In the northern hemisphere, it’s winter. Really. Here’s today’s winter storm warning for the New York City area, as composed by the bards of the US government’s NOAA National Weather Service:

SNOW…TRANSITIONS TO A WINTRY MIX OF SLEET…SNOW AND FREEZING RAIN AROUND MID MORNING…AND CONTINUES FOR MUCH OF THE DAY BEFORE BECOMING A PERIOD OF FREEZING DRIZZLE AND LIGHT SLEET THIS EVENING. A HEAVY MIX OF SNOW…SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN THEN DEVELOPS OVERNIGHT…LIKELY CHANGING TO ALL FREEZING RAIN WEDNESDAY MORNING…BEFORE GRADUALLY CHANGING TO RAIN BY WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. THERE IS STILL SOME UNCERTAINTY ON THE EXACT TIMING OF CHANGEOVER WEDNESDAY…WHICH WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON ICING AMOUNTS.

Feed that into a text to speech engine, sample it, add some absurdly long-tailed reverbs to a couple of sparse sparkling figures and lonely, symmetrical drums and you have an IDM hit on your hands.

Winter for me is a great time to listen to and make music, watching spirals of snow and sleet blow against my fifth-floor window. Canadian Mark Templeton has produced a wintry mix of his own with an extended ambient set for our friends at Percussion Lab radio. I could describe it, but it’s just too easy. Crackling layer of frost on a glacier in an ice storm of timbre blah blah blah. It’s beautiful.

Mark Templeton Winter Mix 2011 [Free download/stream from Percussion Lab]

It’s also worth another listen to Mark’s 2009 Sea Point EP. He’s a member of the small, tightly-curated stable of artists on Anticipate Records with Morgan Packard, Ezekiel Honig, and others.

My other choice in recent days, perfect for coding a new project in one of our string of snowstorms, is one of my favorite releases of 2009, Tim Hecker’s expansive LP “An Imaginary Country.” (available from many, many sources) It really does provide the sense of traversing a far-off land, an ambient outing that’s anything but featureless.

Official site:
http://www.sunblind.net/

Here’s what Robert Henke, Monolake and Ableton co-founder, had to say about winter to CDM:

In Berlin winter,
there are only two possibilities.
One: go with it, by creating cold,
icy wavetable sounds with low bit
resolution. No chorus! Avoid ‘nice’
chord progressions. C-minor on
a low octave is never wrong. If
melodies are a must, make sure
to have falling motives. Think
snowflakes, think rain and dirt! A
slight touch of melancholy also
can’t hurt. If creating your own
little glacier fails, put Joy Division
MP3s in your playlist.
Or, alternatively, create analog
warmth as compensation. Does
not need to be real analog; it
is only important that the user
interface provides you with some
visual clues of warmth. Wood
panels, warm color scheme,
vintage looking knobs. Add
reverb with chorus and a crackle
loop from an old record.
Talking about old records, it
cannot get warmer then witht
he fantastic new Honest Jones
Records release, “Springs of
Time”, a collection of 78s from the
EMI archive. Oldest possible vinyl.
Alcohol also helps, but I heard
there are minors visiting this
website, so stay away from that;
drink Tea.

What does winter (or summer, southern Hemisphere) mean for your music listening and production? What’s on your playlist or in your studio at the moment? Let us know.

  • http://www.kufrec.com Rasmus Nyåker

    Isn't that picture on the top of Kastellholmen, Sotckholm, Sweden?!?

    On topic:

    I make more music in spring and autumn. Winter is dark and depressing so all I do if I don't have orders for a certain kind of music is slow ambient soundscaping. But mostly I spend the winter programming patches and workflows for my creative seasons.

  • mr_quoth

    During these cold, lonely months, I've been routing audio from my playlists.

    Some of my current favorites for really dark albums include:

    Brian Eno – Music For Airports

    Not Breathing – Itchy Tingles

    Loscil – Plume

    …to name a few…

    For further audio manipulation, I use my computer routed into a SP-404, a mixer with a Roland Juno 60, Korg Kaoss Pad, and a X-station 25….

    The ability to create lush pads from the Juno and X-station are incredible. I could spend days tweaking. Adding LPF, VCF, various amounts and types of noise, using delays, etc…. Going into the laboratory to either remix or create beautiful soundscapes is what I always dreamt of doing when I was a child. It's nice to be able to save up a little $ and use the audio tools I've dreamt about.

  • http://grantmuller.com Grant Muller

    Mark's Work is fantastic. His previous mix on Percussions Labs Live from Avonmore Hall is also recommended:

    http://percussionlab.com/sets/mark_templeton/live

  • http://onyxashanti.bandcamp.com Onyx Ashanti

    winter used to drive me insane, but now its cerebral mode.  i get so much stuff done in the winter now.  funnily enough, even during a wonderfully hot sunny summer in ibiza, i couldnt wait to get back to Berlin for the winter and its as amazing as i thought it would be.

    I tend to listen to less dance-oriennted electronic music in the winter. Nu-wave radio podcasts are all the heat i need. 

  • Peter Kirn

    @Rasmus: that's exactly what it is. :) Took the ferry across through the ice in February, in the middle of one of your blizzards!

  • http://avanturb.com Primus Luta

    I think Pantha Du Prince's music embodies winter for me.  As a matter of fact…

  • http://noisepages.com/members/jamesmcn/ jamesmcn

    I did the NOAA text-to-speech thing for the January 2010 LA winter storm.

    http://soundcloud.com/jamesmcn/fooled-by-randomne

  • http://cooptrol.com cooptrol

    I guess it's time to do a Summery Mix for us who live in the South…

  • http://hendersonsix.com Henderson

    Listening to Biosphere/Deathprod: Nordheim Transformed is one of the most wintery ambient electronica albums you'll find. Beautifully icy, minimal, and incredibly atmospheric. The record uses reworked samples from various pieces by the Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim (who experimented a lot with electronics) – hence the title.

    http://www.discogs.com/Biosphere-Deathprod-Nordhe

  • strunkdts

    well its 35-40C here most days and that means the constant drone of the aircon, ice clinking in the glass, the waves crashing at sundown, cicadas, bbqs spitting fat, laughing kids, beer drinking banter, bass tunes and fucking.

    Yeah, it sucks!

  • http://ropeandpulley.blogspot.com/ Sttuttz

    Here's my new jersey winter:

    http://vimeo.com/19310287

    Music done with a kawaii k1, microkorg, dr-660, and mini-kp driven by the circut vst.

    video shot with sony cybershot and edited in imovie.

  • http://wootangent.net/ pneuman

    Biosphere's right up there for me, too — Substrata just screams winter to me. It's summer here, but with the heat we're having, listening to some wintery music sounds like a great idea.

  • poopoo

    On the equator we don't have winter or summer, but deep chord/echospace is winter for me.

  • bliss

    I tend to have fantasies about moving to a tropical place – all the time – but then I remember that I love winter. Real winter. The few years I spent living in Los Angeles reminded me that a change in seasons is necessary for my particular being. Winter in L.A. is rainy and much more dreary than refreshing. At least to me it was. I've enjoyed our snow-filled days in NJ this year. The freezing rains, not so much. But, honestly, I'm not in a hurry for winter to be over. It always feels good. And when it is over, springtime will be my new favorite. It goes like this always, year after year.

    My wintertime playlists always includes a good dose of ECM recording artists. Kenny Wheeler, Terje Rypdal, Bill Frisell, John Abercrombie, etc. Wheeler's 'Deer Wan' and Rypdal's trio album 'Rypdal, Vitous, Dejohnette' which features Miroslav Vitous and Jack Dejohnette – during the winter months, these two albums have been in heavy rotation in my living quarters for the past 18 years; no matter where I've lived. Definitely not electronic by nature, unless, of course, you consider Jan Erik Kongshaug's (ECM's sound engineer) deftly applied/captured reverb, which without question is part of the artistry of many of the albums he's recorded. Great music.

  • poopoo

    @bliss. You are right, living in the tropics without the seasons can do your head in. The years all start to blend together.

    Those ECM albums are fantastic, especially when you consider their philosophy of two days to record and one day to mix.