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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
BerlinStratum 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
I’m pleased to announce the release of Chiaroscuro; a new instrumental album inspired by city life and the layers of time. Nighttime atmospheres blend with nostalgic, melancholic tones forming a dreamlike musical world in which to escape.
“The world of chiaroscuro is one of contrast – between light and darkness, of transition between one realm and another. Colours blend, textures merge, and it is the difference itself which gives meaning to the whole.
Change is the essence of life, and contrast is the basis of understanding what it all means. This album takes us through an appreciation of how we can make sense of the differences that flow through our existence, against a background of the cities in which we live. They have their darker and brighter sides, and we need to grasp the relationship between them within ourselves.
Light and shade are part of the same process – one has no meaning without the other. We need both in order to make sense of the artwork that is our life.”
The track list for Chiaroscuro is as follows:
Berlin Stratum Silver Screen Afterimage Aberration There and Then Neon Twilight Evanescent Here and Now Nightowls
The full album download comes with a bonus PDF booklet containing a specially-written introduction by Richard Hayes plus a selection of my own photography juxtaposed with archive images that all represent the theme of Chiaroscuro.
I am pleased to present a brand new track and video – Berlin Stratum.
This instrumental piece was inspired by my stay in Berlin last year and evokes the atmosphere, history, architecture and music of the city. It is a track tinged with melancholy and nostalgia, but also one of progression.
Berlin Stratum is the first track on my upcoming album, Chiaroscuro. More details soon…
(Yes, that is a photo of David Bowie, framed in the window of the iconic Hansa studios, where he recorded the Heroes album.)
The science fiction gallery page has been updated with the addition of two brand new pieces of artwork, Simulacrum and Into Battle.
These two pieces plus many others will be part of my display in the art show at next month’s Novacon – the UK’s longest-running science fiction convention. This year’s Guest of Honour is writer Mike Carey, perhaps best known for The Girl With All the Gifts. If you’re going, do drop by the art room and say hello!
Finally, here are two promotional videos for Mutate:
I have added a new page to the ‘Special Projects’ section of the site – my essay on the influence of space travel in music and popular culture – Musica Universalis.
This piece looks at the evolution of electronic music in tandem with the golden era of space travel as well as those eternal musical associations, such as David Bowie’s Space Oddity and the Apollo 11 moon landing.
I wrote lengthy sections on David Bowie, Jean-Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield, exploring their association with space and how their music is still today, used in conjunction with space travel projects. I also looked at film and television series music in science fiction, and how it’s all connected… If that sounds like your kind of thing, read on!