Photo by Mona Kuhn
As an accomplished, award-winning composer for films, television and video games, Boris Salchow has honed the craft of story arc - and his new album Stars (released on Puremagnetik this month) reflects that as a finely tuned narrative oscillating between the ethereal and the worldly.
Also a master sound designer, Salchow’s experimental works are wrapped into sophisticated compositions, embellished with tonal garnishes, timbres and sensations that immediately captivate the listener. Salchow understands immersion, psychoacoustics and how to create a sonic journey.
We had a quick conversation with Boris about his musical history and process for creating Stars.
Also, be sure to check out Boris's curated Spotify playlist Puremagnetik Intersections 3
What is your background as a musician and composer?
I am a classically trained composer, but I love electronic music. As a child, I was exposed to a lot of rather dramatic classical music .. Prokofiev, Mahler, Wagner and Alban Berg etc. As a teenager, I got into rock for a while and picked up the guitar, but then one day, I heard an album from Aphex Twin, and a whole new universe opened up to me. That’s when I started producing and performing electronic music - and just like the music I grew up with, my pieces were quite narrative in nature. That tendency did not go unnoticed and sooner or later I figured that film music was a good place to be for me. There, I was able to combine the classical, electronic and even the rock elements.
How did your professional experience contribute to the creative direction for Stars?
I am sure that some aspects of my professional experience had an influence on Stars, but the motto of this project really was to stay away from any conventional creative approaches. I wanted to try something new, different and unusual. Others might take in the visual beauty of the world through open eyes, but to me, our world is a place full of sounds that tell stories. I imposed this artificial limitation on me, to create a narrative experience, just by using field recordings plus maybe one instrument.
What were some of the most influential tools you used on the album's production?
The main elements of Stars are field recordings from the Mojave Desert, as well as piano recordings made in various studios. Then I used many different pedals and plugins to alter the sound afterwards. If there is one instrument that left a surprisingly important footprint on Stars, it is Make Noise’s Morphagene. That module created a lot of those granular and timeless clouds that you can hear throughout the album.
What is upcoming for you in the next several months?
A couple of exciting film projects will come out - next week at the Sundance Film Festival, a Ron Howard documentary will premiere. I was part of Hans Zimmer’s music team and there’s a lot of my music in that film. If you happen to be there, go watch it! From February on, a documentary about Russia will hit the theaters in Europe and later also in Russia - and we are working on turning this into a tour of orchestral live performances.
Be sure to check out Boris Salchow's Stars and the free Canvas plugin that comes with it.