Illusions - Track Notes

1. Laughing Wolf Madrigal
This was one of those pieces that seemed to appear out of thin air!

I remember being particularly pleased with the way the improvisations in between the main melody turned out. Basically it is a more concise version of the first half of the album 'Fire Queen', originally recorded in 1991. Featuring an ensemble sound of descant and treble Recorders, E-bow guitar and saxophone, overlaid onto a gentle percussion groove.

For me this track conjures up the image of a gentle cruise down a deserted highway. This version also features an edit from the track 'Volcanic Dust' also from 'Fire Queen' cross faded in at the end as well as a small section from the end of 'Edge of Dreams' mixed into the background. This sound ended up being used as a sort of musical 'glue' throughout the album.

 

2. Inside
The opening section from my first album for New World Music, 'Edge of Dreams'. The composition and recording of this album was a great learning experience.

Recorded at the symphonic rock band 'The Enid's' private studio 'The Lodge' in 1986. I had first met 'The Enid' a few years earlier through my involvement with the band 'Minotaur' who regularly supported them on tour. Since that time I had wanted to record in their studio as they had by far the most advanced recording facility for symphonic / electronic music in the country. Their lead guitarist Stephen Stewart had by that time developed into a brilliant producer (Katrina and the Waves, Kim Wilde, etc) so when New World gave me a budget to record an album for them it was a dream come true.

Inspired by the Suffolk countryside (the studio is just down the road from The Barn), the flat, serene countryside led me into a calm, contemplative composition.

 

3. Phoenix
Another track from 'Fire Queen' this time marking an early example of the 'ethnic' influence which has become a major ingredient in my more recent albums. Featuring piano and harmonised e-bow guitar improvisations over kalimba (african thumb piano) and tuned percussion riffs, as the music builds up, the image of the Phoenix rising from the ashes is conjured up.

 

4. Timeless Passion
My favourite track from the album 'Natural Magic' from 1990.

I remember being inspired by the production work I was doing at that time with Asha Quinn, developing a clear, calm style on his New World Music albums. Piano, harpsichord, oboe and choir are introduced by the gentle sounds of the seashore. The album was loosely based on the seasons, this track conjures up the mood of the Sussex coastline on a calm winters day.

In 1997 I completely reworked the album and this version is taken from the new master.

 

5. Alchemy
Originally recorded in 1993 this is the title track from the album, and another personnel favourite - for some reason this melody always seems to transport me to a particular shoreline where dense woodland gently slopes down to a rocky beach. Another unexplained dreamscape!

This is a new version - more concise than the original. This was one of the first times I had featured a hint of a mediaeval almost 'celtic' sound. Bodhran and drums are joined by fretless bass, shawm (metal double reed oboe) and recorders for an atmospheric arrangement. As the music fades into the distance the 'Edge of Dreams' edit returns along with the crashing waves gently leaving the listener on a new shoreline.

 

6. Through A Lovers Eyes
Taken from the album 'From Another Sky' recorded in 1988. This album was mixed by Tom Newman (co-producer of Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells') at his private studio over looking the sea.

This track features Ian Barnet on acoustic guitar and a wide pallet of keyboard sounds. The track starts with the sound of a cold wind blowing, the glockenspiel and pizzicato strings coming in bring to mind a landscape lying under a blanket of snow. This was the first time I had been able to use a computer in the writing process, allowing the flow of the music to be represented in a similar way to traditional score writing while experimenting with sounds and arrangements, etc. Tom did a brilliant job mixing the album, and I have happy memories of developing the arrangements with him. Another great learning experience.

 

7. Spirit In Flight
My favourite track from 'Between Two Worlds' recorded in 1991.

Electric piano, fretless bass and nylon guitar carry the melody over percussion, strings, choir and bird song. An optimistic feel inspired by the South Downs around the Beachy Head area in East Sussex, where I spent much of my youth flying model gliders, walking the dog, etc.

 

8. As Above So Below
From the 1986 album 'Cloud Sculpting'. A keyboard based track recorded at home on hired equipment.

More of a sound track looking for a film than a 'new age' album, it began life as an album commission by Filmtrax as part of the 'Colors' collection, one of the first show cases for British new age music in the U.S.A.

Mixed by Simon Heyworth (co-producer of the music soundtracks to 'Legend','A Room with a View', 'The Bostonians' and Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells') at the Filmtrax studio in London. Simon was able to work his magic and transform a fairly basic recording into a unique album, topping the new age charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

9. No Walls To Contain My Spirit
Another track from 'Between Two Worlds' and a favourite to play live.

Descant and treble recorders harmonise with e-bow guitar over a nylon stringed guitar backing. The seashore sounds are again featured evoking the atmosphere of a lazy summers day spent on the Sussex coast. This is one of the few 'reflective' tracks developed in front of an audience before recording. A small section from 'Edge of Dreams' has been added to the beginning and end on this new version.

 

10. Casting Pearls
From the album 'Transformation' recorded in 1989. The first album produced entirely in my own studio.

Pizzicato strings, rhythmic synthesiser and a wash of balalikas back the piano melody. Another track inspired by the local countryside, this time the focus was the way scenes are transformed by clouds effecting the light. Grant Young plays a fretless bass solo at the end of this new version.

 

11. Illusions
The 'bonus' track.

I have tried to create an uplifting conclusion to the album with this new track, featuring an atmospheric fret less bass building up into an epic guitar based melody which comes back to earth with a gentle piano echoing into the distance. A release of energy followed by a gentle return to earth.

The melody hints at previous tracks while carrying the musical narrative a stage further.

 

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