Notes for Gravity of Shadows

Notes from the Studio                   Liner Notes                     Special Thanks

The setting
Gravity of Shadows
was recorded at Studio Traumwald in northern Massachusetts, beginning in January 2007, and concluding in May 2007.  All the recording sessions took place late at night; usually beginning around 10:00 PM and running into the early morning hours.  The live room at Studio Traumwald consists of an 11-foot peaked ceiling, stone and barnwood asymmetrical walls, and thick carpeting.  It makes for a beautiful sounding acoustical space.  The element of the late-night black-velvet silence and stillness of the New England countryside makes for a wonderful and inspirational recording environment.

The technical
The recording process was very direct; both figuratively and literally. Each of us was close-mic'ed using a stereo pair of microphones. The primary mic is most of what is heard in the final mix; the secondary mic is panned to the opposite stereo channel, and brought up in the mix very subtly.  This provides for a fuller and wider stereo image, but without losing the individual placement (left vs. right channels) of each instrument.  The microphones which were used are as follows.

Microtech Gefell M-930 (KK primary mic)
Microtech Gefell M-295 (KK secondary mic)

Neumann TLM-103 (Siegfried's primary mic)
Neumann KM-184 (Siegfried's secondary mic)

A purist approach was utilized at every step of the recording process.  The microphones were routed through the  Millennia HV-3D microphone preamps.  The preamps were selected for their pristine, pure and uncolored amplification.  All studio cabling is Mogami Neglex.  From the two mic preamps, the lines ran into a 24-bit/96k 16-track digital recorder.  No EQ, compression, or limiting was used; either in the live recordings or during mixdown.  Not using compression or limiting means that the overall volume level of the final CD will be somewhat lower than most other CDs.  However, the beauty of no compression is that the full and natural dynamic range is captured.  No equalization used; either during the live recording or during the mix or mastering.  No studio tricks; no overdubs.  What the listener hears on the CD is exactly how the compositions were performed in the recording studio.  The only effect which was used was the addition of Bricasti M7 digital reverb during the final mix. 

The session masters were mixed, edited, and mastered by Sándor Szabó at the Tandem Records Experimental Studio in Vac, Hungary during the summer of 2010.

From Studio Traumwald's lush but precise sounding live room, to the 24-bit digital recording process to the final step of cutting the single-speed glass master, the end result is a very beautifully recorded, audiophile-grade CD.




Liner Notes

One blustery New England fall day in November 2005, I found myself on a densely forested hiking trail in northern Massachusetts. As I walked along the narrow, sinewy and undulating path, I kept looking up at the canopy of bare and gnarled branches. Most of the time, it was difficult or impossible to discern where the branches of one tree left off, and the next one began. The shadows of the branches on the forest floor made no such claim of territory; all were homogenous and as one. I began to notice the extreme angularity of some of the branches, and began to imagine superimposing them over a giant page of blank manuscript score; imagining the notes and the organic melodic contours produced from their broken angularity. Soon I began to imagine the sonic result of something similar, but instead of a single tree, I envisioned the sound of two sets of tree branches superimposed one over the other. At each overlapping branch, intersection, or point of commonality, I imagined a musical tone. With so many intersecting points, I imagined the sounds to be rather orchestral in texture and density. As I continued walking, my attention again turned to the homogenous singularity of the shadows of all branches on the forest floor. I envisioned the shadows rising up as a parallel silouette of the actual branches; an equal analog to the branches, and not just a flat, monodimensional reflection at the mercy of the undulations and unevenness of the ground. The depth of the shadow analog was again in my mind translated to sound, and I began to mentally create the next set of pieces then and there for what I knew would be the next KastningSiegfried project.

- Kevin Kastning
Groton, Massachusetts
November 2010

In order to bear the weight and breadth of reality we habitually construct means for ourselves, by which we can more easily apprehend reality's manifestations. Expectation in all its forms is one such means: the desires and fears we project upon reality in order that it reflect back in a way that allows us to feel more in control of our experiences. I think art can be an umbrella of sorts, a shield that protects reality from our desires to perceive it in a particular way, thus revealing otherwise indiscernible possibilities. In this way art can be an instrument of transformation. Though they can be difficult at first for us to see, it is these shadows themselves, as well as all things clarified within their penumbrae, that afford us chances to glimpse, grasp and feel a more truthful reality. If you allow yourself to look or listen deeply enough, expecting nothing, you can get close to the shadows, and I believe they will pull you in. Rather than representing or inducing something in particular, it is my hope that such shadows within our music reveal something new to you about your own reality.

- Siegfried
Portland, Maine
November 2010



Special Thanks

Kevin Kastning extends special thanks to Siegfried; Sándor Szabó for the support and faith; Therese Kastning; Daniel Roberts; Richard Hoover and everyone at Santa Cruz Guitars; Mary Faith at John Pearse Strings; Brian Zollner and Casey Dowdell at Bricasti Design; Lea Hawkins; Katalin Németh, and everyone at Greydisc Records.

Siegfried is grateful to the many individuals who supported the creation and realisation of this work, including Kevin Kastning and Lea Hawkins, and especially thanks Sándor Szabó for his constant belief in our music.