A Century’s Quarter

In 2013 it will have been 25 years since I got my first synthesizer. I have written a huge amount of music in that time.

This is not a compilation or best of (see my Sampler collections) but a loose retrospective based on my style, techniques and themes over the past quarter of a century as a composer.

In some ways I see this first 25 years as simply a beginning, a hint of what I can really do.

Track Listing (in order of composition)

  • Coldfire Energizer – the first piece written and only contains a few instruments. It is rather minimal and clearly harks back to some of the work around the time of Works In Proto-Techno.
  • Midnight’s Echoes – Lonely Midnight may have been lost as an album but some of the feel comes back in this simple piece along with the minimalist simplicity of Afternoons In Foreign Climates. I will freely admit the brass line is a strong Jarre influence in this one. It’s probably about the first time I have set out to deliberately capture some of his feel.
  • Spring Flowers – Sometimes I really want to write a long piece like The Search for Strength from The Flowers Of Technology. This is one of those moments. There are a few sections (2nd and 4th) featuring solos I played live!
  • My Friend The Machine – I wrote so many tracks about robots and technology in the mid-late 1990’s and I regret none of it. Sure, whales & dolphins were far more popular subject matter Operating Electronic Machinery but not with me and the people finding the internet at that time. iPhones were to come and boy did they prove my take on matters.
  • Standing Stones – has the big, weighty feel of a ruin existing through time. The structures are monolithic and life twines its way around in the spaces between. I was in mind of a track called Oceanic Mammals I wrote after seeing a documentary on whales as well as some other tracks like The Standing Man. This is a theme that also underlay a lot of the Gods Of The Desert album.
  • LotusNew Growths often come from decay. Going back to basics worked nicely here. This piece has the simple construction so prevalent in my earlier works along with a lead line that is evocative and mysterious at once. The lead was written at the end. It was sequenced in the second section and this left an openness in the first section as well as a need to tie in the new sound. I went back and noodled a few notes in one take and it felt like such a nice balance against the static backdrop.
  • Campaigns – this was the piece where I consciously decided to write a piece as if I had the instruments and sequencer I used in 1995. Back then I had to write pieces in blocks, something that I very rarely do these days. I made a few blocks and put them together. I did ‘cheat’ a little at the end by adding some parts to tie the blocks together and make the piece flow better. Now I have the ability to add an infinite number of effects per instrument but back then I had one multi-effect unit that I had to use for the whole mix. I would create the effect patch (Chorus>Delay>Reverb) and then have 3 ‘mix’ options to choose from Dry (well just a smidge) for Drums and Bass, 50/50 for lead and other instruments I couldn’t let swim and the original 100% balance. I emulated that and it was fun to be so limited again. You will hear a great sense of similarity with the 1st Campaign album.
  • Gods Of State – I really liked the idea of my Enemy/State album that sadly never got any listeners. I decided to let this piece be made in the same way with lots of little sections that show a progress from i) tentative to ii) bold, iii) delicate and detailed then iv) dies away and finally v) re-establishes in a dream state. Think of this as being like the progress of a state or empire built on an idea or religion.
  • Chariots Of The Titans – started out called Ring Of Brodgar after a show I saw on TV about the standing stones up in the Orkneys. Like many people I had no idea there was anything like that up north of Hadiran’s. With an English background I was educated to believe that the Scots were little more than annoying savages who had to have a wall build to hold them back. I decided to rename once I recognized the real concept to this record. This track really harks back to Orbits Of Attraction which was a very space & mythology based album anyway so no harm done in the name change. Imagine being so grand you need a planet as a mode of transport.
  • Taking Wing – started out as Ruins In The Grass which wasn’t really a good name for the piece as it feels far more like flying so the rename to reflect Flights Of Fancy was both stylistically & conceptually appropriate. The piece really came together when I added the low Phased string that reminds me of Blake’s 7 every time I hear it.
  • Transmission’s Edge – was the fastest piece to write as it is mostly an automated noise section repeated over ascending octaves and then a set of descending chords. Sometimes simple is just the best way. I set out to write an echo of A Long Time Coming from Gods but quickly had a feel that was far more reminiscent of the loneliness of The Edge Of Transmission idea. The electric piano was played over the end in one take and then I made a shorted noodle that is repeated quietly 6 times under the modulated noise to help tie everything together and give it a bit more movement.
  • Foreign Harbour – I knew exactly what I wanted going into this piece. There was a piece I wrote very early on that was based on bells and a floaty water feel. All I had to work with at the time was one Casio CZ-1000, a couple of guitar pedals and a cassette 4-track. I played everything off the cusp and had a piece that was a precursor of what I do now. That was the start of my career so to speak. I don’t think there is a surviving recording of that piece but the memory never left me. This project seemed the perfect time to revive that session from my mind.
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