Synthesis – The Light Dreams Anthology

We are living through a strange time, and none of us know for how much longer this uncertainty will continue. Music has been a constant companion for many during this period. Whether discovering new music, listening to or creating music, our personal soundtracks provide an escape, which in the current climate is more valuable than ever.

It is eight years since I first tested the water with the idea of selling my music online. Bandcamp offered the most flexible and economic solution for an independent, unsigned artist. Since 2012, I have released 22 albums through Bandcamp, including five albums in association with the Initiative for Interstellar Studies, a compilation of early demos and the release of my first two fully-fledged albums, dating back to 2007 and 2009 respectively.

Having released Chiaroscuro – my most accomplished album to date – earlier this year (right at the start of the lockdown period, by coincidence), it felt like the right time to take a look back over my discography.

Synthesis: The Light Dreams Anthology is a new compilation comprising some of my best work and most popular tracks alongside overlooked pieces and those which epitomise my sound and style. 

Compiling a selection of your own work is never easy, especially when it comes to instrumental music – I design every album to flow; each has a specific sound palette and atmosphere. So extracting individual pieces of music can feel somewhat sacriligeous, and the challenge lies in finding the pieces that can work as standalone tracks, but that also sit comfortably alongside pieces from different projects. With the help of Richard Hayes – my second pair of ears and sleevenote scribe – we established a selection of fourteen tracks which both take the listener on a journey through my discography, but that also work together to form an album in its own right.

I set myself the constraint of only choosing one track per album, though not necessarily from every album. I wanted to single out the moments I’m most proud, tracks which represent a specific project or simply pieces that I feel deserve to be more widely heard – this led to some unexpected choices, but also some other favourites being left out. 

As well as giving all the tracks a “polish,” in many instances I have created a new remix or edit, especially where some longer pieces were concerned. I felt that most of the tracks ought to have something new or different to the originals in order to make them unique to this collection, whether it was a shorter edit or an extended coda to help with the flow. This process also resulted in the creation of a brand new bonus track, Worlds Apart.

A natural order began to emerge, and the science fiction influence, which has always been a predominant feature in my music, really began to work its magic, forming a new narritive resulting in a cinematic collection of atmospheric instrumentals.

This compilation not only celebrates the music I have released on Bandcamp since 2012, but also works as a perfect introduction for anybody hearing my work for the first time. The full album download comes with two bonus tracks and a digital booklet.

Synthesis: The Light Dreams Anthology is available exclusively from Bandcamp as a ‘name your price’ release.

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com

A Synthesis is coming…

Synthesis – The Light Dreams Anthology is a new compilation of my music, due for release later this month.

I have had a compilation project in mind for some time, and have finally been able to go through my work and pick out a combination of most popular tracks, favourite pieces and some overlooked tracks. Most of the pieces have been remixed or edited specially for the compilation with the track choices and running order carefully selected to form an album in its own right.

More details will follow, but in the meantime, here is the cover art.

Windows On Other Worlds

To commemorate four years since my “Windows On Other Worlds” exhibition, I have added a new page to the Special Projects section. While only a small, local affair, exhibiting my work outside of a convention context was a big thing for me, and it was great! You can read more about it here and download the exhibition brochure, which details the artworks that were on show.

“Windows On Other Worlds” exhibition brochure cover

Blackpool Remembered – out today

Today sees the release of Blackpool Remembered – John Collier’s long-time ambition to create an extensive book about the original Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool.

I have illustrated the front cover and several exclusive interior pieces, as well as producing the year-by-year floor plans and providing several written pieces – it has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of this epic project. Blackpool Remembered is a digital publication, with over 400 pages and 80 contributors, and it’s all available for free!

The August Bank Holiday weekend was a time when the Collier family would traditionally be making their way up to Blackpool – which for young John, meant it would soon be time to descend those famous stairs once again, to see the year’s new exhibits at the Doctor Who exhibition, hidden beneath the surface of Blackpool’s Golden Mile.

It is now time to re-live those moments, as John’s long-time ambition to compile an expansive book about the Blackpool Doctor Who exhibition has finally come to fruition.

Enter the TARDIS and defy the Daleks once again, as Blackpool Remembered is now available! It is most certainly bigger on the inside – you will find over 400 pages of memories, photographs, interviews, floor plans, nostalgia, memorabilia, artwork and much more. For those fans who visited, this is the opportunity to go back in time, and for the generations of fans who missed it, your visit starts here!

Download Blackpool Remembered from the project website.

Blackpool Remembered book trailer

With just a week to go until John Collier’s Blackpool Remembered ebook project is released, the website has gone live (where you’ll be able to download the book from Friday 28th August), and I have put together an illustrated trailer for the book (above), which also features my own version of the Doctor Who theme tune!

I have wanted to make my own interpretation of the famous theme music since I was a child. I finally started my own version back in 2015, but it remained unfinished until now – it is an incredibly complex piece of music for somebody who only plays by ear, but I’ve given it my own stamp. You can hear it in full over on my Soundcloud page.

Back to the book – it now has over 70 contributors and is over 350 pages, packed full of memories, stories, photographs, illustrations and behind-the-scenes accounts – the range of articles and information from just one exhibition is quite incredible. But if you’re a Doctor Who fan or if you did visit the original exhibition between 1974 and 1985, then you will absolutely love this project, which has been a genuine labour of love for its editor, John and we can’t wait to share it.

Cover reveal: “Willow’s Run”

Here is my latest cover art for Alice Sabo’s forthcoming book, Willow’s Run. This cover is quite different to what we’ve done before, which made a refreshing challenge. Our first idea didn’t work out, but then Alice changed direction and the title of the book! We agreed that the new cover should feature a map with a few subtle items from the story overlaid.

For more information about Alice’s books and to keep up with the latest news, you can follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget, if you want a tour de force of my cover art for Alice, you can download The Art of a Changed World for free!)

“Willow’s Run” by Alice Sabo – cover art by Alex Storer

More details on “Blackpool Remembered”

Above, you can see a teaser for some of my illustrations for John Collier’s upcoming free ebook, Blackpool Remembered. This exciting project is one for Doctor Who fans everywhere, but particularly those, like myself, who went to the original exhibition in Blackpool in the 1970s and 1980s.

With 70 contributors, the book is going to be around 300 pages of memories, photographs, interviews, floor plans and a whole feast of other Blackpool exhibition-related nostalgia. As well as the front cover and interior illustrations, I have also contributed three written sections and produced the year-by-year floor plans.

The project will have its own website, where the book can also be downloaded in PDF format, from 28th August. Watch this space for details!

Blackpool Remembered

I am absolutely delighted to be part of an exciting project dedicated to the original Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool, which ran from 1974 to 1985 – which was the year I visited, as an awestruck seven-year-old.

Collated and edited by John Collier, Blackpool Remembered will be a free digital publication, documenting the evolution of the exhibition through fan memories and photographs, alongside detailed recollections from some of the people who made it happen. 

Contributors include Julie Jones, Bob Richardson, Mike Tucker and Neil Cole to name just a few, plus a wonderful foreword from Steve Cambden. 

I have illustrated and designed the front cover (below) plus completed several interior illustrations. In addition, I have rewritten and expanded my own recollections of the exhibition, which originally appeared in my 2011 publication, Who, Where & When.

If you’re a fan of classic Doctor Who and if you ever went to the first and most iconic incarnation of the exhibition, then stay tuned, as this will be for you! For further updates, head over to Twitter and follow @BlackpoolRemembered7485

Blackpool Remembered will be available to download as a PDF in August.

I also have another exciting Doctor Who-related project in the works, which I look forward to sharing in the near future. Needless to say I will soon be adding a Doctor Who section to the gallery pages here!

Chiaroscuro: track by track

It is now over a month since the release of Chiaroscuro, and in that time, Here and Now and Berlin Stratum have had radio airplay, and Comfort Zone is included on the recent free compilation album, A Journey to a Time or Place.

However back to the album itself, here is a brief insight into my thoughts and inspirations behind each track.

Berlin Stratum 
Everywhere you look in Berlin, there are layers of history, and you can feel that in the atmosphere of the city. But there’s also a modernism and sense of progression. I wanted to capture these contrasting moods in the music. There’s also the city’s musical heritage – my particular interest being Bowie’s time there in the late 70s. This all came together in a nostalgic and melancholic, yet dynamic track. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/berlin-stratum

Comfort Zone
After a reflective opening track, I wanted something more upbeat and optimistic. I entered a musical comfort zone… played my favourite chords, and fired up my favourite classic 80s/90s synth – the Korg M1. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/comfort-zone

Silver Screen
More nostalgia from a time gone by… inspired by images of 1940s and 50s cinemas and the golden age of the big screen – monochromatic romanticism. The saxophone really brings the track to life and was a big departure from my usual style. This development would shape the rest of the album.

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/silver-screen

Afterimage 
The first of three more abstract pieces. The title came first. I love the haunting description of “an image that continues to appear in the eyes after a period of exposure to the original image.”

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/afterimage

Aberration 
“A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected…” This track was originally a much longer piece, based on multiple layers of gradually building loops. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/aberration

There and Then
A more experimental piece; slow and evolving with more of a chill out feel, though reflective in mood. This track leads into the second part of the album. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/there-and-then

Neon Twilight 
A change in pace. Evening descents and the city comes alive; its streets illuminated in a frenzy of colour. An upbeat track drenched in cool 1980s vibes. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/neon-twilight

Evanescent
We move deeper into the night with a darker, heavier piece of electronica. Evanescent evolves mid-point, going from an atmospheric, pensive piece to a dynamic, driving conclusion. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/evanescent

Here and Now
The rockiest track on the album was partly inspired by one of my favourite albums, Bryan Ferry’s, Mamouna (1994). I really wanted to channel a similar mood and sound of the instrumentation as a kind of homage to Ferry’s masterwork. You’ll hear more Korg M1 and late night atmosphere. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/here-and-now

Nightowls
A track that transports you straight into one of Edward Hopper’s various night paintings, the album closes with a saxophone-led solitary piece. This was actually one of the first pieces I composed for the project, and I knew right away that it would be the final track. 

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/track/nightowls