Monday, 22 September 2014

Back... to the Future (a science fiction symphony)

Orchestral soundtracks have long since dominated the film industry, particularly in science fiction, with classic scores such as Star Wars, Alien, Terminator or Total Recall. And you can enjoy a good film soundtrack as an album in its own right. 

I wanted to make an album that captures the essence of this kind of soundtrack, with an emphasis on drama and atmosphere. And I think I’ve achieved that with my new release, Future Worlds Redux.

Until now, I’d never been one to re-visit music previously deemed completed. When my favourite artists have released a new album of reworks of older songs, I often saw it as a disappointment or sign that they’re out of ideas. I was wrong.  With distance and hindsight, you can really see where your best bits are, and where you can expand your work to realise its full potential – stuff that perhaps wasn’t evident first time round. I guess we can call it artistic satisfaction. Sometimes you just need to put a bit of distance in to see what you need to do.

The problem many an artist faces, whether we’re talking music or artwork, is never quite knowing when something is finished. In truth, nothing is ever complete, not really. There just comes a moment when it feels right, and you stop. Otherwise you’d be niggling away at it for months or years and never get the thing finished!

I was really proud of my original Future Worlds album, which I started working on in Autumn 2012, and released in February 2013. It was made during a personally difficult time, and was a great cathartic experience as well as realising my ambition to make an album inspired by classic science fiction books and scenarios. 

But at the same time, something at the back of my mind was left unfulfilled – an annoying "unfinished" feeling, perhaps because I had originally intended to make an orchestral style album, following on from the Road to the Stars soundtrack I produced for David A. Hardy. But thanks to my love of synth sounds, Future Worlds ended up a fusion of the two styles, with the electronics taking centre stage.

Almost two years later, I felt enough time had passed to finally revisit the album and rework the tracks into symphonic versions as I had originally intended. I always wanted Future Worlds to play out like one of those great  science fiction film soundtracks. 

Not only was this a relatively quick process, but it was great fun, getting back in to the vibe of those songs and realising I still very much enjoyed them, and that there was still a lot of life in them. This was an opportunity to move things around and expand and change the arrangements to suit the orchestral approach, as I didn’t want to make the same album with different sounds.

In addition to changing the order and arrangements, I also went through my unfinished demo files from when I made the original album, and found one that I felt had some potential to work up as a new addition. The original album came with two bonus tracks which I liked a lot – in hindsight they should have been more than just bonus tracks, so this was the opportunity to give them a new home.

And that “unfinished” feeling has now been upgraded to “Complete”.

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