I’d like to say a big thank you to Colin Spencer who has premiered three of my tracks on his show Electrocurated over on Artefaktor Radio over the last three weekends.
Electrocurated show #151 included the title track from The Ministry of Machine Building played in it’s eight-minute entirety; show #152 featured Undisturbed (also from Ministry) as the penultimate track and this weekend, show #153 saw the exclusive first airing of Glacier Heart, my first track with vocalist Ren Faye (we’re currently working on more material for an EP release; watch this space…).
From classics to underground acts and emerging artists, Colin’s show brings together a vibrant mix of electronic music including synth pop, synth wave, instrumentals and dance/trance. I couldn’t ask for my music to be in better company.
The Ministry of Machine Building can be found on major streaming platforms and is available for download on Bandcamp.
I’m pleased to announce a new electronic album, The Ministry of Machine Building.
Starting points for musical projects often come in the most unexpected places.
Back in 2019, I watched HBO’s excellent – if harrowing – miniseries, Chernobyl. Arguably one of the most gripping and unsettling depictions of any real-life event I’ve seen, as well as being interesting, technically and politically. I still remember the Chernobyl disaster happening – in April 1986, I was eight years old, and recall how it dominated the news. My young mind couldn’t quite comprehend the reality of what was going on in that other part of the world (I’d witnessed enough tragedy already that year with the Challenger explosion in January), but I knew it wasn’t good. I was hearing certain words for the first time, such as “Reactor” and “Radiation”… and when you learn words that way, they stick forever.
I was so compelled by the dramatisation, I immediately bought Serhii Plokhy’s detailed book on the subject, Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy for some long overdue education on the matter. An absolutely fascinating read, but it was in Plokhy’s book that I first saw reference to The Ministry of General Machine Building – an impressive title if ever there was one! The ministry was a Soviet government organisation based in Moscow and was responsible for overseeing all aspects of USSR space exploration. Another ministry, the Ministry of Medium Machine Building, was country’s secretive bureaucracy which supervised the Soviet nuclear industry, hence the link to Chernobyl.
Sometimes the words or phrases on the page of a book will stand out, and I’ll repurpose them into a song title, but on reading about the two ministries, I knew there and then this had to be an album title! Of course, making an album about a nuclear disaster would be neither cheerful or tasteful, but a slight shortening of the title gave way to a whole new creative scope and allowed me to reposition the Ministry into a science fiction context. Thinking back to the scenes in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, I was soon imagining a dystopian factory-city in a state of perpetual nightshade; shift workers clocking on and off as they collectively work toward the creation of huge machines and sentient creations they did not understand. This needed to be like the soundtrack for a science fiction film yet to be made, and carry a story through the tracks.
So this was the spark that led to the composition of The Ministry of Machine Building over the past couple of years. The title track was one of the first pieces I worked on, but it laid dormant for many months before being resurrected, once I found a suitable direction for the album. While generally dark and moody, I wanted there to be a balance of heavy, layered industrial electronica, evoking assembly lines and thundrous mechanical processes, alongside some lighter contrasting pieces, almost like a brief moment of repose from the immense factory world.
When called upon to write some sleeve notes for the album, Richard Hayes has delivered a fantastic piece of writing – not sleeve notes in the traditional sense, but almost a short story; or an excerpt from a diary, leaving the reader curious for more…
I was not free. I knew that well. Building the machines that dominate our world was the focus of my life, and there could be no escape from that role. The machines of the modern age would bring coercion to our society, which was no less a constraint for those who constructed them.
The Ministry of Machine Building will be released on Bandcamp on 2nd July 2021. Previews to follow!
One of the biggest revelations for me over the last decade, was discovering that I can create the kind of music I have always wanted to make, from the comfort of a home studio. “Studio” feels like a bit of a grand term, given that everything is contained within my Apple Mac (then again, I do work in my home studio where I also do illustration/artwork). But to be in an age where we can have access to such wonderful production tools and the ability to self-publish work online, is simply fantastic.
There are obvious pros and cons to this kind of setup – whatever you are publishing. Making music is a very personal process. I make the kind of music I like, with the hope that likeminded folk out there might enjoy it too. But there does come a point when you’ve heard your own work too much, and the obvious things no longer stand out. That’s usually when I’ll ask a couple of people for feedback. For me, the mixing and tweaking process is usually a more time consuming process than composing the initial tracks.
However, the final challenge is knowing when to step back; to declare it complete. This thing you’ve slaved and toiled over for months – is it ready? Really? I find that point often comes instinctively, and it is then that you have to stop fiddling with it. Too much fiddling, and you risk overworking it (I’ve been there many times!). Even so, there is always a moment of doubt and there will usually be things you want to amend or revisit later – and sometimes I do. But it is always a slightly unsettling moment, prior to hitting that “publish” button.
And that is what is going to happen this week.
Since January, I have been working on Mutate – an 8 track album of dark electronic instrumentals.
Mutate will be available from Friday 20th September via my pages on Bandcamp and Musicglue.
More details will follow… meanwhile, here in full is the opening track, Underground.