The Muse is a fickle Friend

02004-09-19 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

Victor says:

But how do you keep the numbers from not having some influence on you? Obviously your art continues to grow and evolve. However, I would imagine the temptation to be, “I found the correct formula – let’s stick with it.” Do you make a conscious effort in the creative process to distance yourself from that, like get into a space where you’re free to be 100% creative, or is that kind of thinking not even part of your experience?

Well, I think that every new album we recorded was a departure from the last. Some are more obviously different to the listener. Compare The Hours between Night + Day with NF, or Opium. They sound very different. I mean I have a certain style and my melodies have a certain quality that is unmistakable, but the overall sound is different.

I try to pick a new palette of sounds for every album.

On Borrasca and Solo Para Ti Davo used a Leady bass drum, which is from the Forties and has a very large diameter. We typically used this bigger/heavier sounding kick only on the first downbeat, rather than an all four.

The Hours… was my first album with electric guitar textures, midi-guitar and lute. It was also the first album with Mark Clark’s unique percussion textures, and the only album with the Japanese Koto.

Euphoria being an album of remixes, sounded very different from anything else, and was probably a lot more influential than most people realize. Suddenly Flamenco guitars were getting combined with dance beats…

Opium: field recordings, other-worldly textures, a relatively small kick drum sound, the only album of mine with spoken words in five (?) languages

Innamorare is the only album I ever used a conventional drumkit on – kick, snare and hi-hat.

For Little Wing Jon and I came up with the idea to use a low synth bass for some of the downbeats and the bass guitar for the rest. It is very, very cool, and becomes more obvious if you listen to that album with subwoofers.

La Semana is unique in that I used no percussion textures at all, and kept the percussion limited to palmas, cajon and congas. I used only one Negra guitar and added no lute or electric guitar. I also used no synthesizers at all.

I think if I was to get stuck with a formula I would have stayed with NF, but I wanted to remain a moving target and not be locked into a certain sound.


  1. Matt Callahan

    Aside from the actual difference in musical technique, each album also offers a different feeling. A wide range of emotions can either be drawn up or satisfied by each compilation. I never seem to pick a CD a random. I know that a rough morning can be soothed with The Hours Between Night + Day, Viva and Borrasca pick up the tempo on a slow day, The Santa Fe Sesions is my choice for cooking, and the Dreaming half of Opium will kill a headache better than any pill I’ve ever taken.

    The formula is the creative force inside the artist. The secret to the success is that the formula is constantly changing.

  2. Victor

    Well said Matt! And thanks Ottmar for the insite to your creativity! It’s amazing to me how you can come up with so many different ways to express through music.

  3. Sebastian

    Ottmar, just one thing: don’t ever stop this while you’re still inspired. Please!

  4. Carol

    Matt, Yes, you really do know how to put into words what I wish I could express. It’s something to find that others feel the same way about the different albums.

  5. Panj

    ***but I wanted to remain a moving target …
    …:-)))…what an apt description!…:-)))


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