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6.21.2015 // posted by Michael @ 1:56 PM
Website Upgrades
Hi, everybody.  Just wanted to let you know that flaudlogic.com will be undergoing a server migration in the next two weeks.  Apologies in advance for any content that may break, although every effort will be made to prevent this.  Happy Fathers' Day!
4.19.2015 // posted by Michael @ 5:30 PM
Dynamics, the "Loudness Wars," or "Why is Your Album so Quiet Sometimes?"
I've been meaning to write about this for a while; a couple of folks have asked me about this.  They wonder why my album sounds so much more "quiet" compared to other things they listen to. They notice, for example, that when a Flaud Logic song comes up in their iTunes playlist or something, that they sometimes have to raise the volume on their device to hear it better. But then, a song from another artist comes on afterwards, and they have to lower the volume again!

I promise it's not some type of unique torture I devised!  It actually exemplifies the results of a much bigger issue--the fabled "Loudness Wars."  For those who are unfamiliar, it refers to the modern trend of "squashing" the waveforms that represent your album during the mastering process, thereby causing a reduction in dynamic range, but an increase in perceived loudness (Google 'Loudness Wars' for some great articles on the subject).  This effect can be desirable in some cases and can be implemented artfully. The trouble is that nowadays, there's this sort of "competition" where an artist may ask the mastering engineer to make his or her album "as loud as possible," so that when heard on the radio or on a playlist, it appears to stand out.  "You know that great album by ___insert artist name___?  Make my record rock harder than that!"

Studies have shown that listening to music that's been mastered this way can lead to a phenomenon known as "Aural Fatigue".  Think about it: With "squashed" music, this is the equivalent of stimulating a huge number of each ear's sensory receptors all at once, at high amplitudes, over long periods of time.  Though not everybody is aware of how this manifests when actually listening to the music, those who are often describe it as, "The music was really great, but for some reason, I can't make it through the whole record in one sitting," or, "The best album that I never listen to."  It's doing something on a subconscious level which can align the listener's preferences against that particular music.  

For the type of music I'm writing these days, a full spectrum of dynamics is important.  My hope is that listeners will "feel" something through my music, whatever that feeling may be, and I like to bring the listener on a journey.  That means there will be "loud" sections, "soft" sections, angry, calm, tranquil, explosive.  It made sense for me to attempt to maintain those aural contrasts in the music at the expense of it perhaps sounding like "the next best thing," or somehow dated.  Interestingly, people have said to me that Flaud Logic, "...reminds me of when I used to listen to Yes albums on vinyl. The really quiet parts you sometimes couldn't even hear because the record fuzz and pops were louder!"  

Is there a place in the world for rock music that still maintains its dynamic range in an era where noise on a record is conspicuously absent ("let's fill all of that now-empty sonic space!")?  Does it sound really really weird for a rock album to be made using the latest technology but still have quiet sections that get drowned out when listened to through iPod headphones?   I surely don't know the answer, but it is something that weighs on my mind in the production process.



8.9.2014 // posted by Michael @ 10:33 AM
Writers' Retreat
August 2 –? 6, 2014. My best friend, a novelist, and I decided to take a break from the chaos of New York City and retreat to a remote location to focus on our writing. Each day began with breakfast, then we would split up for a morning writing session. Later, after lunch, we had an afternoon session. After a full day of creative work, we'd then cook up a nice dinner, crack a few beers, and just hang out.  No TV, no internet (except for my mobile phone), no phonecalls.

It was amazing to have the freedom to focus on creative work and nothing else.  I guess that's what it feels like for those folks making a living off of their music?  In any event, It was a great exercise in discipline and goal-setting.  I knew that I would not be able to finish the entire record in only a few days, so I had to choose a few key milestones and work towards completing those.

This time around, I also wanted to prevent myself from getting mired in the details too soon — an issue I faced when working on my previous album.  Instead, I tried to do my composition using only drums and piano.  This way, I could work towards blocking out entire songs while still having the flexibility to move parts around and so forth.  As many of you know, a DAW isn't always the ideal tool for songwriting — especially for a prog album with its shifting keys and time signatures — so by restricting myself to only a few tracks, it will help me to retain some flexibility at this early phase.

All-in-all, this "experiment in isolation" was a success.  It reduced stress, allowed me to focus solely on creative work, and it got me back into the flow of writing after a long period of reduced creative output. I also felt that the overall "silence" of the location (you could hear your own tinnitus /heartbeat /etc...), made each sound that I generated more special somehow, if that makes any sense.  Anyway, thanks for bearing with me on this.  I'll have some more details and things posted soon.    
2.8.2014 // posted by Michael @ 12:41 PM
Say Hello

Here I am, sitting in my studio with what can only be described as a Prog-Cold—that is, a cold that lasts an unbelievably long time, gets stuck in your head, has many different symptoms that go away and come back again, and that which, despite its complexity, is never popular with the masses.

But anyway, that simply makes it a perfect time to give you a no-holds-barred update of what has been going on! Many of you have seen the short video clip I posted a while back declaring that the writing process for my second record has begun. well, that wasn't entirely accurate ;-) The truth is that the writing for the record is about 75% done already, and has been floating around in my head (more about floating below). Therefore, what I've actually been doing is making some additional upgrades to my software, and also some mundane things like ordering new studio furniture. One thing that I'm having lots of fun with is routing my guitar simulator plug-in through an amp-simulator plug-in and getting some nice shred-like sounds. Of course, I'll still be working with an actual guitarist when it comes time to record, but the software will make my arranging much more satisfying because I can get a better idea earlier on as to how it will sound.

Another mundane thing you never hear about is simply working through software bugs. I've been contacting my DAW tech support team regularly, but have also come to learn that my computer, while top-of-the-line at time of purchase, has some major problems now that I have upgraded to a newer OS (which I will not name here so as to avoid Mac v. PC debates).

Now, on to the floating...

As I have been mentioning in my tweets, I will be attending Progressive Nation at Sea (this Prog-cold had better be gone by then! —Maybe I need to catch a Punk-cold?) and I would love to meet you, my friends. Come and introduce yourself on the ship and I might even have a surprise for you (while supplies last) ;-)

If you like my music, please do help me spread the word about Flaud Logic—especially on this cruise! What a fantastic opportunity to be surrounded by a group of individuals, all with similar musical tastes to myself! One thing I'm obliged to mention is that, due to ship rules, I won't be able to sell any merch on board, but I will eagerly collect your contact information and reach out to you as soon as I'm back on land, if you're interested in grabbing a copy of the CD/joining the mailing list, etc...

Anyway, that's it for now. Time for a nice long steam shower to hopefully bring this cold to its Grande Finale!

11.3.2013 // posted by Michael @ 4:01 PM
Flaud Logic featured on Progstreaming Website!
I am happy to report that the Flaud Logic debut album is now being featured on Progstreaming! Progstreaming is a website where people can listen to the latest progressive rock releases in their entirety for a limited period of time. The site is very effective at helping to spread the word about a new release, and to give folks an opportunity to sample the music risk-free. Please do check it out, and if you like what you hear, please click the "Like" button on the stream's page (underneath the album art). The more "Likes" Flaud Logic receives, the more media coverage the album will get! Thank you all!

Flaud Logic on Progstreaming

10.6.2013 // posted by Michael @ 1:04 PM
Check In
Hi, everybody! I first of all wanted to say thank you to everybody who has been so supportive of Flaud Logic! I have a couple of things in the works right now (all FL-related), hence the radio silence on this site. In any event, you can look forward to some fan bonuses, some more album reviews, a realease party recap video, some official YouTube videos, and the record will be also making an appearance on Progstreaming so that you can preview the entire album—in full—and see what you think! I will let you know when that is happening! In the meantime, if you like what you've heard, please spread the word! —wow, that was almost lyrical. I am singing that out loud right now (luckily you can't hear me)!
8.6.2013 // posted by Michael @ 8:16 PM
Project Q&A
Hi, everybody! I recently sat down for a Q&A session with my friend Nem Nol (Lady Obscure). Check it out — It's jam-packed with information!!
3.31.2013 // posted by Michael @ 12:24 PM
Album Now Available!
The moment has come!  The Flaud Logic debut record is now available!
Grab your copy today!
Here's the record's official CD Baby page where you can learn about the physical CD and MP3 downloads:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/flaudlogic

Also available on iTunes, Tradebit, GreatIndieMusic, Amazon MP3, 24-7, and Google Music Store!
2.12.2013 // posted by Michael @ 9:47 PM
Flaud Logic Release Party
Save the Date: Saturday, March 30th, 2013, 6 – 9 p.m.

To celebrate the release of Flaud Logic’s eponymous debut album, join us for a night of celebration and be the first to hear the album—the result of nearly four years of effort—in its entirety!

RSVP here:  http://flaudlogic.eventbrite.com
1.17.2013 // posted by Michael @ 10:28 PM
Flaud Logic Reveals Album's Special Guest: Symphony X Guitarist Michael Romeo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FLAUD LOGIC REVEALS ALBUM’S SPECIAL GUEST: SYMPHONY X GUITARIST MICHAEL ROMEO

NEW YORK, NY (January 17, 2013) – Progressive rock project Flaud Logic revealed today that Michael Romeo, virtuoso guitar player and composer for the progressive metal band Symphony X, contributed guitar work to its soon-to-be-released debut album. 

The brainchild of up-and-coming rock composer Michael Kaplan, Flaud Logic is an ambitious first project.  Kaplan recounts, "There were so many different instruments I had scored into the music that I knew I would need a diverse set of musicians to help me bring the compositions to life."  Kaplan initiated the project by composing and arranging a series of demos in his home studio. Linking up with producer Jimmy Wilgus, Michael then began to assemble the musical team.  Many long months of travel, recording, editing, and mixing would follow. 

During the recording phase of the project, Michael met with Romeo in his home studio, the Symphony X Dungeon, where they discussed the various guitar parts that were needed, and what type of guitar sound and playing technique would work best for each section.

"Michael Romeo has been one of my long-time musical heroes and the chance to work together with him was surreal.  He brought to the table not only his incredible instrumental abilities but also a tremendous compositional knowledge and sense." Kaplan says of the experience.

Kaplan hopes that, in addition to supporting the integrity of the music, the collaboration with Romeo will capture the attention of heavy metal fans. "The record has sort of informally been categorized as progressive rock, but there’s really a great deal of crossover in the record.  There are many soft and introspective moments, but there are also moments that rock out in true metal style.  I grew up listening to bands like Death, Carcass, and Paradise Lost, in addition to the prog stuff, so the metal sound is something that has lots of personal meaning for me and getting the right performances on this record was critical."

Michael is currently planning a launch event to coincide with the album’s upcoming release.  The release date will be announced soon on www.flaudlogic.com and related social media outlets.


About Flaud Logic
Flaud Logic originated in Brooklyn, New York in 2008. Originally an attempt to demo some song ideas composer Michael Kaplan had written over the years, it gradually evolved into a full-length album featuring performances from a cadre of talented musicians including Michael Romeo (guitar), Frank Wyatt (saxophone), Joe Bergamini (drums), and Benny Lackner (Rhodes).

Over a period of months, Michael composed and arranged these musical ideas into what would become the album's core: Four tracks—one, a 23-minute epic—that take the listener through a variety of soundscapes and stories.

The Flaud Logic sound can best be described as progressive rock, a genre true to Michael's love of sonic experimentation. The album spans a range of styles and moods—from elation to sorrow—painted by careful instrumentation and vivid lyrics. Moments of bone-crushing metal, the clockwork intricacy of mathcore, and retro Beatles-era rock, meet soaring and uplifting passages and catchy hooks.

Web: http://www.flaudlogic.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/flaudlogic
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/flaudlogic
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/flaudlogic

View PDF version
12.1.2012 // posted by Michael @ 7:44 PM
And it's a go...!
One of the things I've tried to do throughout this entire album lifecycle is to shed some light on the intricacies of the process—things that, growing up as a huge music fan,  I had always wanted to know about.  I've shared a host of technical details and introduced you to a wonderful and creative team of musicians and other technicians whose help has been invaluable.   I'd only be telling half the story, however, if I glossed over the emotional ride and the various lessons I've learned.

However, I'm not going to bore you with all of that ;-)  The truth is that much of it is very personal, and I feel that every individual will come out the other side of this process having learned and grown in slightly different ways.

There is one thing I feel might be universal, however, and that's the idea of "How perfect is 'perfect'?"

When you tackle a project of this magnitude, you wear many hats, one of which is to be the final arbiter of what constitutes “good enough”.  You alone must decide at what point to stop tweaking something and move on [likely to your next passage of contention ;-) ].  Indeed, working toward a final version of one’s record is as laborious and time-consuming as the artist chooses to make it.  Many times throughout, I found myself thinking, "What's the point of spending over three years and countless dollars on a project that doesn't end up sounding perfect in every way?  There's no label pressuring me with deadlines, so if I'm not happy with something, why shouldn't I make every reasonable attempt to fix it?"  But the phrase “reasonable attempt” is really the point.  Part of this journey has been learning what exactly is "reasonable" when it comes to fixing and tweaking things. 

A particular challenge for me was not having a prior point of reference when trying to determine which imperfections were worth fixing.   I agonized over which imperfections, if left unfixed, would be noticed—or perhaps even be judged negatively—by listeners, and I couldn’t draw from past experiences to calibrate myself.  Adding to the pressure was the idea I held in my mind that what everybody heard on the final record needed to sound exactly as I'd intended it from day one.  Over these years though, I’ve begun to adopt a new perspective which is that the record is kind of like a plant whose seed you’ve sown, but which will sprout branches in unforeseen directions as it matures. Taking that a step further, if you prune all of those branches off, the plant could die.

One thing I did have working in my favor was Jimmy's help and advice.  He'd been through this process countless times with both his own records, and those he produced for other artists.  He "talked me off the ledge" many times with regards to when to just let something be.  Sometimes, even against his admonitions, however, I really did have to follow my gut and pursue issues I felt were really mission-critical.  This balancing act is something I can only hope I'll get better at in the future:  Deciding for myself what to fix and what to let live in the mixes.  It’s critical because even once the mixes are sent out for mastering, they'll come back to you and suddenly, you'll starting hearing things you never even noticed before.  Certain parts will stick out, and other parts might recede.  Something you wrote and intended as a background part suddenly sounds as though it is taking center stage!  It goes on and on.

Sometimes the decision when to leave something alone can be financially-motivated.  What I mean is that every time I opt to fix something that mastering has brought to light, for example, it requires going back to the mix, having Jimmy spend time to correct it, transfer it back to me, at which point I then review it and send it back to the mastering house.  Even those few steps alone take a tremendous amount of time and effort [more so, when you have a day job like me], but then the mastering engineer needs to redo his/her processing, and there's still no guarantee that the fix you did in the mixes will sound right in the updated master. You might think, "Hmm…that's stillnot quite right."  Time is money, and producers and mastering engineers aren’t going to stop charging you for their time even though you’ve nearly exhausted your budget. True, I'm not under deadline pressure from a record label, but I have no doubt been influenced by these other pressures.

In the end, you can see that an album's level of "perfection" in the eyes of its composer is often modulated by many different kinds of forces.  When you listen to a professional recording, you may think you’re hearing a “perfect” version, but it’s a really a version that has been shaped by a variety of pressures and considerations, many of which have nothing to do with artistic vision!  In my own project, I finally came to a point where I had to say, "Okay, this is good enough," so that I could, well, move on to the next one ;-)  This brings me back to the title of this post, which actually relates to the fact that I've now given final approval to the mastering/production company to move forward with what we’ve got and finish the darned thing. No more fixes.  Let's get a move on, shall we?

Thank you all for your incredible patience and your enduring interest in this project.  I can't wait to share it with you!  I will keep you posted on the production schedule as it develops.
9.2.2012 // posted by Michael @ 3:11 PM
Website Launch
Welcome to the new Flaud Logic website! Featuring a sleek new design, this site will be your official source for all the latest Flaud Logic information. Stay tuned for some cool updates on the project—including audio clips!
4.15.2012 // posted by Michael @ 4:22 PM
Website Changes
Hello, everybody! Just a quick note to warn you of some upcoming changes to my website. michaelkaplan.net will now be changing to flaudlogic.com. Flaud Logic has become my all-consuming passion right now, and without any other side projects to advertise, it didn't make sense to maintain a separate michaelkaplan.net site. Therefore, over the coming weeks, please bear with me as things shift around a bit here. A slick new design will also be part of the package. Olé!
1.8.2012 // posted by Michael @ 11:08 PM
Mixing
As of today, the Flaud Logic debut album has now entered the mixing phase! I delivered all of the remaining tracks to Jimmy today when I visited him at the studio. We spent the session today importing the new tracks, placing them, making a few aesthetic choices and discussing the sonic direction of the record. For the second part of the day, we focused on fine-tuning the intro to the album's epic and it's starting to sound killer! OK, lots more work to be done, hence I must sleep. Rock on, everybody!
12.31.2011 // posted by Michael @ 1:46 PM
Happy New Year
Those of us at Flaud Logic (OK, fine, it's just me...) want to wish you a very happy and healthy New Year, rung in with a heaping dose of cheer and revelry! Thank you for all of your ongoing support, curiosity, enthusiasm, and, significantly, patience! I definitely have some surprises up my sleeve to reveal to you in 2012, and I thank you once again for sticking with me. I can't wait to share this record with you!
9.24.2011 // posted by Michael @ 11:39 AM
Flaud Logic Drummer Joe Bergamini Co-Produces Neal Peart DVD
Flaud Logic drummer Joe Bergamini wrapped up his role as co-producer on an upcoming DVD video series for Hudson Music starring iconic drummer Neal Peart, earlier this year. Working closely with Neal, Joe had the opportunity to structure the DVD's interview segments, writing the questions and guiding the discussion. Joe and the film crew traveled along with Neal, capturing concert footage, and dramatic interviews before the vast and severe backdrop of Death Valley in Eastern California. Taking Center Stage: A Lifetime of Live Performance features exclusive interviews, drum-cam footage, and in-depth discussions about Neal's preparation, performance, and production. Learn more about this great DVD from Neal's perspective, and what Joe did to help it come to life.
6.30.2011 // posted by Michael @ 10:12 PM
Album Update and More...
Hello, everybody! I know it has been centuries since I've posted—sorry about that! I'm here to tell you that the album is still going strong. Lately I've been focusing on lots of tiny, yet important, details—I want everything to be just right! The unfortunate part is that none of those details in and of themselves are worthy of reporting here. Suffice it to say that I just listened to an updated mix of Secret Engine (the instrumental track on the album) however, and it's rockin'! There are still a few missing pieces to add, but it is coming along nicely.

In addition to all of the small tweaks, I've been providing Jimmy with keyboard parts, some of which I've re-recorded with better-sounding instrument patches. In the next week or so, my apartment (including my studio) will be going through a final round of renovations which means my studio may be down temporarily. I'll still be working with Jimmy both remotely and in person to keep things moving during this period. Thanks to everyone for your interest in this project and for your enduring patience! Best wishes, and until next time...!
1.9.2011 // posted by Michael @ 9:52 PM
PRESS RELEASE
Friends, I can now confirm that Flaud Logic will feature a very special guest appearance from the legendary multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Frank Wyatt, best known for his work in the groundbreaking musical group Happy The Man. Frank will be contributing some soaring saxophone work in his unique style.

The next chapter in "The Making Of..." will feature footage of a recent road trip that Jimmy and I took out to Frank's Studio.

This year is off to a very exciting start! More to come!
11.6.2010 // posted by Michael @ 3:32 PM
The Making of Flaud Logic - Chapter 11
Hi, Everybody! I've gone ahead and posted the latest chapter in "The Making Of..." In this episode, I focus on some keyboard and sound effect work, and also the recording of the female lead vocal part with Amy Ward! Check it out!

The Making of Flaud Logic - Chapter 11

In other news, I'm still working to schedule some time with very cool guest artists, and have also continued designing the project's logo, and some early design concepts for the cover art.
10.9.2010 // posted by Michael @ 10:21 PM
The Latest
Hi everybody! Although I've been a bit quiet lately, the project is still going strong. Right now, Jimmy is working on some updated bounces. In the meantime, I have been in touch with some very special guest musicians who will be contributing to the record. As soon as everything has been finalized, I'll be sure to share all the juicy details!

In other news, I'm also working on the next chapter in "The Making Of...". Hang in there, and keep rockin' !
9.18.2010 // posted by Michael @ 12:00 PM
Amy Ward on Internet Radio
This Sunday, September 19th, you can catch super-talented singer-songwriter Amy Ward (who recently contributed some awesome lead vocals to my project) on internet radio.

Amy was recently interviewed for my producer's radio program, Wicked Monkey's American Garage. Broadcast worldwide, this program takes a look at great established and up-and-coming musicians, featuring personal interviews, and samples of their work. It's going to be lots of fun—oh, and the show has a huge fan base in Russia, so co-host Yuri Nikolaev translates the show's content for Russian listeners. Here's the detail:

Wicked Monkey's American Garage: Featuring Amy Ward
Sunday, September 19th
1:00 p.m. EST
http://www.globalfmradio.com
9.18.2010 // posted by Michael @ 11:46 AM
New Cast Members Announced
Hey, everybody! I've just added some information about the wonderful singers who have made recent contributions to my record. Learn more on the About page!
7.14.2010 // posted by Michael @ 7:58 PM
Update
Hi, Everybody! Although it may seem a bit quiet right now, there's actually been some cool stuff going on over these past few weeks. In The Den, Jimmy is working on some preliminary mixing so that when we lay down our next set of tracks, we'll be doing it along to something that sounds a bit more polished. This appears to be a wise strategy in cases where, for example, you're adding backing guitar, and want to consider which chord inversions will best fill out the harmonic space of the song. The preliminary mixing will allow those choices to be more accurate.

On my end, I've been editing the next chapter of "The Making Of...", but I also had the chance to get together with some super-talented singers who will be laying down some very special background parts, and creating some great atmosphere. I scored out the harmonies, and then got together with them to go through the parts and talk about what I would need. I can't wait to record and then add them into the mix--it's going to bring everything to a whole 'nother level!

In other news, I am thinking of holding a huge listening party when the record is released, and the planning of that will be a huge endeavor and well out of my area of expertise, but I'll fumble through it! Timing-wise, I could be ready for that sometime this Winter, but that's not typically the best time for any kind of large gathering--especially for those guests who might drop in from outside the city. What to do? what to do?

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!
6.6.2010 // posted by Michael @ 4:34 PM
The Making of Flaud Logic - Chapter 7
This chapter chronicles the continuing sage of guitar recording. Far outweighing any other instrument in terms of the number of parts per song, this is one of what is likely to be several sessions over the next few weeks that focus on guitar. In this segment, Yuri Nikolaev (Wicked Monkey) and Scott Thomas Ferreira (The Last Broadcast) lay down acoustic and electric guitar tracks respectively.

The Making of Flaud Logic - Chapter 7
5.17.2010 // posted by Michael @ 10:57 PM
The Making of Flaud Logic - Chapters 5 and 6!
Flaud Logic: Flaud Logic
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Flaud Logic — Shanna [+ Lyrics]
Third in a series of multimedia videos featuring tracks from the Flaud Logic debut album.