Spoiler alert! If you’re looking for a New Age Zen space music alternative to iTunes and your iPod app, look no further than Naturespace Holographic Audio Theater. I’m not sure you’ll care to listen with the iPad’s built in speaker, or even ear buds. But with a good set of headphones or external speakers you can get in touch with your inner ambience.
I bought the Criteron Blu Ray collectors’ edition of Solaris and spent the afternoon watching it in glorious HD. Not the Steven Soderbergh version with George Clooney, but the three-hour Tarkovski version that our friends Alice and Tom thought was such a snooze fest they walked out before the twenty minute anti-gravity scene in the space station’s lounge.
Best of all, the Blu Ray included another 45 minutes of deleted and extended scenes that film fans thought had been lost forever back in the seventies. Had Tarkovski included them in the final release that he took to Cannes, he could have gone head to head with Wagner for productions that leave audience members wishing they had thought to bring cushions and morphine.
Personally, I love Solaris. I ponied up $75 for the Russian DVD release years before they released it in the Sates. It was one of the first DVDs I bought and stayed up many nights watching it. That being said, the movie isn’t going to thrill everybody. For instance, fans who fast forward through the dialogue in the Terminator movies because they want to get to the good stuff.
Tarkovski firmly believed dialogue and action, especially action, should never interfere with the set. He often took ten or twelve minutes to establish his shot (on film, not setting up the camera), then condescends to add a few lines of dialogue, then zooms and pans the set for another fifteen minutes, then makes something dramatic occur in the six seconds before he cuts to the next shot. One extended scene features the entire drive from rural Russia to downtown Moscva, shot over the driver’s shoulder. Occasionally a little girl pops her head up from the back seat and leans against his shoulder.
That kind of filmmaking makes Koyaanisqatsi feel like an Jason Statham blockbuster with Schwarzenneger, Vin Diesel and a body count in the thousands. In fact, if you were ever tempted to read Proust, try Solaris first. If you can’t make it through the movie, you’ll never make it through Swann’s Way, much less the other six.
Watching Solaris again, I realized now would be a good time to review Naturespace Holographic Audio Theater, the Solaris of iPad music. You won’t find anything in Naturespace that you can whistle or dance too. No Jumping Jack Flash or Combat Rock in these tracks. The app offers nothing but sound loops, mostly of birds and brooks, wind and thunder.
The developers claim the sound is recorded in full 3D, even though 3D stereo sounds slightly oxymoronic to me. Maybe they mean the recording artists placed microphones at sea, ground and treetop level. Or maybe they figured out how to pan the sounds over your head as well as between your ears (which, even were it to be possible, would still be simulated 3D not real 3D, but let’s quibble no further).
Nonetheless, Naturespace produces sound output that is simply phenomenal. The initial download is free and comes with five or six first rate sample tracks that include “Night at Lake Unknown,” (is there really a lake unknown?) “Infinite Shoreline” and “Daybreak Songbirds.” You can download additional tracks for one to three dollars.
Think of these tracks as trance, meditation or relaxation sounds. You might choose to spend ten or fifteen minutes with “Zen Riverbell” if you need to drift off to sleep, rather than watching Aliens or Bitch Slap. If you’re cramming for your math midterm these tracks might be more helpful than multitasking with your beer bong and reruns of Breaking Bad on Netflix.
Each track is accompanied with a detailed description. Some are incredibly vague but most list which sounds were recorded and the location of the recording.
The tracks tend to focus on specific soundscapes and environments. By far the most popular seem to be thunder and rain sounds. A few feature gongs, bells and wind chimes. A couple feature instruments, e.g., “Peyote,” with hand drums and whispered chants, and “Astral Premonition” with generic synthesized instruments.
Every track is seamlessly looped so far as I can tell from the half dozen I’ve downloaded. You can also turn on ear bud optimization, although I suspect the best sound will come with enclosed headphones. I use a Jabra Halo set and find the sound crystal clear.
The app comes with a sleep timer so you don’t drain your battery after drifting off. Unfortunately, Naturespace doesn’t shut down your head set, so you may need to recharge it the next morning (assuming you don’t roll over on it and break an earphone off).
The one addition I would like to see is the ability to sample twenty or thirty seconds of a loop before I commit to a download. Naturespace does include user reviews of the loops, but I didn’t find them particularly helpful.
Naturespace does provide user reviews of the clips to give you some sense of the loop you want to download, but I didn’t find any of them particularly useful.
Naturespace has nothing to offer fans who need beats and lyrics to get their audio jollies off. This is sound at its purest and most simple. And, in some respects, it’s also pretty cheap.
Jenny Manytoes rates Naturespace
Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over Naturespace. The sound is first rate and the price of downloads reasonable. But it’s not for everyone, and you should have a pretty solid sense by now whether or not it’s right for you.