awesome.

That's it. I don't have time to write anymore because of all the fuzz around releasing the Wulfhöken EP today. So instead of a text report here is a photo report. I set up the iPhone to take timelapse photos, it took a photo every fifth second. Here is a montage of all the photos, this is what an Ugress concert looks like over time.

Planet U: Episode Three: Snowball Windmill Particles
Posted August 26th 2011, at 13:17 with tags , , , ,

Ugress - Snowball Windmill Particles by GMM

Snowball Windmill Particles, from Episode Three of Planet U. Featuring Thomas T. Dahl on guitars, versus a lo-fi appearance of the Frankenflugel.

Production Notes

This track was originally a vocal track. The first version had painstakingly built up vocals, coming from cut-up old jazz tracks. I spent a week or so last summer teaching myself and mastering Sonicworx Isolate, a screamingly awesome tool for pulling out vocals (or anything you want) from any mix. It actually works, though it takes a lot of time and concentration, the software needs a lot of guidance to work perfectly. 

After this I rebuilt and reshaped the vocals with Melodyne. But kill your babies. The vocals worked as an impressive technological demonstration, but wasn't THAT interesting musically. So I killed them. But the process was worth it; I now know the tool intimately, what is possible and what is not, and even if the the absurd vocals are gone they helped naming the track.

The "main" melody was improvise by your correspondent. The verse melody was improvised by Thomas, and further edited and structured by the correspondent.

Snowball Windmill Particles, on Soundcloud and also direct download from

Planet U: Episode Three: Flutter
Posted August 24th 2011, at 13:05 with tags , , , ,

Ugress - Flutter by GMM

From the cloudy airy track on Monday to the chaotic midweek labyrinths of Wednesdays: Third track from Episode Three is up and out, it is Flutter.

Production notes

This track was created in only 48 hours during a chaotic, surreal stay in Berlin earlier this year. I was there and away and supposed to work on a film score but I was not a very efficient or mindful composer, too much on my mind and too little concentration to keep it all in check. So one day I gave up on working and went out roaming and ended up in a surrealist museum, and it's wrong to say that things fell into place, because they certainly didn't, I just got more confused. But confused in a good way, something connected, I ignored working the film score and did this track instead, almost non-stop for two days. 

The track is mostly just a complex layer of many different cut up samples, loops, phrases and single tones, sliced into tiny fragments and manipulated and rearranged together in a a common puzzle. Instead of writing a musical arrangement by structuring notes, this is a musical arrangement where the notes are snippets of music. I have tricks to control the pitch (and time) of each fragment. So it's like a song where the notes are songs. And that was how I built it while working; almost in realtime, layering music on top of music and removing and editing holes in each layer so everything fits. Or not. 

The track was originally two-three minutes longer and more complex and noisy. After letting it rest for a few months, I went back and edited it down to a shorter length, and removed some of the layers, to make it more approachable. And did some mixing. But still I expect it can be a bit much. But that's how the mind works sometimes.


Planet U: Episode Three: An Evening With The Enemy
Posted August 22th 2011, at 10:30 with tags , , ,

Ugress - An Evening With The Enemy by GMM

Soothingly soft, yet sinister slick beats suits an early week release. Second track from Episode Three is up, An Evening With The Enemy. Featuring Thomas T. Dahl on guitar. Download from Soundcloud, or directly here.

Production Notes

My, this track is ancient. The first known version I can trace back to 2000, an early version was almost included on Cinematronics (2004), and at the time there was even a music video in the works for some time. The video project stranded. Regardless of this, I wasn't happy with the track at the time and put it away.

I kept working on it now and then, the track was slowly evolving and shifting between very simple sketches on one side and complex arrangements on the other. It was considered again for Unicorn (2008) but there I think it simply didn't fit, at least not in the version I had then.

Finally now for Planet U the track fits both musically and thematically. I reduced the complexity and decided to keep it simple, almost naive. Earlier this year I had a version using the Frankeguitar (a guitar version of the Frankenflugel) for a strange melody, that was interesting but not interesting in the right way.

Then, on a whim in studio with Thomas Dahl this spring, I removed the Frankeguitar, we just let it run for some time and Thomas improvised on top, both of us picking up on the kind of Twin Peak'ish atmosphere. Thomas kept improvising in this direction, and I was left with a sweet bunch of unobtrusive, soft guitar takes to edit. During the summer I structured and edited his takes along the track, balancing it out, to me it felt almost like "dressing" it.

I think this is both the solution and the challenge with this track. It is not the strongest musical idea, but it cannot be that either. It's kind of more background-ish, like a cloud of drifting, distanced tones and beats. A subtle score for An Evening With The Enemy.

Ugress Live: Bergen Kino, 2 Sept
Posted August 19th 2011, at 17:07 with tags , , , , , ,

Wahoo! Moving the live show into the magical darkness of the cinema theatre! And the setting couldn't be better:

Friday September 2nd is the premiere of the Pushwagner documentary, where I have the music. The film is incredible, and getting lots of attention now. Directed by Even Benestad and August B. Hansen, trailer here. The film opens 1830, and then after the feature... we perform a full, exclusive, and cinema-optimized Ugress Live concert with band. In the same hall! You can eat popcorn! TWICE!

I'm so excited to be playing in a cinema, been working for a long time trying to expand the live show into being suitable for this setting.  

I perform with my regular percussional mayhem Nasra Ali Omar, and proudly introduce my new addition: Thomas T. Dahl on electric strings. My regular tech crew will make sure everything blinks and booms when it should. And I'm sure The Doctor will try and sabotage so it won't. Data:

  • Filmen Om Pushwagner / Ugress Live
  • feat. Nasra Ali Omar, Thomas T. Dahl
  • MB2, Bergen Kino
  • Friday, September 2nd, 2011
  • Tickets 200,- available online now
  • Ticket gives you both the film and the concert
  • More info at Bergen Kino website
  • Facebook event
  • Map to venue

PS. Click poster for full version.

Ugress Live: Parkteatret, Oslo, 3 Sept
Posted August 19th 2011, at 17:02 with tags , , , , , ,

Finally Oslo! With band! And a huge screen! And new tracks! And no messy popcorn!

Saturday September 3rd Ugress Live plays a full show at Parkteatret, with live band. I love this venue, played there earlier this year, a kids show. I loved that, but performed on the ground level, so I could dance with the little ones (they have my kind of dancefloor skills).

Now, I am playing for grown-ups and I am luckily ALLOWED to use the stage. Which is great, because I bring seriously dangerous sonic weapons, magic visual cinematics, and in addition to myself and my virtual nemesis, there will be two carbon blobs of goo that makes sound: My regular drummer and percussionist Nasra Ali Omar provides her perfectly timed thundering booms and I am proudly introducing my new guitarist Thomas T. Dahl. It's going to be so awesome they will cancel Christmas afterwards.

I am excited.

Planet U: Episode Three: Avenue Des Silhouettes
Posted August 19th 2011, at 11:22 with tags , , ,

Ugress - Avenue Des Silhouettes by GMM

Whoo! Planet U: Episode Three starts to arrive. And soon much more.

Avenue Des Silhouettes is the first track from Episode Three. An instrumental track, with equal parts of the last four decades: Insistently funky live guitars and bass from the 70ies, bubbly C64 arpeggios from the 80ies carrying the melody throughout, subtle Amiga tracker samples from the 90ies for layers, size and scope, and bouncy slamming club beats from the 00s.

Some Production Notes

The track has been through three versions; only the main beat and guitar riff has been kept all the way.

The first draft, a sort of funky oldskool rhythm and blues track, was without any electronics, and also without live bass. There was no melodic development, and even if it had some great electric piano improvisation and riffs, it didn't appear fulfilled yet.

Earlier this spring I recorded sessions of guitar (Kristian Svalestad Olstad) and bass (Thomas T. Dahl), not exactly as presented in the final version, just having them riffing on top of the beat, then I edit it into something else later.

After this, I struggled for a long time with a crime-lounge version, the same base but with programmed horns (intended to be replaced live) and orchestra performing some kind of depressed private-eye'ish licks and melodies. I liked that, and this is where the main melodic development was done, but wasn't satisfied with the overall result, the darkness of the brass instruments didn't quite match the innocent energy of the riff and beat. 

So I finally decided for a more electronic layer on top of the base, the bubbly Commodore arpeggios and effects works better as a playful nostalgic complement, rather than the dirty detective horns.

I'm still not 100% satisfied, but it's out for now, I'll let it rest in public beta, and if time and place permits I'll try it out in live versions, to see how it can be improved. 

What's next

A lot. The whole Episode Three EP is finished and ready. Live shows coming up. A lot is happening now the next few weeks. Next track will be out very suddenly.

Download directly from Soundcloud widget above, or from here.

July 22nd, 2011
Posted July 26th 2011, at 18:56 with tags

No. My heart goes out to the lost ones and those who lost them.

Thank you everyone everywhere, for your support.

Journal Update, July 18th 2011
Posted July 18th 2011, at 09:46 with tags , , , , , , ,

A month since previous journal update. I'm quiet but not silent.

I am mostly working on the upcoming Planet U Episode Three (and also the full release for November). I was hoping to get EP3 out by now, but it takes longer than intended, due to other projects happening simultaneously, and going to Fraunhofer with MusicDNA in June took a nice bite of time. I'm happy to have so many projects but I'm not too happy that they have taken so much focus from Planet U.

So, I am now disappearing on dangerous expedition into remote unexplored wilderness with a laptop and no internet (the horror!) for a few weeks, to finish as much as possible before a hectic autumn.

Episode Three EP is set for full release Sept 2nd, that means single tracks will start to be released in the weeks before. Depends a little bit on when I get access to a studio for mixing after coming back, but hopefully first track early/middle August.

Premiere of Pushwagner documentary (Sept 1st), wrote a separate entry on that.

New live shows early September, with new tracks, new musicians, new ideas, new visuals. So far set up in Bergen (Bergen Kino, Sept 2nd) and Oslo (Parkteateret, Sept 3rd). Still working out how to do this, I want to try keep moving the live show towards this huge cinematic visual experience, including a live band, we're in dialogue with cinemas and theaters - this dialogue just runs slowly now because of summer, so I can't confirm venues 100% yet, expect to do that early August.

Directly after these live shows, I'm heading out for a new round of school tours.

Planet U full album release is set for release November 11th, with another round of live shows. This is still some time away, but if everything is to synchronize perfectly, I should be finished with the album and last episodes by the end of September, and this is not so far away. 

So then, I'm disappearing off again into the white spots on the map. If I'm not back in a month, send reinforcements. And a 10 Mbit satellite phone.

Music For Pushwagner Documentary
Posted July 18th 2011, at 09:26 with tags , , , ,

September 1st is the premiere of documentary "Filmen om Pushwagner", a documentary about celebrated norwegian artist Hariton Pushwagner, and his dramatic life. The film is directed by Even G. Benestad and August B. Hanssen. Teaser trailers at Youtube.

The documentary uses a lot of music from almost all of my artists projects: Ugress, Shadow Of The Beat, Nebular Spool and Ninja 9000. I did not write completely new music for the film, but I have done some editing and structuring for some of the tracks, to make them fit scenes and situations better.

I'm not sure how much I can say before it is released, but the documentary reveals an amazing universe of a person, his life and not at least his artwork. There are some incredible scenes. I am very flattered to have my music supporting this universe. I can talk and write more about the exact use and edits after the film has premiered, as I'm not sure how much to tell. Director Even Benestad has also written some of his thoughts about the music and sound on his own site.

The premiere coincides with the full release of Planet U - Episode Three and cinematic live shows in  Bergen / Oslo, first weekend of September.

More info about the film at Youtube and the Facebook page. Super neat poster.

Journal Update, June 11th 2011
Posted June 11th 2011, at 13:17 with tags , , , , , , ,

Mein gott in holy spaghetti heavens, only five months to full album release today!

A super quick brief status update: I am now finished with tons of production jobs; music for films and TV series took a lot of time the last few months. But now everything delivered and wrapped. I'll document this work up ahead when possible, or as the productions premiere or start to air.

Now I am fully concentrated on Ugress, and first the immediately upcoming Episode Three of Planet U, and also simultaneously working on subsequent episodes and the full album, which will be released November 11th. Also preparing for live shows in August/September with new material and new guest musicians.

November 11 is exactly five months away today, or 153 days. Iiik. Might sound like a long time, but I know it is barely time and space. So, to work! 

Report: Press Play Retro Gaming at Cinemateket
Posted June 11th 2011, at 09:00 with tags , , , , , , ,

Saturday 21st of May I attented a retro gaming event Press Play On Tape at local indie cinema Cinemateket USF. (I wished to write a report of this earlier, no time until now.)

They had gathered a respectable amount of oldskool gaming consoles and home computers in the cinema hall, for people to play vintage games. Lots of original games and tapes and books, really neat! There were given talks and presentations about various subjects related to the gaming and music, demonstration videos of new games and technology, and finally a retro gaming competition on the huge silver screen.

Most exciting to me was a presentation by Put Your Hands Up For Neo Tokyo about the history and development of music and sound in video games, including the Commodore 64,  which I grew up with. Sadly, the demonstration machine for the evening was old and tired and would not cooperate with the cartridge, so the talk ended up mostly theoretical, but I didn't mind that at all, since I very much know what it sounds like.

I really appreciated this presentation, in particular learning about how sound and music has been developed since the start of video games, via arcades and home machinery up until the Commodore 64. The two guys presenting (didn't catch their names) was really funny and knowledgable.

This Press Play On Tape concept was a super initiative by the Cinemateket USF. I approve.

I talked to the organizers afterwards, the concept will be continued this fall, very much looking forward to that.

Film Music Progress Report
Posted May 18th 2011, at 11:38 with tags , , , , , , , ,

I'm super quiet online these days, due to work on a score for a full feature film. This just takes every single second of all time in the universe. But I stole some seconds to type out a quick status report.

Was supposed to be in studio today for another guitar recording session, but the session was suddenly rescheduled for tomorrow, which would give us more time in the studio, and me more time to prepare material. I was already on my way when the message came, I was happily relieved for the extra time, so I stole an hour for a coffee shop visit, to breathe, type this, kill emails and fill up on caffeine.

I've written SHITLOADS of music so far. Since December last year (!), I wrote mostly sketches and concepts, demos. And now since April, been working on musical themes, and concrete production of cues directly to picture. My deadline is early June (GASP!) and for every day now the project becomes more and more intense and chaotic. I feel like a disconnected cyclone inside a bubble inside another cyclone. I think I'm having the greatest time ever but I haven't got time to realize it.

(Oh, I got a free refill of coffee! Yum. I almost forget there is a real world out here with nice people.)

I won't comment so much on the music, sound and score itself, as I'm in the middle of the process and I'd rather not analyze and talk about it too much until it is behind me. I do save all sketches, versions, document the process as much as possible, I photograph and film when I can, I wish I could report continuously here but I think it is more realistic to write making-of reports when finished. Also, the film doesn't premiere until late this year, I think I should be careful announcing or revealing anything to soon.

But I can note that 'm working with super great talents on guitar and keys, every week or so I'm in studio doing new recordings, effects, and drums will be recorded early June, and in addition to these live elements there is lots of programming and "my" sound, but in a very new and different way. It is going to be a different kind of score, I hope. Director and production is in Oslo, we talk continuously on email and phone and Skype and files and ideas and versions and cuts are zapping back and forth via high speed super modern telecommunication-modems.

I knew well before starting, that working on projects like this consumes my time completely. Parts of me like that, I enjoy to be a ninja laser, I was prepared, but I always forget how being a ninja laser swallows your life. I'm really absent-minded and whimsical when it comes to the rest of my life (if there still is a rest of my life?).

PS. A tiny part of my brain is gently informing me that releasing Planet U Episode 3 in May is physically impossible in this dimension of reality, even if the material is almost ready, there simply is no time or person to handle the administrative efforts surrounding a release, so it won't happen until late June. However, that should not delay further episodes, they will arrive on schedule, and full album is still set for release November 11th.

MusicDNA: I'm invited to Fraunhofer, inventors of mp3
Posted April 30th 2011, at 20:56 with tags , , , , ,

I am going to the birthplace of mp3 to talk about the future of music!

I'm pretty quiet online these days, because I am fully concentrated working on the score for a film. So, not dead, just busy. Activity should return in a month or so, when the score is wrapped, and Episode 3 will start appearing.

But some good news, deserving a quick report: I am invited to visit Fraunhofer Institute in Germany! The inventors of mp3! I'm going to discuss future music formats and opportunities, and development of my ideas and thoughts about this future. I'm so excited.

Background: A few days ago, I was scheduled to participate at a hackday, full day seminar and workshop arranged by MusicDNA and MediArena, in Bergen, Norway. Spending a full day was bit inconvenient right now, I'm so swamped, so I was actually considering to cancel.... but talking about music, technology and the future -allright.  Could not resist. So I went.

The theme was simply put the future of music, connected to the mpeg-7 layer and possibilities available in the technology that newly started MusicDNA company provides within this format. They have not released this system yet, this was the first real world approach. We got access to betas and frameworks.

The workshop gathered artists, record companies, media houses, journalists, designers and programmers, with the goal to present, discuss, and develop new possible concepts and ideas. Those who presented the best ideas, could be invited to Germany, to take the dialogue further, having the ideas realized.

Well I've spoiled the excitement, you know what happened. So, a long story short: Full day full of discussion, presentations, investigation, networking, your correspondent tried his best to be active and social, hard because he was really nervous, and really should be back in studio writing film music, but he ended up with some great people for the groups developing concepts, we discussed a lot, maybe more discussion and analytics, picking the format apart and scrutinizing it, than we did real development. At the end, we presented our ideas in a very abstract, conceptual way. Turns out, the ideas was smart, we won the competition.
So, we are going to Fraunhofer, to continue the dialogue and development! Wish I could write and explain more, but must go back and make sinister cinematic gangster beats. Will report, when going.

Incredible Shadow Of The Beat Video
Posted April 8th 2011, at 19:50 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Fantastic ambient videographic of the Phragrangst track from my side-project Shadow Of The Beat.

The music I release is often used, in lots of different ways. The most rewarding is usually when others use it further in their own creative art. I'm often asked about using the music for creating music video projects, in a multitude of ways; personal, professinal, student, development, experiments. I always say yes, and I'm ALWAYS happy with the result - regardless of the idea, commitment and final production - the end result is always in essence flattering.

However sometimes there comes stuff that completely takes me by surprise, "oh WOW that is actually WOW".

Earlier this year, I put out the Neuropolis EP for my side project Shadow Of The Beat. Some weeks later, Sebastian Tomas Siggerud got in touch and wanted to try and create some visuals, sure go ahead. Some weeks further, I get to see the Phragrangst video embedded above. Wow! I think is perfect for the track. It's the kind of music video I love myself, almost like a visual soundtrack, lingering somewhere between abstract graphics, live visuals, demoscene demo, sonic visualizer, animation. Simple idea brilliantly executed. 

This is magic. I just throw stuff out there, and all by themselves others pick up on it, and then stuff like this comes back. Wow.

Ugress Live 2011: After Summer
Posted April 1st 2011, at 18:30 with tags , , , ,

A quick notice on live shows. There will be none, until after this summer. (Sad trombone sound.)

I had scheduled live shows for this spring, but I won't be able to do them. The two most important reasons are content and time: I've spent the last two years doing a bunch of development shows, trying out new methods and technology for doing live shows, but not generated so much musical material. Now I want new content before I go on stage to present it. This just takes time, of which as always there is too little.

The next few months are fully booked with production, including live material and the Planet U project. See this journal entry for what I'm up to.

So, live is postponed until after the summer. We're currently talking to clubs and looking at live shows in major Norwegian cities late August, early September. After that, another school tour.

I should have dates and venues in a week or so.

Journal Update: Films, TV, Apps, Planets
Posted April 1st 2011, at 17:47 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lots of stuff happening, a quick note on what's happened, what's going on and what's coming up.


I'm working on the score for a full motion picture feature, scheduled for release later this year. I can't say much about it right now, but we've already done a lot of conceptual work. The picture is locked now this week, this means no more editing of scenes, I can start scoring directly to picture. I expect the next six weeks to concentrate only on this project, producing the full score, recording musicians and wrapping everything up as far as possible. I'll probably be quiet and offline for most of the time.

After that, late spring, I'm over on another film project, a documentary which shouldn't take quite that much time. This is also premiering later this year.

I think both films are going to be pretty awesome, but a lot of work first.


I'm doing some more incidental episode music for Barnas Supershow at NRK Super. The previous season, where I also did the program score, was just now nominated for Gullruten (sort of Norwegian Emmys) for best kids production.

Planet U

Episode One and Two are out, almost as scheduled. Episode Three is planned for May. Full album release set for late this year, after the continuous EP releases has ran their course. I'm very happy how this project has turned out to work for me, and appearantly my listeners too. This process is so much better than massive album efforts every other year. Releasing material in this sort of form is much more managable for me to pull off. I get to work on "my" stuff as much as possible, and this geeky "release-early, release-often" cycle gives me lots of valuable information back.

After a few months of film production mentioned above, I will have July and August to finish the whole Planet U project. I'm very much looking forward to those months, disappear and spend some quality time wrapping it up.

After Planet U, I have a huge amount of side-project releases piling up, spring of 2012 is reserved for those. I'm SO very much looking forward to that. If the mayans shut down the universe in 2012 I'll be upset. 


There is a new mobile app available, for iOS and Android. Wrote a separate entry on that.

This is very much a work in progress, not as in beta - the app is fully functional and stable right now - but there are lots of dormant features. I expect to spend the six next months sculpting the exact contents, watching usage patterns, see how it works, tune it so the app perfectly complements the Planet U release later this year. So much awesome is happening in digital tech and music right now, it feels like every week another opportunity opens up, I'm slightly bewildered what to do, want to try everything.


Wrote a separate note on that, but summarized, no room for live shows this spring. I did (for me, at least) a lot of live in 2009 and 2010, so I don't mind the pause. We're currently setting up live shows late August, early September, and after that I expect there will be another batch around release of Planet U.


I'll be updating the kids version of Ugress Live. Most likely be doing new school tours for Rikskonsertene later this year, hopefully around the same time for regular live shows, concentrate the live efforts in a dedicated period.


I might be quiet for some time now to work on film projects. Then Episode Three is out. Then we play live, release some more EPs, and finally Planet U is out.

So that's some of the larger stuff going on right now. I'll write separate entries on minor curiosities, coming up after this.

Expedition Report: Berlin Surreal
Posted April 1st 2011, at 15:42 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Earlier in March I spent another period in Berlin, mostly working, but also exploring, which in this case means hiding from coffee monsters and stumbling randomly into surrealism. A report.

I stayed at a Norwegian composer's organization apartment, kind of modern urban version of "writer's retreat". You apply for membership in the organization and when you've been a member for some time you can apply to stay in the apartment. So I did.

The apartment was luxuriously large. (Or, I'm small and used to little.) But the place certainly was spacious, in part due to an insanely tall roof, and everything mounted up high, like the kitchen shelves - I had to climb counters to reach stuff. Felt like a kid home alone. There were massive spare rooms, even spare bathrooms. There was also a hallway so long I contemplated installing a subway system. German efficiency could probably install the line faster than I could walk the distance.

A typical day:

I wake up and lay in bed for some time trying to locate the ceiling, because it is so far up. Are those clouds? Better get up, it could start raining in here. Then I prepare for the trip to the kitchen. I notice nobody installed the metro yet so I have to walk.

Eventually I arrive at the kitchen and make some coffee on a percolator which has grown old and bitter. I look in the fridge to see if the fridge fairy has visited overnight and put in something magic, but no. Though, I wonder why somebody has left a frozen pizza there, when there is no oven, only gas griddles? Ah, composer's apartment. Maybe I should buy some frozen TV dinners to keep up appearances.

I have me some toast, and work for some hours. Coffee break on the balcony, in early spring sun. Read some books. More work. I mostly write, trying to stay far away from the real world, hiding from email. I like working in new environments, to see how that affects my work, shifts my perspective. I work on wrapping up Planet U Episode Two, some new tracks, but mostly sketching stuff for current film projects. Here's a pic of the setup. I found excellent use for the notation paper.

There's also a huge electric piano available, and something I think is called an "acoustic guitar", but I can't figure how to turn it on. I accidentally touch some of the wire mechanics of the device and they make this terrible folksy singer-songwritery noise; I quickly pack the thing away before I become infected.

Eventually, the work day fades away and I venture out into the metropolis outside, exploring the city, eventually falling into a book store, then some random pub or cafe with a book. Like this wonderful Jules Verne place, above. A perfect place for explorers out exploring for places to read about exploring!

One day, nothing I do makes any sense, I'm just writing crap, can't keep up with my own mind. The amount of work and ideas on my to-do list NOT getting done, is stressing me out. The bitter sad percolator coffee makes me even more bitter and depressed. I head out early, walk aimlessly around the neatly organized blocks of Berlin for some hours. Eventually I realize the reason for my depressed mood must be that very sad evil coffee! Black poison. So I start looking for a proper shot. By chance within a minute I discover this crazy huge mad-arcitecht neo-classical-glass cafe almost hidden in a side alley.

The espresso fills my veins, the caffeine flows to my head, mmmm the world is right again. Then I look around and notice I'm actually in the coffee shop of a surrealist museum, the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg. So I decide to check it out. Which turns out to be the best decision ever. I spend many hours lost in the museum, I'm the only one there. I completely fall in love with the some of the works, especially the Prison series of Giovanni Piranesi, incredibly eerie, surrealist post-apocalyptic architecture drawings from the 1740s.

They're like... a still-frame goth pencil version of Inception for dark sub-terranean spaces. And they're almost 300 years old! The rest of the collection, so much intriguing stuff, I completely fall in love with the weirdness, and things just click into place in my head. 

Berlin is the ultimate place for surrealism, the unreal-ness becomes this perfect contrast and compliment to the super organized German efficiency.

The rest of my stay then, I ignored the rest of the world. I spent all the time writing completely new material, exploring surrealist art exhibitions in museums (there's even a so-so Dali museum) and books, existing in a bubble, immersed in this weird world parallel to the structured modern reality of Berlin. Sounds kind of pretentious, and it probably is - but I guess that's more because I'm bad at describing the situation, rather than the situation was silly.

I've listened to the material now a few weeks later and it's both weird and inventive, kind of stream-of-consciousness manic sample transformation adventures. Not sure how and where to release it, but I'm definitively going to explore this direction further. 

Too soon then, it ends, I had to pack up and head back north. Busy-bee commitments demand my presence in the real world. I'm even more behind on all projects, due to this surrealist detour. But I'm satisfied, I have yet another project to explore. Not even the gloomy percolator and a rainy departure day can alter my mood as I wave off.

Conclusion: Expedition surreal success.

Thoughts On The Ugress Mobile App
Posted March 28th 2011, at 23:50 with tags , , , , , ,


Some background on the new Ugress mobile app, available in the iTunes store or the Android market for $0.99, or 6 NOK.

App Thoughts 

This is an experiment.

I am considering making the rest of my catalogue available in-app, give access to all Ugress music anywhere anytime, but at the moment that demands a lot of work on my side, and also I think the app isn't quite optimized for huge music libraries yet. I'd like to see some data from usage first. (I'm not so sure everyone would actually want that? Spotify handles that bit doesn't it?)

So there's a few nice specifics about it, but other than that, to be perfectly honest, the app is in essence just a convenient, streamlined mobile access version to what is already available from me elsewhere on the web. It's an optimized service more than a product. And as with all things Ugress, the app and it's contents is a work in progress, I'm throwing it out there and start collect data and expand over time. App development is very much alive, there is a neat update already in the works.

App Bling

OK so the app costs money. Shock capitalist horror, I'm demanding your precious precious gold! Warum ze bling bling maneuver?

Three reasons, and boring ones too, and probably discussable, but a quick recap, this is part of a modern digital artist's daily predicaments: 

1 . The app costs money to develop, to keep in stores, to sell. On my side I am actually charged per x number of downloads. Smart move by the developer, I actually appreciate their cleverness, which further pushes me to price the app up and keep it floating, can't release and ignore. Good for all of us, bad for you.

Though, priced at the enormous sum of $0.99, I do not expect to earn money from the app, nor to make you broke, but hopefully make break-even. After the various app stores takes their cut, the developer take their cut, I should theoretically over a few years reach some kind of break-even, balancing out initial development costs. (This based on my stats for the previous app, which was free. Might take some longer to reach similar numbers with a paid version, but I'm willing to take the risk, and I'm counting on me growing as an artist on a general basis simultaneously with app growth.)

2. The quality of this app is way better than the previous one, which was a sorry excuse for a mobile app. (But therefore free.) This one has all the features of the previous one, then more, and now in a proper, elegant mobile package. I haven't opened up all possible uses in the current version. Even more coming up.

More importantly, I can now update the contents of the app without going through app store approval processes, which means I can release new material in the app simultaneously as on the web. I expect this app to grow into it's value over time. Which brings me to the point: When it reaches that value, it will be much harder for me to go from free to paid at THAT point. So I'm doing the painful part now, before it's too late. If this means few sales right now, no problem. I'm patient.

3. Thirdly, the way I see apps right now, they are what websites was 10 years ago - something one SHOULD have, and control, as an artist. If you search for Ugress on iTunes or Android market, I want there to be a proper app in the results, and I want to control it. It should be the first hit, like is for web searches of ugress.

Free apps today are like Geocities web sites 15 years ago. 

Eventually, people will pick up on that, I can already see a divide. Free apps are often crap, or simple lite version for the paid ones (so, an ad really.) (The analogy isn't optimal, no website cost money in 1997, I know, I know.)

But the point is, perhaps weakly argued but I'm basing this more on intuition than hard facts, an app that costs money signals quality. The responsibility is on me to make sure the app justifies that cost and lives up to it's promise. At the moment, I think this app barely reaches that commitment, but as paragraph above mentions, the most important thing is, I have to set the price level NOW, it will be much harder to do this adjustment in the future.

Final Geek Notes

I haven't tried it physically on a real Android device myself, so please hit me with your thoughts if you have any. Hit me with an Android device if you have a spare one.

iPad version is coming. Not sure about other tablets, but not ignored.

I could provide a Blackberry App, but brief research told me that platform isn't yet worth the investment. 

Symbian? Ha ha ha ha, good one! Windows Mobile, I'm waiting so see how that develops.

Update March 29th 10.30: Rewrote the third point above to make it less confusing.

New Ugress iPhone and Android App
Posted March 28th 2011, at 21:00 with tags , , , , , , , ,

An official Ugress app, for both iOS and Android devices. 

Get it in the iTunes store or the Android market, priced at $0.99, or 6 NOK. 

The app contains music, videos, photos, including all recent releases, and new releases are automatically available in-app. 

I wrote a separate blog entry with more information and my thoughts on this app, and mobile apps in general.

The Lost Ruins
Posted March 28th 2011, at 12:54 with tags , , , ,

Ugress - The Lost Ruins by GMM

The second episode of the Planet U project is now available as The Lost Ruins EP. Six tracks, most of them available for free download, all of them available for streaming.

You can stream it right here, buy and download mp3 and lossless versions from my Bandcamp store. It should be out in iTunes, Spotify, Wimp, etc as soon as each service picks up and ingest it.

Production Notes

Overall I think this EP turned out much darker and weirder than originally intended. This is not necessarily a bad thing. (It NEVER is a bad thing.) The sordid weirdness helps distance this EP from the first, which had a more naive and playful sound. It fits the story, which at the moment is just inside my head. And it definitively helps distance this EP musically from the upcoming Episode Three.

The first four tracks has been released on a weekly basis here on and there are production notes for each of them, available through the Planet U tag

The last two tracks I consider bonus items, for now only available for download through the whole EP at Bandcamp. The fifth track Voyage En Noir is a simplistic trip-noir piece, it works best as slightly sinister background music. The track itself has been on a long journey, it was started back in 2006 as a very complicated and intricate production, with lots of vocal samples and meaningless show-off edits, and since then I've really just removed stuff.

The final track, Fernweh, is another example of Franken-instruments, this time a guitar. I took all the single-tone accoustic guitar samples I could find, and built an instrument from this. The guitar(s) play a simple melancholic version of the Planet U theme introduced in Planetfall. There's also an early prototype of a really dirty Franken Ondes Martenot rounding of the track. These instruments will introduce themselves better in further episodes.

The EP has been delivered to the various digital services, and should appear in iTunes / Spotify / Wimp / Soundtrckr / Last.FM / your favorite service, as they ingest it.

Now I concentrate on Episode Three, scheduled for May.

Planet U: Episode Two: Circus Cnidaria
Posted March 28th 2011, at 10:16 with tags , , , , , ,

Ugress - Circus Cnidaria by GMM

Invertebrates also have need for weird show tunes and umbrella dancing.

Circus Cnidaria, a strange musical contribution from the marine depths. This is the fourth track from Episode Two of Planet U, and concludes the episode which is now available as a full EP The Lost Ruins, including two bonus tracks. 

Production Notes

I have no idea how this track ended up like this, but it is a combination of things-just-happening and me wanting to write a musical for jellyfish. The track started out with the orchestral samples, and I wanted to let them be in charge, so I tried complementing them with a rather dry beat and bass. The track pumps neatly on big systems.

I wrote the background first, and then decided this should be the jellyfish musical song.

So how do cnidaria sing? Strangely mad, I suppose. I took dialogue from a movie (which movie is a secret), and pitch edited all dialogue from a corrupt nun to one single tone, so every word is in tune. Then I cut up every syllable, and built a huge instrument that randomly selects a syllable, and duplicated this instrument lots of times. Then, when playing different tones, I have this weird choir of strange, random syllables singing melody lines. It is easy to go overboard and build large arrangements to utilize this, but that didn't work so much musically, and I really don't know much about classic cnidaria music, so I reduced their choir melody lines to the current repeating phrases. The "male" version is from a corrupt priest in the same movie, btw.

The track was finished late last week, which is uncomfortably close to release. I expect myself to analyze this at a later stage and conclude that it gets too detailed and busy at times, ideas fighting for room. In a new version everything would probably have more time to develop and establish itself, some things could possibly be removed or mixed down as filler.

However one shouldn't be too hard on the poor tentacle tripping phylums and their songs. When visiting strange cultures we should remember we are there as guests. I'm sure they think our musicals is similarly messed up.

Planet U: Episode Two: Monument Dilution
Posted March 21st 2011, at 21:52 with tags , , , , , ,

Ugress - Monument Dilution by GMM

Erosion, the inevitable caress of time.

Monument Dilution is the third track from Planet U Episode Two, performed appropriately and majestically by the wonderful Frankenflügel - every single piano tone comes from some random source in music history.

Notes on production

This track is built from hundreds (maybe thousands) of tiny, forgotten, fragmented bits of musical history, patiently located, organized, edited, adjusted, assembled and reanimated.

The background arrangement is built from a nice bunch of 60s vinyl loops and phrases. Most of them I changed from major to minor, re-pitched to a common key, removed sporadic melodic elements to keep it simpler, and cut them all up for each rhythmical element and rearranged so they all play the same sort of simplistic, repeating "band" pattern. Layered on top of this a bunch of breaks cut up similarly. Not so much new there really just work.

I wrote most of the musical elements of the track a year ago, tried it out in earlier versions at some live shows but realized this wasn't a live track, at least not in the current form. Then I invented...

The Frankenflügel

The real star is my ghostly beautiful, conceptually lovable Franken-flügel. I moved the making-of explanation of this instrument into a separate post.

Monument Dilution is available as a free download.

Planet U: Episode Two: Witch Parade Assassin
Posted March 14th 2011, at 12:08 with tags , , , , ,

Ugress - Witch Parade Assassin by GMM

New track from Episode Two - the stealthy and calculatedly cruel Witch Parade Assasin. They might never know what hit them. If it hits, though. Hard to tell what is a witch, and harder to find their parades.

Brief notes on production

I wanted the track to sound like it was built from lots of very lofi VHS samples from old kung-fu. So I did that, but half of the sounds are very modern and I had to rough them up quite a bit, make it all sound like it comes from 35 years ago.

The kung-fu and martial arts movies of the 60s, 70s and 80s often used (non-cleared, of course) music from western movies, they'd simply lift it and happily edit it to suit the scene. Perhaps they even recorded it originally by microphone in the theatre. And then their movie ended up on VHS. And then I sampled that.

Free download.

Planet U: Episode Two: Hovercraft Expedition
Posted March 7th 2011, at 23:01 with tags , , ,

Ugress - Hovercraft Expedition by GMM

The saga continues: First track from Episode Two is out, an expedition through alien landscapes on makeshift hovercraft. The vistas has an uncanny resemblance of something familiar.

Planet-wise, I'm finally on schedule with correct content. Previous episode was released on time, but not with the tracks I wanted, I just had to grab whatever was finished. Now, almost all tracks for Episode Two are ready in time and will be released sequentially every week ahead.  

Some notes on Hovercraft Expedition

This track was originally sketched last summer, then left to linger, with some edits throughout the last six months. It has seen multiple iterations since the first draft.

I started out with a busy guitar montage, way more busy than the current intro phrase. Those guitars are puzzled together from lots of tiny string pick samples from different sources, a mix of layered cuts. It was quite nice to listen to by itself, lots of details to follow. However I found it tedious in the long run, hard to find them a complement, at at first I tried a hous-ish beat and added some flavor with cinematic strings on top. That sounded both too busybody and too friendly. Then I had a version with more industrial, synthesized sound. Too frenetic and noisy.

Finally I decided to reduce the traffic of the guitars, less tones and some sound editing to make them smaller, which gave room for beats to keep up with them. I added simple keys, organs and spice sounds, mostly improvised, and instead of multiple strings for cinematic chords I rather used a single violin phrase, built from solo violin samples reworked through Melodyne DNA.

Hovercraft Expedition is available for free download.

NRK BlimE! Music Now Free Download
Posted March 2nd 2011, at 14:18 with tags , , , , ,

Make your own friendship campaign!

The music I wrote for NRK campaign BlimE! is now available for free download over at the NRK Super website. Available through "Last Ned" in the main menu.

Digital Numbers 2010: Spotify, iTunes, Wimp. Future Win.
Posted February 26th 2011, at 19:18 with tags , , , , , , ,

Got final numbers for digital music 2010. Streaming keeps growing. I smile inside. Wimp enters the picture. Competition is good. Chart above shows numbers for each quarter from start of 2009 through 2010.

Finally, this time I got detailed stats from Spotify. Most interesting conclusion I observe is that my FANS ARE REALLY REALLY AWESOME.

They pay for listening to music. For some tracks, almost half of my Spotify listeners are premium (paying) users. This is unusual. On average, only 1 of 20 (citation needed, I know) Spotify users are premium subscribers. This could explain the mystery of me actually seeing real revenue from streaming music, and appearantly nobody else.

But why is it like that? Why are my listeners different? Are they all rich? Are they young sponsored by parents? Who plays what? Is it a selected few premium persons playing me a lot all the time, or many persons playing me now and then? And further, when do they play the music? Time of day, day of week? What tracks to which time? What other tracks of mine to they play? How does listeners and albums relate? When in the song do they skip to the next track? What IS the next track? For how long do they play THAT track? Is there difference to plays on different platforms, mobiles? Countries? Cities? I MUST KNOW ALL

Spotify has started giving me some of this information, but not enough to really answer interesting questions. However my contact on the inside informs me there will be more and better stats on the next statement. (I've even got a glimpse of the tools, looks even more awesome than my chart above, will answer many of the questions in previous paragraph.) Combined with my ever-growing numbers and details from other services like Wimp, Facebook, Bandcamp, iTunes and my own websites, I think we're moving towards a future full of exciting information.

OK, it's exciting, BUT. I've had an overdose, a re-action to all this data and business stuff. The last few weeks has been very business like for me and that drives me crazy when it takes too much focus. Every true digital ninja must know his numbers intimately, but there are limits. Those numbers won't be much use unless I have quality music behind them. I have to concentrate on releasing Episode Two and writing new stuff for a few months now. So I'll finish data and business for some time now, with a few final notes.

Trivia observations  

My numbers are growing overall, while it has been 18 months since previous major release.

Wimp (Scandinavian streaming service) enters the picture, nice. Amazon picks up, nice.

iTunes (downloads) behaves as expected in the long run, almost the same pattern as physical sales (not in the chart). There is a peak in Q2 2009, when Reminiscience is released, and then it slowly falls. Not as fast as expected, which is neat.

Q3 saw a dip in Spotify activity during a small rise in iTunes, I have no idea what happened there. I don't think Wimp is the reason. I think perhaps Spotify saw an irregular rise in Q2, because of the Collectronics release, which was a release designed to move some of my previously released material into Spotify. In Q3, Spotify dropped back to regular growth. Not sure, but only thing I can think of, this will be easier to see in the long run.  

New peak when I start launching Planet U in November 2010. Curious to see numbers playing out during the upcoming episode releases.

Also mapped website visitors and physical sales to the same chart above, INTERESTING. It follows the average pattern, but slightly behind. My educated guess from this is: Album releases drive traffic, not the other way round. This is very exciting to learn. I've always seen my website as being in front of releases, but maybe it actually is the opposite. The website should supplement releases. Need more data, but intriguing.

Income is spread evenly over all released albums, and each album follows the same pattern: A few tracks are played a lot, most tracks played averagely, and one or two tracks seems almost forgotten. The poor little things.  

I launched my own label and got control over all these numbers (and more) back in 2006. At the time, I knew very little. First now, five years later, I feel that I start to learn something valuable, see patterns, and get a somewhat inexplicable sense of how it all relates and moves. But I am still a super noob. I think the next five years will be VERY interesting, I am very curious to see what happens, learn new patterns. Geeky, but actually it's often the same in music theory and sound mixing. Attention, all the way from overall structure down to intimate detail, and seeing new connections and following them.

From my own numbers I can calculate the break-even of Spotify. What's that? That's how much music can you listen to in Spotify per day, before they start loosing money on you. It's a simple number (of minutes), and that number is the core of Spotify's business. If most users stay below that amount of listening, Spotify makes money. I think I've found their number. I think average users will stay below. I look at media consumption reports, my own media routines, and everyone around me, especially kids. Spotify is going to make money. The reason they are not making money, is because they are building. Their model is profitable very soon, it's just a matter of mass. See next point.

Insider Tip

Based on my own numbers, my own contracts, what I pick up from talking to people in-the-know who can't-say-anything but I-am-good-with-clever-questions, and what I observe around the web, Spotify is going to launch in the US before Apple launches anything cloud-based. This will be a very big move for Spotify, and especially for me, since US has by far my largest pool of listeners and fans (outside Norway).

Final note

I realize the curiosity of the exact real numbers behind the graphs. I understand that. But I'm a bit reluctant to reveal my direct numbers for several reasons, the most obvious being, this is business. But also, personally, I don't think the numbers are... impressive enough. I'm not talking big sums. There's around a million streams in 2010, if that tells you anything. It's nice but no way impressive. I'm not a bling bling pop idol or major label artist drawing on crazy advances and media blitz campaigns. I just like numbers, they tell me stuff I like to know, and I'm getting by on whatever numbers I have because I minimize cost of living, not because the numbers are huge.

However, to reveal some real numbers and put things in an realistic perspective: I've calculated, from current data, at any given moment, on average there are always 10 people streaming my music somewhere in the world. Maybe that's not impressive, it's a small number byt itself. However, the beauty of the future and this makes me so happy: if I can triple that number, I can make a living off JUST digital music. Just that! 30 people playing my music at any moment. Sounds crazy, but that's it, that is MY break-even.

I think that goal is very achievable, and a wonderful concept, the future of music. And now excuse me, I'll get there by writing good music, not comparing numbers or making pie charts. So that's it for now. I'll be in the lab if anyone needs me.

Report: Bylarm Oslo 2011
Posted February 23th 2011, at 21:33 with tags , , , , , ,

Report from a longer expedition to Oslo last week. Did live shows, did film work, did by:larm, a music industry festival and seminar. Here is the report per day.

Day Minus 3

Performed a kids show with Ugress at Parkteatret. Learned a lot. Wrote a separate report.

Day Minus 2

I'm staying the week with friends, crashing in a spare room of their large apartment. Spent most of the day at the apartment, while the others were at work. Mostly administrative business stuff, preparing the upcoming by:larm attendance, but also sketching and toying with some new material. And neat to stay in a fancy apartment. I like to sketch new things while travelling, I rarely have the time for this luxury.

Also did some shopping for new clothes. Oslo is hardcore arctic. I need another layer.

Day Minus 1 

Adventure! Went to an audiologist, who poured my head full of silicone. The silicone then dried stiff, the audiologist pulled it out through my ears. This results in a physical model of my ear canals. It looks like something from an alien spaceship, really really gross. It also hurts.

I then ship this grossness to some smart audio company in the US. They will use this ear-canal imprint to build super custom high-fidelity in-ear monitors, which only works for ME, and should a) give me incredible, portable, balanced sound anywhere, even on a loud stage, and further b) make me able to mix and produce everywhere, even noisy environments. Without volume fatigue.

My quiet, private little world of hi-fi sound, location independent! This is a rather expensive investment, and my brain was displaced by silicone for some time, but it should be worth it. I'd like to reduce my dependence on a physical location for mixing and final production. Nothing beats a properly tuned room and excellent speakers, but I'm starting to look at that as a final step, not a continuous need.

Ps. The audiologist told me my ears are not common. I have unusually narrow ear canals, and they are unusually sensitive. Maybe that explains the big beats? I CANT HEAR THEM

Report follows how well this actually work once I get the speakers in return.

Day Zero

Film work! Spent most of the day on a full feature film I'm currently scoring. We are pretty early in the process, and I haven't signed contract so I'm not talking publicly title and stuff, but as soon as papers are signed I think the process is very worth documenting. It is fun work, but I expect it to be lots of work. Premiere is scheduled for December, there is lots of time, kind of freaks me out having these vast schedules.

So anyway spent the day at the production studio, saw the whole film for the first time, in a raw cut (yeah, its already shot, already!). Far from final, but got an overview of all characters and scenes, how everything relates, and talked lots of music, sound, references, characters, the works with director Mr M. They've slightly changed the tone of the film from my first references, for the better I think, but means that most of the stuff I developed so far is too dark. (That could be part of the problem, I realize...)

I expect most of April and May to be spent intensively on this, so far we're mostly throwing ideas and sketches back and forth. I think I have given them some nice things and some crap things, but we're pretty early in the process for now.

Afterwards, had dinner with my previous manager and most trusted musical advisor Mr H. Nice to catch up. I had sushi, he had thai. I never seem to learn: If a restaurant serves multiple cuisines, NEVER get the sushi.

Late at night, I checked in at the festival area for my accreditation. The seminar program and festival administration is at Royal Christiania, a huge hotel in the centre of Oslo. I'll spend most of my next three days here.

For many reasons, personal and professional, I have spent a lot of time at this hotel during the last 15 years. (Fuck I'm old). It's always weird to go there, because it's sort of been my home at times, yet it's also so cold and efficient. This place just keeps appearing in my life over and over again.

Day One

By:larm! Whoo!

Got in early, caught a few morning seminars and then hooked up with Rikskonsertene, the main reason for me being at by:larm. I am to attend their stand, to be available for questions and talk to artists and agents what its like to take your music out on a school tour.

Rikskonsertene had the coolest stand. Partly because we had free coffee, cakes and soda, but also I think because the RK people seem to know everyone around so there were always people hanging around the stand.

So I was there to talk with artists, but.... I didn't talk to many, because... they weren't there! This has been my experience at earlier by:larms too, artists rarely attend the daily seminars. But I did talk to some, and most where more interested in how to actually book an RK tour, than what the actual tour was like. In the end, I think most of the people I talked to where either agents or promoters, curious to send their own artists out. Or foreigners curious to the whole concept.

In between I politely asked for permission to sneak off and managed to catch some of the seminars. There were some interesting talks, but mostly I think I'd sum it up as: Knew what they were talking about, but neat to hear it from the perspective of another person, and see how they approach it.

By early evening I was pretty shot, got pretty exhausted talking to so many strangers. Very interesting, but demanding. Luckily I had a date with close friends, not music related. It's a relief to hang out with people I know, we know each other, guards down. We're just throwing banter and catching up over beers. Everyone has their own career, nice to compare experiences and see how everyone is struggling with similar challenges, just different systems. 

Late at night, my friends left for early work and I hooked up with my management for late. They have lots of other artists playing all over by:larm, so I just tailed along with them and saw a bunch of concerts, talked to a bunch of people. I was pretty tired by now, but it was nice just hanging with my manager team, looking at other artists doing the stage work.

Day Two

Whoops slightly hungover and short sleep. Got up just in time to be at the Rikskonsertene stand.

This day was mostly same as yesterday, but by now many of the seminar attendants knew the stands, there were lots of traffic but not so much interest. Except for people who knew we had free coffee. I got to see some more seminars, which mostly fell into the same formula as yesterday: Interesting people talk about interesting stuff you already know. Nice, but no revelations.

I did however manage to meet up with some people I really wanted to say hi to, and I'm pretty happy for that. I also met some people I didn't expect, which was even nicer.

Late afternoon I discover my power adapter for the laptop is gone. This throws me on a long hunt backtracking last night's adventure, I knew I had the laptop up multiple times in lots of places. No luck locating the adapter, and by early night I have to give up. I'm exhausted from running around town, I go back to the apartment and crash early, all batteries drained and no charger.

Day Three

Full night sleep in the sarcophagus and bought a new adapter, all batteries charged! Long breakfast, easy tempo. Saturday  was day off for me, not so many seminars, so I spent the day in the hotel lounge, some quick meetings and mostly hanging with my manager Mr P.

Didn't realize it at the moment but afterwards, I think those few hours hanging out probably was the most important at by:larm. We got to talk about digital music, streaming, the future, looking over my recent numbers, stats, data... throwing around ideas and thoughts. Nothing conclusive happened, but I think both of us left with a "hmmm...!" in our head, and that's a scheming, diabolical, rubbing-hands-together "hmm....!". An excellent conclusion for a long week. Observe, analyze, realize.

I took the evening off, hung out with non-music-industry friends. We had IPAs. Ahhh.

Day Four

Up. Coffee. Coffee. Train. Coffee. Plane. Coffee. Taxi. Lab. Coffee.


I went to Oslo for multiple reasons. As usual, I return satisfied but - as always usual - not in the way I expected. The live show for kids, I learned a lot, new direction. Film work, learned a lot, new direction. By:larm, learned a lot, didn't turn out as expected, but still lots of new doors opened, and all of them exiting.

And I'm very much looking forward to get those gross in-ears returned, to penetrate my skull with sound.

Thoughts about publishers and Apple tax
Posted February 22th 2011, at 12:31 with tags , , , , ,

There is a lot happening around Apple's new subscription terms right now. I'm following the situation closely, I talk to people involved in the process on all levels and I do my observations. I thought about entering the discussion, but I prefer doing instead of talking.

So here's just a a few fringe observations and loose shots from the hip - from someone casually observing the stampede from a distant fence. When the dust settles, I'll be quietly disappeared into the future.

  • I agree with all sides and see all problems and benefits. I understand this is a complex situation but I also observe: Most parties involved doesn't seem to really get what the real issue is. They measure the wrong value in the wrong currency.
  • If you complain about the future, you write yourself out of it. Whiners are lamers are goners. Negotiate, adapt, or STFU.
  • Apple's move is ultimately a benefit to content consumers (me), which in the long term is a benefit to content producers (me).
  • Their suggested 30% cut is too high. Their policy too strict. But this is just numbers and terms, negotiable, it will be balanced out. But the cut WILL stay. Google puts theirs at 10%. When the cut is balanced, getting this to work out for everyone is just a formula.
  • Apple is a company. They do business. They want to MAKE MONEY and preferably LOTS OF IT. I get the feeling many involved seem to forget this. 
  • This is a strategic move from Apple, they are navigating into a position. And almost everyone involved in this discussion seem to have figured this position completely wrong. This is not about Apple wanting to kidnap subscribers, or kill content providers. (Ultimately this isn't really about Apple.)
  • The subscription model as subscription per daily/weekly edition is dead. D-E-A-D. This fight is not worth it for most involved. Why do people keep making the same error over and over and over again when transitioning to digital? You can NOT use your old analogue world model in a digital world. You can not transfer established systems of control. You have to speak another language, and you have to speak it well enough to catch and make jokes in it.
  • Publishers of content, I might be willing to pay a tiny, negligible fee each time I read ONE article in ONE of your editions. Or I might be willing to pay ONE aggregator a running subscription that gives me access to all articles I MIGHT read. But I want the payment system for this to be INVISIBLE. Stop hassling me. all. the. time! Systems that caters to this centralization is what Apple is approaching.
  • Editors, writers, creators and administrators of content, from this centralized aggregation there will evolve more editorial or customized systems. You will be needed. This is already happening in the music industry. It will happen for most or all content, I expect. You can create very localized or specified news and articles, and the opposite. But that won't happen first on it's own, the aggregation will have to evolve first. You just need to be adaptable. 
  • Easy wins over free wins over piracy wins over complex. Most content today exist at the end of that chain. Move it to the front.
  • There are so many opportunities right now, and there will be even more in the very near future. Going digital closes some opportunities, but opens up vastly many more. Grab the new ones. The old ways are playing on a nice organic farm with lots of other animals.

Off the fence.


Bylarm: I will be at the Rikskonsertene stand, advicing on kids, cakes and ghosts
Posted February 15th 2011, at 18:31 with tags , , , , ,

I'll be at the Rikskonsertene stand during By:larm in Oslo this week.

By:Larm is an annual music festival and conference in Oslo. At daytime, the music industry conference takes place at Hotel Royal Christiania, with lots of stands, seminars, concerts, talks, panels. Rikskonsertene asked if I could come over, participate at their stand during the day and relate my experiences and advice (hah!) for other artists and musicians. They send out quite a lot of artists, and I remember myself being quite anxious what would happen.

(They probably asked me because I managed to NOT screw up my school tour last fall, which I think everyone involved is pretty amazed by, including the kids.)

So I expect to be there to talk about what it's like to play for kids, how to approach communicating your music on a new level, and tour in a rather different way. That's the main plan, if you're an artist you can come learn from me not to eat the teacher's lounge cake, learn which schools have wi-fi in the gym halls, and learn which hotels are haunted and how to deal with the ghosts.

But really if anybody wants to come by and talk anything kids, science, music or future related:

  • By:Larm Seminar
  • Hotel Royal Christiania
  • Rikskonsertene stand (don't know where it is yet)
  • Thursday Feb 17th, 1200-1500
  • Friday Feb 18th, 1200-1500

I'll also run around the festival try to catch as much other stuff as possible. Reports to follow.

Report: Ugress Live - Super Young Kids
Posted February 13th 2011, at 21:21 with tags , , , , , , ,

Report from Ugress show today at Blårollinger, Parkteatret, Oslo. Early Sunday afternoon beats for an enthusiastic and bewildered crowd of groovy angels. 

I was supposed to perform together with drummer Nasra but unfortunately she fell ill and wasn't allowed to travel. Bummer - I manage to play alone, that's ok - but I was curious to try out live drums and percussion for the kids performance. 

Had to travel in last night, due to an early morning get-in. It's really cold here in Oslo, but super nice weather. I'm staying here for some time now, working on a film project and there's also the ByLarm music seminar coming up, where I'll be at the Rikskonsertene stand. More on that later. Today was the Blårollingene show. Slept at regular budget hotel, which usually is OK but this time... THIS TIME! The coffee machine at breakfast was broken, no coffee. What a scandal.

I took a taxi over to the venue, met the crew, very helpful and friendly. There were coffee, ah! Proper humanity.

This was my first performance at Parkteateret, an old theatre converted into a modern music venue. it looks really nice, they kept lots of the old theater interior. I like venues like that. We set up my stuff on the floor in front of stage, to keep a friendly size and scope to the kids, they can walk up next to me and see what I'm doing. A nice benefit of this was the video screen could fill the whole stage front.

After setup and soundcheck and lots of coffee there was some time to kill. I went backstage (which is above-stage on Parkteateret) to concentrate but it was icy cold up there, had to spend the time waiting in full polar equipment.

The time before going on stage is black hole time. I don't like the wait, nervous and restless. I try to focus but mostly I just pace. Afterwards, zzaap, I forget the time was there at all.

When I started, place was full, and I soon noticed the kids crowd was younger than I had expected, or at least the ones I could see. (Stage lights made it hard to see the whole crowd.) The front kids soon grew enthusiastic and didn't take long to have them jumping around and dancing. There were also a little bewildered in the crowd I think. That's not necessarily a bad thing, from my own childhood I seem to have best memories of the WTF stuff.

My experience so far with playing for kids is mostly primary school age, and I think the crowd today was on average a bit younger than school. Some parts of the performance didn't connect as well as it I am used to. I mean it works, but not optimally, not as well as I'm used to. My initial theory; this younger crowd are more fascinated with just creating the sounds, while the older ones are fascinated with what can be DONE with the sounds. I guess it's a matter of what they can understand, and how I communicate it. That was a valuable lesson.

Some other observations, after playing a bunch of solo shows the last few years, I now really miss having other live musicians with me. Especially with kids that is important, to have someone to do stage dialogues with, create a little story, I'm not good at pulling that off alone (yet).

Finally, content-wise, I feel I need more live repertoire, especially a larger palette. I was sort of planning new live shows this spring, but I'm starting to think I need to spend more time to develop material than performing existing.

A final tech note - my drum pad device broke down, the one I use to trigger the crowd samples. No idea what happened, haven't had time to look into it. Worked during sound check, didn't work during show. Luckily I had a backup solution on the iPad. I lost velocity sensibility but didn't matter much, we played at such low levels anyway. Glad I had thought of that  redundancy, but puzzled it happened, my hardware is usually the safety backups, not the other way around.


Pretty happy with playing for such tiny, wonderful humans and see that they like it too. Most importantly, I think I've figured a way to balance the show better for these creatures in the future. And I know I need to write more stuff.

Staying Oslo for ByLarm too, report follows on that.

Ugress Live Kids at Parkteateret
Posted February 11th 2011, at 22:22 with tags , , ,

This weekend I'm playing live at the Blårollingene series at Parkteateret, Oslo.

Blårollingene is a live music concert series for kids and their adults. I'm bringing the usual laboratory of electronic instruments, large screen visuals and of course my forgetfulness which means the kids must help create samples and beats.

  • Ugress Live Kids
  • Sunday Feb 13th
  • Parkteateret, Oslo (map)
  • Doors 1200, show 1300

Report: GMM Presentation For Science And Media
Posted February 5th 2011, at 21:59 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

Last Thursday I gave a presentation of me, my art and my work methods for a crowd of clever scientists and media people.

The angle was how I use and benefit from technology in my work. This was part of a IT and media symposium held by UH-Nett Vest, a network collaboration between higher education institutions in Western Norway. The connection was thru Stig Sæbø Øvreås' excellent master thesis "What is he building in there?".

It is a little bit weird in a out-of-myself way to give a presentation on how I work, and why I work like that. This wasn't my first self-presentation, but I usually stay alone in the lab and rarely talk to anyone, especially not about what I'm doing or why. Most of my work happens (and should happen) in solitude. But I have found it valuable to take this closer look at how I work, and WHY I work the way I do, and then communicating it to external viewers. This makes it interesting, because I have to reduce it to an essential core. When I discover these cores, I see how they connect, and learn how to optimize things on my own.

My presentation included lots of hands-on examples of how I practically use music technology. If you don't know what is possible today, you could easily be impressed, but I'm just using shelf software and some custom tools built from same shelf software. There is no magic.

I also gave an introduction of me, a brief view of my background, how I grew up with trackers, my musical and technological development, and also my quick venture into academics during the 90ies. I found this background necessary, it explains why I work the way I do today. I work different from most other contemporary producers and composers, not using technology exactly as intended. The reasons for my methods are often connected to my history, both technical and musical development.

At one point I referred to my higher education in the 90ies (I did some college and university, quickly left it) and explained how I at the time found the courses and contents old-fashioned and boring. Probably not an elegant solution to refer to my academic experience as boring to a bunch of academics, no, that was rather tactless. But I also explained how I love science itself, I use it as a tool on multiple levels in my work. Science is the backbone of approximately everything I do, I just wasn't cut out for a career in it myself.  

Afterwards, I didn't have time to stay at the seminar, too much work and commitments waiting in the lab. This was inconvenient; the few words I got to exchange with other people at the presentation was intriguing. I really wish I could have stayed and learned what others are thinking, trying, researching, working on. Even worse, I had to give up a splendid, sophisticated dinner with a great bunch of real scientists in tech and media.

Probably pre-cog karma for me referring to 90ies academica as boring.

Planetfall now available everywhere
Posted February 5th 2011, at 21:27 with tags , , ,

Planetfall, the first episode release from my upcoming Planet U project is now available in most digital music systems, most importantly the streaming ones.

Of the larger ones I can check and verify, it is now accessible in Spotify, Wimp, iTunes, Amazon, Last.FM.

I can't check everywhere else, like Pandora and stuff. But it should now be available in your preferred system. If it is NOT, I would actually be very happy to know about it.

If you cannot get it, you could always stream it from my Soundcloud or buy it from my Bandcamp.

Shadow Of The Beat - Neuropolis EP
Posted January 28th 2011, at 22:22 with tags , , , , ,

Some things you never see coming. Neuropolis is a new EP from the Shadow Of The Beat sideproject, the darkest and meanest corner of my lab.

Out now. Free download. You can grab each track from the set at Soundcloud. Or grab the whole EP at once from the Bandcamp store, including lossless versions.

Should be in iTunes, Spotify, etc as they ingest it.

Journal Update: Laboratory Days
Posted January 26th 2011, at 22:22 with tags , , , , , , , , , ,

Journal update, January 26th 2011.

I'm currently a bit quiet, due to solitary concentration on experiments in the lab. This is what I'm working on.

  • Pre-pre-production for music to a Norwegian film premiering this fall. It's going to be a lot of work, but mostly later this spring. Currently I am just brainstorming ideas, concepts, sketches, communicating everything back and forth with the director. It should develop itself into a coherent plan soon. I'll document this further as it progress, if allowed.
  • Preparing an update to the Ugress live show for kids. Ugress is playing the Blarollingene concept at Parkteateret, Oslo in February. I have some adjustments I want to do regarding live sampling, and I'll also incorporate some of my live musicians into the kids show, see how that goes. 
  • Working on the next Ugress EP, second episode of Planet U. Most of the tracks are almost finished, but some work left on all of them. Scheduled for release late February.
  • Working on a Shadow Of The Beat EP. I have found the EP release format to be very friendly to my way of working, I'd like to see how much I can utilize it. If time allows I will sneak out a SOTB release.
  • Working on new live material for upcoming Ugress shows later this spring, I want to try some new things. I felt the show at Landmark last year was great. (We're planning a new one.) Aaaaand.... when I think something is great, that means it works, and that means not long until I am utterly bored with it. So, been there, done that, I'm now toying with new ideas to move the live show in an additional direction. The last two years I have spent a lot of energy on smart production and execution, new live musicians. Now I would like to focus on content.
  • I'll be giving an artist presentation on my work at a science symposium early February. That should be interesting, I tend to see things from a new perspective when I have to explain how I work, and why I do things the way I do. This perspective often opens up new ideas again, catch-22 inverse.

There is also a bunch of smaller projects and loose commitments limping around in the background, and some larger projects that probably won't happen until 2012.

January is always a very dead month for me, nothing external usually happens. I should be OK with that, I love staying in the lab. Feels like days are disappearing off an assembly line, dropping down into a quiet black wormhole. Zzzzwhupp. Whatever falls into the spiraling hole, comes out again somewhere in the future.

I'll appear again when there's something to say.

Website translations now available
Posted January 19th 2011, at 08:18 with tags , , ,

The Ugress website is now available in automatically translated Norwegian, German, Russian, Chinese (simplified), Spanish and French. Box to your right.

Mucho bien, spasiba, Google Translate.

I can mostly just observe the Norwegian translation. Ho humm. What I both like and do not like about this automatic translation: It is good enough to completely understand the material, certainly enough for someone not fluent in English to follow the website, but also bad enough that it sounds like someone with very poor grasp of grammar and language has done a decidedly uninspired essay in a foreign language, just to get the homework done. 

So let's consider this beta for now. 

(I certainly enjoy translating texts from English into a second language and then back into English for hilarious machine poetry: "I truly hilarious poetry machine, translate text from English to enjoy a second language to English again.")



T-shirts now available in the store
Posted January 14th 2011, at 22:15 with tags , , , , , , , ,

 I've printed a new batch of the most popular T-shirts, now available in the Uncanny merch store.

This is the dark blue ones with Ugress logo printed in flock fabric on the chest. It's pretty neat. I've updated the web store making this item available for order again.

I also (sadly) removed vinyl LPs from the store. There is only a few LPs left and I think I'll save them for now. 

Ugress Live 2010 One Minute Summary
Posted January 12th 2011, at 18:11 with tags , , , ,

A super quick one minute summary of live shows in 2010. 

Planet U: Episode One: Planetfall EP
Posted January 10th 2011, at 13:25 with tags , , , ,

The first EP from Planet U, Planetfall is wrapped up and available.

You can stream it right here, buy and download mp3 and lossless versions from my Bandcamp store. It should be out in iTunes, Spotify, Wimp, etc as soon as each service picks up and ingest it.

If you go hunting through the archives here you can read production notes for each track, and also find free downloads of them. Haven't decided yet for long how they'll stay, probably until it's available with all streaming services.

I now concentrate on Episode Two.

Planet U: Episode One: Planetfall
Posted January 7th 2011, at 17:01 with tags , , ,

Ugress - Planetfall by GMM

Planetfall, fifth and final track of Planet U: Episode One.

I had originally intended to release this track as the first track of Episode One, because it sort of carries the main theme. But I didn't manage to finish it until this week.

This track is a present from me to myself. Thank you, me. I'm welcome! I took lots of stuff I think is pretty awesome and mixed it up; tons of Amiga ST samples, C64 synthesis and arpeggio chord patterns, B-movie thematics, tracker structures, orchestral hits (they are making a comeback in 2011), dark FM pads, symphonic string section staccatos, slamming beats, pumping analog bass and cinematic-sized percussion. I guess it's going to be too much for some people but sometimes I don't negotiate with terrorists.

I have identified some weaknesses with the track, I might (or not) adjust those for an album release, I need some distance to make sure. Most obviously, as usual, it could probably be longer.

This took longer than planned to release within the weekly schedule. Two reasons; one - my iLok broke during the Africa expedition and two - there is so much stuff in that track it took me ages to mix and balance everything.

Planetfall concludes Planet U: Episode One. I'm currently uploading the whole EP to Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify etc, should be out everywhere as soon as each service ingests it.

Episode Two is scheduled for late February. I now need some weeks to finalize the next material. I wasn't prepared well enough for this Episode One, but I'm pretty amazed that it's actually out, mostly on schedule and wrapped up only a week late. Planet U is rotating according to plan.

The track (and the four others) is currently available for free download.