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

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

The Light Dreams – Chiaroscuro

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.

Chiaroscuro is available now in digital formats from Bandcamp and MusicGlue.

Here is a video for Silver Screen:

Berlin Stratum

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.)

Mutate – out today

Mutate, my new album of cinematic, electronic instrumentals is out today in digital format from the following websites:

Bandcamp: thelightdreams.bandcamp.com/album/mutate

8-track digital album (MP3, AIF, etc) comes with a 9-page PDF booklet plus 50-minute continuous mix of the album!

MusicGlue: musicglue.com/the-light-dreams

8-track digital album in MP3 format

Listen to Visitant on SoundCloud:

Music for the Stars

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!

Mutate – album preview #1

I have spent a large part of the last six months working on my new instrumental album, Mutate. Now it is time to present some brief previews of the first four tracks.

For those of us whose lives are soundtracked by music, we remember moments of discovery and musical revelation and all other manner of minute details, which are somehow important to us – especially those songs or albums that made a certain impact at the time never fail to evoke certain feelings.

It was with this in mind, that I approached Mutate. I returned to my musical ‘roots’ in a sense, listening again to many albums that had a profound affect on me, and the kind of albums that originally made me want to make music.

However, my own music needed to go somewhere different, so I set myself a specific creative parameter for the new project, which was to – wherever possible – only use sounds that I haven’t previously used. This meant getting rid of old favourites and ‘comfort zone’ instruments that I might normally use for my early demos ideas. This would make me think or work in a new way to achieve the very specific sound, style and atmosphere in mind. I usually have a number of potential titles to work backwards from, but this time, the final upheaval of my normal working process starting work without titles, and seeing where the music went.

Album preview #2 will follow soon, along with cover art and release info… stay tuned here or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

“Mutate”

My next album project is nearing completion, and will be called Mutate.

Mutate will be released in digital format via Bandcamp, hopefully with a limited CD edition following later in the year.

Watch this space for further details, but meanwhile, here is a brief taster.

New album – first teaser!

I have been working on a new album pretty solidly over the last couple of months, and it is now starting to take shape.

For this new project, I wanted a darker, grittier sound, and I decided to avoid using any previously used sounds, where possible in order to create a fresh sonic landscape.

Here is a brief taster of three current works in progress. Stay tuned for further updates!