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

Cover art: The Call of the Aïdin Planet

I’m delighted to reveal my cover art for The Call of the Aïdin Planet, by L.Z.Dàin – book one of The Legacy Saga from Seattle-based publisher, Tales of the Horizon.

The_Call_of_The_Aïdin_Planet_cover.png

“Nine-hundred thousand years ago, seven Galactic Humans discover a mysterious Time singularity on planet Earth. But, obscure powers beyond the many worlds of the Galactic Union will not stop until they control it. Thus, the seven must make a choice, a choice that will not only affect their evolutionary future but the destiny of Earth itself.”

As much as I love the opportunity to come up with initial ideas for a cover, I really like it when the author or publisher have a clear vision of what they’d like on the cover. It is their book after all! Sometimes this process can be flexible, depending on what ideas I may have or that I feel could add impact, and on other occasions, simply my own interpretation of the initial brief does the job. It is important to me that the finished work is typical of my style and approach to a distinctive cover but more importantly, what I come up with has to match their vision – and good collaboration and communication is key to that. The cover for this book is a fine example of a project perfectly coming together, despite us being on opposite sides of the globe!

Even when there’s a clear brief, I’ll always work up a quick black & white sketch, to make sure the composition and my interpretation are correct.

The Call of The Aïdin Planet cover sketch

Finally, I took the various elements of the illustration and created an animated reveal for the cover art:

The Call of the Aïdin Planet is available in paperback and ebook via Amazon. Further details about Tales of the Horizon can be found on their website.

Shoreline of Infinity’s Soundwave Podcast – Episode Two

Edinburgh-based science fiction magazine Shoreline of Infinity‘s recently launched podcast, Soundwave (to which I lent my music!).

Last summer I recorded an extensive interview with the Soundwave host RJ Bayley, discussing all aspects of my work and interest in science fiction and beyond. A genuinely great fun hour of conversation! We conducted the interview via Skype, which accounts for my echoey room… but echoes aside, we discussed so many things, including synaesthesia, artistic influences and creative processes.

But it’s not all about me – you’ll also hear narrative from other Shoreline contributors. Episode two is available to stream and download now.

https://shorelineofinfinity.podbean.com