Music composed in techno style for a Cornerstone shaving advert commissioned in the autumn of 2015.
What is out there? Out beyond the atmosphere, the solar system, the Milky Way? What would it be like to be floating in a small spacecraft in that endless emptiness, seeing galaxies in the distance maybe. Light years from everything. Totally alone.
Would the darkness of deep space be too much? Would our consciousness be able to cope with it or just fold in on itself, in turn touching the void within and disappearing, or expanding to yet unknown potentials. Or if a blinding light beam entered your field of space. Or a strange spacecraft of some utterly alien nature approached and you could see it's dark monolithic silhouette in the rear view mirrow. What existential terror would strike? Or would a profound peace and equilibrium have a hold over you?
Yes, these are the things I lie awake at night mulling over.
Mad, Bad and Scary is a short soundtrack piece that I wrote to try my hand at different styles of soundtrack writing. It incorporates low stings rumbling at the beginning to give an ominous feel, moving into heavy cinematic bass drums and storm drums to give tension and momentum with a staccato and tremolando string riff. This moves into col legno (hitting the strings with the bow) effects together with sustained minor 2nds in the high strings ramping up even more tension before the end of the piece.
It's a very short composition, but I hope it paints the correct mood and wouldn't be out of place in a thriller or horror movie.
Dies Irae is a totally new piece of work that I pieced together from a harmony lead guitar sequence I improvised last week. over a bed of guitar feedback. I then added the orchestral parts and voices.
The text are fragments from the Latin Requiem Mass - "Vox tenebris" (voice of darkness) and "Dies irae, dies illa, Solvet saeclum in favilla," (this day, this day of wrath, shall consume the world in ashes). Rather apocalyptic!
This is a return to the style of my gothic solo project Sibelian's sound, as sound I really enjoy and which I feel expresses something primeval. Bathed in ambience and reverb, it hopefully captures something both raw and primal, together with a sense of the epic.
This is a short acoustic track which I have literally written and recorded in two hours today.
It's influenced by the late 60s, early 70s folk style and features finger-picking on the classical guitar. One single guitar track recorded in one take instead of my usual multi-layered guitars.
The vocal in the 2 verses are just improvised and are the first take in each case. I wanted some sort of immediacy, and though I've never been an improviser I hope that they capture some sense of suspension in time. The chorus is set to one of my favourite chord progressions on guitar, one that I am always playing around with...D major 1st inversion, with F# in the bass, resolving to G major, then on to A7sus4.
I knew I'd get it into a song some time. This calls for a celebration!
Newport Beach (Big Beach or Traeth Mawr in Welsh) is the long, wide expanse of sand at Newport, Pembrokeshire, a couple of miles from where I grew up from 8-18 and where my parents still live. Many days were spent at the beach, lounging on our towels in the sun with school friends in the summer, occasional swimming in the icy waves, early teenage parties in the dunes at the back of the beach with bonfires, fumbling first kisses with early crushes, and cheap bottles of cider.
In adulthood the beach still features prominently with walks along the sand with the family whenever I can get back to visit. I think my favourite times there are when it's stormy and dark, and I imagine what lies under the dark foaming waters, deep down, out in the endless ocean before me. It must be peaceful there, the home of whales and dolphins, sunken treasure, maybe lost kingdoms.
I started writing this track a few months ago whilst visiting my parents in Newport actually, and now I've just tidied it up, added a bit of depth and thrown it on here. The oboe theme is from an old track of mine called September. It's really an atmosphere piece, a moment in time feeling for the ocean, it's turbulence and stillness. And, maybe, a touch of mythical sense of place.
(There are one or two small glitches in the audio due to my my old souped-up Macbook no longer being able to cope all the tracks and effects I throw at it properly. Upgrade coming soon I hope).
This Year of Silence is a song which I started recording 10 years ago. I wrote the guitar riffs and string intro back then and had a skeleton version of the song lying around with no drums or vocals on it. So, in the last week I have written the voice parts and added drums and bass in Logic. The lyrics chart a psychological inner journey through dark forests in search of the ghost of a past love.
This song has a super heavy main riff that takes a lot from the 80s thrash metal guitar style of my youth and blends it with a poppy chorus melody (Abba were a huge influence on me before I discovered rock). It is driven by the guitar, but I avoided widdly-widdly stuff and stuck to powerful, basic playing. I guess the musical style would be called gothic metal these days.
Mixing it has been a bit of a battle, and I'm not really 100% happy with the mix, but I'm still learning the ropes when it comes to getting a decent mix in this style of music. There is so much wattage going on in the middle of the sound in metal, with the maxed out guitars that everything has to be slotted into place around that, in contrast to other styles of music, which have far more breathing space for all the instruments. It's been a true learning experience.
Sarah Bodle supplied the chorus vocal and Rodolfo Inokawa the re-recorded upper violin melody. The violas were played by Hanna Ektström in 2007.
I have been writing songs and pieces of music since I was little, but I've been a little frustrated these last few years with how little new stuff I've been putting out. I always come up with a plethora of fragments, riffs and little melodies but increasingly have found myself not actually getting them whipped into shape and completed.