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Tour Through The Abstract Effervescence Of "Citadel"

The creative brainchild of producer and former tech entrepreneur Michael Moppert, Sonarpilot is a fascinating exploration of sound to fuel further creative endeavors.

Taking listeners on an extensive sonic venture, the sounds from Sonarpilot have listeners unraveling broad influences ranging from 12th-century monastic choirs to left-field modern electronica to 1950s jazz - from Brian Eno to the Beatles and Bach again.

Touching on the most recent projects to come from Sonarpilot, Michael Moppert set out on a collaborative course with Roger Mader and London-based DJ and producer Jonny Miller to bring life to the following. The Mirage Project: Season 1, released in 2020, and The Mirage Project: Season 2 – which is fresh to the scene with video transmissions from alternate dimensions en route.

The European trio is embarking on the second installment from this project with "Citadel," – a record that is introspective yet powerful through the electronic dynamics fostered. As we absorb the interstellar magnetism that's conveyed through the spellbinding and galactic visuals, we realize just how brilliantly this filmic component accompanies the riveting sonic contributions as you absorb each dimension of earnestness and poise visited through the soundwaves.

Michael Moppert took editing into his own hands as the integrity of Sonarpilot's chronicle gets told in a remarkably breathtaking way. The graphic images that swarm your screen induce a hyper-trance-like state that awakes you. Through a psychedelic fusion of an ethereal realm that emanates power, the eye-catching visuals will make you feel like you're in a hallucination. Progressing from scene to scene, the "Citadel" visuals truly fit into the scope of a body of work titled The Mirage Project.

Fluctuating from indistinct silhouettes lacing the background to protruding 3D structures resembling power, elegance, and monument, the myriad of effects Sonarpilot instills in this music video makes the entirety of its substance. From being swallowed, reiterated, distorted, discolored, and reimagined from every possible perspective, the progression takes hold of us as we reach the final destination, and "Citadel" impactfully fades from our screen – leaving us to reflect on the harmony amongst the darkness.

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Sonarpilot! We're thrilled to have you here, giving us a more in-depth look into "Citadel." With such an abstract and powerful visualization portrayed what inspired the origin of this music video concept?

"Citadel" is part of a whole series of strange journeys into an enigmatic parallel universe called The Mirage Project. We invite our audience to join us on audiovisual trips that take them out of their everyday reality to explore wondrous worlds deep in the digital realm. There's a lovely quote by Albert Einstein, who said: "Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world." This is the place where we want to be with The Mirage Project. When we are very young, everything around us is a miracle that we see for the first time. When we get older, our brains develop a certain model of the world, and we tend to pay less attention to the things around us. I'd like to create moments that give us back that sense of wonderment, even if it is just for a few minutes. I mean, we are in a really amazing place, right between the unfathomable vastness of space above us and the completely weird subatomic realm right below the surface of all things. And here we are, trying to figure out our place in this incomprehensible cosmos. This never ceases to amaze me. This sense of wonderment is the starting point for the whole Mirage Project.

There's so much detail that we get entangled in as we watch through the music video. How long did it take you, Roger Mader, and Jonny Miller to bring this piece to life?

There is indeed a massive amount of work that goes into these mirages. There are our two elements, audio, and visuals, and I try to work on them in parallel to make sure that the soundtrack works with the video in an optimal way. The visuals are based on fractal technology. Fractals are everywhere in nature; they determine the shape of a galaxy, or a coastline, or this very cool-looking romanesco broccoli with its spiral structures. We take a bunch of fractal formulas and feed them into a computer, and after a few days of number crunching, the machine spits out a sequence of pictures that we put together to generate an animation. For "Citadel", the rendering of those basic animations took about 5,000 hours or 200 days of non-stop calculations. We are faster, as we are using a small rendering farm with multiple computers – but it's still a lot of work. When we have these initial animations, I begin to jot down ideas for the soundtrack. What would be the best vibe to accompany us on our journey into this world? After that, I begin to put together the video. I tweak and layer the basic animations until I have a visual journey that I find interesting. Along the way, I create a first version of the soundtrack, put all things together, and begin finetuning the flow of the experience. I am a slow producer, and there are a lot of details in the video and the soundtrack that are important to make things really look smooth. So, this whole process takes about two months. It is a crazy amount of work. But it is very satisfying to create a whole new world that no one has ever seen before, and we hope that our audience likes these journeys as much as we do.

After taking a 15-year hiatus from all use of sound equipment, what inspired your ostentatious return to the industry?

As a teenager, I fell in love with making music. I discovered that, for me, creating music is an emotional home. I just love to sit in the studio and dive into whatever I am working on. As a young adult, I ran a recording studio for a few years, and from there, I gravitated into the tech industry. That was in the early 1990s, and the internet was a super exciting environment, moving much faster than the saturated music industry. So, I cut a deal with myself – do the commercial thing, have fun while doing it, and exit at the right time to go back and create music. I guess it's a fairly common plan that young musicians are toying with. And it rarely works. But, hey, I made it. After a very exciting run in the tech world, I re-opened my studio and began to work. And the lovely thing was that it felt like coming home. I never looked back.

With "Citadel" being the second installment released from The Mirage Project: Season 2, how would you say it compares to "Pandora"?

The two videos explore different sections of the Mirage cosmos. "Pandora" is a bit rougher. "Citadel" is very dreamy and takes us even farther into a world that borders the abstract. I love these moments where things begin to dissolve into a dance of shapes and colors, and "Citadel" definitely takes this to the next level. But I guess both journeys are still in the same quadrant of the Mirage cosmos. We do have other episodes in this season of The Mirage Project that will take us to places that go well beyond these two initial journeys. So, stay tuned!

What can your audience expect to see and hear next from you?

Season 2 of The Mirage Project has eight episodes. So far, we have released two of them, "Citadel" and "Pandora"; the rest will follow throughout 2023. In parallel, we are working on a number of ideas to make use of the wealth of material we have created for this season. One project is to show the Mirages in larger spaces, either in cinemas or in an immersive environment that you can visit and walk around in. We are also discussing a series of remixes. Over the last ten years, we have been working with electronic artists around the globe on remixing projects. The soundtracks of The Mirage Project are very rich and, therefore, perfect for such collaborations. And then there's, of course, the question of where we will go after season 2 to create Mirages that are even bolder, wilder, and more abstract. One avenue I am currently exploring in that context is the use of Artificial Intelligence to create new, amazing worlds. So, we have a pretty full pipeline. We are very much looking forward to exploring all these avenues and coming back with more amazing journeys to share with you!

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