• Writer Alexander N. Kalos
  • Pub Co: Alexander N. Kalos
  • Admin: Non-cdbaby


Alexander N. Kalos


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Al Kal "Beginnings"
  • Performed By: Al Kal
  • Album: Fractal Motifs
  • Album UPC: 888295083355
  • Album ID: alkal
  • Label: Al Kal
  • CD Baby Account: CDB04367657
  • CD Baby Track ID: TR0000422705
  • ISRC: uscgj1471153
  • Released: 04/18/14
  • Key: G
  • Mode: Major

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Fractal Motifs is the culmination of work by Al Kal that was inspired by the underlying nature of fractals which combines the precise mathematical framework of fractals with inherent artistic beauty.


Fractal Motifs is the culmination of work by Al Kal that spans several decades – these were projects in various stages of completion that were finally finished and released in 2014. The title of the work was inspired by the mathematical framework of Fractals; it fits well with Al Kal’s sensibilities since fractals appeal both to the intellect (the mathematician side) and the esthetic appreciation of inherent beauty (the musician side).

In fractals, a certain mathematical operation is repeated over and over; the numbers generated are mapped to colors and these beautiful multicolor structures emerge. A characteristic of fractals is that they appear to have a self-repetitive nature, but as you zoom in, although at times you might end up in completely void regions, ultimately new interesting patterns emerge, which themselves are made up of other self-resembling sub-fractals. This can go on for ever…

Similarly, much of Al Kal’s music builds on motifs that harken back to earlier phrases, but evolve over time. This might seem random and chaotic at first, but upon closer listening, interesting cohesive patterns emerge that interact playfully with each other. After all, music is largely based on the mathematical relationship of pitches and time. To be sure, Fractal Motifs is not algorithmic nor formulaic; rather, it is in the spirit of the underlying nature of fractals.

Greek Jazz 2 is a quick introduction to this concept: a basic pattern “loops” throughout the song; it’s not a loop in the tradition sense, since it is manually played in its entirety with subtle variations from bar to bar. On top of this, run four distinct synth lines that share some similarities yet are quite different. This is all glued together by a pulsing bass line, a syncopated 9/8 percussion line, brass stabs and electric piano counterpoint.

The title track Fractal Motifs has a free-form layered piano/string foundation, with a lot of synth motifs that build over time. Each synth introduces a new line and has a different tone . Then there is a “drone” synth line whose tone is essentially anchored throughout, but either answers or foreshadows the main lines. The bass line (also a synth) similarly interacts with the lead lines in the lower register. The drums keep it all together; they are a bit more structured but neither the drums nor the bass are looped or sequenced. Some of the other tracks have more traditional song structures, but there are fractal elements sprinkled in throughout.

The project was recorded and produced by Al Kal Productions at Al Kal Studios in Lake Jackson Texas. All of the recording, sequencing, programming, engineering, mixing, and mastering was done by Al Kal.

Most of the tracks were recorded directly in a digital audio workstation (DAW – primarily versions of Cakewalk (CW) Sonar from 8.5 to X3d). Tracks 4, 5 & 11 started life on an old Teac 80-8 multitrack tape recorder and were later transferred to the digital domain. As far as orchestration:

Track 1: All sounds are from the Yamaha Motif ES6. The drums are from CW Session Drummer 3.

Track 2: Recorded in Apple Garage Band (all GB instruments) then transferred to Apple Logic Pro 9 for mastering.

Track 3: Most sounds are from the ES6. The drums are from XLN Audio Addictive Drums. The guitar is a stack of ES6 Bluesteel and its dry version processed through NI Guitar Rig Pro 5.

Track 4: Originally recorded on the Teac 80-8. Transferred to Sonar; kept only the vocals and recreated all other parts on the ES6, via MIDI. The bass is from CW Dimension Pro (Dim Pro).

Track 5: Originally recorded on the Teac 80-8 using a Moog Rogue for all synths. Transferred to DAW and added 3 more synth lines (1 from Native Instruments (NI) Monark, 2 from CW Rapture). The bass is a Rapture patch and the drums are from the ES6. The electric piano is from an old Yamaha CP30. The brass stabs are from the Yamaha CX5M music computer.

Track 6: Most sounds are from the Yamaha DX7 IIFD ultimately recorded using the Plg150-DX board in the ES6. The drums are from Toontrak EZ Drummer. The “river” drone is from Spectrasonics Omnisphere. The dulcimer parts are from CW Dim Pro.

Track 7: Most sounds are from the Yamaha DX7 IIFD recorded using the Plg150-DX board in the ES6. The drums are from Garage Band.

Track 8: Most parts are from the ES6. A couple of soft synths and guitars are from the Logic Pro stock library.

Track 9: Most synths are from the ES6. The “drone” synth line is a stack from the ES6 “Phat Dino” and the Roland RD-600 “Sawteeth” patch. The bass is from the Gforce MiniMonsta soft synth. There are also a couple of Dim Pro synths toward the end of the track. The drums are from EZ Drummer.

Track 10: Recorded and mastered entirely in Logic Pro 9 using mostly LP library sounds. The key sound that inspired the song is from NI’s Massive “Analog Classique” bass, along with NI Reaktor’s 2-OSC “Saw Machine” soft synth. The lead guitar is a stack of LP stock guitar sounds and an ES6 steel guitar processed through NI’s Guitar Rig 4 Rammfire plug-in.

Track 11: Originally recorded on the Teac 80-8. All original tracks were kept, except for the Yamaha RX17 drum machine parts which were replaced by the EZ Drummer Claustrophobic kit.

The graphics were generated using Wolfram Mathematica.
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