The city – past, present and future – is an endless source of fascination for writers, artists and musicians alike.
It is a theme I’ve touched on in my music before. Back in 2006/7 I made a series of rough demos entitled Metropolis. Anybody who has followed my music for any length of time might remember these, as they were online briefly back then. In fairness, the ideas may have been there, but the music wasn’t! Although I did eventually include revamped versions of two of the better tracks on my After Hours compilation of early material. Maybe back then I wasn't ready to take on the subject. This time, I was ready to get lost in the crowd.
That said, I had no plans to make another album last year, but an interesting discussion with my friend Richard Hayes led to me thinking about how I would interpret the city theme today, but in a way that also left it open to interpretation and exploration. This was followed by some brainstorming, and from that emerged a series of intriguing titles as potential song starting points.
I had established a particular soundscape with last year's Traces album that I liked a lot and wanted to build on. In particular, one of the outtakes, Terrified, had started to take things in a slightly different, heavier direction which appealed to me and this became the starting point for the Sentient City soundscape.
The city is a world in itself.
And as a creative theme, it brings together a crossover between a reality with which we can all relate, with fiction. While making the music, I’d often find myself thinking about the cinematic cityscapes depicted in films such as Dark City, The Fifth Element and Blade Runner or the literary urban underworlds of Haruki Murakami's books – but also of my own daily commute and observations of city life and the passing gleam of buildings old and new, and the way I’ve watched a skyline evolve and regenerate over time.
Its inevitable that we feel connected to our cities; the places we go, favourite spots, the bits we dislike, and a love/hate relationship with the transformations that occur.
The city often feels like a living thing.