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.
Above is the second, short teaser for my conceptual instrumental album, The Ministry of Machine Building. I always create a digital booklet for my releases on Bandcamp – not only does this add a little value for money, but more importantly, the artwork and sleeve notes is, for me, an extension of the album. Even though I only release my music digitally, it’s important for me that each release has artwork and a ‘booklet’, just like a physical release would. Richard Hayes has written a special, short narrative that reinforces the album concept, and this is a short snippet.
The second full-length preview track from the album, Nightwatch, is now up on SoundCloud.
The Ministry of Machine Building will be released on 2nd July.
Finally, my recent collaboration with Ren Faye, Glacier Heart is now available on Spotify and Apple Music, and also has a new video.
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!
“Glacier Heart” is now available for streaming on Spotify, and a new video has been created for the song.
The track was recorded remotely – commonplace these days, but perhaps moreso during Covid times.
I have recently been composing tracks for potential songs, as it suddenly felt like the right time to test the water in this direction – but it had to be with the right kind of vocalist. Then I heard one of Ren’s tracks on SoundCloud and really loved her voice – we’ve been in touch for a while, but never discussed our music – I sent my demo over and asked if she would like to record some vocals for it… and in no time at all, she came up with these beautiful, enchanting lyrics and amazing vocals to go with it. It was one of those ‘perfect fit’ moments.
As an instrumentalist, I had never mixed vocals before, so this was an interesting new challenge, but I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound and the kind of cinematic atmosphere it should have. Having worked with other musicians in the past, I know how rewarding creative collaboration is, whether you are in the same room or working remotely – if you’re on the same wavelength, exciting things always happen, and that was definitely the case here. Ren and I are delighted with the finished track, and that has encouraged us to work on more pieces together, hopefully with a view to releasing an EP in the near future.
I’m really happy to share my first vocal collaboration, “Glacier Heart” featuring Ren Faye.
I have long wanted to work with a vocalist and Ren’s captivating and atmospheric voice turned out to be an absolutey perfect complement to my music. I’d never mixed vocals before either, so this was an interesting new area to venture into – and if all goes to plan, there will be more in the near future with a view to releasing an EP on Bandcamp.
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.
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.)
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.