Decade

I never thought I would produce over 25 albums in the space of a decade. As well as a rich and rewarding creative endeavour, for me making music is also a constant learning curve. As an entirely-self-taught artist, you’re only ever as good as you can be in that moment, and what you learn in one project, you feed into the next. Every album is an adventure – a progression in skill and knowledge as well as an expansion of the musical worlds I aim to create.

I first dabbled in making music between 2006-2009, producing several rough demo albums, and a couple of slightly more accomplished works which I regard as my first ‘proper’ albums. Then I took a break for three years. My inspiration returned in 2012 and with it came a newfound direction. Having rebooted myself musically with the album Inferno, I wanted to know if I had any kind of audience out there, so I chose Bandcamp as the platform to launch and sell my work. People listened, and liked it enough to buy the album – I knew right then, my music had found a home and an audience.

As a celebration of the ten years I’ve been on Bandcamp, I thought it was time to reflect on each of those albums. I am immensely proud of many of these albums. Others would have benefited from being worked on for longer; some could do with a better mix and there are one or two I’m less than keen on. But, I guess we are always our worst critics, and it is too easy to hear flaws in our work that might only be apparent to our own ears. Sometimes I can remember making a piece of music or toiling for hours over one particular moment – yet others, I have little or no memory of creating; almost as if it came into existence by itself. Once you make an album and put it out into the world, it finds its own way, while you move on to the next project… 

Into the Light (2007)

This was the album where I established my own sound and style. This album was the result of years of being a music fan and absorbing the influence of various artists. The biggest influence of this project through, was our honeymoon in Spain; the tranquility of the Andalusian mountains and the majesty of the Alhambra Palace… that special moment in time provided something unique that I channeled into the music. It does sound like somebody just starting out; the production isn’t great and there are many flaws in the performance, but that also adds a human touch to what is otherwise a very electronic album.

Mechanical Drive (2009)

My work usually drifts between lighter, more ethereal works and darker, heavier cinematic pieces. I’m usually most content creating dark, heavy synth-laden music with a science fiction edge and Mechanical Drive was really the first in this style. I had a lot more to learn, but there are some interesting ideas on this one.

Inferno (2012)

Inferno was my first release on Bandcamp in August 2012. Returning to music with a renewed interest, this is really where my work started to come into its own. Everything felt fresh and exciting again and I can still hear that in the music, although listening to it today, it would benefit from a remix and some more refined production. Despite that, its success on release really drove me forward.

Future Worlds (2013)

Following the loss of my father, I immersed myself in making music – strangely, this darkest period of grief also became my most creative. Future Worlds was a heavily science fiction-themed album and also my first release in association with the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. Each track was inspired by a different scenario or a classic SF book. It was perhaps a little over-ambitious and musically it could do with better production and less going on, but it remains one of my most popular releases on Bandcamp.

Beyond the Boundary (2013)

Following the release of Future Worlds, I started working on two new projects simultaneously during the summer of 2013. Beyond the Boundary was my second release in association with the Initiative for Interstellar Studies, and this time the concept of the music was all about space travel. It built on the style of Future Worlds, combining orchestral and electronic and was released to tie-in with a book of the same name published by the Initiative later that year.

Traces (2014)

This was the one. At the time, Traces was the culmination of everything I wanted to achieve musically, and its popularity on release affirmed that. It was a very personal project, reflected in the melancholic and nostalgic tones of the music. There was also nostalgia in the sound – it makes heavy use of the Korg M1 and Wavestation synths heard on so many albums in the late 1980s and 1990s. A lot of influence also came from the books I was reading at the time, with authors such as Christopher Priest and Haruki Murakami. I also released a free companion album, Traces Abandoned, comprising the other tracks I was working on which didn’t make it to the final album.

Future Worlds Redux (2014)

This was a fun project – I decided to rework the majority of Future Worlds into an orchestral/symphonic album, not unlike a film soundtrack. Some of the tracks really benefitted from the new arrangements.

Sentient City (2015)

Another science fiction album – this time with a dystopian edge, the concept being about life in a futuristic city. Yes, we’re firmly in Blade Runner territory! I really like this album, but feel I should have spent longer on it, with better mixing/production and perhaps included fewer tracks.

Panorama (2015)

My third release for the Initiative for Interstellar Studies was based around exploring alien planets. I was trying for a slightly different approach with Panorama, and in hindsight, it doesn’t work quite so well despite having some nice moments. Again, I had been working on two different projects simultaneously and this one maybe suffered a little through that.

Timeshift (2015)

Timeshift was my unofficial follow-up to Traces and was based on the theme of time passing. I really like this one and think it contains some of my best pieces. This was the project where I really elevated my production and mixing.

Dark Corners (2016)

Dark Corners is a collection of demos and leftover tracks from recent projects. This is very much a musical sketchpad than an album; ideas that had potential for further development. I offered it as a free download.

Legacy (2016)

This project was my way of dealing with the death of David Bowie. It was so hard to believe he was gone. I just sat down and started playing and within a few weeks had enough for an album. This was a quick but cathartic project. Legacy is a very dark album with its own distinctive mood.

Remnants From A Lost Time (2016)

Another very quick album – this one was a series of improvised ambient pieces, recorded in just one week. It was conceived as music to play while out walking in the woodlands and countryside, but one that also looked at the passing of time (another recurring theme). There’s something really unusual about this one and is my most ambient and experimental work to date.

Infinity of Space (2017)

My fourth and final (to date) album in association with the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. This was a difficult album to mix and I’m still not happy with how it sounds. By the end of the process, I really didn’t like it at all. However it does include two tracks featuring a friend on guitar, and his work really takes the music somewhere else – I’ve always felt very proud of those two tracks although I can’t take any of the credit!

Back Into the Light (2017)

Another personal favourite and one of my most accomplished albums. I composed this album to celebrate ten years since Into the Light. I wanted to return to the world I created with that first album and explore it some more. Back Into the Light is an album of dark and light shades, but with a more optimistic, mysterious and worldly feel.

Crossover (2018)

This album really represents my love of artists such as Mike Oldfield and Jean-Michel Jarre. In a nod to the instrumental concept albums of the 1970s, I wanted to create an album of continually evolving music which also tells some kind of story. The end result was three 15-minute long tracks. I was very happy with the overall sound and production and flow of the music. I wanted Crossover to play like a dream; crossing from one realm to another and something not unlike a video game soundtrack. Video game music has always been a big influence on my work, so that is celebrated here. Crossover is my most ambitious and complex work, but sadly one that never received much attention.

Prototype (2018)

Prototype is unusual in that it is an album mostly made of ideas leftover from previous projects. Unlike Dark Corners, I gave the tracks more of a polish (though still leaving the production quite raw, mistakes included, so not to lose the spontaneous energy) and also composed some new tracks to fit in. I think there are some really interesting ideas on here.

Mutate (2019)

Created during another period of grief, Mutate is another dark and cinematic album with a sci-fi influence. Fusing together rock, electronica and industrial styles, I was trying (perhaps too hard) to make a heavy, angry-sounding album, and it was very difficult to mix, and I’m still not happy with the first half of it. However the second half of Mutate has some strong material I’m really pleased with.

Chiaroscuro (2020)

Another one of my personal favourites, and an album largely inspired by traveling through European cities. Travel has always been a big musical inspiration for me, and although it was another difficult project to mix, I regard it as one of my best works, and also one where I tried out some new musical direction. Chiaroscuro is one of those albums that sounds best played late at night.

The Ministry of Machine Building (2021)

Another dark science fiction concept album, but for me, this one really succeeds conceptually, musically and in the mix. Right down to the red/black cover art, Ministry sits perfectly alongside Prototype and Mutate. Maybe this was the album I was working towards in this kind of style and concept.

Aspects (2022)

An artist’s latest work is always their favourite and that is certainly true of Aspects. Although not composed with any kind of concept, the songs all came together during different points of the various lockdowns at the height of the pandemic – yet they had a common sound and worked well together. I also wanted to return to the world of Traces a little, so I used some of the same sounds that had created that album’s distinctive atmosphere and the result was something that really affirmed this is where I want to be, musically and perhaps what I do best.

Although my music is on streaming services, I still regard Bandcamp as the main platform for my music, and that’s where you will find my full discography – although frustratingly in recent years, the rise in popularity of Spotify et al, has more or less sucked the life out of Bandcamp. The albums I have chosen to distribute on streaming services are those that I feel are my best work, but that should be at no detriment to the others – there’s something to discover on every one, and on the rare times I do listen back to my older work, it’s always rewarding when something surprises me.

Glacier Heart digital single

Glacier Heart, my first vocal collaboration with rising star Ren Faye, has been reissued as a two-track digital single. I originally released the song in July last year, but it soon got lost in the quagmire of independent music on streaming services.

The new single features an updated mix of Glacier Heart and also comes with an instrumental b-side. We are incredibly proud of this song, and this time, it also seems to be getting heard – if you enjoy the Glacier Heart, please help spread the word!

Glacier Heart is available now via Bandcamp, as well as Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Tidal and Deezer – see https://linktr.ee/thelightdreams for streaming options. Spotify users can also hear the track as part of Joe Tavano’s Relaxing Indie Moods playlist.

Glacier Heart also has a video, which has recently been picked by by Angel in the Dark’s popular YouTube channel.

Aspects – release round-up

Aspects has been out in the world for just over two weeks now, and it has been streamed, downloaded and playlisted. As an independent musician working outside of the usual spheres, it is always so gratifying and rewarding to know that somebody in another part of the world has taken a moment to listen to my work.

Aspects was composed during 2020–2021; strange years for all of us. 2021 began with the tightening of pandemic restrictions, slowly followed by the (short-lived) hope that we would be returning to some kind of normality. A somewhat premature optimism, given the unprecedented circumstances. I had been working on new music at various points, for different projects – my vocal collaborations with Ren Faye, other potential collaborations and several tracks just for the simple love of making music.

I’ve often felt the best material often creates itself. Those moments when an idea for a piece of music seems to fall from the sky and comes seamlessly together, are the most satisfying – not because it doesn’t mean hours of toil, but because it is a fine example of creativity in action. It’s almost like some kind of magic. My normal process for recording an album is to begin with a title and concept, and work backwards from there. The process for Aspects was the complete opposite. Towards the end of last summer, I reviewed the music I had made over the course of the past year and discovered they all fitted perfectly together. I realised I had a solid album in the making.

As I worked on the tracks, I found various consistencies between them; common themes, moods and atmospheres. I had the music in mind when I took the cover photograph, on the west coast of Scotland in September 2021. I knew as I framed the shot, it was going to be the cover art.

Aspects is an album I am very proud of, both musically and from a production perspective, which is always the most taxing part of the process. It is an album for reflection and meditation; to allow one to travel in the mind and temporary escape the worries and uncertainties of the world around us. I had already set a release date when the dreadful, devastating situation in Ukraine unfolded. Although it felt insensitive to be releasing and promoting this project when a country is being destroyed – homes, families and livelihoods wrecked – but releasing the work or not wasn’t going to change what is going on. If anything, I might hope that anybody listening to the album enjoys a moment of escape and distraction.

Aspects is available to download via Bandcamp, and also comes with a digital booklet. You will also find it on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer and Tidal for streaming.

Below are videos for Aspects and Breaking Surface

ASPECTS – OUT TODAY!

My new album Aspects is released today as a digital download on Bandcamp and across popular streaming platforms.

Aspects was composed and recorded between December 2020 and February 2022. I wanted to return to my roots a little, with longer, flowing instrumental pieces with shades of dark and light. Aspects has a reflective and contemplative mood, but an overall tone of optimism. Music has the power to keep certain memories alive and fondly remembered times and places in check. Either as a listener or creator, music allows us to travel to many different junctures, and during troubles and worrying times like the present, that escape is vital. Why not take some time out for a journey…

https://linktr.ee/thelightdreams

Aspects – album teaser

My new album Aspects will be released on Bandcamp and streaming platforms on 25th February 2022.

Here’s a short teaser…

As the title suggests, the music explores various perspectives and viewpoints of life. We’ve all had cause to reflect or contemplate during the pandemic and as ever, when I’m not working on art, I channel my thoughts into music. As a self-taught musician, every album project is a learning curve, and along the way, new discoveries are made and processes learnt, as I become absorbed in the creation of an album. Aspects was composed over the course of the past 18 months and the result is a suite of tracks I’m really proud of.

The Light Dreams – Aspects

I will soon be releasing a new instrumental album entitled Aspects – which I composed over the course of the past couple of years. The first track I’m previewing from the album is called Breaking Surface.

Aspects will be released digitally via Bandcamp and available on popular streaming platforms very soon – stay tuned for updates.

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

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.

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