*********************************************** http://www.volitar.com
® april 2002
a monthly publication based on the science-fiction world of volitar

what: volitar "murder mystery mayhem" cd release party and create the character contest!!!

where: the hangar ballroom, juneau, ak

when: 9pm, friday, april 19th

dress code: go to http://www.volitar.com/ask%20desiree.htm for details.

admission: free!

for who: open to the public.

sponsored by: volitar industries, kfmg 100.7fm, the hangar on the wharf,

shattack and grummett insurance, alaska litho, and southeast remodel


come and party with the volitar crew. come dressed as your favorite volitar character, trevor braiden, dr, desiree lear, felix liddy, pierre pardon, nanette harding, harold athey, taylor parish. also, you can dress as a futuristical anchorwoman, police chief, police officer or win the grand prize and come dressed in a futuristic ganthronian outfit. use your imagination. no one knows what a ganthronian looks like, you create it! again, go to "ask desiree" for more info on what to wear.




issue #1 april2002

in this issue

1. ask desiree

2. juneau empire article

3.the making of volitar (part 1)

4. featured artist - (bud curtis graphic design)


dr. desiree lear received her ph.d. in planetary geology from orbita collegium in 2112. she has spent the last 5 years specializing in laser technology, mineral surveying and extraction. traveling to numerous planets and moons, meeting the inhabitants, and matching wits with her fellow colleagues, you could say desiree has been around. to let you know a little secret... dr. lear's iq is nothing compared to her common sense. so, don't be afraid to ask her a question! when i journeyed to volitar i ate, slept and drank this woman's advice. of course, i never knew when she was serious, but she sure was a whole lot of fun.

good luck and may your questions be answered. sincerely, trevor braiden.

*if you haven't figured it out on your own, after reading her bio, dr. desiree lear is a fictional character created for the volitar cd "murder mystery mayhem". if you actually use her advice, you cannot hold her responsible unless something great comes of it.












dear desiree,
i plan on attending a volitar party and am not sure what i should wear. how do people dress in the year 2117? the countdown has started and the party is just around the corner. you've got to help me desiree!
naked in the north

dear naked,
you haven't told me if you are male or female... because if you are the former, i will be right over to help you personally. if you are female, i don't want to give away all my secrets but will head you in the right direction. women, if you are going to a volitar party dress to have an evening of saucy dancin' fun. i adore wigs and have one for everyday of an earth week. sometimes i feel like being a redhead, occasionally a silver-head, for special times my green wig matching my eyes is just the right touch. there are so many possibilities and i'll let you in on a little secret...only trevor braiden knows my real color. wigs, wigs, wigs, any color, any design, any length will have you feeling fun the moment you slip it on. next, find two contrasting lip colors. my favorites are a deep dark red worn on my upper lip while using a pale crystal pink on my lower lip. you can try putting the glosses and light colors on your upper lip and darks on the bottom lip...you'll know which combination is best for you. finally, be sure you have given some attention to your hands. it would be embarrassing trying to learn the dance faces after meeting another volitarian, and at the wrong moment you realize how unsightly your hands are-devestation to say the least. don't ruin the moment, get creative. i pick different colors and designs, and like to grow every other nail long. your jewelry choice should be as original as your signature. just remember, if you feel fun and saucy you have chosen the right accessories. as far as clothing is concerned, i'm not sure what is available to you in your location and year. plastics, metallics, synthetics, the idea is to dress fun and add a futuristic twist and i'm sure the volitar party will be a success. just remember...wigs! lips! hands!
gentleman, if you can get your hands on brightly dyed animal and reptile prints your troubles will be over. i'm talking about purple snake skin, paisley printed cow hide or gold alligator skin made into hats, ties, pants, or shoes. if this is difficult to come by always turn to your plastics and synthetics. they will make you wonderfully hot and sweaty. only a few prestigious men on volitar wear real animal skin. after animals became scarce on earth, factories started making synthetic animal prints which allowed for the bright colors. soon after the animals became extinct, the acid rain followed causing an increase in baldness. while women chose wigs, most men decided to wear a variety of full brimmed hats bringing back many historic styles. of course they are made from plastic or fake animal skin, but still just as sexy. you should definitely pay attention to your hands. individuality and creativity are expressed through the hands. whether it be jewelry, nail designs, or tattoos, don't be caught making a toast, or on the dance floor with an expressionless hand. remember men...animal skin! hats! hands!
enjoy your party,

for those of you tuning in for the first time, you can get exclusive information about upcoming events from the volitar miner monthly newsletter.


sci-fi musical: mystery mixed with rock 'n' roll
andy engstrom releases his science-fiction rock musical on cd

by riley woodford
the juneau empire

web posted thursday, march 14, 2002 (posted by permission of the juneau empire)


cd's creator: musician andy engstrom is releasing a cd based on his new science-fiction rock musical, "volitar."
michael penn/the juneau empire

with a blast of rockets, geologist desiree lear and mine owner trevor braiden leave earth for the mining post of volitar. awaiting them on the mineral-rich planet are romance, murder and lots of rock 'n' roll.

juneau musician andy engstrom is the composer, drummer and singer who created "volitar: murder, mystery, mayhem," a science-fiction rock musical. "volitar" combines the storytelling of a scripted radio play - chock full of sound effects and with a full cast of voices - with passages of original instrumental music and eight songs.

engstrom said "volitar" is somewhere between a concept album, a radio play and the books on tape known as paperback audio.

"paperback audio is often just one person reading the story, a far cry from a full cast production," engstrom said.

engstrom began the project about three and half years ago.

"it was originally supposed to be a sound track design," he said. "to show a diversity of style - every piece was written for a different reason or for a different genre of music."

engstrom plays drums and carries the lead and harmony vocals. he said he plays different characters as the lead singer, singing some songs as trevor braiden, some from a narrative point of view, and some as other characters such as a nightclub performer.

engstrom grew up in juneau. after high school he left for nashville and pursued a career as a professional drummer. he toured with two bands over several years. since his return to juneau in the mid-1990s he has played with a number of local musicians. he's also composed and recorded music for dance performances choreographed and performed by his wife, becky engstrom.

becky collaborated on writing the script and also played desiree lear.

"she's pretty saucy," becky engstrom said. "there's tons of innuendoes in her lines."

her character falls in love with his character, trevor braiden. she said engstrom directed her in the production just as he did the other nine actors who lent their voices. she also helped with some of the many sound effects that provide the texture and ambiance to the story.


"he wanted to create a realistic journey, so if you closed your eyes you were there," she said.

to create the sounds of a busy laboratory and factory, engstrom spread cassette tape players throughout a gymnasium, each loaded with the sounds of a machine operating. assistants ran through the gym turning on the players as engstrom walked through recording, creating the effect of a tour of a machine shop.

engstrom said he's long had a fondness for science-fiction movies of the 1950s, such as "the day the earth stood still."

"one of my inspirations was the great durken hayes audio reproductions of ray bradbury's work," engstrom said. "one of my favorites, 'here there be tigers,' had the full sound effects, a full cast production and some background music."

musicians include singer lesley rostron, who also cowrote a song with engstrom; bassist ford james, who also plays a character; guitarist scott hamilton; trumpeter jon hanson; flutist andrea mogil; saxophonist william todd hunt and percussionists dale mcfarlin and mike fieldhouse.

george bryson mixed and mastered the recording and bud curtis created the artwork. engstrom received some grant support from the alaska state council on the arts and the juneau arts and humanities council for the project, but the bulk of the financing was from his own pocket.

"volitar: murder, mystery, mayhem" is available at capital records. it's also available online at www.volitar.com, which also offers song files and additional information. engstrom plans to air the cd in its entirety on kfmg (magic) 100.7 fm and have a cd release party in the near future.

special thanks to riley woodford and michael penn

special thanks to riley woodford and michael penn

buy a copy of this revolutionary concept cd by using this link http://www.volitar.com/mechandise.htm


special note: volitar "murder mystery mayhem" sounds best when played through a standard cd player. although it will play in your computers cd player, a computer cd player breaks each song (or track) with 1 to 2 seconds of silence. murder mystery mayhem was designed as a continuous musical production that does not break throughout its entirety.


(part 1)
before i go back to where the journey of volitar began, i'd like to express my gratitude to all the people that contributed to making this dream happen. (check credits to see the who's who of murder mystery mayhem.) thank-you all so much! i know at times i wasn't sure we'd ever finish this monumental undertaking, (3-1/2 years), but with your support, love and hard work we were able to pull it off.

super special thanks go to my loving wife becky. not only did she put up with the noise, trips to la, and late nights but she played a lead character. becky was instrumental in the development of dr. desiree lear. her career as teacher came in handy as the saucy / sexy lines of volitar's planetary geologist came to life on tape. talking 8 hours a day in the juneau school district paid-off. (more on becky later.) thanks becky, you're one bad-ass woman! (i f you have any questions for becky, she is taking volitar related questions at ask desiree.)

ray imel, super man, new father and also a school district teacher uses his gift of gab playing two characters, felix liddy- public relations and officer mort. (ha! ha!) yes, he does die on volitar. ray, thanks for everything! check-out featured artist, for more on ray and your favorite volitar actors/actresses, musicians and artists. each month volitar will feature a new artist. this months featured artist is bud curtis.

hey! if you would like to tell these people how awesome they are, you'll find email links attached to their names in credits. some names may not be emailable, those persons wish to remain private-thanks.

let's start at the beginning.



of notable interest:

i went to amazon.com to find out the spelling and directors name of "koyaanisqatsi". while there, i was shocked to find out how expensive the vhs version was. $176.00 buys you the movie. the dvd version is currently unavailable, it currently exists in legal limbo which has not been properly resolved.

if you would like to purchase this or any of the other movies and/or musics ii make reference to in this article click on their title.



" the making of volitar " (part 1)

i love playing my mom's baby-grand steinway & sons piano. so, whenever i visit her i make sure to spend plenty of time composing music on it. the compositions seem to come easy on her grand as opposed to writting on other electronic mediums but, with 900 miles between us i don't get the opportunity very often. i do try to spend ample time with her too while i'm there.

during a magical trip to mom's in august of 1998 the core song structure of "deep freeze" was born. at the time i had no intentions of creating a science-fiction based progressive-rock cd called volitar "murder mystery mayhem" but, was inspired by composer philip glass's soundtrack to koyaanisqatsi (1982) directed by godfrey reggio. "koyaanisqatsi" is a word from the hopi indian language, it translates - life out of balance.the movie hasn't any words or main characters, just images and music. glass's soundtrack perfectly complimented the movies depiction of life on earth in the late 20th century. repetition of musical themes, arpeggios and rhythms described a mechanized world out of balance- computer based cultures clashing with more primitive ways of life. after watching this disturbing, eye-opening film, i felt a strong urge to experiment with these "rolling arpeggios" glass had so often used in the soundtrack. a few days later i was visiting mom in anchorage and kaboom!!! "deep freeze" had it's birth. if you're interested, take a listen to track #2 on (mmm). you'll here those "rolling arpeggios" throughout the song in the touchsynth voice.

ar-peg-gi-o n. tones of a chord produced in succession and not simultaneously. (webster's dictionary).a rolling arpeggio is a term i created to describe those notes outlining the chord in a repeating pattern.

as "deep freeze" began to take a life of it's own it began to reminded me of the musics from older sci-fi movies ie... (the day the earth stood still (1951), space odyssey 2001, the forbidden planet (1956), star trek - "the original series"). although these programs were all very well done, it seems the further in time we move from their creation, the "cornier" they appear, (corny, b-rated sci-fi cheese). this would, in the years to come, be the beginnings of a powerful concept from which to build a music cd from. combining elements of 1950's sci-fi cheese and contemporary progressive-rock.

for "deep freeze" i wanted that main core voice to sound like an old synthesiser voice. i chose the touchsynth voice from a roland d-110 synth module. the d-110 appeared on the market around 1988 so it's not that old sounding but, technology has come a long way since then giving the voice a dated sound. an example of an older voice would be that of harold athey's cell phone ringing in "laser research" which came from a yamaha dx7. (1983). even older are mechanical sounding room voices in "desiree for dessert". those voices came from an arp odyssey which, i believe to be pre 1980's.

the rest of the arrangment in d. freeze is more contemporary rock, a raw drum kit, bass, guitar, some modern synth voices and trumpet. what a minute! did you say trumpet and rock in the same sentence?!! yeah, trumpet in rock rocks! thanks to jon hanson, a man who knows how to blow his horn. and let him know you love him too! jon helped take an oridinary sounding power-rock instrumental and change it into something original. you can here more of jon's trumpet in "the fire of section 17" as a rhythm instrument.


volitar "murder mystery mayhem" is on sale for $9. buy your friend a copy. offer expires 5/01/2002.
stay tuned as the "making of volitar" continues in may 2002. written by a.a.engstrom

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please submit your murder mystery mayhem review to:

volitar graphic artist - bud curtis
first impressions are crucial in an artistic/ business venture. bud's artwork not only transforms you visually into the science-fiction world of volitar but, gives the cd a look of credibilty.

during the winter of 1999/2000 i was introduced to bud curtis by bill kozlowski." i know the perfect artist for your project", exclaimed bill! next thing you know i was looking through bud's portfolio and we began working together.

at the time, all i had was a few rough mixes of a song or two and a vague concept for a cd in my head. i gave bud a rough sketch of the main cd image, let him listen to the music and left it at that. ofcourse, bud went far beyond my expectations and produced not only a cool cd cover picture but, truly a great piece of art.


the cover art depicts what volitar's main characters, trevor braiden and dr. desiree lear, were seeing as they approached volitar in the year 2117. the cloud layer below the mining facility gives the viewer an unsettling feeling of not knowing what's underneath.

as he continued work on the other images we decided to add a layer of clouds to these pieces as well to tie together the concept. based on this first image bud created these two pieces of art. (below)

  clouds represent an atmosphere on volitar-once a lifeless moon, now a living, breathing workstation.
as the concept of volitar was becoming more refined i interjected color and black and white photographs into the layout. the textured frame around the picture (right) is a photo of a cieling light in the alaska marine highway systems ferry "matanuska".  

the inside layout design (below) features more of my photography. although, the pictures of me playing the part of trevor braiden were taken by my wife becky jo engstrom. during the winter of 2000 i shot the pictures of becky who plays the part of the saucy dr. desiree lear, planetary geologist. (check out the ask desiree column for more info on her) a little make-up, some stage lights and a bottle of red wine and kaboom the image of our good doctor came alive!

now the big question was, "how do we blend the surrealism of bud's art with my photography"? once again bud steps in with the perfect solution- a negative photograph from his own collection, one that he had taken of the majestic mountains here in southeast alaska. it looks like the landscape in his artwork- it looks like volitar, it is volitar! way to go bud!

written by andrew engstrom for more information on bud curtis's graghic design please click on this link: www.alaskagrafix.com. bud also owns www.akonscreen.com. click on this link to advertise your services at any of the 7 gross alaska theater screens in juneau, alaska.
buy volitar "murder mystery mayhem"! click here
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