It always surprises me how few people have heard of the German musician Ulrich Schnauss. He’s one of my favorite electronic producers but whenever I mention him (to people I consider to be knowledgeable about music) they usually just shrug and ask who he is. I saw him open for M83 in San Francisco a few years back, it was pretty intense, but he just sort of pounded away on a Siel synthesizer the whole time, no visuals or anything. Was cool to see it live, but the stage presence was a little disappointing; I guess I was expecting a singer or something (he always has those sort of ethereal vocals woven through his mixes). At any rate, I’d have to say that A Strangely Isolated Place is his best album to date, and while it’s hard to pick a favorite track from such a solid release, this song certainly ranks up there.
Ulrich Schnauss – In All The Wrong Places
After reading Jefta’s comment in the J.Casey piece I realized I hadn’t been posting much of my own work lately so I decided to put up this wedding announcement I did for my friends Paul and Lisa. I normally wouldn’t post personal work of this nature but I was happy with the result and thought it would make a good exception. To tell you the truth, these are usually my favorite projects; there’s no money involved, no client to compromise for, and no concerns over whether it will be well received by the public. Sadly, it seems this sort of project is the exception not the rule which is unfortunate given that most of us started out in this business purely out of love and enjoyment of art and the process. The other good part of these projects is the timeline, or lack thereof. But as usual, I put this project off until the last minute so I only had a night to complete it, which ended up making it a bit more enjoyable as I knew there wouldn’t be the inevitably endless revision process to attend to after completion. As this was intended to look like a retouch or a painted piece, I was a bit more free to be heavy handed with the lighting effects. This would have been far more difficult if I was going for a photo-realistic look.
So when my friends approached me about creating this we threw around various ideas. In the end they came up with the idea of combining photos of them as kids. Unfortunately all the photos I had to choose from were very different in terms of lighting and color. I’ve never considered myself much of an expert at photo manipulation but this project made me realize just how little I really knew about the process; I definitely struggled trying to get the two photos (pictured below) to look right together. The shot of Lisa was an artificially lit, indoor studio portrait, the other an outdoor snapshot, so it was tough to get the lighting right. I decided to use Lisa as the reference point since she was well lit and then bring Paul closer to that tonal range / lighting condition. The original shot of Paul was taken at dusk as the sun was pretty low in the sky behind him so I ended up doing a lot of gradient masking of color balance and curves transition layers to compensate for the overly dynamic lighting that resulted from the conditions of the original shot. The background imagery had to be scaled up a bit, I cloned one of the windows and did some tweaking to the contents to make room for the added subject. Finally, I added some shadows to Paul’s right side to account for the new position of the lighting and Lisa’s position relative to his.
As for the art direction, I wanted this to feel a lot like an illustration or painting so I did a lot of dynamic lighting, unsharp mask, and some artistic filters to shift it in that direction. The imagery of the existing studio shot of Lisa had a distinctly European thing going on so I tried to push further in that direction to evoke a sort of vintage Swiss-era poster vibe. For that reason, and because this was just the announcement and not the wedding invitation itself, I chose the Futura typeface to give it a fresher feel (than a typical wedding invitation) while at the same time maintaining a sort of classic design sensibility. And of course I went with some loose kerning to give it that Anderson-esque vibe.
Finally I applied some paper effects (blending mode stuff etc.) to give it a real world feel. I have a bunch of vintage poster reproductions hanging around my house and always enjoyed that copy-camera style they give off. While I was overseas a couple years ago I went to a gallery that had a lot of the originals of the stuff I have at home and I got to see them in person. I realized I actually enjoyed the reproductions more, they have a nice grain and vingetting that didn’t show up in the originals (which were typically painted and so also didn’t show the yellowing of aged paper and ink.) This is the kind of aesthetic I am usually trying to achieve in most of my poster work, I want it to feel like a reproduction of an original printed piece.
All in all this was a fun project, I think we as designers should take on more work like this. Free work for friends always helps reacquaint me with the aspects of design that drew me to it in the first place; it gets me excited about the process again, an emotion that I think easily spills over into the jobs that come after it.
The darker side of Jacqueline Caset. Via RIT
Amy Stoddard sent in this amazing archive of vintage Blue Note album covers. Lot’s of great inspiration all over this page, be sure to hit the "Next" button, it just keeps going and going, almost too many to take in at once. Visit the archive here.
Since August 2006, i’ve been widdling away at one proper electronic compilation follow up to The Rorschach Suite. I wanted a release that was jam-packed full of diverse electronically made music so that people that we’re new to electronic music wouldn’t be scared off by experimentation or the dance end but mostly getting pulled in by a deal(20 tracks/80 mins of new music for cheap) and most importantly short melodic songs that make you wanna play the song again.
Today The Synchronicity Suite came out on iTunes (and got alil love under the What’s Hot section) and Ghostly International and Moodgadget wanted to exclusively share 5 songs from the compilation with the ISO50/Tycho crowd. I also wanted to point out that the artwork was done by PhilistineDSGN and mastering by Adam Hunt, gotta always give credit where credit is due.
Small Sails – Somnambulist
The Reflecting Skin – Cavedweller (instrumental version)
Praveen – Slip Slop
Elm From Arm – Pretty Take
Mux Mool – 10
As i sit in front of my computer today i was separating business cards that i’ve recently received from the Detroit Electronic Music Festival and new people i’ve met in New York. Maybe it’s just me and my fascination with plexiglass being used for almost anything but i thought these business cards by Head Inc. might be abit too much on the carrying them around side. I’d probably feel abit odd giving someone one of these too but they’re pretty beautiful in my opinion especially if you stack them on top of each other but i don’t see myself ever getting 2 of them anytime soon from anyone.
I’ll be playing a set tonight at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. The event is part of the Apple WWDC conference so it’s mostly going to be people who are here for the conference, but I asked the organizers and they said it’s technically a public party so I thought I would do a last minute mention here. All the info can be found at the Upcoming Page for the event.
One of the most influential electronic labels since i started working in the industry has been Kompakt out of Cologne, Germany. Its owned by a favorite musician of mine Wolfgang Voigt aka Gas, who has some of the most unbelievable ambient records on Mille Plateaux in the mid 90’s. 1,2,3, No Gravity was always a great vinyl to throw on during the beginning of a dj set just because it had this feel to it that everybody might actually know it or wanna know it once the distant vocal came in. Also, The cover art is part of a compilation series that comes out every year, i think Kompakt is on Total 8 now, definitely worth looking into especially their other compilation series “Pop Ambient” which is also yearly. For the non techno fans, i promise to keep the techno to a minimum, if i post techno its mostly because of the melodies usually.
Closer Musik – 1,2,3, No Gravity