Before we get to your Xmas present, as an Uncle of nine can I share the best Summer Xmas present strategy that I ever came up with? Go to a toy store, buy a small water pistol for each, plus one large super soaker gun…
On the day, distribute the small presents, but WAIT!
There’s one for me from Santa! What could it be?
(It’s worth mentioning this strategy only works once. The following year: CHAOS!)
Your HISSandaROAR Xmas Present!
As 2021 draws to an end, inevitably it provides a chance to reflect on the year that has been, and while COVID has kept most of us isolating LOUDLY at home, it is your creative work that has helped express the zeitgeist and kept us all inspired & thriving. So, thank you for creatively contributing to our collective sanity and evolution!
Thanks also to everyone who has supported HISSandaROAR this year!
Accordingly, it is a pleasure to share a gift of some interesting new sounds with you. What sounds? Well, maybe it’s more fun to not know what’s in a present before you open it, and if that sounds like you then simply hit the direct download link below to access your free 24bit 96kHz Xmas Present.
Access these sounds via DIRECT DOWNLOAD:
2021 XMAS PRESENT – EXPIRED NOW
47 x 24bit 96kHz stereo .WAV files with UCS Metadata
550MB download > 857MB decompressed
But if you’d like some context as to how and why I recorded these particular sounds, then please continue reading…
Towards the end of 2021 it felt like my many separate creative interests were merging. For example, I have been slowly developing a cymatics project and a few months back acquired a large stainless steel tank, which I have set up outside and at times have filled with oobleck, slime, flour, food colouring and various props. But recent heavy rain filled it to the brim with water, so I had to manually empty it using buckets… Two sonic ideas became apparent:
First, I was reminded of how the sounds of exterior water splashes are so distinctive. They are not a sound that can be faked, or recorded on a foley stage. So the first half of the 2021 Xmas present is a useful collection of practical water splashes onto wood, concrete, windows & grass. I ended up recording quite a few variations on wood, and discovered a technique where I could get an entire bucket of water to land with a single impact (described as ‘vertical drop’) but equally some of the more complex splashes have beautiful attack – almost like an aleatorical percussion break!
Second, my stainless steel tank has beautifully deep resonance, which I have been activating using large transducers (more on that in 2022!) But I got to wondering how it would sound if the tank was inverted – upside down – with the mics inside it, thereby protecting them from getting wet. What would a splash sound like, impacting such a large rigid chamber, as though it’s a stainless steel drum skin? Would it still sound like water? or would it become a resonant metal impact sound? As a source of percussive impacts, could it be ‘played’ with water?
Have a listen to the video to find out:
PLANS FOR 2022?
Life during COVID seems to make time elastic. The last half of this year for me has involved a deep dive in many areas of my work, dominated by research & development. As with the cymatics project, I feel 2022 is going to be a year of converging projects where disparate techniques find their form in hybrid output.
For example, I’ve become mildly obsessed with contact printing and specifically cyanotype printing, which was invented as camera-less photography back in 1842 by English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel… As is paralleled in my sound & music exploration, I love the idea of re-evaluating and recontextualising old school organic techniques with more abstract digital processes… For my cyanotype exploration, an analogue film photo is developed and scanned, then digitally manipulated, output as a new digital negative, printed using cyanotype chemicals, physically manipulated and layered, scanned, digitally manipulated and animated, and then recomposed with music & sound.
Developing this creative practice has been an invaluable reminder of one core technique which I believe applies to everything: if you love something, give your full sustained attention to it, and it will reward you in ways unimaginable. Do it. Do it lots. Keep doing it. Thrash around & find the points of failure. Delay judgment about those failures, because they might not be failures at all. They may be sign posts, steering you towards something that no one else can imagine. Persevere.
In the realm of ideas, everything depends on enthusiasm.
In the real world, all rests on perseverance.
My studio currently feels like it is in the best form of its existence, with MOTU AVB routing all of my synths, modular and outboard… And my digital arsenal feels similarly stable and evolved to my hybrid focus work. For field recording I’ve recently added a Sound Devices MixPre10-II, partly for 32 bit 192k multi mic recording, but also motivated by the SD ‘Musician’ plugin which is crucial to some of my projects for 2022 (but strangely seems to have had little coverage in the media). I’ll share a lot more on this, but for now I am consciously working towards New Year Osouji
We may not yet be out of the woods with COVID, but 2022 is going to enable a ‘post-war’ boom of creativity if I have anything to do with it! And specifically, with regards to HISSandaROAR, a series of large new sonic resources are approaching release:
I started recording FOLIAGE back in August this year, and I am relieved to say it is very near finished. The final recordings to be made are now dependent on my garden. My crop of corn is chest height and is developing a lovely complex rustle, while the front lawn has been left untended and unmown, expanding the range of grassy foots and movement. During the holidays I will find some quiet moments to record these, along with some of the other plant textures I am growing. It amuses me, making discoveries like I am a small child. For example, did you know zucchini leaves are raspy, almost like sandpaper? And rhubarb sounds a bit like rubber? Currently all of the mandarins, limes, yuzu, and tamarillo in my greenhouse are flowering, and the scent first thing in the morning is exquisite. I wish I could capture some of the scent and include it with the eventual sound library!
SD050 FOLIAGE will be the first HISSandaROAR release for 2022.
SD051 = HISSandaROAR #100
Due to the erratic nature of Spring weather (130kmph winds!) forcing breaks from working on FOLIAGE, I will also soon finish another large sound design library, which will be the second release for 2022. It will also be the 100th HISSandaROAR release, so it is personally satisfying to me that it contains some of the most gorgeous sounds that I have never heard before and I can’t wait to share with you!
EDU: SOUND EDITING 101
Early in 2022 I will also be launching an education initiative, building on the virtual intern concept from my blog, and essentially walking participants through the entire process of sound design for a feature film:
From the script to the final mix.
While access to tools is less of an issue nowadays, to help develop real-world skills I wish to go right back to the start and begin with Sound Editing 101 via an ongoing series of tutorials and discussion, with practical exercises working with sound to picture.
Unlike much of the planet, Xmas holidays in New Zealand provide a welcome chance to enjoy Summer. Spending time outdoors, at the beach, hiking, eating, drinking in the sun… and occasionally cursing the damned cicadas for ruining potential recording opportunities!
2022 is also going to bring a major benefit for my sanity & for local noise levels. Transmission Gully is a major 4 lane 27km highway that has been in development for over 20 years (see this drone fly through video) and is due to open early in 2022. The major benefit for me is that it will provide a bypass for all traffic heading North from Wellington, basically removing 90% of the traffic that currently travels up SH1 near my suburb in Plimmerton. COVID lockdowns revealed just how quiet life can be with the absence of traffic, so this new motorway is going to turn my local hood into even more of a quiet, sleepy backwater. Just how I like it!
OK that’s about it for 2021. Thanks again for supporting my work at HISSandaROAR. I hope you have a relaxing holiday break, in preparation for a highly productive and creative New Year. Stay safe, stay sane and keep your batteries charged – you just never know when a recording opportunity may appear!
ps I don’t know what they were smoking back in VIctorian times but these bizzaro Xmas cards really take the cake!
Field Recordist/Sound Designer/Photographer/Foley Forager