Ohama | Earth History Multiambient

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Earth History Multiambient

by Ohama

Synthesizers are the focus here. The goal: use hundreds of tiny monosynth-type sounds to create the complex sounds. No samplers with the exception of the drums. And no reverb!
Genre: Electronic: Synthpop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Hello
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4:50 $0.99
2. Isolated
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5:03 $0.99
3. HeyWhat!?
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3:30 $0.99
4. Abyss
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7:31 $0.99
5. OMG
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3:41 $0.99
6. Earth
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16:01 album only
7. reBirth
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10:18 album only
8. Earth (edit)
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5:14 $0.99
9. Midnite News (1982)
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3:16 $0.99
10. My Time (1982)
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5:16 $0.99
11. Julie Is A TV Set (1983)
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5:08 $0.99
12. Of Whales (1985)
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3:51 $0.99
13. Where Do You Call Home? (1985)
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4:39 $0.99
14. The Drum (1985)
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3:50 $0.99
15. Lonely Heart Dance (1986/2010)
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6:09 $0.99
16. Rachel's Dream (1994)
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4:05 $0.99
17. Discipline is Freedom (1994)
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4:13 $0.99
18. The Call (2006/2010)
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7:54 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
November 4, 2010 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

EHM is a triple CD package - 2 physical discs plus a third virtual disc comprising of one hour of multiambient music (not available as download), plus a full color 16 page booklet including lyrics and song information.

When I set out to record “Earth”, I had some very specific ideas about the sound.

idea 1 - No reverb: Back in ‘the day’, high production values translated to “plate reverb”.
Now everyone has reverb. It’s overused in my opinion. I didn’t cut it back. I eliminated it.

idea 2 - No samples: I used no acoustic instruments or sounds that began as a ‘real’
sound with the exception of the drum samples and vocals.

idea 3 - No drum or rhythm loops: Drums were programmed the old fashioned way. If you
don’t know what the “old fashioned way” means, these notes are not meant for you!

idea 4 - No arpeggiators: Sometimes something that sounds like an arpeggiator is actually something being played.

idea 5 - No quantizing: Although quantizing has become quite sophisticated with options
such as pre-programmed human feels or variable randomization I used as much live performance as possible.

idea 6 - No complex effects-laden organic sound-track-ish synth sounds: The intention was to use only tiny monosynth-type sounds and layer them to get a sound. Some songs have nearly 100 tracks.

idea 7 - No headphone monitoring to record vocals: All the vocals were done with
speakers blasting right in front of me. I was quite surprised at how little leakage there was
and I’ll probably never use headphones again to record a vocal.

idea 8 - Use the first take as often as possible: The first take often has a feel that all subsequent takes do not have. One could argue that the first take always has a different feel. On “Earth” Def’s rap was done in a single take and we only did one take because it was intended to be a guide vocal. It turned out to be the only vocal we recorded. The long synthesizer solo is also a single first-take and although I did tweak it in my sequencer it is essentially as originally performed.

CREDITS: DISC 1 = EARTH recorded March 27, 2010 to Sept 22, 2010

written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: vocals/synthesizers/drum machines
Nebulous: synthesizers
Russ Magee: synthesizers

written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: vocals/synthesizers/drum machines
Christopher Nash: synthesizers

written by Tona W. Ohama/Johannes Halbertsma
Ohama: vocals/synthesizers/drum machines
Nebulous: synthesizers
Teatro +: vocals

written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: vocals/synthesizers/drum machines
Mia Blackwell: vocals

written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: vocals/synthesizers/drum machines
Teatro +: vocals

written by Tona W. Ohama/Def Method
Ohama: vocals/synthesizers/drum machines
Def Method: vocals

written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: synthesizers

8.EARTH edit
written by Tona W. Ohama/Def Method
Ohama: vocals/synthesizers/drum machines
Def Method: vocals

Teatro + Vocals "OMG" and "HeyWhat?!"
(in order of appearance)
Li ying Zhu
Devin Morrison
Ashley West-Krieger
Romuald Coladon
James Lappin
Joe Lobello
Dario Berloni
Kazumi Sato
Alisha Weng
Michel Cellier
Marcus Mammon
Kristi McLeod
Norm Marshall
Toshi Karino
Dany Broudeur
Arina Hogan
J.D. Goossens
Alex Drouin
Martin Beattie
Carey Kress
Michelle Trudgeon
Mike Lang
Didi Driedger
Young Soo Kang
Katharine Hopkins
Steven Ming
Manuel Xenopoulos
Julie Tremblay
Jeremy Hengeveld
Peter J. Yates
Greg Scott
John Michael MacNeil
Alyssa Perron
Jenny Kang
Elaine Ohama
John Gignac
Lesley Yakobchuk
Kazuya Kawashima
Lana Galitsyna
Gary Lajeunesse
Kerry Ann Greene
Andrew Moore
Daniel C. Bach
Gary Dong
Thioni Schafer
Heinz Dyck
Doug Taub
Maria Schnor
Brenainn Swanson
Tona Pitt
Mala Chawla-Lee
Dean Symonds
Don Murphy
Rucille DeSouza
Colina Marshall

DISC 2 = HISTORY remastered selections from the past (**includes new material recorded 2010)

9. MIDNITE NEWS (1982)
written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: vocals, Yamaha CS-40M, Korg KR-55
originally released 1982 “midnite news”

10. MYTIME (1982) 5:14
written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: vocals, Yamaha CS-40M, Korg KR-55
originally released 1982 “midnite news”

11. JULIE IS A TV SET (1983) 5:05
written by Tona W. Ohama/Johannes Halbertsma
Ohama: vocals, Korg Poly-Six, Oberheim OB-Xa,
Roland SVC-350Vocoder
originally released 1983 “ohama”

12. OF WHALES (1984) 3:50
written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: Oberheim OB-Xa, DSX, DMX, Yamaha DX-7,
analog tape effects (broken glass, car tires, water)
originally released 1984 “I fear what I might hear”

written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: Oberheim OB-Xa, DSX, DMX, Yamaha DX-7,
analog tape effects (air wrenches, metal barrel, gas chain
saws, siren, metal door, subway trains)
Dave Albiston: Cassette Letter vocals
originally released 1984 “I fear what I might hear”

14. THE DRUM(1985) 3:52
written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: Oberheim OB-Xa, DSX, DMX
Sequential Circuits Drumtraks
originally released 1985 “SNX Compilation - The
Entomology of Tomorrows Popular Music”

15. **LONELY HEART DANCE(1986/2010)
written by Tona W. Ohama/Dania
Ohama: vocals (recorded 2010), Emulator II,
Yamaha DX-7, Oberheim Matrix 1000, Casio CZ-101
Dania: vocals
Smoth: oscillator (recorded 2010)
originally released 1986 “Love Only Lasts Awhile”

16. RACHEL'S DREAM (1994)
written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: Vocals, Korg Wavestation A/D, T1, M1R,
Kawai K1r, Oberheim Matrix 1000, Alesis D4,
Sample Cell (door, guns, arrows, knives, vox, bombs)
originally released 1994 “on the edge of the dream...”

written by Tona W. Ohama
Ohama: Korg Wavestation A/D, T1, M1R,
Oberheim Matrix 1000, Alesis D4, Emu Proteus,
originally released 1994 “on the edge of the dream...”

18. **THE CALL(2006/2010)
written by Tona W. Ohama/Carla Neyrinck
Ohama: vocals/MOTU Modulo (recorded 2010)
Christopher Nash: Reason, Oberheim DMX,
Yamaha CS6x,Technics 1200 turntables
Alanna Clarke: vocals (recorded 2010)
Broken Paws: ebow guitar (recorded 2010)
originally released 2006 “ohama box set”

This virtual disc is only included with the physical CD package and is not available for download.

Article:The Synth Sensation - Local electronic pioneer finds success staying true to his original vision.
Published December 9, 2010 by Alistair Henning in Music Feature of SEE Magazine Edmonton, AB, Canada

A pioneer of minimal song-based electro since he started self-releasing cassette tapes around 1980, Tona Ohama is still making chart-topping albums his own way.

His new album, Earth History Multiambient, follows the release of a 19-disc box set survey of his work a couple of years ago; with each set, Ohama gave away a piece of his vintage synthesizers, which he chopped up into 500 equal-sized pieces.

Born in rural Brooks, Ohama spent a lot of his early life on the farm where his father built his potato chip factory. One day while on break from a judo tournament, 13-year-old Tona wandered into a music store and discovered an Arp Axxe (a single VCO [voltage-control oscillator] synth released to compete with Moog’s more famous but still entry-level Micromoog).

“I hit one key and had to have it,” Ohama says. “But I only wanted it for that sound ... it was only later I realized I could make music with it."

Though his production slowed from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, Ohama now seems to be returning to his musical roots. Comparing Earth History to earlier work, he says, “they are all me. I see the current stuff as more similar to what I did in 1983 than what I did in 1994 though.”

When I comment on the rather pessimistic outlook of the new lyrics on our global future, Ohama merely says, “I don’t see it as being any darker than my previous work.”

Yet a few things have changed for Ohama: “I’ve now lived in Calgary for more years than I’ve lived rurally — Calgary is my home. The urban environment definitely influenced a song like “Isolated”. I was isolated in the country, but I find I’m just as isolated in a city of a million people. I think it’s a universal to feel isolated in a crowd.”

The music industry, too, has “changed a lot. It is far less difficult today than in the ’80s. In the ’80s, I said the only reason one would want a record deal is distribution. Now, indies have world-wide distribution. It’s fantastic.”

“My audience is worldwide, but quite sparse,” Ohama continues. “The Internet has made it possible for me to reach my fans in every country. In the ’80s, it was extremely difficult: a person had to really want my album to get it.”

According to Ohama, self-promotion in the 1980s “often involved writing to the local radio station to find out how to reach me, then sending me a letter, me writing back with instructions, followed by them sending me money for an album and then me finally mailing the album out. It sounds crazy, but I sent out hundreds of albums by that very process.

“Now someone in Florida can get the album instantly ... or Germany. Or Edmonton. Same process.”

Still, Ohama believes the physical products are his true art. “

I’m old fashioned that way and love the actual vinyl records the artists put out ... way more than T-shirts, concerts or music videos,” says Ohama. “The distribution networks are extremely good at tracking web hits, sales and fraction-of-a-penny royalty payments: impossible in the ’80s. Also, selling a single song on CD Baby to Korea at 99 cents is possible. CD Baby takes nine per cent. In the ’80s, there is no imaginable scenario where you could sell a song for 99 cents to Korea, and pocket ANY of the money.”

“Again the Internet. Believe it or not ... music directors use to mail me paper charts every time I appeared on one at their station. That seems crazy now, but it is true. A paper chart in an envelope, hand addressed and stamped, mailed to me in Alberta. Was there another way? Fax machines hadn’t even been invented!”

“It used to take forever to find out where to send your music, now, just use Wikipedia and you have an instant list of campus radio stations, websites, music directors. Easy.”

“So for a totally independent non-touring recording artist like me it’s easier. For a performing artist — I doubt that it’s much different.”

As for other musicians who complain there’s now so much competition it’s impossible to get heard, Ohama assures “that’s always been true. No different now than 1982. Welcome to the music business.”

Ohama’s old studio was “chopped up and destroyed” for his recent retrospective. “It was cut up into 500 pieces,” Ohama explains. “I don’t have a studio now, I just have Battery on a laptop. Getting rid of this equipment is the greatest thing I’ve done recently: Korg Wavestation, Oberheim Matrix 1000, these were the things I cut up. They may be classic, but I also think they’re obsolete, really.”

“I’m using all virtual soft-synths on a MacBook Pro with an M-Audio keyboard controller. The actual process is virtually unchanged. The gear has changed, the process remains the same.”

And the outcomes of that process remain remarkably true to Ohama’s original vision, while sounding as contemporary as ever.

“What makes music timeless? I don’t know,” Ohama admits. “I know what I do, and that is stay true to what I want to hear. I never ever do something without a reason, but that reason is not to make a song more popular, to fit on the radio, to please fans or sell records. The reason I do it, is because it sounds good and right to me.”

So, given the strong chart success Ohama’s latest release has enjoyed, what’s next for this enigmatic artist?

“I started work on the next album right away in October while the discs were being manufactured. I wanted to stay focused on my current musical path, and I did not want to be swayed by critical or commercial influences. I had a feeling that the EHM album was going to be well received, but I’ve been totally surprised by the response.”


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