New single from Altus – “The Spontaneous Overflow of Powerful Feelings”

Album in a Day - Volume 8
Check out a new single from Altus called The Spontaneous Overflow of Powerful Feelings (track 19). It’s part of a huge compilation (just over 4.5 hours worth of music) at BFW recordings.
Available for free download on Bandcamp and

Posted in Altus Music

Altus in 2014

Before I delve into this missive, I’d like to thank all those who’ve donated money. I’ve been flooded by a large number of donations these past few weeks! All I can say is wow! I guess Sleep Theory Volume 2 is a hit, despite my concerns about it. Thank you all for your generosity!

2014 marks two decades into my musical journey. Well, technically September 2013 was the two-decade mark, but this is close enough. It was in September 1993 when I discovered a free music-making tool on a BBS called MOD Edit.
MOD Edit
This simple program gave me the ability to do what I’d always wanted to do as a kid: make music! What I produced was terrible, but hey, we all gotta start somewhere, right? Unfortunately I lost all my earliest works (probably 20-30 songs) to a boot sector virus called Stoned.Empire.Monkey.B. It toasted the hard-drive, and had infected my backup disks as well. Viruses back then where nothing like the watered-down annoyances we have today. If you’ve never experienced a virus from the earlier years, consider yourself lucky.

2013 was certainly a different year for me. I took a six-month break from music–a rare thing, given the last time I took an extended break was over nine years ago. The concerns I have about my work remaining relevant and interesting (something I talked about a year ago) still weighs heavily on me. The need to explore completely different sounds and genres has grown stronger within me–music so different that using the moniker Altus would be wrong. This has already happened to a degree. For example, the beat-oriented works in Crossroads and ECOTONE aren’t very appropriate for the Altus brand. Moving forward, I’ve decided to keep such endeavours separate, so the ambient works that Altus is best known for remains that way.

The next question you may have would be: When can we hear this “different” music?

My answer: Maybe never. I haven’t fully decided on this yet, but the new moniker I would release under could be completely anonymous–disconnected from myself–the ego. This concept is hardly new. A great example would be Austere, an anonymous duo who I’ve chatted with in the StillStream chatroom and on Facebook. I’ve also heard rumour that Darrell Burgan (Palancar) might have anonymously released music under a different name.

By doing this, the music is left alone to speak. Any connection the listener has to the artist (good or bad) is disconnected. This disconnect is curiously appealing to me.

Anyway, all this babbling and I haven’t even covered what I have planned for this year. Onward!

Excursion Three
After a couple of years on hiatus, I’ve been told the Earth Mantra netlabel will be releasing new music soon. What a perfect time to produce a third part to the Excursion series, as the other two were distributed through that netlabel.

Ghost of Time
Expect moods and textures similar to those found in the fan-favourite Coma Cluster. This will be self-released.

Katabasis (working title)
Harry Sklar (Har) and I are planning another collaboration together. If you recall, we produced the dark and moody Shadow District together. We’ve barely begun, but the plan is to explore some very dark themes consisting of a mix of ambient and heavy percussion. It will be very un-Altus. I will announce it here and on the Facebook page, but will be available elsewhere to download. This work will be under a unique moniker (a band name has yet to be decided). This was something Harry had suggested when we were working on Shadow District, and I’m kicking myself in a butt for not agreeing to it then.

If you’ve read all this, I appreciate your time and interest. If you have any comments or questions regarding what I’ve written here, I’d love to hear from you. The best way to contact me is through e-mail, or on Facebook.

Posted in General

Review for “Sleep Theory Volume 2″ (Sonic Immersion)

Check out the review for “Sleep Theory Volume 2″ at Sonic Immersion. Thanks Bert.

Posted in Review

New Release – Sleep Theory Volume 2

Altus - Sleep Theory Volume 2

Altus – Sleep Theory Volume 2

Continuing from the highly popular first volume, Sleep Theory Volume 2 provides three new sessions to experience. While similar in style, the mood is decidely darker, especially Session 5.

This release can be enjoyed in any setting, however low volume listening is encouraged.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Altus!

Posted in Altus Music, FLAC

And now for something completely different . . .

deedscoverFor the last few years, when I wasn’t writing music, I was writing words. A fantasy novel called Deeds of Their Past. It’s now available to purchase through many online retailers (eBook), as well as paperback. If your curiosity is piqued, you can find more info here:

Posted in General

New Release – The Sidereal Cycle 4

Altus - The Sidereal Cycle 4

Altus – The Sidereal Cycle 4

Available to download in 320kb MP3, and FLAC for those who prefer the higher fidelity it provides.

The spring equinox brings The Sidereal Cycle series to its conclusion.

Part 4 offers something extra in the first 25 minutes, providing motifs and variations of “Spem In Alium” by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). If the beginning of this release seems oddly familiar, this is by design.

My thanks go to Brad at Free Floating for being a superb curator to this series. I’d also like to thank you, the fans of my work. When I started making music so many years ago, I never could’ve imagine receiving such positive feedback. I’m always humbled to know people around the world are enjoying my music.

Thanks for being awesome!

The following words are from Brad:

Every time I try to write about an Altus release, I feel that I have already used up all of my superlatives on his last one. It’s an experience that has been most acute as I have been helping to steer The Sidereal Cycle over the past year.

I believe that Mike has done it once again and gone to the deep well of his creativity and pulled up a cool and refreshing draught of entrancing and rich ambient art.

This final piece of The Sidereal Cycle, Virgo, uses medieval composer Thomas Tallis’s Spem In Alium as a starting point in an impressionistic re-imagining. Gentle, hanging chords are topped by plucked strings to create a heavenly ambience worthy of Tallis’s sacred aspirations.

You now have all four compositions of The Sidereal Cycle and I fervently recommend that you take the time to listen to them in sequence and follow Altus on this musical journey through the year.

Brad Ross-MacLeod
Vancouver, WA
March 2013

Posted in Altus Music, FLAC

Altus in 2013

Looking back at 2012, it’s been a busy year consisting of four solo releases and one collaboration. And now, I realize it was too much. Musically speaking, I’m a little worn out, so 2013 will be a much quieter year. This will be good–not only for me–but for you too. Let me explain:

For years now, I’ve felt I walk a fine line when creating music. Part of my problem is the amount of music I’ll produce in a year. It’s far from the more prolific artists out there, but three to four albums a year isn’t exactly “normal”. My concern is losing my audience due to my output. I imagine it’s hard enough to keep on top of my back catalogue, let alone what I release in a given year.

I also want to create a compelling experience with each new release, and sometimes I feel some of my stuff can sound a little same-y. Yet then again, it’s another fine line to walk. If someone likes something I create, I don’t want to stray too far from that. Otherwise, if it’s so different, they may not enjoy it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know many of you enjoy what I create, and I’ve been in contact with a number of people who surprise me by their knowledge of my output. A few are familiar with all my work, and that blows me away. Others have kindly spread the word of my music, either through forums or by keeping external databases up to date (such as Discogs). The many e-mails and donations I’ve received over the years is extremely humbling, so I’d like to thank all of you for your kind words, generosity, and time.

Here are my plans for 2013

The Sidereal Cycle – Part 4 // March 20, 2013
The final part of the Sidereal Cycle welcomes the vernal equinox. At this time, I’m still mentally compiling ideas, but will likely start working on it in a few weeks. As with the other three parts, this will be released through the Free Floating netlabel.

Sleep Theory – Volume 2 // Late 2013
The first volume has been a definite hit with listeners, and I will be continuing in similar form with three more sessions. A rule I’d made for myself when creating the first volume was to only use synths, no “real world” instruments. So you’ll continue to find gentle and smooth electronics permeating this upcoming release.

If you find this line-up disappointing, don’t forget you could always explore my back catalogue that spans more than a decade. If you’ve been meaning to catch up with my older works, now’s the best opportunity.

I wish all of my fans, fellow artists, and friends a great 2013.

Posted in General

New Release – The Sidereal Cycle 3

Altus - The Sidereal Cycle 3

Altus – The Sidereal Cycle 3

I felt a fair bit of pressure working on this, as it’s the spiritual successor to the Winter Embrace series, and certainly didn’t want to disappoint. However I feel I’ve managed to pull the essence of the series, and refine it into something smoother.

It goes nowhere in a hurry–letting you sink in, and drift away. The minor shifts throughout are subtle, and finally ebbs away without bringing attention to itself. This is, by far, some of the most ‘ambient’ work I’ve ever produced (ambient in the Eno sense of the word).

It may sound strange, but this is something I find very difficult to do. I always feel a need to “add more” instead of simply let the music hold still, and I feel I’ve finally managed it.

Words from Brad Ross-Macleod at Free Floating

I have to say that I think there is something about winter that brings out the best in Mike’s compositional and performance abilities.

I encourage you to listen to each of the releases in his Winter Embrace Series as well as his Black Trees Among Amber Skies. I think these are some of his best works, certainly some of my favorites.

This release ranks among his best and I think is probably his greatest long-form work. It is probably, as he mentioned to me, his most ‘ambient’ work in that it is more minimal than some of his orchestrally inspired pieces. I think it’s true. There is such a beautiful and delicate simplicity that he captures here.

It is a gorgeous wintery landscape that he has captured in sound for all of us to enjoy.

Available to download in 320kb MP3, and FLAC for those who prefer the higher fidelity it provides.

Posted in Altus Music, FLAC

New Release – The Sidereal Cycle 2

Altus - The Sidereal Cycle 2

Altus – The Sidereal Cycle 2

Words from Brad Ross-Macleod at Free Floating

The plans for what would become The Sidereal Cycle took place without any input from me. I first found out about the concept from a post on the Altus blog. As soon as I read it I reached out to Mike (Carss, AKA Altus) with a resounding, “Yes, please!” Fans of Free Floating and ambient I’m sure will understand my enthusiasm.

Simply put, Mike Carss is a master of ambient music, there can be no doubt about that. Of the ambient artists that I listen to and love, I feel that Altus music is the most ‘composed’. While much of it is decidedly cinematic in structure, even the more minimal and abstract pieces seem to have deeper structures and themes that resonate throughout.

With its focus on thematic elements, the music of Altus is also decidedly painterly in that the melodies and structures help to draw mental images, especially since each release usually contains a specific topical reference (time, sleep, fire, water, etc.).

And so it is fitting that Altus turns his hand once again to the grand theme of time and the seasons with The Sidereal Cycle.

In this collection, Mike reflects on the transformation of the verdant summer into the dormant browns, oranges, and golds of autumn. Andromeda is really a two-part suite, I would say. The first part explores the gradual changes in color while the second part reflects leaves falling to the ground and the eventually dormant landscape of the impending winter.

The music is at once placid and dramatic, a perfect reflection of the changing season of autumn itself.

Please enjoy this second installation in The Sidereal Cycle and come back in a few months to hibernate with part 3.

Available to download in 320kb MP3, and FLAC for those who prefer the higher fidelity it provides.

Posted in Altus Music, FLAC

New Release – Collaboration with Har – Shadow District

At the beginning of 2012, I hinted at a collaboration that I’d been working on since last year. At last, it’s released and available to download immediately on Earth Mantra.

I’m proud to announce “Shadow District”, created by the ambient guitarist, Har, and myself.

If you’re familiar with Har’s work, then you know you can expect something dark and mysterious. If not, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sounds this guy can create with stringed instruments and many effects pedals. It may not be obvious on all the tracks, but believe me, he’s playing guitar on all of them.

Our sounds melded beautifully, and I had a blast working with him, so I hope you all enjoy it!

Har & Altus - Shadow District

Har & Altus – Shadow District

The following was written by Darrell Burgan, curator of the Earth Mantra netlabel

What a great joy it is to release an album by two old friends, one a long-standing Earth Mantra artist, and the other with his first album on our humble netlabel. This is precisely the pleasure we have today, as we introduce Shadow District, the brand new collaboration by ambient masters Har and Altus.

An album by either one of these artists would be cause for celebration, but together the results simply astonish. A full seventy minutes of transcendent music await the listener, somewhere in the netherworld between dark ambience, melodic ambience, and pure electronic space music. As one would expect, the compositions themselves are near peerless, with point, counterpoint, interlude, and response all easily identifiable to those listening closely. And, also as expected, the sound design is lush and three dimensional, the performance inspirational, and the production immaculate. Attention to detail is certainly among the many strengths these artists possess.

What really does it for us, though, is the raw emotion barely held at bay in this powerful music, the palpable sense of despair and determination, of pain and hope, of disastrous loss and hard-won victory. One can picture the grit and grime of this dark underworld, of this merciless street that punishes so many and allows so few to escape to the light of day. And yet one can also sense the moments of triumph amid the ruins, when the human spirit rises above its miserable surroundings to fly free despite all odds. The duality in this music both inspires and awes the listener, with something for fans of nearly all ambient traditions to love. Truly magnificent work.

So it is our distinct honor to announce the availability of Shadow District, an album that we think is destined to be a classic of the genre, surely one of the top ambient releases of 2012. And nothing less than music for the ages.

Available to download in 320kb MP3, and FLAC for those who prefer the higher fidelity it provides.

Download Now

Posted in Altus Music, FLAC