First album release - The Dolls Suite
Inspired by Jackie's paintings, the music I composed focuses on characters and themes that surface throughout her paintings and accompanying installation. The entire album was recorded in Ableton Live and features guitars, various sampled and orchestral instruments as well as live field recordings. The whole process has been a labour of love, with writing for the album starting in late 2014. Originally 12 pieces of music were written and recorded, but this was cut down to 8 pieces for the final release.
- A Little Late To Be Early
- Between Here and There
- The Doll Collector
- Boom Baby
- Dawn Is Coming
- Málaí Na Ghee
- A Mountain Of Time
- Unfinished Business
Inspiration for A Little Late To Be Early
Introducing the Dolls Suite with ambient sounds, sampled chimes and a large string section, the opening track sets the tone for the album. It was also one of the initial compositions I recorded. The theme is part reflective and also part resignation.
Daily Drama in the House of ID
Inspiration for Between Here and There
Written with heavily sampled strings, drums and keys this was also one of he earliest pieces recorded. I had purchased the Ableton Push midi interface and wanted to use it as an experimental way of recording music. I liked it so much that it made the final cut.
Inspiration for The Doll Collector
Relentless, challenging, repetitive, and building on a theme of conflict that continues without change or resolution. This is The Doll Collector. Taking inspiration from The Counsellor, this is my favourite track on the album. It kicks off with a descending D minor pattern the guitar, and builds with additional guitar variations. Tuning on the guitar uses D,A,D,G,A,D (from 6th to 1st string). Around the three-minute mark a counterpoint string and brass section takes the track to a large crescendo and ends in a mini brass band coda section.
The Cautionary Tale of the Brazen Hussy
Inspiration for Boom Baby
Recorded with a heavily sampled guitar, and a big drum sound. This track represents themes of defiance to past circumstances. The end section features a processed piano and recordings of birds.
The Screaming Tree
Inspiration for Dawn Is Coming
Around the halfway point in the album, this piece represents a vision of what the future could hold - with it's central theme of hope and a new life. Introduced with a large pastoral string section, the track then moves into the main section of delicate mallets and chimes. The middle section was written with the free Hotel Prepared Piano pack (the John Cage inspired prepared piano from Puremagnetik) and mixed with sounds I made on a field recorder.
Reared on a Diet of Lies & Fairytales
Inspiration for Málaí Na Ghee
At a little under three minutes long, this track opens with a pizzicato string section and a discordant brass section. The theme of internal conflict, with a hint of mania, is also reinforced with the counterpart string section that never seems to resolve. The title is based on colloquial Irish slang.
Are Ye Alright Mammy
Inspiration for A Mountain Of Time
I was trying to capture a small and intimate sound for this track that was both reflective and conveyed a sense of exhaustion from a life filled with conflict and struggle. Featuring a number of acoustic guitars and a sampled accordion. While it’s a very simple composition, it also breaks with some of the larger and more dynamic pieces on the album – with very little sound processing and minimal sampled instruments.
Too Little, Too Late
Inspiration for Unfinished Business
The last track on the album was also the last piece of music composed. Unfinished Business is built around an arpeggio chord sequence and features a solo guitar throughout. It’s a big dynamic piece, which fades out to a chorus of three layered guitars playing a repeating motif in unison. Capturing the desired tone for the main guitar proved a difficult task. In the end it was redone three times, with the final recording using a close microphone set up on a small amp (instead of a larger amp set up used in the earlier recordings). Thankfully this provided the big guitar sound I was after.
One of the additonal pieces of music composed and recorded was Fire In The Soul. Although the track didn't make it onto the album, it is available as a free download on SoundCloud