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 Light Dreams – radio play roundup

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.

Track by track: The Ministry of Machine Building

As The Ministry of Machine Building is now available on Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music, here’s a quick run through of my initial thoughts behind each track…

Aparition Haze

I think of this piece like the opening titles to a film or series. The imagery in my mind was a mysterious city shrouded in a dark smog, under a veil of perpetual nightshade. This is the start of our journey into a mechanical underworld…

The Ministry of Machine Building

The epic title track was the first piece I composed for the project; a long and evolving track that takes you on a frenetic tour of The Ministry, from crashing steelworks and forges to production lines, this is where the action happens. I was imagining a huge, complex hive of non-stop industrial activity, computing, assembly and testing The . workers continually clock on and off their shifts as they work to build the machines.

Nightwatch

After such a dense and complex track comes a little respite, and a welcome gasp of night air. Part of the album concept was to follows the life of one of the workers, from days on end in the darkness of The Ministry to moments of contemplation while on the ‘night watch’. 

Assembly

As the title suggests, this is the first of several tracks which explore what is being created in the ominous depths of this industrial city. Much of this album is heavy; there are often two or even three drum tracks layered up to create a robotic, mechanical movement. Part of the challenge musically was to also create a catchy piece of electronica; something with groove and a solid beat.

The Hall of Machines

This track was probably the most diccifult to make and I worked through several iterations of it before it started to feel right. My original idea was for it to be quite a sparse, minimal composition with no or little drums, but – as is often the case – it found its own way, drifting from that starting point, although echoes of that idea can still be heard in the intro and outro. In terms of the concept, this is really taking the listener on a journey through the giant central hall of The Ministry, where the machines reside, awaiting activation and instruction.

Insomnia

I wanted to create a piece with a slightly delerious, dreamy atmosphere. Even though the work shift is over, sleep doesn’t come easily, and we find ourselves wandering the city streets from the darkest night to the early hours of morning.

Modularity

The follow-up to Assembly in some ways, this is the album’s heaviest and most powerful track. Here, we travel through the networks – physical and virtual – of The Ministry; the electronic networks of the computer brain and creation of artificial intelligence.

Escape Plan

The underlying plot in so many classic science fiction stories is the notion of escape; those dreams of leaving that will one day be fulfilled, in a frantic and tense adventure in face of all odds. This was an older demo track that was left unfinished – this provided a solid framework on which to build an energetic, groove-based track.

Reactor

I wanted the album to culminate in a dark and dramatic finalé. What is the reactor, or what – or whom – is reacting? This could be our protagonist’s reaction to his live enslaved by The Ministry – reaching breaking point and working to bring the whole thing crashing down… or perhaps this is the sound of the reactor itself; the deadly molten core and beating heart of The Ministry.

Undiscovered

A kind of epilogue. Fast forward many years, and The Ministry of Machine Building is no more; a relic of the past, consigned to history. But perhaps one day the old site will be unearthed. Still there after all this time. The machinery abandoned and rusted, the Hall of Machines a derilict shell. Or is it? Geiger counters crackle, and if you listen closely, what is that low drone, emitting from below the surface?