Parallax n. – (an apparent change in perception of an object when viewed from a different direction or viewpoint)
Eden n. – (any delightful place or state; a paradise)
The general theme of Parallax Eden can be found above in the dictionary definitions of the words themselves. As a musical work, it seeks to transport the listener to another place. This place can be serene and chilled, thick and sonically lush or it can be energetic and rhythmically driving … depending upon the mix that you’re listening to.
In its beginnings (as with many of DMH’s project’s), Parallax Eden started out as a relaxational piece, which can still be heard in the “Chill Mix Version”. This generally involves nature sounds (that were recorded by DMH himself) with lush synthesizer pads (often from hardware synths), which are combined with live instrumentation to create a soothing ambient space.
The next phase in the process, takes the nature/chill tracks and combines beats, original rhythm tracks, hard- and soft-synths, as well as beats, loops and live instruments to build up tracks that are lush and energizing … but not overly-so. These mid-tempo mixes make up what is known as the “Original Mix Version”.
From a technical standpoint, much of these tracks are made by DMH in his production facility in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, using Steinberg’s Nuendo and Ableton Live as his main DAW software tools of choice.
Once the original mix versions have been completed, these session tracks are then meticulously added to an Abelton Live session, such that if you were to press Play in Live, the original tracks would play the 4 separate stereo “streams” (being made up of the instrumental/vocal tracks and a special mix version of the surround 5.1 mix tracks).
Add to these original session mixes an extra dose of harder-hitting (and yet still melodic) groove loops, soft synths and about anything that can be imagined … and you come up with a series of grooves that can be played and “performed” to the original tracks. These dance tracks are then composed and assembled into the Ableton Live session in Berlin, in a creative musical environment (above is a pic of my smaller Berlin studio setup … home away from home).
Once completed the Live session is ready for performance. This is often done at one of Europe’s top music hotels, the nhow Hotel in Berlin (their main SSL studio is shown in the picture above). These live mixes are then performed live on-stage or in the studio, which then can then be transferred very carefully back into the main studio DAW to become the “Berlin Remixes”.
A Word on Touch Technology
One of the newer aspects in DMH’s life is touch technology, which he embraces with open arms and flying hands. Where to start? … First, all of the computers in the studio(s) make full use of touch screens. This allows for direct on-screen mixing and software interaction (with the main screen being a full 27” raven touchscreen.
Next is the integration of the iPad into the studio. During production, the iPad acts as a MIDI device, providing software synths, tools and various musical toys that are definitely part of the overall process. However, once the original version of the project has been mixed, the iPad becomes a central part of the production process through the use of Touchable, a touch, wireless control interface to Ableton Live that allows him to compose, perform and experiment in the studio and live on-stage.
Once the compositions are done, the mixing process begins at DMH’s studio facilities in both 2.0 (stereo) and 5.1 (surround sound). With the use of Steinberg’s Nuendo and various effects plug-ins (most notably from Universal Audio, DMH then crafts the mixes into their final musical form. Moving further, DMH then visits to his other musical family, Galaxy Studios in Mol, Belgium. Here, DMH goes about the task of mixing in 9.1 Auro3D® for the final release product. In this case, the Auro3D® mix is made up of a full 5.1 mix on the ground and an extra set of quad speakers in the air, giving an expansive sense of height to the mix.
The final Bluray Disc product is unique (probably the first of its kind) in that it contains not only several mix formats, it also includes several mix and remix music versions. Just choose your color on the Bluray remote control…
YELLOW (Berlin 2.0 Remix) This is not a “fold-down”, but a separate stereo mix that has been crafted with tender loving care.
GREEN (Chill 2.0 Mix) Take away the dynamic dance tracks and you are left with underlying chill tracks that are the foundation of these songs.
RED (Berlin 5.1 Remix) The surround mix is where the action is. Quite literally, the l, r, c, lfe, ls, rs soundfield envelopes the listener from all speakers to create an immersive 5.1 experience.
BLUE (Original 9.1 mix) This Auro-3D® mix adds an extra 4 channels of overhead height information, for a total of 9.1 channels!
In addition to being unique and bold in format and mix options, these mixes have been mixed quite boldly … the surround mixes literally surround you with instruments and effects, placing you in the middle of it all. Bold and innovative enough that it won a Grammy nomination.