Ahead of the release of The Ministry of Machine Building on Bandcamp this Friday, here is a new video for en edited version of one of the album tracks, The Hall of Machines.
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.
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.
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:
There and Then
Here and Now
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.
Here is a video for Silver Screen:
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!
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…