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The Life on Mars

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The Making of.. "The Life on Mars"

Named CD of the year! Read Review...

What I am going to reveal here are the secrets behind the making of "The Life on Mars". There were four influences which inspired this album. First, was an album I heard in the late eighties by Amin Bhatia, "The Interstellar Suite". This pioneering work was a synthesizer based movie score without a movie. It started me thinking about the possibility of scoring a science fiction movie myself.

The second influence was listening to Art Bell's radio show in the early nineties and hearing Richard C. Hoagland talk about his discovery of the face on Mars. That started me thinking about who we as humans really were and where we truly may have come from. Hoagland's ongoing discussion of hyper-dimensional physics expanded my thinking about sound, music, and interrelationship between vibration and what we perceive as time and matter.

After all, music is really the manipulation of matter (sound) in time. This line of thinking fathered my own "quantum consciousness" approach to musical composition. The cornerstone of "The Life on Mars".

The third influence was a piece I composed in 1994, The Probe. "The Life on Mars" actually debuted at the Montana Addy Awards and the original version of the album was being distributed by the end of 1994. To say "ten years in the making" is not an exageration. Due to my compositional evolution, "The Probe," and the other pieces on the original version are not on this, the fourth and final version of this album. (If you happen to have a copy of the original 1994 version of "The Life on Mars" let me know.)

The fourth and probably most powerful influence was my wife, Gwen. After all, she is my Muse, and as she continued to react so positively to the compositions, I naturally invested that joyful energy into the completion of the final version. Her wonderful cover design also captured the real essence of "The Life on Mars."

In this, the final version of "The Life on Mars" I used everything I had available to me (sounds, instruments and recording technology) to create a holographic, immersive sound stage that would let you "see with your ears." This album sounds good on a home theater system, in a car or truck, through a set of headphones or even on a cheap boom box. No matter how you listen to it, just close your eyes and "watch the movie" on the big screen of your imagination.

When you listen to "The Life on Mars" you will be transported into another world of musical ideas and possibilities...I know I was. That's how "The Martian Experience" evolved into "Martian Wonders," "Martian Sunset," and a series of exciting live concert performances combining quantum consciousness piano with other musical styles including ambient, space, and orchestral. (For more information about "The Martian Experience" go to: www.themartianexperience.com.)

Do I have a special relationship with Mars? Yes. But maybe I should have that discussion on late night radio.

Of Technical Interest...

The original version of "The Life on Mars" was recorded on ADAT multi track and released on audio cassette in 1994 with limited distribution. All aspects of the music have been recomposed and expanded into the current release. All tracks were recorded, edited and mixed at 44.1khz 24 bit. Heavenly Body and First Contact were up sampled from 44.1khz 16 bit prior to the final mastering process. A 5.1 surround sound version of "The Life on Mars" is currently in production.

If you have any other questions about the making of "The Life on Mars" please feel free to email me at: Bob Baran


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The Making of... "Escape Music ® A New Dawn"

"My jaw dropped when Baran told me I wasn't listening to a live recording of his acoustic grand piano"...Rich Meyers, City Editor, Helena Independent Record

The art of recording is the ability to use all available technologies, to capture as transparently as possible those aspects of a live performance which are necessary to suspend disbelief and allow the listener to experience the emotional impact of that performance at a time and place of his or her choosing. 

My musicianship has always served as a mechanism to give voice to that which initiates, shapes and tempers the creative flow inside me.  So am I a composer or am I a musician?   In my case they are one and the same. Everything I do musically is a direct effect of my compositional process.  I will do whatever I am capable of which enhances and supports my creative process. I guess you could say I will go anywhere musically and technologically and do anything artistically which has the potential of inspiring me to achieve a more perfect musical connection with my creative flow.

For many years I struggled with capturing the perfect live piano recording.  I wanted to make a recording that would allow me to hear the individual notes, feel the dynamic changes and experience the visceral emotional impact, the energy and intensity of the original performance.  I just want to  close my eyes and be there in the room with the piano...And I've invested thousands of dollars and hours into learning what to do and what not to do in my quest to achieve this.

A most fortuitous event has recently transpired in world of instrument technology which made me rethink my performance recording process. What if I had at my disposal a "perfect" 9 ft Steinway grand piano. Always in tune, always perfectly mic'd.  All I would have to do is sit down and play. Never again distracted by any part of the recording process.  Think of it!  All I would have to do is "lose myself" playing...

This long time fantasy of mine was suddenly made possible with the recent introduction of Synthogy's "Ivory German Steinway D Concert Grand Piano". This technological breakthrough has made it possible for me to spontaneously compose on the piano at a level of personal fulfillment I had here to fore not been able to achieve. Keeping true to my established "unedited live performance" and stream of consciousness criteria as well as utilizing proprietary recording and mastering techniques, I believe I have created a new personal benchmark of Artistic accomplishment... And a truly beautiful solo piano recording with "A New Dawn", the first CD to be released in the "Escape Music®" series.

About The Creative Process...

The freedom this instrument  has provided to me has allowed a more complete surrender, without distraction to the creative process. I find that when I become more fully immersed I am barely conscious of the last three or four seconds of what I have played and just ahead of what I am actually playing.  I become an audience of one in this state, each note being an amplification of an emotional flavor I may be locked into at that very instant.  It's a sublime trance like state that is the most personally satisfying and produces the most surprising musical results.  

I believe I am able to achieve a disconnect from my left-brain conscious filtering mechanisms and slip into a right-brain unconscious feeling state. It's like getting rid of baggage that colors and modifies the real essence of the music.  What's interesting is that I believe there is a constant swinging back and forth between these two mind states during any given performance.  This might be what creates the "charged" state of anticipation I sometimes feel when I play...And the immediate joy I feel as I resolve the challenges that come from constantly jumping off the cliff and finding new ways to land on my feet.

Now here's an interesting point: As the balance between these two states (left-brain and right-brain) shifts towards a more fully right-brain state, a feeling of relaxed knowingness overtakes me and I cease to anticipate what's coming next. Thus I release myself from the charged inner tension and I seem to go much further musically taking more risks yet with a much, smoother execution and with much greater flow. It's like getting inside the music and intrinsically knowing how the different ideas naturally fit together and having this experience instantaneously. This is the most surprising and exciting place for me.  "A New Dawn" is the most fully right-brain state I have yet achieved in a live performance.  I hope you enjoy this album.

-Bob Baran

Sound Painter Deep Image High Definition MasteringThis album was recorded at Sound Painter Recording Studios on June 25, 2006 and July 6, 2006.  It was mastered using the proprietary "Sound Painter Deep Image High Definition Mastering" process.