Triumph & Tragedy is all about Stories of Humanity. The subjects of the stories may be Gods & Myths but they are all expressions of how we behave as humans. Our strengths, weaknesses, successes & failings, triumphs & tragedies.
Each of these stories was chosen because they show a triumph leading to a tragic outcome. This is the most popular theme on Facebook, Twitter, in Movies… Except in movies we prefer to end on a high again. Perhaps with the Greek Myths, the fact that the proponents are still remembered is that eternal happy ending (like the whole message of the movie “Troy”).
The cover art is Herbert James Draper’s “Lament for Icarus” from 1898. This became the perfect image for the cover for a few reasons. The image carries parallels with one of my fave album covers of all time by Patrick Woodroffe, “Sad Wings Of Destiny” from Judas Priest. “Fall of Icarus” was immediately one of my fave pieces so the synergy was even better. Now to top it all off, this is one damn fine painting. It is so emotive & evocative – all the things great art should be. It tells a grand story, even if it bends the details and Icarus still has wings. The girls are a nice touch, as is the burning sky behind. I couldn’t resist.
Musically I was in a funny place (as is common for me) as coming out of “Unmade Movies” I wanted to try something even more dramatic. I also got slightly involved in some New Age stuff at the time and there was a suggestion that if I could deliver a New Agey enough record I could get somewhere. All hot-air really. As I was starting to think of this theme I was suddenly doing “Plugged-In Bach” as a side thing. That mashed together to deliver the sound you hear here which sees me dip into Folk Dance, Rock, New Age, Orchestral & my traditional Space style. It will win hearts or it won’t.
You may also notice that my last couple of releases now come with added middle name. Why? I mean isn’t my name too long & complex already? Can’t be any worse. Also, there are more Benedicts appearing. Curse them all. Family lore has Edgecombe as a misspelled illegitimate family name that ever-so-loosely ties me to an English Earldom. Who knows or cares really. I’m not claiming anything but it might explain why I love Devon sausage. I think if truth be told it is that I am saying that this is fully me. I’m not trying to bend to the vague will of others, I do what I do. That and it makes me sound like a serial killer and everyone loves serial killers don’t they?
- Intro – Transition is a small starter to the whole song-cycle. Quite simply the device is to try to tell you that this music is supposed to take you elsewhere. In case you wonder, that thunder is 100% synthesis with no lightning or other weather involved.
- Echoes of Troy was in effect the first track written but it resisted naming for a while. This is the only piece not about a person. I considered, but discarded, Helen because it was too obvious (and OMD, Sinead O’Connor & Icehouse have been there before). Despite being about a place or civilization, Troy is still the cycle of greatness undone by a vanity.
- Call of Leucosia is about Sirens. They are most famous for leading people (well men) astray. Often they appear in stories like The Odyssey, after a triumph of some kind. This was the first of the album tracks to get a concrete name. Some of that actually grew from listening to Gary Numan’s “Telekon” album and noticing the Moog playing a line that was somewhat siren-like as it rises & falls in pitch as well as notes. I stole that here as a tribute.
- Fall of Icarus is one of the most famous & easy to understand Greek stories. Iron Maiden and many others have been here before me. That presented me with how to attack it my way? I broke it into a couple of parts. We start with the triumph of Icarus flying up to the sky like the Gods and he flits about like a starling. It then comes unglued (literally) and Icarus falls. Twice, once physically and then emotionally. My Icarus doesn’t really die but has to move through the depression until he can find the echoes of his true success in himself.
- Eternal Punishment of Prometheus may not have an initial triumph to some but in many versions of the story, Prometheus was the champion of humans. He looked after us and helped us to grow. Zeus became annoyed that we may eventually challenge him and sought to cut us off. Prometheus gives us fire so that we wouldn’t fall too far as it gives us protection as well as the basis of technology. Of course, Zeus was irate and banished Prometheus to have his liver (emotions/humanity) eaten every day. This is the same essential story as the Christian “War In Heaven” and banishment.
- End of Asclepius is essentially the same story as Prometheus. Asclepius was one of the pioneers of medicine and seeing humans not pop off so easily scared Zeus so he fried him. Which is where this track begins. The track essentially sees Asclepius lamenting & questioning himself over the indignity of being punished for being helpful. I can relate.
- Fatal Beauty of Medusa is based on the more common later idea of Medusa having been a beauty as a young woman and then being cursed to become the monster who turns men (the object of her desire & beauty) into stone the moment she looks at them. You could make a raft of teen movies on that one alone. In this situation, I decided to try to base the piece on Greek Folk Dancing. The piece alternates between the later monstrous Medusa and the young beauty who is also rather vain. I think of it that Medusa was still the same person, only that her need sapped her beauty so she destroyed all she looked on without ability to control herself.
- Death of Hyacinthus started life as an advert I was working on for a product. The advert needed a riff as a band played in the practice room. I really liked the idea and didn’t want to abandon it (besides it was never a buy out). It took quite a few drafts to get it from where it was to where it is now. In this story, Hyacinthus is a beautiful youth who catches the eye of Apollo & Zephyrus (the West Wind). Apollo wins his affection and Zephyrus remains jealous. One day as Apollo & Hyacinthus are playing discus (a clay frizbee) Zephyrus diverts the course of the discus and hits Hyacinthus in the head. This piece portrays the vitality of the beautiful, lively youth (with no real development of character as is common at this time) and sees that fade out as he dies in Apollo’s arms.
- Plight of Phaedra was an early track and started from a scrap I had made to test a technique. I really liked the sound and needed to develop it. The obvious connection was Phaedra because of the Tangerine Dream album of the same name. I did my research on the story and it all came together. This is also a tone poem as we start with the beautiful but chilly (already cracked) Phaedra, then the madness comes through with the voices and she lays in her plans for her husband’s son from a former wife. As Theseus realizes what has happened he gets angry and rants at her and to Poseidon. Phaedra begins to regret the mess she has made (son is killed) but is too emotionally broken to really get herself together to mend the situation so she drifts on as beautiful as ever but mad inside.
- Twice-Born Dionysus is the only track where the tragedy comes before the triumph. Dionysus is born, killed and then taken by Zeus to be reborn from his leg. Dionysus, of course, goes on to be the God of wine, fertility, theatre & generally having a very good time.
all paintings by Herbert James Draper
Feedback on “Fall of Icarus”: this was most unexpected, I popped Icarus up on the Drooble Review carousel expecting the same sort of savaging I got over “Saturn – Prisoners of the Gas Giant” so imagine my surprise when I got up the next morning and found 8 of 8 respondents were positive. Some very much so. Color me happy.
I love when the artist leaves the directions of their composition in words 😉 it’s easy for me to evaluate the whole track and understand it. Love the whole story of Icarus 2:40 great arrangement he’s falling? and 3:08 hits bottom? I felt like that was his moment of failure then back up again for triumph 😉 great work! Very creative what you’ve done here I love a story with my music even if there’s no vocals..brilliantly done!
Still Hill Folk Band – 10/10
Very well written piece, layer upon layer, the intensity builds. Well produced. Interesting work indeed!
Daniel Jackson – 7/10
Ambient sound music that has been constructed with a story in mind extremely creative and brilliantly recorded/programmed.
Glads Tone – 7/10
This is a ‘Ace Electronic Track’ worth a listen to if into that Genre, like myself. When I was listening to this fully, I was instantly reminded of the likes of ‘Vangelis’ the one behind ‘Chariots Of Fire’ and also ‘Enigma’ as well, who did ‘Sadness Part II’ in the 90’s. Also this would really suit the ‘Ending’ to a ‘Movie’ that is in the same Genre as ‘Chariots Of Fire’ or ‘Clash Of The Titans’ since it has that feel to it from what I hear. ‘Ace Track’ and hope you keep at what you do. Good Luck… There is absolutely no need for further ‘Improvement’ from what I was listening to. I think it is already ‘Fantastic Sounding’ the way it is. Very ‘Professional’ as far as I am aware.
John McCourt – 9/10
I could feel the plight of Icarus, to his height his stall, and his fall, I don’t know what MIDI or EDM is but this is very very good. I want to hear the album. When it is right it is right don’t change a thing, this thing wants me to write more, ok from Gods heart to your ears perfect.
Robert Paredes – 10/10