I’ve said previously that when you’re composing an album, it takes on a life of it’s own. It evolves and goes off in directions you hadn’t originally anticipated. New ideas come in, old ones go out. Happy accidents happen. So it should be no surprise when I say that Traces isn’t quite the album I originally set out to make.
My original plan was to make a downbeat and minimal album; stripped of the dense layers and rhythms that had dominated my previous albums, creating something that was a lot more sparse and abstract.
But gradually the music evolved along with the ideas.
When I produced the first version, it simply didn’t hang together well as an album. So I kept working on ideas, and over time it became more rhythmic and layered – but a very different soundscape to my previous works had started to form. I began to view it almost like a film soundtrack – it had actually become the soundtrack to some of the books I was reading over the course of the year, and in turn many of the themes of those books inspired the music, as the followed a similar theme to what I wanted to explore.
Another starting point was to make an album mostly using classic 80s and 90s synths. There’s been a lot of focus on analogue synths of the 70s and early 80s in the last few years, and while I absolutely love those vintage synths and get the appeal, a lot of the albums that had an impact on me in the late 80s and early 90s, used Korg’s digital synths – so to get my hands on some of those actual sounds was a real pleasure. This, combined with a different kind of approach to the drums and percussion, has given Traces a distinctive soundscape, perhaps with a nostalgic edge for those synth-geeks among us.
When I started the project, one particular word I had in mind for the mood of the music, was “reflective”. Despite the numerous changes the album went though, this still remained the dominant theme, but not in a depressing way – I’d prefer to think of it as thought provoking, and there is an underlying optimism that crept into many of the tracks.
Although the finished album is very different to my original idea there still remains several short, sparse tracks. These are almost like segues or interludes, and retain the mood of my original idea.
I’ve realised that Traces is perhaps the album I’ve been working towards for many years. It’s also the most personal album I have ever made, in its own way.
Next time, I'll go into detail about some of the songs on the album and inspiration behind them.
Traces is available now via Bandcamp, as mp3 and CD & digital download bundle. The first copies of Traces on CD will come with a second disc, Traces: Abandoned, which contains 9 demos and outtakes from the making of the album.