November 15, 2012 Calgary, Alberta, Canada
These tracks will allow the user to recreate Ohama's "Multiambient" +15 Soundscape installation that is currently performing at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts (it runs from Sept 6, 2012 to Aug 25, 2013)
The first 6 tracks called Multiambient A, B, C, D, E, F are stereo versions of the ceiling speakers (12 tracks)
The 7th track called "Multiambient S" is a mix of all 3 sub speaker tracks.
To accurately reproduce the installation, you should have 12 speakers playing tracks A-F, and a bass sub playing S. Start all the systems at the same time and you will essentially hear the installation that runs at the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts.
The effect is still very good if you try 2 stereo systems with a total of 4 speakers. Once you do this you'll want to try 3 systems...it's quite addictive.
note: you do not have to start the systems at the same time. Multiambient works with the pieces out of sync, in sync, close to sync. and you don't have to stop at 6 stereos. Also, Multiambient is continually evolving as I record new pieces to add to it. Feel free to make your own!
Here is the original ARTIST STATEMENT
3 pieces to a puzzle...
Piece 1 - In the '70s
my interest in ambient music began when Brian Eno released "Ambient 1: Music For Airports" in 1978. “Airports” was a revelation and inspired me to create my own ambient compositions.
Piece 2 - In the '80s
I lived on a potato farm and spent many hours driving the prairies in vehicles with only an AM radio. In remote areas there would be poor reception of a single radio station, or even no radio at all, so I began listening to the spaces between stations or just off-axis from a station. Nearly any radio broadcast could be turned into an interesting track by tiny incremental adjustments of the tuner e.g. a piece of country music could become a distorted industrial dance track. I had an epiphany that the radio was actually a signal processor and in fact all playback devices were signal processors. The audience has substantial control over an apparently static recording.
Piece 3 - In the '90s
I would work late into the night using multiple computer systems and stream multiple radio/music tracks on multiple speaker systems. There was often an amazing synchronicity and organic beauty in the random mix of songs that were never intended to be mixed together. I discovered that once beat/tempo information was removed from the equation then any number of tracks could be combined to create an entirely new composition.
The result: “Multiambient”
In 2009 I composed an ambient work titled "Multiambient". Although the original six 10-minute ambient tracks comprising “Multiambient” can be enjoyed as stand-alone compositions, they are intended to be the building blocks for a much more elaborate piece.
“Multiambient” is an extremely flexible composition:
• It has no set duration.
• Any part or parts can mix with any other part or parts at any point in time.
• It can be played on any number of independent simultaneous sound systems.
• The speakers can be organized in any pattern. The speaker placement is actually part of the composition.
• It can be played loudly enough to vibrate the body or at a low enough volume to allow quiet conversation.
• The audience can be stationary or move freely through the speaker array to alter the composition.
• In my opinion, the listener’s attention level and mood are also part of the composition.
“Multiambient” is not a static recorded piece of music. It is, in fact, a fluid performance piece that combines static recordings with dynamic random playback possibilities through multiple speakers; the placement of the speakers and the audience’s motion through those speakers are also part of the composition.
FFWD Magazine: Published Dec 06, 2012
Calgary, AB, Canada: FFWD Magazine Music Features
Published December 6, 2012 by M.D. Stewart
"Ohama Extravaganza - Calgary Synth-Pop Pioneer Conquers Prog and Ambient Genres"
photo caption: Tona Walt Ohama thinks of himself as the Alice Cooper of synths
“It’s a Japanese samurai warrior mindset. You want to achieve perfection in everything you do. Everything,” says Tona Walt Ohama, the mild-mannered Bruce Wayne behind his mighty synth pop pioneer alter-ego known simply as Ohama. A second generation Canadian of Japanese descent, Ohama has never so much as set foot in his ancestral homeland. “I have an interest in that culture but I don’t feel Japanese,” he says while drawing a clear distinction between Tona Walt, the human being, and Ohama, the recording artist. “Just because I don’t wear the makeup, it is as different as Marilyn Manson or Alice Cooper are from their real life selves. Ohama is a recording artist and that’s all he does; The only thing I think about when I’m Ohama is synthesizers.”
Ohama has been extremely busy since re-emerging from a 15-year hiatus with his Earth History/Multiambient double CD in 2010. Currently he has two very distinct projects to share with his ever-growing fanbase.
Multiambient, the installation, located on the Plus-15 concourse of the Epcor Centre, features 15 simple, non-rhythmic, synthesizer compositions randomly played over 15 precisely spaced speakers. “It’s designed so you can create your own mix, just by moving through the space,” the artist explains. Standing beneath one of the circular, overhead speakers, the washes of sound seem to materialize out of thin air. A trio of delicate piano-like notes dance towards you, while subtle bass frequencies pulse from the woofers in the walls. The effect is relaxing and meditative, comforting even.
Multiambient stands in stark contrast to Ohama’s other current offering: Thick as a Brick: The Synth Edition, a limited edition CD, wherein Ohama lovingly re-creates Jethro Tull’s 1972, prog-rock epic, brick by synthesized brick. The original album made a huge impression on a young Tona Walt Ohama when it was initially released, three years before he bought his first analog synth and embarked on his unique journey from the family potato farm outside Rainier, Alberta, to become one of Western Canada’s foremost electronic music recording artists.
Until now, Ohama had never even attempted to cover a song by another artist. “I had no idea how hard this was going to be when I started it,” he says. “I felt like a guy who’s rebuilding an engine on weekends in his garage, and tinkers with it for 10 years, but he hasn’t got a clue how to do it. It was fun. I couldn’t tell you what key things are in, the chords, time signatures or tempo changes are, or anything. It was done line by line, piece by piece until it finally came together like a jigsaw.”
All told, he spent 900 hours over a six-month period before it met his exacting standards. While Ohama’s version is a fairly faithful rendering of the original, the synthesized sounds create a different texture and atmosphere. “I approached this from a synthesizer player’s point of view. What I wanted to accomplish was to try and get these little, tiny synth sounds to actually sound like a band. I was replicating the performances. I wanted to make sure it was always about the power of the notes and not just the effects and the sounds.”
The only common denominator between these two projects is Ohama’s unique synthesizer sensibility. Ohama has already plunged into another project, though he refuses to divulge much about it, other than to say: “It really is exciting, and it really is different, and it is NOT progressive rock.”
As further icing on the cake, Minimal Wave, the prestigious New York record label and ’80s synth archivist, has just released The Potato Farm Tapes, presenting eight of Ohama’s prime cuts from the early ’80s on a weighty, 12-inch slab of crimson vinyl. Ohama is clearly pleased and a little surprised at the resurging interest in his work, both new and old. “It’s been an incredible year,” he says with a slight shake of his head. “I’ll never have another one like it.”
Contemplating Tona Walt, the humble, soft-spoken man behind Ohama the recording artist, I am reasonably convinced he might actually be wrong on that point.
"Ohama's Music Came From The Prairies"
Written by Jan Beecher in the Brooks Bulletin, originally published September 26, 2012
Tona Walt Ohama graduated from Brooks Composite High School in the late 1970s and went on to get a degree in civil engineering at the University of Calgary. Now he is an internationally recognized recording artist and his music production, Multiambient, is the soundscape for the Plus 15 at Calgary's EPCOR Centre for Performing Arts.
Although he has released several albums and his music has been played throughout the world, he has had very little formal music training. "I don't think I'm a very good musician - I'm not like a classical musician or someone who can play really well - I can't read music. I just do what I like to do."
He was surprised to be selected to do the Plus 15 project. "That was a shock. It was a Canada-wide competition - I didn't think they would pick someone local, honestly."
His entry, Multiambient, was written in 2009 - the culmination of nearly three decades of exploring and composing ambient music. "Ambient music is pretty subtle," explained Ohama. "It's not like pop music, it's not like classical music, it's like a drone almost - like chanting."
He quotes his inspiration Brian Eno who released Ambient 1: Music For Airports in 1978. "What Eno used to say is ambient music should be easily ignored or, if you want to focus on it, you can listen to it. It's an environmental music that you can listen to but it's not meant to steal the attention."
Ohama grew up on a potato farm near Rainier and has fond memories of Lake Newell, the aqueduct, CB radios and driving across the prairies in a pick-up truck. His recollections are fond enough that his next album, to be released in October, is entitled "The Potato Farm Tapes."
"Our family's been there forever. I think my parents set up in about 1945," said Ohama. His father, Tona Ohama Senior, produced a brand of potatoes called Tona Golden Top and the family ran a potato-chip factory in Brooks in the 1960s.
In the 1980s, after completing his engineering degree, Ohama returned to help work on the farm. That's when he feels his music really began to develop. "I spent many hours driving the prairies with only an AM radio. In remote areas there would be poor reception or a single radio station or even no radio at all, so I began to listen to the spaces between stations," he explained.
"I had an epiphany that the radio was actually a signal processor and, in fact, all playback devices were signal processors. The audience has substantial control over an apparently static recording."
In the nineties he began working with computers to mix and play multiple music tracks over multiple speaker systems. "There was often an amazing synchronicity and organic beauty in the random mix of songs that were never intended to be mixed together."
Multiambient is composed of six 10-minute compositions that build on each other - it has no set duration, any part can mix with any other part, speakers can be placed in any pattern and the placement of the speaker is actually part of the composition.
The Multiambient Plus 15 soundscape started this month and will on display for a full year.
"The reception's been awesome. It has been unanimously awesome."
To learn more about Ohama, his music and future endeavors find him on Facebook under Tona Walt Ohama.
Executive Producer: Michael Green
Composed and performed by Tona W. Ohama
Cover photography by Matthew Dupuis