Saturday, December 14, 2013

1 Hour, 2 Tracks

I'm a busy guy with a lot of real work to do, but I took an hour out of my Saturday afternoon to remix a couple of seconds of noise made with my trusty 3/4 chrome-vanadium wrench, a 15 pound weight, and an old Toyota key.

 Two new wrench tracks resulted.

WrenchStuff07 by Mike O.K.

WrenchStuff06 by Mike O.K.

The best part of all this stuff with the wrench is that I'm not sure if I've attained a new level of depth as an artist, or just started to lose my mind. I'm ok with either.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

STARWHAL Kickstarter

So Breakfall launched our Kickstarter for STARWHAL: Just The Tip today, and it was certainly an encouraging Day 1!

The big news we're releasing at the same time is that we have a spot on Steam, and we're developing Wii U and PS4 versions of the game. STARWHAL has come a long, long way from its 48 Global Game Jam roots, and we're all very excited to see where this crazy game takes the team! To celebrate, I've changed my profile picture for everything to this image of Mike The STARWHAL Rider.

Thanks for the all the support, and please continue to help us by getting the word out there!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Today The Wrench Is Calmer

Last few Wrench tracks were getting pretty intense, so I dialed it down and chilled out a little bit this weekend. Would have liked to spend a bit more time in this happy place, but it was back to grading student radio plays after this nice little distraction. Still, I rather like where this ended up:

WrenchStuff04 by Mike O.K.

Every now and then I try the HTML5 player from Soundcloud, but it still doesn't work on my Android phone. Follow the link if that's not working out for you on some iDevice or some such thing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Windforge Music

Windforge is 2D building block destruction, collection and creation mixed with run and gun (and fly and gun) action. It's really one of the most unique original games to come out of Ottawa in a while, with an epic scope and fascinating emergent gameplay. My recent experience with the latest developer version was the first time I really lost myself in the game - intending to test a few SFX and instead exploring several maps, fighting off creatures and enemy soldiers, crash landing more than once, repairing my ship, and finally getting a feel for grapple-slinging your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman would be proud of.

The reason I'm graced with this early build, if you didn't figure it out from the above, is that I'm responsible for the sound in Windforge. I still have a lot of work to do on both sound design and music, but sharing some of the original soundtrack is long overdue. I already have the better part of an hour of music produced, but here are a few highlights I'm very proud of.

Windforge by Mike O.K.

Sandbox games are a hard thing to score, but I think I'm fast approaching a point where the epic and ambient are blended in the right proportion for flying custom airships through an exotic jungle world of floating islands and treacherous wildlife.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bizarre Experiments

I'm just about the busiest I've been in my entire life. Busy is good, but this sometimes leaves precious little time for strange nocturnal experiments in wrench-based sound design. Let us together remedy this situation!

  WrenchStuff03 by Mike O.K.

I know I feel better, do you?

Remember that the entire track played above was created using only a 3/4 chrome vanadium wrench, struck on metal and finger tips. The wealth of sonic variation here is thanks to the many marvelous miracles of modern music making machinery (software is more accurate, but once I have a good alliteration going, it can be hard to stop). We're in an age of technological wonders!

If the wrench is leaving you cold, I'll be back soon with update on the Windforge soundtrack.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

LOKTAR, Emissary of The Prophets, Guardian of the West

It's been an incredibly busy few months over here, but I'll start doling out updates as exciting projects get released. Pretty excited to share some of the music I've been working on!

Today we'll start with a really fun animated short by the hilarious and talented Andrew Morrow and Jeff Nuyens - LOKTAR!!!

Through the technomagic of the internet, you can watch Loktar right here:

For the theme song, the only guidelines were epic and awesome, and the creators of Loktar felt this piece fit the bill. I've enabled download of this one if you want to download it and make it a ringtone for your smartphone or creating a Loktar morning alarm to start your day like a mighty hero.

LOKTAR Main Theme by Mike O.K.

(if the download button isn't working in the Flash player above, follow the link to Soundcloud to download the mp3 there)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

984 Milliseconds In A Vice

I thought I would get a more springy, textured sound by putting the wrench in a vice and flicking it. My cell phone caused interference with most of the recording, but I took a single sound and manipulated into a harsh industrial mess.

The remix of this one sound has some interesting things going on, especially if your speakers can handle deep bass. The track starts with that sound, then pitching it down, adding delay, and running it through various distortions and effects until it's just a big rumbling noise, played on top of itself with extremely distorted versions of that first hit serving as percussion. Keep in mind I used NO OTHER SOUND, just the 984 millisecond sample heard at the start.

You could make the argument that half of that original sample is hiss from the ventilation system at my grandparent's cottage, so it's not even about the wrench, and that's where a bunch of this texture comes from. You COULD make that argument, but I'd call you nitpicky. I'd like to see you make some music from less than a second of source material. Actually... I kinda would! Join me! And stop being nitpicky!

WrenchStuff02 by Mike O.K.

To rough for your tastes? Or just rough enough?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sound Designers Need Good Tools

A good tool like a solid, chrome vanadium, 3/4 wrench found in a surplus store on the cheap. Though it came as a package, the estimated post-tax cost of this wrench is around 75 cents.

To challenge myself and push the limits of creative sound design, I'm going to see how many and what sorts of interesting musical tracks I can create with just this tool. I want to do something more experimental, and the goal is to avoid using any additional synthesizers or samplers.

Partly, I'm following in the footsteps of one of my favourite electronic musicians, Amon Tobin, who made incredible sonic worlds by chopping up tiny samples of various source sounds (mostly old jazz records to start, but increasingly all sorts of sound in recent years).

Partly, I'm doing it as a passive aggressive counter-argument to people who claim you can't "do anything" with this sample pack or the other (a perspective in music making I find decidedly devoid of creativity).

Mostly, it just struck me during a morning commute that I needed a new personal project, and this popped into my head as something tricky and fun.

So what sorts of sounds can you get, just from a wrench? Just tapping it, flicking it with my fingernail, and throwing it on the car seat next to the microphone, I made these.

WrenchSourceForTrack01 by Mike O.K.

Alright, so on their own, those are rather unexciting. But in the wonderful world of digital audio manipulation, those simple sounds, and no others, yielded this range of textural delights.

WrenchStuff01 by Mike O.K.

So there's a track. Is it just noise, or a sublime tautology of profound acoustic beauty? Whether or not its your cup of sonic tea, you have to admit that the world of digital audio is just pretty neato, right?

Welcome to the audio life of the wrench. It will be back shortly.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Characters I've Voiced

I thought it might be neat to make a poster with all the characters I could think of that I've done voice and voice-like sounds for. It was a bigger project than anticipated...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fakebit 'til You Make It

Chiptunes, if you're unfamiliar with the term, are pieces of music made with old videogame hardware. Specifically, the dedicated sound chips from systems like the Commodore64, old Atari consoles, original Nintendo Entertainment System, and Game Boy. That's by no means an exhaustive list, but I'm particularly fond of the sound of the Game Boy. Chipzel is one example of an artist doing lots of extremely cool stuff with Game Boys.

For me, the sound of the Game Boy is an iconic element of the soundscape of my childhood. I had an original Game Boy, and I carried it with me everywhere I went.

True chiptune artists often go to a lot of trouble to wire up the actual hardware, or use cartridges which contain sequencing software instead of games. The culture is obviously enamored with the retro videogame sounds, but just as much, chiptune musicians are interested in creating music within the constraints of these systems. The limitations imposed by minimal polyphony (number of instruments that can play at once) and restricted sound palette pose a challenge to prospective music producers. Forget hyper-sampled 64 bit new millennium hotness, you have two channels and some filtered noises for "drums". Make it sound good. Go!

Fakebit is what I'm doing. I recently purchased Plogue Chipsounds, a plugin for my virtual studio that emulates this hardware. Plogue has gone to extreme lengths to recreate, as faithfully as possible, the exact sound and all the intricacies and even limitations of the hardware. But I'm still benefiting from a modern digital audio workstation, with all the ease-of-use and effects and production tricks that entails. This means I'm free to bend or break the rules as I see fit, and in some ways lacks the true spirit of chiptune culture.

Unless I choose to restrict everything I do to the rules that govern the various chips. And sometimes I do.

Here's an offering of brief chiptune experiments I've made so far. Some are NES music that follow the rules and are just like something you might have heard on the old system. The Game Boy tracks feature a little tiny bit of cheating. I don't think mastering (in this case applying some EQ and compression) is really violating the spirit of chiptune creation, but I overtly broke some polyphony rules and used reverb and delay to fatten some things up. Then again, some real chiptune producers use more than one Game Boy at a time. But a single original Game Boy would never have played music exactly like this, even though it's still pretty darn close.

Some Chip Tunes by Mike O.K.

As far as Plogue Chipsounds as a software package goes; it's great! It took me a few minutes to find the chips I was looking for and figure out the all-important wave editing mode of the Game Boy (this is how you design some really unique and fun Game Boy instrument sounds), but once you get going, you have a very authentic sound and it's tons of fun to use.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Windforge Pre-Alpha Gameplay

I made the music for this awesome pre-alpha Windforge trailer, and over the course of the summer I'll be making a lot more sound for Windforge. This game is super cool.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Korg M1

So you can get a virtual Korg M1 on the 3DS.

I had a Korg M1 for a while, a long, long time ago... I found a few things I made with it on my hard drive.

The Korg M1 Days by Mike O.K.

The ol' M1 now lives in my brother's apartment, because I got a weighted keyboard with nicer action for playing (and eventually a real piano which I really need to get tuned), and all my sounds come from software. Still, this kinda makes me miss my first studio setup in my parents' basement!

This other track was made with that same setup, though I'm not sure what are M1 sounds and what are processed general MIDI sounds from the Soundblaster soundcard I had in my PC. If you're familiar with earlier Amon Tobin, you might hear a bit of influence at the beginning. THIS makes me miss Cool Edit Pro. I would profess my love for Adobe Audition here, but I'm still angry they took the Pitch Bender tool out of CS6. And I won't buy another upgrade until I get my Pitch Bender back! Here me, Adobe? PITCH BENDER!!!
High Density by Mike O.K.

Friday, April 5, 2013


I was also going to quietly add this to the King Voxel playlist, but perhaps it warrants its own post. Cue exciting action music:

King Voxel - For Voxelot! by Mike O.K.


More fun STARWHAL inspired retro electronica...
Bump And Grind by Mike O.K.

Also been working on some other exciting things I should be able to talk about soon. Certainly keeping busy!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

King Voxel Music Previews

Here's the official unofficial pre-release repository for all publicly available King Voxel music. This isn't quite all the music I've written for Lecker Klecker's upcoming opus, but it's a good sampling, and I may add to and update tracks as I complete them.

King Voxel Music by Mike O.K.

I'm doing everything in my power to fuse epic symphonic sounds with retro synthy goodness to create this score. I want to create a soundscape counterpart to both the King's epic struggle to save his beloved kingdom of Voxelot while also representing the sweet voxely goodness that makes it such a visual throwback to classics like Legend of Zelda and Adventure. I'm also trying to create a soundtrack that's as varied and interesting as the INFINITE QUESTS the game can generate for you to play through.

Please visit the indiegogo campaign here to support this amazing project and help Mr. Phillip Meyer see it through to completion!

Friday, March 1, 2013

No Rewire For Me!

"Reason, meet FL Studio. FL Studio is going to be running some really nice VSTs for us. You're supposed to work nicely together, and maybe some day you will. For now, just take these exported waves and do your thing."

I could explain the nuances integrating DAWs and third party plugins, but instead of that, why don't you just have a listen. Because I hit some annoying technical SNAFUs tonight, but mostly I just allowed music to wash over me, like a Zen master who moves with the flow of the universe rather than opposing so-called obstacles. When you're softwares don't want to work together, make lemonade. Or this:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just to reiterate...

Project SAM's Orchestral Essentials is my new favourite sample library to work with. I did just a little bit of tweaking to my two favourite tracks that I posted last week.

Gotta say that I'm pretty happy with how these are sounding.

Friday, February 22, 2013

King Voxel Update

I just can't get enough of Project SAM's Orchestral Essentials. So instead of just goofing off, I'm at least trying to make this infatuation count for something and give King Voxel some much needed audio love.

Here's another pair of dungeon and boss battle tunes. Meet Maniask...

If Maniask had a theme song, it would be this (and actually is likely to be exactly this):

Maniask's Lair

King Voxel vs. Maniask

And while you're making your way to or from Maniask's lair, you might hear some soothing overworld ambience...

If you like what you're hearing, go check out the game. Maybe upvote it on Greenlight!


Project SAM? Project SAM Project SAM Project SAM Project SAM Project SAM. PROJECT SAM!

They make good stuff.

I was waffling on the issue of buying Symphobia for some time now, so with the lower price point and very reasonable sampling of similar sonic superiority, I just couldn't resist grabbing Orchestral Essentials.

Now I can't decide what to upgrade next. Because I still want Symphobia (1 & 2), but I also wouldn't mind their True Strike Drums, or whatever this Lumina thing they've just announced is (I'm guessing a lot of beautiful choral stuff).

But back to Orchestral Essentials - even after hearing all the demos, I'm sort of amazed how good it sounds. Here's something I threw together quickly this afternoon, taking a break from some other audio work.

These samples are the most fun and inspiring thing I've acquired in years. My regular workflow is totally broken, as I have to temporarily abandon Reason to run the Kontakt VST. If Kontakt ever becomes Reason compatible, I'll probably actually cry tears of joy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Unknowingly Attaching Profound Personal Meaning

So you'll never hear much of my first ever album, because it's riddled with all sorts of quantization and mixing errors to the extent that it's basically unlistenable, and I don't even have the original files to do anything to fix it. Sometimes I consider remixing a few tracks, because there were lots of glimmers of really good ideas. Today I decided I should relearn the title track on keyboard because... well, quite frankly because I have other work I should be doing and that seemed like a great way to procrastinate.

An interesting thing happened though. I found that I was playing the chords to what is maybe my favourite piece of music from Marvin's Mittens. So I decided to check just how similar these two pieces of music were. It turns out that the most epic mountain climbing that happens in Marvin's Mittens is eerily similar to a piece of music I wrote many years ago that was supposed to reflect a tiny robot rising, against the odds, in a hot air balloon. So the nostalgia invoking soundtrack of Marvin's Mittens is directly invoking nostalgia for hopes and dreams I once had for music making, adding a poignant double meaning to a few musical phrases that took me over a year to consciously realize.

I like to think there are three morals to this story.

  1. Whatever brought you here up to this moment in your life, you should play Marvin's Mittens.
  2. Robots in hot air balloons would be awesome.
  3. The human brain is funny.

It wasn't too long after that first album that I made the music for Spin Crisis, which I just remixed into another five track set and posted on Bandcamp. Yeah, I've been digging through old stuff lately...

Friday, February 1, 2013

STARWHAL: Just the Tip - The Game

Ok, grab a friend and get ready to cross swords:

Show them your backside, stay on top, chase some tail - above all, don't let them break your heart. It's narhwals, fighting, in outer space. And it is good.

Oh, and don't forget that I wrote a bunch of music other than the one track currently featured in there. Just remixed a few of them, and I'm pretty much stuck in retro-inspired electro town. And I like it.

UPDATE: If you want to get the latest news and updates for STARWHAL, you  can follow the official Twitter feed here.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

STARWHAL - The Music

Music from this year's Global Game Jam:

Hosted by Carleton University, this is an event I greatly enjoy attending every year, in which some number of Breakfall members and friends of Breakfall (this year the almost-mysterious Developer X) join forces to create a game in 48 hours.

This year: a game about narwhals fighting in space.

For the actual Game Jam, we went with the absurd, but oddly appropriate title Just the Tip. Since then, we've rebranded with the even more awesome name STARWHAL. It's star + narhwal, if you missed that.

Yeah, it turned out totally amazing. Like, sure, I'm a little biased, but it's seriously kind of awesome to play. As soon as it's posted online somewhere to play, I'll let you know where it, because I'm almost certain you'll have fun.

I'm still working on the music a little, either for the extended version of the game we make, or, that failing, because I like working on music.

Check out Angele Desjardin's poster:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


My experiments in Caustic 2 on my Android phone have been steadily evolving, to the point where without even realizing it, I have a whole brand new album ready for the beginning of 2013.

You can head on over to my Bandcamp page to listen, download, or stare at my album cover and ponder what all the cryptic track titles mean.

Because I've been so busy lately, I hadn't posted a few of the latest and greatest tracks in this set on Soundcloud or on this blog. Let's see if I can embed from Bandcamp...