My Best ECM albums for the first part of 2009

I am a big fan of ECM records since ever, 2009 seems to be a great year for the label. So far here are my favorite records:

Till Fellner РJohann Sebastian Bach РInventionen und Sinfonien РFranz̦sische Suite V

So many musicians have recorded those that it’s difficult to add something. This is what said Till Fellner, he waited to master those pages so much before to record them.

The result is really convincing. It’s always a big debate when you play Bach on the Piano, and I am a big fan of playing baroque music on historical instruments. The music here is flowing and is very well articulated. As usual the ECM sound is here, clean and pure, the piano is recorded close but you still have some room acoustic around.

ECM 2043 Till Fellner - Bach

ECM 2043 Till Fellner - Bach

Eleni Karaindrou (2009) – Dust of time

Eleni Karaindrou is mainly recording film music on ECM records, but you don’t really need to know the movies to enjoy the music.

I have always been attracted to Greek music, but not the festive version of it, I am looking for pictures and landscapes, for something that help you to meditate. Eleni Karaindrou always had this effect on me and this new album is as strong as the previous ones.

ECM 2070 Eleni Karaindrou

ECM 2070 Eleni Karaindrou

Jon Hassell (2008) – Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street

No many albums had so much influence on musicians 25 years ago when John Hassell released “Power Spot”. This was one of the first albums that included a lot of digital processing of wind instruments over complex sound textures. Today many have followed and reproduced that kind of ambient sound. So I was excited to see him coming back to ECM after all those years. The music is ambient and has all the complex evolutions you can expect.

ECM 2077 - Jon Hassell

ECM 2077 - Jon Hassell

Jon Balke Amina Alaoui – Siwan

The latest one I discovered. With this album ECM continues to open new territories. ECM is the label that started dissolving boundaries, mixing ethnic music with Jazz, classical and electronic music. Musicians like Garbarek and Nils Petter Molvaer being famous for that.

In this record I like first the presence of the voice but then I was also struck by all the compositions of Jon Balke. If you like music that is mysterious, this album should amaze you. This album plunge back in time in the area of the Spanish renaissance and before, when Arabic was ruling in Andalusia. All the tracks are original compositions building bridges between electroacoustic and baroque, between Jazz and arabic ornamentation… By example track 4 “Ya Safwati” where Jon Hassell trumpet textures play with Amina Alaoui vocals and the ornementations of the orchestra is really amazing.

ECM 2042 - Jon Balke (2009) Siwan

ECM 2042 - Jon Balke (2009) Siwan

ArKaos software used at Coachella 2009

Here is an article speaking about the famous Coachella festival.

Momo the monster was using a lot of tools but included was three NuVJ stations.







Read more here:

vj-at-coachella on

NuVJ is a very simple 2 layers left right video mixer, but because it’s packed with a lot of goodies like real time effects and music visualizers it’s very popular.

Perfectly fluid animations…

At ArKaos we work a lot on the fluidity of the animations produced by our softwares. To do so we multi thread a lot the software and make the best use of the graphical acceleration.

It looks like on the Mac, under 10.5.6 at least, it’s very difficult to have perfectly fluid animations on one monitor while continuing to update a software interface on another monitor. Unfortunately it’s what we want to achieve in all our softwares.

I was able to reduce the problem by creating a simple application that draw a band in one window at 60 FPS. As soon as the system is slowing down you see clearly the speed of the animation being irregular. Because the code is very light, uses no texture, I was expecting this code to run very smoothly.

The function that is called for every frame is as simple as this one:

void display1(void)
static int framecount = 0;

glColor3f (1.0, 1.0, 1.0);
glLoadIdentity (); /* clear the matrix */
/* viewing transformation */
float x_pos = – ((framecount++ % 60) – 30.0) / 8.0;
gluLookAt (x_pos, 0.0, 5.0, x_pos, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0, 0.0);
glScalef (1.0, 2.0, 1.0); /* modeling transformation */


glFinish ();

It simply draw a band like this that cycle in the window:



Because framecount is incremented for each new frame it has a very visible impact when you miss a frame, this is what I want to see.

Here is the result of sharking the application, untitled and untitled copy are the 2 instances running. You see that the whole machine is almost idle, but very clearly on this picture after 6 frames you see that the time between 2 ticks on the untitled line start to double:

Sharking 60fps animations

Sharking 60fps animations

I have the feeling that the problem is in the WindowServer process but it’s out of my scope to understand what is wrong there.

If you are curious my very simple GLUT sample is here

Once you unzip it just run band1 and band2 and move one window on a second monitor you should see the animation become irregular.

Here is the shark file GlutSample.mshark

Sleepy Sun (2009) – Embrace

Sleepy Sun is a band from Santa Cruz that migrated to San Francisco.

There is something magic in the sound of their music. Sometimes it reminds me of dream pop or shoegazing bands such as Slowdive but they definitively have a Californian touch, a blissful sun-baked psychedelia that find it’s root in Santa Cruz.

Embrace by Sleepy Sun

Embrace by Sleepy Sun

When I finished the last WWDC I spent my last day in the south of San Francisco, we went to Santa Cruz and then to Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve to enjoy the wildlife of California.

Here is a video I made with a track from Sleepy Sun as background:

I bought my copy of the album on emusic : Sleepy Sun (2009) – Embrace

Here is their web site :

Neuronium music and video clips

One of the cool thing about running ArKaos is the ability to see the tools we are creating being used by artists you like. For me one of those is Michel Huygen / Neuronium. I remember buying his first vinyls and being impressed by the sonic textures created by him.

Neuronium music could be described as electronic or ambient music but the best term is cosmic music.

In this latest video clip I like the organic evolution:



The cosmic feeling in the music is very often connected to the work of his friend and painter Tomás C.Gilsanz


Neuronium did a lot of video clips using ArKaos VJ, here is another beautiful example:



You can find more clips here:

NeuroniumMusic on YouTube


And find more information on Neuronium music here:

Neuronium web site