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 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 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:
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.
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.