Migrant

Released: March 2024

Equipment: Waldorf Iridium synthesizer, Arturia KeyStep Pro sequencer

Listen:

The latter half of 2023 was a challenging time for me - the death of a parent, dissatisfaction at work and thinking about full retirement - and my musical output subsequently shrank to almost nothing. As the new year began I fell back on an old trick that had served me well in the past, 'forcing' myself to sit down and play some new music without worrying (too much) about what came out. As an added goad I decided to use my Waldorf Iridium, a large & complex instrument that had not seen much use in recent months and would require a good amount of re-familiarisation to make the most of. After a slow start I found myself getting into my rhythm, producing a steady stream of tunes while discovering new techniques for using the synthesizer's extensive capabilities. It was hard work at times, especially when I drifted outside of my usual harmonic comfort zone, but the results were songs I was happy with.

The Iridium makes good use of its PPG/wavetable heritage and this certainly shows in the tones I came up with but I also made more use of the resonator (physical modelling) and waveform (virtual analog) oscillators than I'd done in the past. There's a lot of stereo placement modulation which, combined with my usual syncopated delay, gave a very spacious feel to the arrangements.

Listening back there was an overall sense of transition or movement which prompted the title, a feeling of moving to a new situation that would become a new home rather than a place to return from. There's a slightly melancholic air to several of the pieces (not unusual in my work) which reflects a sense of loss but at the same time a dash of optimism at the prospect of a new start. There's probably less variety than in previous albums but that's hard for me to judge.

Migrant has smooth chord changes over an uneven rhythm giving a sense of flow while maintaining an undercurrent of uncertainty. Some nice fake horns and smooth transitions.

As Contraband developed I got a feeling of travelling by night, keeping under the radar to avoid detection. I particularly like the changes in the middle eight and the tinkly sequencer pattern.

Pursuit has a nice 'rubber ball' sequencer & bass line that maintains the driving feel while the chords wander around. I like the low key sense of menace and the focussed intent that continues throughout the changes.

In passing came from memories of a train journey home after seeing my mother for the last time. Sadness, the start of acceptance, and inner turmoil despite my stoic appearance. A tearful farewell.

Jetstream was the result of a conscious effort to write something straightforward, no unusual time signatures or unexpected chords. I was pleased with the 'skipping' rhythm, the fake voices, and the smooth overall feel.

It's hard to know where Clownswalzer came from. For some reason I find waltz time to be inherently spooky but the transition from the jagged chords of the verse to the smooth 'brass band' sound of the chorus just seemed to emerge on its own. Music for a haunted circus.