The Ministry of Machine Building – out now

This suite of conceptual instrumentals plays out like; the dark soundtrack to a science fiction film yet to be made… enter The Ministry…


Out now on Bandcamp, and on streaming services soon!

https://thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/album/the-ministry-of-machine-building

Ministry of Machine Building – more previews and Glacier Heart video

Above is the second, short teaser for my conceptual instrumental album, The Ministry of Machine Building. I always create a digital booklet for my releases on Bandcamp – not only does this add a little value for money, but more importantly, the artwork and sleeve notes is, for me, an extension of the album. Even though I only release my music digitally, it’s important for me that each release has artwork and a ‘booklet’, just like a physical release would. Richard Hayes has written a special, short narrative that reinforces the album concept, and this is a short snippet.

The second full-length preview track from the album, Nightwatch, is now up on SoundCloud.

The Ministry of Machine Building will be released on 2nd July.

Finally, my recent collaboration with Ren Faye, Glacier Heart is now available on Spotify and Apple Music, and also has a new video.

The Ministry of Machine Building

I’m pleased to announce a new electronic album, The Ministry of Machine Building.

Starting points for musical projects often come in the most unexpected places. 

Back in 2019, I watched HBO’s excellent – if harrowing – miniseries, Chernobyl. Arguably one of the most gripping and unsettling depictions of any real-life event I’ve seen, as well as being interesting, technically and politically. I still remember the Chernobyl disaster happening – in April 1986, I was eight years old, and recall how it dominated the news. My young mind couldn’t quite comprehend the reality of what was going on in that other part of the world (I’d witnessed enough tragedy already that year with the Challenger explosion in January), but I knew it wasn’t good. I was hearing certain words for the first time, such as “Reactor” and “Radiation”… and when you learn words that way, they stick forever.

I was so compelled by the dramatisation, I immediately bought Serhii Plokhy’s detailed book on the subject, Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy for some long overdue education on the matter. An absolutely fascinating read, but it was in Plokhy’s book that I first saw reference to The Ministry of General Machine Building – an impressive title if ever there was one! The ministry was a Soviet government organisation based in Moscow and was responsible for overseeing all aspects of USSR space exploration. Another ministry, the Ministry of Medium Machine Building, was country’s secretive bureaucracy which supervised the Soviet nuclear industry, hence the link to Chernobyl.

Sometimes the words or phrases on the page of a book will stand out, and I’ll repurpose them into a song title, but on reading about the two ministries, I knew there and then this had to be an album title! Of course, making an album about a nuclear disaster would be neither cheerful or tasteful, but a slight shortening of the title gave way to a whole new creative scope and allowed me to reposition the Ministry into a science fiction context. Thinking back to the scenes in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, I was soon imagining a dystopian factory-city in a state of perpetual nightshade; shift workers clocking on and off as they collectively work toward the creation of huge machines and sentient creations they did not understand. This needed to be like the soundtrack for a science fiction film yet to be made, and carry a story through the tracks.

So this was the spark that led to the composition of The Ministry of Machine Building over the past couple of years. The title track was one of the first pieces I worked on, but it laid dormant for many months before being resurrected, once I found a suitable direction for the album. While generally dark and moody, I wanted there to be a balance of heavy, layered industrial electronica, evoking assembly lines and thundrous mechanical processes, alongside some lighter contrasting pieces, almost like  a brief moment of repose from the immense factory world.

When called upon to write some sleeve notes for the album, Richard Hayes has delivered a fantastic piece of writing – not sleeve notes in the traditional sense, but almost a short story; or an excerpt from a diary, leaving the reader curious for more…

I was not free.  I knew that well.  Building the machines that dominate our world was the focus of my life, and there could be no escape from that role.  The machines of the modern age would bring coercion to our society, which was no less a constraint for those who constructed them.

The Ministry of Machine Building will be released on Bandcamp on 2nd July 2021. Previews to follow!

Glacier Heart – streaming and video

“Glacier Heart” is now available for streaming on Spotify, and a new video has been created for the song.

The track was recorded remotely – commonplace these days, but perhaps moreso during Covid times.

I have recently been composing tracks for potential songs, as it suddenly felt like the right time to test the water in this direction – but it had to be with the right kind of vocalist. Then I heard one of Ren’s tracks on SoundCloud and really loved her voice – we’ve been in touch for a while, but never discussed our music – I sent my demo over and asked if she would like to record some vocals for it… and in no time at all, she came up with these beautiful, enchanting lyrics and amazing vocals to go with it. It was one of those ‘perfect fit’ moments.

As an instrumentalist, I had never mixed vocals before, so this was an interesting new challenge, but I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound and the kind of cinematic atmosphere it should have. Having worked with other musicians in the past, I know how rewarding creative collaboration is, whether you are in the same room or working remotely – if you’re on the same wavelength, exciting things always happen, and that was definitely the case here. Ren and I are delighted with the finished track, and that has encouraged us to work on more pieces together, hopefully with a view to releasing an EP in the near future.

Here’s the video for “Glacier Heart”…

Glacier Heart

I’m really happy to share my first vocal collaboration, “Glacier Heart” featuring Ren Faye.

I have long wanted to work with a vocalist and Ren’s captivating and atmospheric voice turned out to be an absolutey perfect complement to my music. I’d never mixed vocals before either, so this was an interesting new area to venture into – and if all goes to plan, there will be more in the near future with a view to releasing an EP on Bandcamp.

Best of British Science Fiction 2020

I’m pleased to announce my illustration Daybreak features as the cover art to an exciting forthcoming SF anthology from NewCon Press – Best of British Science Fiction 2020. The book is edited by Donna Bond and features a wealth of contemporary science fiction authors including Mike Carey and Anne Charnock as well as the BSFA Award-winning short story, Infinite Tea in the Demara Café.

Best of British Science Fiction 2020 is now up for pre-order on the NewCon Press website.

Works in progress

The last few months have been focused on music, including some collaborations. More on those later, but first off, here is a short taster of some of the new tracks I’ve been working on.

More previews and the album title will be revealed soon, but it will be a science fiction-themed concept album.

In December, I was asked to compose a signature tune for this year’s Eastercon (ConFusion), which due to the pandemic was held online in April. Here is my full theme (edits were used for the various online presentation elements). I wanted to create something with a strong science fiction atmosphere, but which also conveys the busy frenzy of the convention environment.

The Light Dreams music on Spotify

A selection of my albums have been available on streaming services for a while, however on Spotify, my releases were getting confused with an artist of the same name! I have now been able to correct this and finally got my own artist profile on Spotify. I have made a special playlist, an introduction to The Light Dreams, which you can stream here: