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MUSIC: ORIGINAL ALBUMS

       
  Atákuweh

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Atákuweh cover art

Release date: December 2014
   
  Download notes: Each song on the album is available in either the original CD quality 16-bit 44.1kHz WAVE version, or in M4A iTunes compatible version with lossless compression. The wave files are higher quality but this may not matter to some people, so download whichever versions you prefer. If downloading to iTunes, place all the files in your "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder and they should appear as a complete album the next time you open iTunes. The cover art image above can be downloaded as a 1600x1600 pixel JPG file, which you can then select as the iTunes cover art for this album. Cover art should appear automatically in Window Media Player.
  
Tracks: Ubadé (3:13)
Ele Meh Tákuweh (4:34)
Le Sáka Weh (4:06)
Seh Yáma Teh Éko Nah (3:37)
Eke Tele Weh Yanoh (1:57)
Élana Weh (4:15)
Kela Wah Seh Nuwahn Tuleh (4:12)
Ele Nan Sole Wéna (5:18)
Ey Yah Yoh Námini Keh (2:35)
Ana Makeh Yanoh (3:39)
Tamasaki Wélo (5:58)
Oh Wiyeh (5:27)
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
Download as WAVE or M4A
   
Instruments used: Arturia Moog Modular V Synthesizer
Arturia Oberheim SEM V Synthesizer
Miroslav Philharmonic
East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra
East West Quantum Leap Goliath
Schecter Corsair Bigsby 6-string guitar
Rickenbacker 620 6-string guitar
Ovation Ultra 2171 6-string guitar
Peavey Grind BXP NTB 5-string bass guitar
All songs composed, performed, recorded, produced, and mastered by Rich Lauver
   
Notes: Atákuweh means "friend" in the invented language I created for this project, a sort of Polynesian-influenced language whose alphabet contains only 16 letters (a e h i k l m n o p s t u v w y), which I call "Atáku." Although there is no literal meaning to anything in the lyrics, this invented language lends itself rather handily to a cheerful rhyming cadence that helps to support the unabashedly joyous nature of the music. Atákuweh is essentially an imaginary South Pacific boy band from some equally imaginary island state whose level of technology and affluence may seem out of place given their supposed remoteness. Rather than distribute this project under my own name I have chosen to give it its own identity, much in the same way Eric Mouquet has done for years with his project Deep Forest, whose music I have been in love with since the early 1990s. While I make no claims that Atákuweh approaches Deep Forest in sheer inventiveness, my appreciation of Eric Mouquet's music has certainly influenced this project.

In developing the invented language for Atákuweh I was also following the paths laid down by other musicians who have influenced me. Christian Vander in particular, with the Kobaďan language he developed for his band Magma, is a prime example of someone who created a project-specific language that melded perfectly with Magma's music. The Scottish band Cocteau Twins were known for their utterly incomprehensible lyrics that were not in any pre-conceived language at all – they were vocal sounds seemingly chosen more for their timbre and cadence than a syntactical relationship to any real or imagined language. The Icelandic group Sigur Rós has recorded lyrics in a constructed language as well called Vonlenska, or "Hopelandic" which as well has no inherent literal meaning.

My own feeling is that while it's certainly acceptable and commonplace to write songs which express specific thoughts or tell stories in recognized, legitimate languages, there is no reason why that should be a rule. Nor is there any reason why it should affect anyone's enjoyment of the music into which an invented or constructed language has been employed. As an example, for many years people have been going to opera performances which are often performed in a language with which they may not be fluent. It's only in recent years that we have seen the proliferation of supertitles in which translations of the lyrics are projected above the stage in the primary language of most of the concert attendees. Before that, translations may have only been provided in printed concert programs, if at all. In either case you run the risk that the listeners become so preoccupied with following the translation into their own language that it becomes a distraction to the music itself. To me, the overall sound of the music is first and foremost, and there doesn't need to be any literal translation of the words. They are just another part of the sound.

So Atáku as a language is all about the sound, not the meaning. If it were really a language, given its rather restricted alphabet, it would almost certainly take a lot of words to express whatever thoughts might be delivered equivalently in a complex and very nuanced language like English, for instance. The ideas are simple - peacefulness and joyousness, harkening back to a Beach Boys era vibe without the hot rods, although I can imagine the Atáku people are probably into surfing (and fishing, dancing, feasting, and generally having a good time without bothering anyone too much).

From a musical standpoint I'll leave it to others to decide whether or not Atákuweh is truly world music, which to me is just another label for people who feel a need to categorize things. Call it pop if you prefer, although it contains influences that run the gamut of my own personal musical influences. It's certainly grounded in Western music traditions, but I think it reaches out at least a little into some harder to define realms. Ultimately it's music that I wanted to hear, and I wasn't hearing it elsewhere, so I created it myself. I'm happy with the result of this debut collection of songs, and I think I'll be working within the realm of Atákuweh for the foreseeable future, exploring and expanding upon what I've done here. I hope you enjoy it!    
   
Copyright notice: All songs Copyright © 2014 by Rich Lauver. The fact that I am making these recordings available as free downloads does not in any way, shape, or form imply that I am releasing either the songs themselves, i.e. the underlying musical compositions and/or lyrics, or the actual sound recordings to the public domain. You are free to download them for your own personal use. You may not repost them to another web site. You may not alter them in any way and you may not sample excerpts from them for use in any media format. Please refer anyone else you believe may be interested in these recordings to this web site. For any other use you may contact me. Thank you!
   

 

Out of the Moonlight

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Release date: November 2011
   
Tracks: Out of the Moonlight (5:06)
Stop Beating the Drums of War (6:03)
Take Me Home (5:39)
Chasing a Dream (4:07)
Hold Onto Me (5:31)
Freedom Is Near (3:45)
Hey Hey Hey [Oom Bop Bop] (5:42)
You Don't Have to Love Me (5:52)
Jerusalem (5:43)
Out of the Moonlight [Extended Dance Remix] (6:07)
   
Instruments used: Arturia Moog Modular V Synthesizer
Arturia Minimoog V Synthesizer
Native Instruments B4 II Tonewheel Organ Emulator
Miroslav Philharmonic
East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra
East West Quantum Leap Colossus
East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Choirs
Schecter Corsair Bigsby 6-string guitar
Rickenbacker 660 12-string guitar
Rickenbacker 650 Sierra 6-string guitar
Rickenbacker 620 6-string guitar
Ovation Ultra 2171 6-string guitar
Ovation CS255 12-string guitar
Peavey Grind BXP NTB 5-string bass guitar
   
Notes: Out of the Moonlight marks a milestone for me – my first full-length album release as a solo artist comprised entirely of songs, and my first commercial release since 2007 – a ten song pop-rock collection that involved nearly every physical and virtual instrument in my studio.

Recorded between March of 2010 and August of 2011, the title track was the first completed, and its extended dance remix the last. I worked upon quite a few recordings during 2008 and 2009 in the hopes of releasing a new album of more traditional rock music, and was quite pleased with a lot of it instrumentally and compositionally, but the lack of adequate vocals doomed that work to remaining incomplete. I used to be a singer in various rock bands, but once you stop singing on a regular basis, you tend to lose the instrument. Besides that, working in an apartment studio as I do, it's a little hard to devise a good vocal recording booth. My previous apartment had a bathroom located near my studio, and I spent some time trying to record and overdub vocals in there, with blankets hung on the walls to deaden the reverb. I was just beginning to get back into singing once again when I moved into a new apartment, and there was no longer any convenient place for me to construct a vocal booth.

Around the same time I became aware of the East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Choirs virtual instrument, and decided to check it out. Instead of being just sampled "oohs" and "aahs" like many choir sample collections, EWQL Symphonic Choirs comes with some incredible software called Word Builder, allowing the user to construct actual words for the choirs to sing. It is not easy to get good results, though. There is a rather steep learning curve if you want to get anything useful from it, and it takes a lot of time and tweaking, in addition to quite a bit of computer power. But I was intrigued and excited by the prospects.

Using choirs in a pop and rock context is nothing new. The Rolling Stones utilized the London Bach Choir to great effect in their classic hit "You Can't Always Get What You Want" recorded in 1968, for example. One of my favorite albums of all time – and not well known, either – was the 1972 recording of The Who's rock opera "Tommy" by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chambre Choir with a stellar cast of guest soloists including all of The Who, plus Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood, Ringo Starr, Richie Havens, and Richard Harris among others. If you've never heard this recording you've got to find a copy. Rod Stewart singing "Pinball Wizard" backed by a symphony orchestra and a choir singing "He's a pinball wizard - he's got such a supple wrist..." with such conviction is too precious to be missed.

A little later, and dear to my heart, was the French jazz-rock-fusion band Magma, led by the visionary musician Christian Vander, and their epic recording "Mëkanďk Destructiw Kommandöh" released in 1973, featuring a jazz almost-big-band combined with rocking operatic vocals and a gospel-like choir. I loved that recording so much I transcribed the entire 40 minute long work for a single performance by the Peabody Camerata, and judging from years of emails begging me for the score it seems to be the most legendary thing I've ever done.

More recently I became attracted to the sound of Libera – a boys choir from England, or as they prefer to be known, "an alternative kind of boy band" – through their many recordings. Their producer, Robert Prizeman, arranges instrumental tracks to back the boys combining traditional orchestration with more modern electronic sounds and textures. Their repertoire, however, tends towards the more traditional classical realm, with some occasional forays into pop, such as their spot-on interpretation of Enya's hit "Orinoco Flow." As much as I like Libera's music, it leaves me wondering what they might sound like with a little harder edge – a little more rock-and-roll and a little less new-age.

Out of the Moonlight is the result. There are plenty of crunching electric guitars and drums here, in addition to lots of synthesizers and a hefty dose of orchestral sounds – even accordion and bagpipes somehow made it into the mix – backing up a virtual boys choir. I even experimented with another unique vocal synthesizer on the title track – the Zero-G Vocaloid Miriam – which uses technology originally developed by Yamaha to synthesize a singing voice based on a different technique than sampled construction. In this case the voice is based upon that of singer Miriam Stockley, whose synthesized voice takes the lead vocal part on the title track.
   
FREE Samples: Out of the Moonlight – Excerpt – MP3 – 0:36
Take Me Home – Excerpt – MP3 – 0:44
Hold Onto Me – Excerpt – MP3 – 0:36
Hey Hey Hey [Oom Bop Bop] – Excerpt – MP3 – 0:44
You Don't Have to Love Me – Excerpt – MP3 – 0:46
   

Question – Original Anime Soundtrack Score

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Release date: December 2007
   
Tracks: Title Theme: Posing the Question (2:41)
Letter From a Friend (3:02)
The Invasion Begins (1:31)
Encounter at Zac's Grave (1:26)
Tossed Into the Desert (1:24)
Greytalon and Whiteclaw (3:12)
The Trouble With Technology (1:38)
Advice from Wise Friends (2:47)
Strangers In Town (1:24)
The Legend of the Hogosha (1:48)
Ancient Secrets Revealed (1:20)
What Is the Question (1:46)
A Test of Worthiness (1:52)
Clash of Intentions (1:32)
Traxon Attack (1:07)
The Good, the Bad, and the Hogosha (1:25)
The Secret Mission (2:24)
Dark Raytek's Directive (1:23)
The Path to Kessho Gulch (3:00)
A Knight in the West (1:01)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (2:23)
Incalculable Risks (3:04)
Crisis Management (4:44)
The Newborn Leader (2:15)
Bungle in the Jungle (1:28)
Rise and Fall (1:35)
Out Among the Planets (3:32)
A Very Long Explanation (4:42)
A Surprising Revelation (1:32)
The Contingency Protocols (1:52)
Systems Failure (1:13)
Reconciliation (2:14)
Seizing the Moment (1:12)
Embrace of Destiny (1:15)
Closing Theme: Beginning's End (2:15)
   
Instruments used: Miroslav Philharmonik Orchestral Workstation
East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra
Arturia Moog Modular V Synthesizer
Yamaha P200 Digital Piano
Ovation CS255 12-string Guitar
Rickenbacker 620/6 Guitar
Rickenbacker 650S Sierra Guitar
GForce M-tron Virtual Mellotron
Sonic Implants Sound Fonts
   
Notes: Composed and recorded between February and November of 2007, QUESTION represents several milestones for me as a composer. For one thing, it is my first real foray into soundtrack composing, although I have been told many times that my music would naturally lend itself to that medium. For another, it is the first series of works in which I have attempted to work primarily with more traditional orchestral instrumentation, albeit sampled orchestral instruments. Further, it really forced me to compose music on a daily basis because of the production schedule that Eric Cummings, the story's creator and animator, and I, wanted to maintain. And it made me compose pieces in much smaller durations than that to which I have become accustomed.

This soundtrack score for QUESTION is, as most soundtracks are, a collection of small musical snippets which attempt to capture and enhance the underlying action on screen. Very little of it was composed in anticipation of anything that I would eventually see – the vast majority of it was my compositional reaction to what Eric brought me as he completed the story and animation. It was a very fun experience, though I suspect partly because we were not working under any studio's deadlines – just our own desire to see the project completed. I have the utmost respect for soundtrack composers who have to crank out music in timeframes which seem impossible, although I suspect that is why so much soundtrack music is ultimately so disposable. I had the tremendous luxury on this project to do basically what I wanted, so I attempted to create the best music I could, as I always do. This experience will likely leave an indelible mark on my compositions from this point forward, and I am anxious to see where that might lead me.

To give you an idea of what the story of QUESTION is about, here are the liner notes from the soundtrack CD:

In the Earth's distant future a cataclysm of epic proportions is developing. The Sun is beginning to collapse upon itself, and scientists determine that it will soon transform itself into a black hole which will destroy the planet. Faced with this inevitable disaster, the world's leaders decide that the only course of action is to create a new, artificial environment for the Earth's remaining inhabitants, in the form of a vast spaceship located beyond the orbit of Saturn, which creates the illusion of life as usual on Earth. The planet's population, led to believe that the Sun is merely undergoing some temporary instability, is soon transferred to this new home without their knowledge.

Their new environment duplicates the former planet Earth to such an extent that no one even notices the difference in their everyday lives. The spaceship derives its power from the black hole created by the Sun's demise with the help of an extremely rare crystal called ofarimite, and is controlled by a benevolent entity known as ASET - a supercomputer under the control of a bio-neural interface with its creator.

Other forces in the Universe are at work, too. An evil conqueror race, known as the Traxon, whose empire originates on the other side of the black hole, want to gain control over the limited supply of ofarimite crystals for their own purposes, and will stop at nothing in their quest. They surreptitiously implant a neural-electronic virus into the ASET system which disrupts its control over the artificial environment, creating wild and unpredictable shifts in the perceived reality of the spaceship's inhabitants.

Tristan Hikari, the grandson of ASET's creator, and a college student who can't make ends meet, becomes the unwitting and unwilling pawn in the government's plan to counter the impending Traxon invasion. Summoned to the family estate of his friend Noah Highthorne one day, he has a bizarre encounter at the gravesite of Noah's younger brother Zac, mysteriously killed in a recent accident. A strange power emanates from Zac's grave into Tristan and suddenly reality shatters for the first of many times, propelling Tristan and Noah into a series of adventures, and Tristan's personal quest to determine...

"What is the QUESTION?"

A complex science fiction fantasy adventure conceived and animated by Eric Cummings, with a lush and dramatic orchestral score created by Rich Lauver, QUESTION is destined to delight anime fans everywhere.

   
FREE Samples: Letter From a Friend - Complete Track - MP3 - 5.7Mb - 3:02
The Secret Mission - Complete Track - MP3 - 4.5Mb - 2:24
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Complete Track - MP3 - 2:23
Beginning's End - Complete Track - MP3 - 2:15
   

Moon & Sun

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Release date: December 2006
   
Tracks: Moon (17:16)
  Sun (12:39)
   
Instruments used: Rickenbacker 660/12-string Guitar
Ovation CS255 12-string Guitar
Arturia Moog Modular V Synthesizer
GForce M-tron Virtual Mellotron
Yamaha P200 Digital Piano
Sonic Implants Sound Fonts
   
Notes:

Moon & Sun marks my first CD release featuring guitars as the primary instruments, and as such is a little short in overall duration for a CD, but it took me the better part of a year to complete, due in no small part to the fact that I was not only learning how to play those guitars, but also developing the recording techniques that I used in creating these two pieces.

Sun was actually the first piece completed, and took me nearly six months to finish, but I learned an awful lot while I was recording it. Many of the guitar parts in Sun are literally double-tracked, and in a lot of cases I had to go back and re-record tracks I thought I had already finished when it turned out, upon closer listening, and the addition of more instrumental layers, that I had not done an adequate job in the first place.

Sun, oddly enough to me, and it has been suggested by others who have heard it, seems to have turned out sounding a bit like it was influenced by Pink Floyd, although I believe that has to be purely coincidental. I was never a huge fan of Pink Floyd and collected only a few of their their earlier albums, though I respect their music a great deal, and you could never escape it if you listened to FM rock stations. So be it - perhaps I was influenced subliminally, but I rather like what I came up with in Sun. The meters alternate between five and seven for the most part, giving it a kind of start-stop feel that I really think works.

Moon was completed in significantly less time, maybe only about four months, even though it's a longer work, as I gained more experience not only with playing the guitars, but in my guitar recording techniques as well. I began to feel, once I was deep into the piece, that I might be channeling Ennio Morricone from his spaghetti-western soundtrack days, so I bought a bunch of them just to make sure I wasn't ripping him off. As it turns out, I wasn't, but I do love the southwestern feel of this piece. I keep seeing a Clint Eastwood type of cowboy character riding on a limping horse.

A friend of mine who is a noted orchestra conductor describes this CD as "film-noire, southwest, melancholy, and menace," and suggests that it not be listened to at night. Actually, that's when I composed most of it. 

   
FREE Samples: Moon - MP3 Sample 1 - 2.1Mb - 1:30
Moon - MP3 Sample 2 - 1.8Mb - 1:15
Moon - MP3 Sample 3 - 1.4Mb - 1:00

Sun - MP3 Sample 1 - 1.4Mb - 1:00
Sun - MP3 Sample 2 - 1.8Mb - 1:15
Sun - MP3 Sample 3 - 1.8Mb - 1:15

   
Shimmer

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Release date: November 2004
   
Tracks: Shimmer (47:26)
   
Instruments used: Arturia Moog Modular V Synthesizer
GForce M-tron Virtual Mellotron
Arturia CS80 V Synthesizer
Eastwest/Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra
Yamaha P200 Digital Piano
Sonic Implants Sound Fonts
   
Notes:

Shimmer is by the nature of its experimental beginnings not necessarily a cohesive musical composition in the traditional sense. Its sections are linked together loosely – one idea was composed and realized, which then suggested to me the next, and I connected them by fading the previous one out as the next one fades in. These individual sections go through their own evolution as well, with sounds building up in layer upon layer as they progress. The entire composition is the result of my own flow of consciousness, so it makes perfect sense to me. It strikes me as a series of vignettes, perhaps as though one were strolling through an art gallery, stopping for a while to contemplate a particular artwork, and then moving along to something else.

I’m very pleased with how the overall concept worked out with Shimmer, but I think I’m most enamored with its final movement – a rather simple one from a musical standpoint, but one in which I was able to achieve what was, to me, a rather significant breakthrough. While I was composing Shimmer there was a flock of birds which would settle into the trees outside my apartment in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore each evening around dusk. I’ve never actually been able to see them, so I don’t know exactly what kind of birds they are, but they gather together and create the most wonderful, joyous, and peaceful sound. I thought their sound would be a wonderful complement to the final section of this piece, but attempting to record them would have been out of the question given the noisy urban environment, so I decided instead to attempt to synthesize them with the Moog.

I knew they had turned out rather well when, standing at the open window of my apartment around dusk one evening, listening to a playback of the final movement, the birds outside blended so well with my synthesized birds that I could not tell the difference.

   
FREE Samples: Shimmer - MP3 Sample 1 - 1.4Mb - 1:00
Shimmer - MP3 Sample 2 - 1.8Mb - 1:15
Shimmer - MP3 Sample 3 - 2.1Mb - 1:30

Shimmer - MP3 Sample 4 - 2.1Mb - 1:30
Shimmer - MP3 Sample 5 - 1.4Mb - 1:00
Shimmer - MP3 Sample 6 - 2.8Mb - 2:00
Trance Figures

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Release date: December 2001
   
Tracks: Trance Figures (28:00)
   
Instruments used: Voyetra Turtle Beach Cancun Wavetable Synthesizer
Seer Systems Reality Synthesizer
Yamaha P200 Digital Piano
Sonic Implants Sound Fonts
   
Notes:

Trance Figures was my first foray into the digital recording of a large scale synthesizer work. Produced over a period of several months in 2001, the actual recording was accomplished using Voyetra Digital Orchestrator, the first digital audio workstation I had acquired that allowed me to combine MIDI sequencing with digital recording and editing capabilities.

Most of the actual sounds on Trance Figures were from a tiny soundcard daughterboard wavetable synthesizer called the Cancun, manufactured by Voyetra Turtle Beach, and are actually General MIDI sounds, but extremely good ones. I also used one of the first truly programmable software synthesizers available at the time, Seer Systems Reality, which allowed for sample-based, virtual analog, FM, modal, and physical modeling synthesis. It seems like ancient history to me now, but this was only about six years ago - so quickly technology marches along.

I still enjoy listening to this recording, which is minimalist in nature, as I was listening to a lot of minimalist music at the time, mainly the "big three" composers of the genre, Philip Glass, John Adams, and Steve Reich, who was probably my biggest influence for Trance Figures. Oddly enough to me, some people who own this recording have told me that they find it very relaxing, and even listen to it to fall asleep at night, despite what I myself find its frequently rather frantic nature with an underlying pulse of rapid 64th note rhythms.

   
FREE Samples: Trance Figures - MP3 Sample 1 - 2.1Mb - 1:30
Trance Figures - MP3 Sample 2 - 1.8Mb - 1:15
Trance Figures - MP3 Sample 3 - 1.8Mb - 1:15
Trance Figures - MP3 Sample 4 - 1.4Mb - 1:00
Trance Figures - MP3 Sample 5 - 2.1Mb - 1:30
 


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