imbalance computer music | ML 025 | december 2009

CD / double vinyl / download

Composed, mixed and produced by Robert Henke November 2008 - September 2009. Design by snc based on photos captured by Robert Henke.

Earlier today they moved the racks over to the old engine room. We need more space for LAPS VII, the last parts arrived a few days ago. Everyone is in a good mood now, even the guy from the mechanics team. I took the chance to leave the station for the first time since when? The mountains made me feel light, happy and small, I stood at the north barrier for an infinite time watching the sun slowly painting shadowy landscapes, in total silence.

This morning I found a note on the fridge door: 'Selling longboard and a cabin near the beach! LOL!'; someone added: 'Idiot' to it. Currently there is a lot of tension here, rumors spreading about a severe safety issue. If you'd ask me, it is definitely not a good idea to roll back now since we are so close. I just wish it would stop raining.


Sometimes I wonder if they were creating all this a long long time ago with us in mind or if it is just one of these strange coincidences. Unlike Miller I tend to be a more down to earth person, besides occasional moments of doubt that everyone must experience here at some point, especially in those long dark winter nights. We are all getting a bit irrational from time to time.

The storm is finally over, the sky wild and exhausted. We went up to the observatory and the gods were with us. They gave us the most beautiful rainbow i've ever seen. I closed my eyes and cried.


Production Notes I

Sound sources include field recordings of airport announcements, hammering on metal plates at the former Kabelwerk Oberspree, Berlin, several sounds captured inside the large radio antenna dome at Teufelsberg, Berlin, dripping water at the Botanical Garden Florence, air condition systems and turbines in Las Vegas, Frankfurt and Tokyo, walking on rocks in Joshua Tree National Park, wind from the Grand Canyon, a friends answering machine, a printer, conversations via mobile phones, typing on an old Macintosh keyboard and recordings from tunnel works in Switzerland. Synthetic sounds created with the software instruments Operator, Tension, Analog and the build in effects inside Ableton Live. Additional sound design and sequencing using MAXMSP / MaxForLive. Additional reverb: various impulse repsonses via Altiverb. Composed, edited and mixed in Live with a pair of Genelec 8040s. Mastering by Rashad Becker at Audioanwendungen September 2009. Field recordings captured with a Sony PCM D-50.


A1 - 1 Watching Clouds [listen] 5:19
A2 - 2 Infinite Snow [listen] 6:10
A3 - 3 Null Pointer [listen] 4:43
B1 - 4 Far Red [listen] 6:05
B2 - 5 Avalanche [listen] 6:30
B3 - 6 Void [listen] 3:29
C1 - 7 Internal Clock [listen] 8:15
C2 - 8 Shutdown [listen] 6:33
D1 - 9 Reconnect [listen] 5:52
D2 - 10 Observatory [listen] 8:36

Total running time: 61:06


Production Notes II

The music on this album has not been compressed, limited or maximized at any production stage. Why not?

Once upon a time, music had dynamics. There were loud parts, and there were more quiet parts. Then came radio. In radio there is a technical limit for the transmittable maximum volume. As a consequence the average level of music with a high dynamic range is lower than the average level of music with a low dynamic range. The loudest possible music in radio is music where every element is constantly hitting the limit, music with no dynamics at all. Radio, and more recently mp3 players and laptop speakers influenced the way popular music is composed, produced and mastered: Every single event has to be at maximum level all the time. This works best with music that is sonically simple, and music in which only a few elements are interacting. A symphony does not sound convincing thru a mobile phone speaker, and a maximized symphony does not sound convincing at all.

Monolake is about complexity, about details, about the elastic tension between beats in the foreground and textural elements in the background. We want to preserve that balance as much as possible in the final product and this is why the music on this album is produced without applying any compression. This is not a 'dogma', it is just a personal decission for this release.

About the mastering: Mastering was done entierly in the analog domain, using a selection of vintage and high end EQs running at 'hot levels'. This impies there is a certain degree of saturation going on in very loud parts due to electrical characteristis of the tubes, transistors and audio transformers involved, but that's it as far as nonlinear behaviour is concerned.

More (general) thoughts on mastering can be found here.

About the different formats: The CD release is as close as possible to my listening situation when creating the music, inlcuding the crossfades between some of the tracks. For the download versions those overlapps were removed to support random playback or the purchase of single tracks from the album (even while this release is really meant to be one single entity). The vinyl version adds its typical artefacts which I quite like; it sounds slightly more distorted and punchy in a nice way.