Instrumental music has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the concept of space travel, as far back as Holst’s The Planets in 1914, Bebe Barron’s alien-sounding score to Forbidden Planet in the 1956 or even Joe Meek’s Telstar in 1962 and of course, the vast spectrum of progressive rock, space rock and instrumental electronic music that emerged in the 1970s.
In recent decades, despite there being no new space programme, mankind’s future in space – and how to get there – has remained an endless source of inspiration for artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians, myself included. But in this time, what many have turned to is a retro-futurism, recalling the excitement and ambition of the golden age of space travel during the 1960s and 70s.
Sometimes in order to look forward, you first need to look back. When I look at my own influences – both artistic and musical – they all emerged from that same, prolific and fruitful era.
In addition to this, I have always been fascinated with the notion of letting music create images in the mind and allowing my imagination to explore new environments through music – and I think we all need that escape. With no lyrics to distract or send the listener down a specific path, instrumental music works as a blank canvas for the imagination.
The images that we see in our mind’s eye are altogether different to when we are watching a concert or music video. While there's no denying the thrill and spectacle of a live show, our eyes and ears fight for attention, and sight usually wins. If you're watching something, then you're not always completely listening to it.
It is no coincidence that many of us like to close our eyes in order to fully enjoy and concentrate on music. Shut off the world outside and drift away. I have found that listening either in the dark or with eyes closed, an album or piece of music can take on a completely different mood to playing it in daylight or in the background.
When composing music with which to promote the Initiative for Interstellar Studies (i4is), a specific sound and atmosphere must be sought. What I want to achieve is music that encapsulates the concept of Space travel – from the construction of starships and their maiden voyage to the discovery of new worlds and galaxies – but that also reflects the ethos of i4is yet also leaving room for additional interpretation by the listener. Quite a challenge!
Composed and recorded throughout 2016, Infinity of Space is the title of my latest album project in association with i4is.
While there are no rules as to how such music should sound, I wanted to partly pay homage to the space rock of the 1970s through working with a guitarist on some tracks, for that classic instrumental rock sound, while others are more heavily electronic, exploring other-worldly atmospheres and textures.
Below is a first taste of the album, with a brief preview of the track, Absence (featuring Peter Rophone on guitar).
Infinity of Space is out now via Bandcamp: