Music

Axis Mundi is a musical project born of the belief that achieving some measure of success in one creative field should fund the ongoing abuse of another. By now I’ve accumulated enough gear for a small but decently equipped home studio. The name derives from the World Tree of pan-Germanic and other mythologies, that extends from the heights of the heavens to the depths of the underworld.

In addition to melodic material, I’m also hugely interested in sound design and works that emerge out of a process that I’ve heard described as painting with sound. Or, to use a term often used by pioneering synthesist Steve Roach, creating soundworlds. Sometimes it has a direct connection with my writing. Other times, not so much.

Either way, if you want shiny, happy dance music or singer/songwriter earnestness, so sorry — I fear there’s nothing for you here.

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There’s a good amount of very low- and high-frequency data in some of these — not always the kind of material best handled by small computer speakers and the MP3 format. If you find you’re getting pops or crackles, turn off any EQ presets or sound enhancers, which can sometimes cause distortion.

Whom the Gods Would Destroy – Soundtrack. Missed the link on the book’s page? No worries. Here it is again, for you to grab all 10 tracks in 320kbps MP3: Download soundtrack.

Extract (soundtrack). Put the voice tracks and another thing or two on mute, and what have you got? The sonic tapestry behind the audio story “Extract.” With a quick little homage to John Carpenter added to the low, extended fade-out.

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De Vermis Mysteriis. An early soundscape meant to give sonic life to the atmospheres conjured up in print by H.P. Lovecraft. Like The Necronomicon, this is another of his unspeakable tomes.

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The Conqueror Würm. The title is a pun on Edgar Allan Poe, but this is a different worm altogether. “Würm” is the name of the glacier that covered Europe during the last Ice Age, with which I maintain a longstanding fascination. I’ve always had this deeply-rooted thing for snow and ice. And wolves. And mammoths.

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Deus Ex Nihilo. Although several years separate them, this was inspired by “Liturgical Music For Nihilists,” a novelette that I wrote as the concluding capper for my first collection, The Convulsion Factory. The phrase is Latin for “god out of nothing.”

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Genome-D. Sonics for birthin’ babies. When my friend Sean Doolittle’s wife Jessica was in the later months of pregnancy with their first child, we each worked up a track to go on a CD of stuff he was putting together to play in the delivery room. According to Sean, my contribution revealed the unexpected benefit of having a tempo that perfectly synced with the fetal heart monitor.

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The Last Primal Dawn. A brief layer of a longer track, “Megalith” … but when I listened to it out of context, it seemed hauntingly complete on its own, too. In my sampler, I put together an ensemble of ancient horns – alpenhorn, midwinterhorn, and two versions of a Rkang Gling (a Tibetan trumpet made from a thigh bone) – then played them in one line at a time.

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Megalith. The first of probably several pieces inspired by the paintings of the late Polish surrealist artist Zdzislaw Beksinski. This one. I can’t give you the painting’s name. Beksinski never titled any of his work. I was after the feeling of what it might be like to slowly travel through this landscape, ascend the mountain in the background, and arrive at whatever that is atop it. I’ve decided I want to do a bit more with this. Parts of it seem a little too static to me now, plus I now have some much better samples of big whomping drums.

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Until The Last Light Dims. Another Beksinksi-inspired piece. Again, I imagine this as drifting about his landscape, while small melodic motifs arise out of the boiling mists in a kind of call-and-response communication. It’s also the first time I tried my hand at a choral arrangement, however short, because, well, this just seemed to cry out for a big, sad-ass choir at the end.

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Inconspicuous Consumption. The tabloid edition tale of German Internet cannibal Armin Meiwes and his late, delicious friend. I tried using a few brighter sounds, really, I did … it just didn’t work. The thing genuinely seemed to want to be dank and grimy, like a transmission beamed in from the radio equivalent of Videodrome. Most audio snippets were nicked from distorting BBC News clips, with a special appearance by my friend J.P. McLaughlin as the voice of Armin, in his own translated creepy words.

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The Call. Everybody into electronic music can name the album that did it for them. For me, it was Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack to Sorcerer, the first electronic album I ever bought. Awhile back I got the idea that it would be a fun learning experience to replicate at least some of its tracks using mostly software synthesizer emulations of the Moogs, Mellotrons, and other instruments they played at the time.

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