Interstellar Cabaret, the latest release from Opalescent Motion, is a provocative and engaging collection of music created from the sounds of the planets and deep space.
In 2014, NASA released a collection of sounds from both this world and intergalactic space and invited artists to use it. Interstellar Cabaret is the result of my work with those sounds.
Unlike other albums that simply layer found sounds (like those from NASA’s archive) on top of conventional music, every musical element on Interstellar Cabaret is derived from NASA’s collection of evocative cosmic audio.
A very cool example of a genuine audio recording is at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/details.php?id=970.
“During its Feb. 14, 2011, flyby of comet Tempel 1, an instrument on the protective shield on NASA’s Stardust spacecraft was pelted by dust particles and small rocks, as can be heard in this audio track. The instrument, called the Dust Flux Monitor instrument, measures sound waves and electrical pulses from dust impacts.”
I isolated various separate clicks to create a percussion instrument:
And isolated longer parts to get this:
Another example — I took this file from the NASA archives:
and isolated this part of it:
This small, isolated section is called a sample. One can then take that sample and change it to a different key:
I also isolated other parts of 584791main_spookysaturn and turned them into short clips that loop over and over:
The act of creating the samples and loops was relatively easy; the real challenge is putting them together in an interesting way. The process of creating Interstellar Cabaret is like a painter’s process — creating the loops and samples is like a painter deciding upon a color palette, but the hard part comes when you try to put the color on the canvas.
I struggled for many months putting the pieces together. I was able to come up with some fun little exercises, but there was nothing genuinely interesting about them. They were merely curiosities. It was one failure after another, but I just knew there was something interesting to be found in all those sounds. I was like the little boy who was shoveling through a pile of horse manure. His mother asked him what he was doing, and he said, “With all this horse poop, there has got to be a pony in here somewhere.” I knew there was a pony in that pile, I just had to find it.
One solution to my problem of finding interesting music in there, was to relent on my initial decision to not manipulate the tonal quality of the samples and loops. I started using more effects than I had intended, but I still tried to keep them to a minimum. I used reverb and echo to create a sense of openness and distance, and a little compression and EQ, but very little else.
I hope you find these works more than just interesting; I hope you find some artistic merit in them.