Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recent Listening 12/16/12

Tatsuya Nakatani: "Primal Communication"
Tatsuya Nakatani & Kaoru Watanabe: "Michiyuki"

Nakatani has been to Minneapolis more than once recently, and has pretty much blown my mind. Percussive improvisation on gongs and drums that's technically jaw-dropping but still emotive as all get-out. Great stuff.


Sandy Bull: "Vanguard Visionaries" collection
Rachel's: "Systems/ Layers"
Clint Mansell: "Moon" (original soundtrack)
Popol Vuh: "Herz aus Glas/Coeur de Verre"
Jonathan Zorn: "Language As Dust"
Radiohead: "The King Of Limbs"
Pink Floyd: "Meddle"
Vic Chesnutt: "The Salesman and Bernadette"
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross: "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (original soundtrack)

Mike Hallenbeck home page

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Endhiran (The Robot)

I had the opportunity to view "Endhiran" (or Enthiran, as imdb calls it) with some friends the other night. The title, as I understand it, translates to "The Robot". And robotics are indeed engaged in this film, as is a dizzying array of further topics.

The plot concerns a scientist who creates a robotic simulation of himself. There's a great deal of romantic comedy, an evil enemy scientist who wants to put together a presumably evil army of robots, some incredible action sequences, lots of fun special effects, and-- fear not-- a lengthy procession of lavish song and dance production numbers, each more surreal and ambitious than the last.

The trailer offers a glimpse of my favorite part: a bunch of robots get together to create a giant cobra. I can't for the life of me remember the context of this event, but it reminds me of that part in Shao Lin vs. Ninja where somebody blows up a giant ninja, only to see it break up into... a bunch of normal-sized ninjas!

According to its imdb trivia entry, "Endhiran" is one of most expensive movies ever made in India, shares a costume designer with the "Men in Black" series and an "action choreographer" with "Kill Bill", and is the highest-grossing Indian film of all time. And according to me, it's a pretty darn fun movie.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Original Music: Trailer for New Web Series

I composed all the music for this trailer, promoting a new web series directed by Matthew Anderson. A spy-film background cue, some melodramatic bombast, and at one point I score Anderson's lyrics to imagine a musical stage adaptation of "The Shawshank Redemption".

The series is called "Theater People", and it's set for release sometime in early 2013. Stay tuned!

Mike Hallenbeck home page

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Playing the Building

I was lucky enough to catch David Byrne's Playing the Building installation here in Minneapolis with some friends a few days before it ended. Glad I did, too.

Apparently we were only the third city to host this piece, after Stockholm and NYC. We can BE SOMEBODY!

A performer/ spectator sits at a small keyboard. Each key is attached by a series of wires and tubes to devices that strike, vibrate, and blow assorted surfaces and objects throughout the space. A composition emerges via physical interaction with the building's structure. The experience is simultaneously subtle and jarring, and of course three dimensional.

Above: one of the hammers responds to a keystroke from the performer. The mechanisms that activate contact with the building are complex and quite beautiful. And it's a lovely choice not only to decline to conceal them, but for the lighting design to feature them as objects of admiration. My friends and I were especially impressed by the tubes that blew into pipes to produce lovely droning tones, like the embouchure of giant flutes.

One visceral reaction: this installation must have been a huge pain in the ass to install. And here's a video of the Minneapolis installation that offers a glimpse of just that:

I had the privelege of playing the building myself briefly, and what struck me most was the fact that the building actually could be played. Once I'd familiarized myself with the keyboard layout, which of course works like a giant sampler each key of which is hooked up to an actual event in space rather than a sample patch, I found that once I'd selected some favorites I could recall their locations pretty well, and even improvise effectively by selecting certain "samples" to hit at certain times.

I'd read about this installation before, and it certainly sounded like a neat idea. But having actually experienced it myself, I was touched by the degree of intimacy it afforded the spectator between the artist, the piece, and the experience of the building.

Find out more about Playing the Building if you like-- audio, video, interviews, all that. Highly recommended!

Mike Hallenbeck home page

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tree Fort Defense: Mobile game site now online

[ Sound + music for games update: check out my sfx and theme music for Playtend's Delivery Truck Empire! ]

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Lately I've been creating custom music and sound effects for an upcoming Android game called Tree Fort Defense, a physics-based castle defense-style project from Interrobang LLC.

Hear theme and see animation/ game design in the video below, plus check out some more info and music samples on my web site...

The game's home page just went live. Some samples of concept art and in-progress animation are currently online.

It's coming together well-- the world is built from the perspective of a child's imagination, and its creators take much delight in an unabashedly geeky fantasy of preposterous weapons and fearsome opponents.

So far I've composed two different versions of the theme music: a basic boppy version for the introductory level, and a sinister surf-rock rendition of the same theme for the Halloween level-- as well as brief music buttons to acknowledge the approach of an enemy and the "game over" screen. The relationship seems like a really good fit so far-- I'm finding it easy to get inside these folks' heads and score the goofy sense of fun they're looking for.

Sound effects have been enjoyable to put together too. Plenty of impacts, plus I've found use for birdsong recordings I made on Wisconsin's Crex Meadows nature preserve last summer. I've also been acting as voice talent (heavily manipulated in post) to give the player's enemies a little personality.

Really exciting to see it take shape!

Mike Hallenbeck home page