Cover art for Alice Sabo’s “Desperate Measures”

Here is the front cover artwork for Desperate Measures – book five of Alice Sabo’s Changed World Series.

This cover was an enjoyable challenge. Alice had a rough idea of the kind of thing she wanted, but wasn’t sure how or even if it would work as a book cover, so that’s when it fell to me to come up with an atmospheric and thought provoking image, that would also sit comfortably alongside the other books in the series.

With most of Alice’s previous covers, I have always worked up one or two rough sketches beforehand, whereas with this one, I launched straight into the actual artwork.

Desperate Measures is out now – check out Alice’s blog for further information.

Desperate_Measures_WEB

Out now – No Space for Justice

Following the previous post on my cover art for William N. Gilmore’s science fiction/crime novel No Space for Justice, as promised, here is the full front and back illustration for the paperback edition, which is available now via Amazon.

No Space For Justice cover spread

And here is a photo of the finished book itself, which landed this week – William kindly sent all the way from Atlanta! Now that’s a well-traveled book.

The moment you see your pixels come to life in print never fails to be rewarding.

No Space for Justice Paperback

Cover reveal – Pillar of Frozen Light

Barry Rosenberg’s science fiction epic Pillar of Frozen Light is due to be unveiled this weekend at Novecon (the UK’s longest-established science fiction convention), by publisher Guardbridge Books.

The story has been described as character-driven journey from self-indulgence to enlightenment, and follows Jonan, a man driven by his desire for a remarkable woman, pursued by a shadowy menace, and intrigued by mysterious pillars found on distant worlds that hint at a knowledge way beyond human understanding…

The brief for this project was to convey that traversal of space and alien vistas alongside the story of desire, and the strange, ominous pillars of light that form the core of the story.

Pillar-of-Frozen-Light-web

My cover art for Pillar of Frozen Light will also feature in the Novacon art show.

For more information about Guardbridge Books, visit: guardbridgebooks.co.uk

Finally, here is an animated cover reveal video!

Cover Reveal – A Very Funny Murder Mystery

Once again veering away from the realms of science fiction, all in the name of Paul Mathews’ latest comedy romp, A Very Funny Murder Mystery (available for pre-order here).

When asked to illustrate a victim lying face-down in a bowl of mango chutney and a smug detective named “Clinton Trump”, the end result could only look like this…

A Very Funny Murder cover

Cover Reveal: No Space for Justice

I have just completed the cover art for No Space for Justice, by William N. Gilmore – and here it is.

The story sees Earth’s best homicide detective shipped off to a strange alien world with no police, courts or crime, to solve an 800-year-old murder, and it was crucial to get a feel for this in the cover art.

Stay tuned for more details about the book’s release this coming December, plus a look at the back cover illustration…

No_Space_For_Justice

Music for Time Travel!

It is getting to that time of year where we start to notice subtle signs of the change of seasons ahead, and a reminder of how quickly time passes. The passage of time, and indeed the concept of time travel is a regular theme in my music.

I’m pleased to offer 25% off each of the following albums using the discount codes shown:

Crossover (code: august1)
Back Into the Light (code: august2)
Timeshift (code: august3)

Codes redeemed at http://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com and are valid until midnight on 31st August.

Whether you’ve previously bought one album or several, I really appreciate your support. Thank you!

thelightdreams25

Jean-Michel Jarre

There is something life-affirming about the music of Jean-Michel Jarre – the French artist who took electronic music to another level and to a worldwide audience. Jarre injected emotion into his music which touches on the nuances of daily life and the environment around us. Rather than something cold and soulless, there is a warmth and richness to Jarre’s music which has transcended language barriers and reached fans of all nationalities around the globe.

Jean-Michel Jarre has created some of the most iconic and influential music of his generation. This week, Jarre turned 70, (a milestone also celebrated by upcoming box set release, Planet Jarre: 50 Years of Music), which got me thinking about my own journey with his music and its impact and influence on me and my work; both art and music.

We all remember the first time we heard certain songs or pieces of music, and those musical memories from our childhood often remain the most profound, usually defining our tastes for years to come.

I first heard Jean-Michel Jarre’s 1976 breakthrough album Oxygene, as a child in the early 1980s. I was perhaps four or five years old, and I had never heard music like it before. It was the record that my father was playing. To my young ears, I couldn’t quite comprehend what I was hearing – this wasn’t the sound of normal instruments; it was something altogether different and other-worldly. I remember being utterly entranced by the strange, almost organic sounding music… it was as if some kind of captured environment was emitting from the stereo.

With this sensory feast, my young artistic imagination was fired up – the soundscapes and atmospheres of Oxygene transported me into the sky, floating among the clouds; it sent me to a vast snowy expanse with a glaring winter sun, and most significantly, it propelled me out into space, beyond the stars.

At the time, I was surrounded with books of space imagery and science fiction art of the 1970s, and even a young age, I was addicted to Doctor Who. Jarre’s music was the perfect accompaniment to these fascinating futuristic visions, and with that, my lifelong obsession with science fiction and electronic music was born.

I rediscovered my love of science fiction art in 2007, and that led to creating my own artwork (as you can see on this website). And more often than not, I listen to Jarre’s music while I’m working.

However, the biggest impact Jean-Michel’s music had on me, was in making my own electronic music. The decades of enjoying Jarre’s music culminated in me trying my own hand at creating my own instrumental soundscapes – an ongoing journey that I’m still exploring.

I have always been fascinated with the notion of letting music create images in the mind and allowing the imagination to explore new environments through music. With no lyrics to distract or send the listener down a specific path, instrumental music works as a blank canvas for the imagination – and I think we all need that escape. This remains one of the main appealing aspects of Jean-Michel Jarre’s work as well as the objective of my own.

Over the course of the last couple of years with the release of the two Electronica albums and Oxygene 3, Jarre has proven his staying power and influence on artists and fans of all generations. Not one to rest on his laurels, Jarre’s passion for creating, composing and collaborating is as strong as ever, and I certainly can’t wait to hear what the next chapter of his musical journey will bring.

Happy Birthday, Jean-Michel!

Jean-Michel Jarre photographed at Manchester Arena, 9th October, 2010

Cover Reveal: Blood Relations

I’m pleased to reveal my most recent cover illustration, for the latest book in Alice Sabo’s Asher Blaine mystery series, Blood Relations.

The cover art follows the same visual and typographical style to the previous two Asher Blaine titles. For this new book, Alice came to me with a fairly clear idea of what she wanted to see on the cover – Blaine, standing in a cornfield, with vultures circling overhead. My immediate reaction was to set the scene at sundown, with a golden haze enveloping our subtly blood-stained protagonist.

Below is the full front, back and spine design for the paperback version.

Blood_Relations_Cover_Art_spread

To find out more about Blood Relations and Alice’s other books, visit her blog.

Twenty!

Last week, I published Prototype, my 20th independent album release via Bandcamp. This feels like a milestone of sorts, so I figured it was a good opportunity for a look back over my musical journey.

I first started making music as The Light Dreams in 2006. I had no musical training whatsoever – I didn’t know if I even had any musical ability. I had simply spent so many years as a music fan, soaking up influences, that it felt like time to regurgitate that influence and see what I could shape it into. Over the next 18 months, I made a lot of demos and album ideas, learning as I went. They were raw and rough, but I knew where I wanted to go. I’d share them online for feedback, and that spurred me on to keep trying.

I wasn’t interested in writing songs or playing live. I wanted to make instrumental music. A kind of audio equivalent of painting. I still maintain that the creative process is the same for both; one uses sounds, the other uses colours. And both allow your mind to wonder and escape to other places.

In the summer of 2007, I made what I consider my first real album, Into the Light. Thanks to the previous year’s exploration and experimenting, my own sound and style was finally defining itself. In contrast to the optimistic soundscape of Into the Light, I was also interested in exploring darker, heavier, electronica – which I did with Mechanical Drive, in 2009. With that album, I felt I’d accomplished everything I could (I was wrong) and decided to focus on developing my science fiction artwork.

Creativity is like an itch which needs to be scratched, and in 2012, the musical itch returned. I bought some new equipment and soon got back into making music, with a renewed vigour. I called the resulting album Inferno, and felt I had made something that might be good enough to sell online.

In a 1996 interview, David Bowie said something along the lines of: If you’re really turned on by whatever it is you are creating, there’s bound to be other people out there who will like it too. As with many things, Bowie was right. It’s absolutely true. This has become my creative mantra for art and music.

Having looked at the options available to independent musicians, Bandcamp was the platform to offer what I was looking for. I joined, and published Inferno as a digital download – and it sold! Encouraged by this, I also published Into the Light and Mechanical Drive, before focusing on my next project.

Around the same time, I was invited to become honorary musician for The Initiative for Interstellar Studies (I4IS), a new organisation keen to promote its mission via the creative arts. This gave my music a second home and also the chance over the following years to work on a series of space travel-themed albums – perfect for my style of music – that I published in association with I4IS.

Every album was a learning curve. With each project, I would learn something new on the technical side, whilst improving my playing. Each album would often better the previous. Being purely independent, there is no pressure or deadlines to hit, other than my own. In a sense, I started treating music the same way self-publishing authors work, putting out one or two new releases each year to keep momentum and interest.

The contrasting dark and light themes continue through all my work, with album concepts including time, dreams and space travel (many of the same themes you’ll see in my artwork).

Making music also offers a different creative channel to my primary work of digital art and graphic design. It’s often nice to have an album project on the go at the same time as I’m working on a book cover or a personal piece.

More and more artists – amateur and established – are going down the independent route. As with self-publishing, The Internet has given our music the chance to be heard in all parts of the world, without needing a record label, and technology has allowed us to make professional quality music from the comforts of home without expensive studio time.

I like the way Bandcamp operate, and they’re an ideal platform for new and independent artists and especially for those niche genres of music such as my own.

I never imagined I would have a discography, and the simple fact that other people like it enough to buy, has kept me motivated. I appreciate that support enormously.

What’s the point in making art if nobody else gets to see or hear it?

Explore The Light Dreams’ discography at: thelightdreams.bandcamp.com

Any comments or questions welcome!

Prototype – out today

My latest album, Prototype, is published today via my Bandcamp page.

Prototype is an album of dark, heavy instrumental electronic tracks with a subtext of computing, robotics, technology and artificial intelligence. While there is undoubtedly a science fiction edge to the music, much of the album’s concept is already around us, and Prototype questions where it will lead…