Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Oscuro - 2006

Oscuro was composed & arranged from May to July, - completed in August 2006.
It comprises of thirteen original instrumental pieces, soundscapes and dark ambient scenarios, tied together by a conceptual story of a little girl stranded in a weird dimensional netherworld of frightening magic, and bizarre situations.

This was the first album I had arranged and recorded by myself, because up until that point, I'd only ever worked in a band environment, or as a third party on other artists' work - although I had been writing similar material for a while.

The first completed piece on the album was Pays Des Miseres, - a 45 second piano intro which was actually written as the original demo tune, and I think sets the tone for the rest of the album, - as dark forces conspire and collude to manipulate our unwitting little protagonist into treacherous circumstances, and an uncertain future.

This album is really only half of the whole story, because there were stacks of things I had planned - but didn't get to do with some of the characters and settings, essentially because I ran out of time, and the pieces had to be finished by late August of 2006.

Oscuro is quite a mixed bag, - weird sounds, watery guitars, electric pianos, field recordings etc, - all put together on Logic (version 6 at that time)
There is a lot of sequencing in there too, - which was mainly done in (Emagic) Logic Pro 6, however some of the parts were originally put together on a little handheld Yamaha QY 70.
I think one piece might also have Propellerhead Reason (version 3) rewired through Logic for some of the sounds.

The first time I ever heard about sequencing was during some guitar sessions I did for a Sony PlayStation game, called Formula One.
In fact it probably put me off the subject for years, because at some point during the recording sessions, the engineer / producer Mike, suddenly declared 'we don't record anymore . . . we sequence!' - which I found very difficult to accept.
Years later - I began to understand the massive potential of sequencers, and bought the little QY 70, which was the perfect thing to learn about some of the basic applications.
These days, I can't get enough of it.

A full version of Oscuro with the missing pieces completed and restored is coming in 2010.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Doha Tribeca Film Festival: Part 2

So the Doha Tribeca Festival 2009 is now finished.

By all accounts, it was an incredible weekend - and if the thousands upon thousands of beautiful photographs, and hundreds of pages of awesome reviews, news & information are anything to go by - something very special happened in Qatar this year.

In the last blog, I mentioned a collaboration with Jamie Riordan on the Zoetrope trailer for the festival.
This piece was broadcast across the globe, in just about every possible media, - and I must admit I would love to be able to find out how many different parts of the world it has played, and to whom - but unfortunately, that's something I'll really never know.

The audio design went through various incarnations before the final sounds were laid in, and originally the ideas for the music score were vastly different. However I think the finished trailer is absolutely appropriate in terms of getting across the energy and vibe of the festival.
I also think Jamie did a great job of directing, and the piece really speaks for itself.

Working on this really reminded me that the powerful chemistry and energy created by image and sound really can represent the language of the world.

So here's the longer version of the Zoetrope trailer for the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.

Until next time - over and out!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Doha Tribeca Film Festival

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing some work for the people over at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place from October 29th – November 1st in Qatar
New York's Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) co-founded by Robert De Niro - joined forces with the the Qatar Museums Authority to announce the worlds first Doha Tribeca Film Festival which will take place this month in Doha, Qatar.

My friend Ben Robinson is currently in Qatar working with the organizers, and putting together various incredible media for the festival - and every now and then he gets in touch with a new piece of work.

This is fantastic for me, because I get the chance to work with him even if we are on different sides of the planet, and also because it’s a real honor to make a contribution to all the hard work Ben and company are doing for such an immense festival.
The first piece makes a little bit of history as the first short horror film ever from that particular region, and lasts just 60 seconds – but it’s a blast.
Directed by Noora Al Meadadi, It’s called Lunchtime, and you can see it here:

My contributions to Lunchtime are the beast / monster sound effects, some additional foley, and the overall music, but as you can see – the team out in Qatar have done a fantastic job.
Last week, I was working closely with Jamie Riordan on two official Doha Tribeca festival trailers, which will be screened on the TCM channel for the next couple of weeks, and on 35m across major cinemas throughout the Gulf.
This time around, my role was to put together an intense sound design and music score for the pieces, which combine live action, complex animation and intense photography, to produce some super-charged results.
More details about those next time, because official screenings take place some time over the coming week.
Have a great weekend!
Over and out.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Goodbye to FILM4 FrightFest 2009!!

So . . . September is here at last, which can only mean that this year's FILM4 FrightFest is unfortunately now behind us - but it's definitely not going to be a dim & distant memory for some time yet!

Stacks days of amazing movies, and rare guest appearances from a variety of awesome directors, producers, actors etc, - and some truly special movie screenings once again made Leicester Square shiver with anticipation, fear & fright throughout five days across the August bank holiday weekend.

Without doubt, my favorite moment of all was the chance to see An American Werewolf In London - in Leicester Square - with none other than John Landis himself in attendance, on a massive screen in the Empire Cinema.
The print was perfect, and the sound was LOUD!

There was also a screening of Paul Davis' immense documentary, Beware The Moon - which is incredible & essential viewing if you're a fan of An American Werewolf In London, and features some of the best and rarest interviews, out-takes, unseen footage & an unbelievably detailed study of the genesis of the film from concept to modern classic.
I can't wait to see it again!!

This year's FrightFest score went out nicely, and could be heard playing between the movies each day in the theatre. Despite some last minute duplication issues on the sleeves, the run of CD's sold pretty quickly. Since then however - a new run of hard copies has been put together, and is available for sale, - and it will also be available on iTunes,, Amazon etc for download within the next 3 or 4 weeks.

The previous FrightFest scores from 2006, 2007 and 2008 (see pic below) will also be available sometime in the next month on iTunes etc, either as full album downloads, or individual tracks, but there are still (very few) original copies of each available at the time of writing.

There probably won't be any further runs of those particular albums in the very near future, so if anybody is interested in acquiring one of the remaining CDs, then drop me a line on

Friday, 31 July 2009

Music for the London FILM4 FrightFest 2009 - some of the pieces

Is there anybody out there?
Hello folks, and thanks for the emails & messages regarding the playlist of tunes this time around.
For interested parties, I've put together a few sections of the pieces for your perusal and perlustration - which are located in the little MP3 player right here:

Kicking things off this year is the full version of the FrightFest Podcast theme (without chattery teeth FX) - a piece which some of you should be familiar with if you follow regular inter-web transmissions from FF headquarters, - but there's also a pretty eclectic range of stuff from the weird & bizarre (Don't Wake Up & Beneath The Keep) to keys vs 6-string duals (Casting The Runes)

Something I wasn't aware of until recently was the existence of mythological bird / bat like creatures called 'gappes' in the labyrinthine maze of the London underground, and I had to consult the books for some verification of the details.

Taken from the London Underground Guide: Approaching trains sometimes disturb the large Gappe bats that roost in the tunnels. The Gappes were smuggled into London in the early 19th century by French saboteurs and have proved impossible to exterminate. The announcement "Mind the Gappe!" is a signal that you should grab your hair and look towards the ceiling. Very few people have ever been killed by Gappes though, and they are considered only a minor drawback to an otherwise excellent means of transportation."
So - forewarned is forearmed. Most people will be traveling to FrightFest X via the tube at some point, so I thought I'd pay some respect to these creatures, and feature them in one of the pieces.

There are a couple of other underground legends on the playlist, but I'll save those for next time.

Until the next blog, take care, stay safe & mind the gappe!!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Music for the London FILM4 FrightFest 2009

Is there anybody out there?

It's that time of year again, and the 10th anniversary of the London FILM4 FrightFest is almost upon us.
From Thursday 27th - Monday 31st August 2009 - the premiere festival of fright will be at it's new home in the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square - and with over 40 movie screenings, amazing guest appearances from John Landis, cast & crew of An American Werewolf In London, Neil Marshall, Chris Smith, David Hess - and many more, there's sure to be something for every discerning horror aficionado.

For the fourth year running I'll be composing a playlist of new material which will be aired in the theater between the movies throughout five grueling days of fear, fright, mayhem, putrefaction and petrification!

There's lots of musical experimental shenanigans going on so far, and I thought I'd dig a little bit further down to the roots this time.
The pace is up a little more than usual, and there are more stringed instruments, more greasy organs, thicker bass-lines, more layers of moogs and synthesizers, buckets of sequencing, - but still plenty of spook and atmosphere to keep things eerie, dark and contextual, - with the occasional voiceover here and there, and a hint of 60s vinyl too!

The 4 pieces completed at the time of writing are pretty diverse, with another 9 to go between now & the end of August, and the tracks will range from strange, cryptic, dark and moody, to all out retro rock fusion, and will hopefully reflect the good vibes and energy of the FrightFest.

The intro track is quite thematic. I wanted to start the CD with a live dynamic this time around, so it was time to break out a variety of guitars - and make a very conscious effort to strike the right balance between electric and acoustic to really give it a fuller and more authentic 70s movie edge. Of course, a piece like that wouldn't be complete without a manic solo trade-off between strings and keys to grease the tracks, and keep things rocking and rolling along.

I definitely wanted less synthesis and more authentic natural sounds on this collection, so I've been investing some quality time up front into recording a miscellany of stuff I found in the attic with a Rode NT-4 stereo mic and a couple of little Behringer C-2 condensers - and then twisting torturing & squeezing the results into weird sounds.

There's nothing more satisfying than hitting inanimate objects with something, recording the results and bingo! An interesting new sound is born.
So far I've recorded old broken instruments, fire, kitchen utensils, weather, cats etc etc - and I'm sure there'll be plenty more before it's finished.

So, if anybody's listening - the candles are burning, the valves are smoking and the speakers might catch fire at any time. 
Catch you next week for further info!

Boring gear list:
Mics: Rode NT-4 stereo / Behringer C-2 (pair)
Guitars & Amplification: Dean acoustic / Gibson Les Paul Standard / Bailey Electric / Engl Powerball / Laney Cabs
Pedals: Engl Z-5 / Boss Acoustic Simulator / Boss TU-2 tuner / Dunlop CFH Dime wah
Alesis stuff: MEQ 230 / 3630 Compressor
Behringer outboard: UltraFex Pro / V-amp Pro
M-Audio stuff: Black Box / Trigger Finger / FW 410 / Edirol PCR midi trigger
Apple Stuff: 2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon / Mac Powerbook
Recording: Logic Studio / Audio Hijack Pro / Olympus LS 10

Monday, 8 June 2009

ADOV / Cannes / Stuff!


As it says on the flier: -

Written & directed by Darren Ward (Sudden Fury, Nightmares) – A Day Of Violence is undoubtedly one of the most uncompromising & gritty features to emerge from the UK in 25 years. Influenced by British & Italian violent crime thrillers of the 70s, and with parallels to The Long Good Friday, and Lucio Fulci's The Smuggler (Luca il Contrabbandiere), it weaves a dark tale of life and death in the underworld.
Searing with force, and charged with unflinching horror & uncompromising dialogue – A Day Of Violence is here . . .

Alarming stuff!
So, after 16 months, hundreds of conversations, thousands of bullets, . . . . . millions (well maybe not 'millions') of hours writing music and making sounds - A Day Of Violence is finished, and all is looking positive.
ADOV Screened well in Cannes, and is earning good feedback from around the globe, however some territories were slightly alarmed about the levels of onscreen carnage. That didn't seem to put them off though, as the intention was always to release a toned-down domestic cut, and a strong uncut version of the film.

As Darren was putting himself about Cannes, and doing his thing with a variety of distributers, producers, actors & directors, he also unexpectedly bumped into Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) - and as Eli is a big John Morghen fan - he took a copy of the movie home with him.
The legendary Giovanni Lombardo Radice (usually under the name John Morghen) has graced so many of the best & most notorious Italian horror movies & thrillers of the last 3 decades, and his ever expanding legions of fans hopefully won't be disappointed with his featuring role (and of course, his demise) in this film.
It was through Giovanni that I became involved with the production of ADOV, which is something I'm very grateful for, because not only did I unexpectedly get to score my first full feature - I also got the chance to fulfill one of my lifetime ambitions - to work on a film with the legendary man himself.

Work on ADOV has been very progressive, because it was scored whilst much of the film was still being shot, - and so over the months, we've all tried very hard to put together something which looks and sounds quite different.
The raw dark, edgy visual aesthetic is underscored with an ethereal dreamy quality, combined with darker orchestral sections, and synthesized electronic elements which hark back to the halcyon days of the late 70s & early 80s.

Obviously, the 80's was a fantastic and important era of discovery. Home video came along, and a whole new world opened up to anybody with even the most fleeting interest in movies.
Although we didn't know each other until the beginning of 2008, - we (Darren and I) grew up watching many of the same movies & TV shows.

During various conversations, we could refer to the films that we'd grown up with, and we identified that many of the films and TV shows of that time were very 'music-heavy' - which was part of their character & charm. So we decided to adopt that perspective for ADOV, and try to get back to our 80s roots.

Memories of the LWT or Thames Television ident (usually just before something cool started). The Sweeney, The Professionals, Hazell and various other gritty TV shows of the time still seemed to loom large in our collective influences.


Those influences - combined with being weaned on a diet of films like Dirty Harry, Death Wish, The French Connection, Night Hawks and dozens of Italian Cop thrillers pulled us like a magnet back to our past.
So many scores these days are quite formatted and generic. Popular music trends almost dictate that scores are heavy on percussive elements, and recognizable popular signatures.
Action scenes seem to rely on heavy use of garage drum rhythms with huge production - and less so on actual dramatic music, which is a great shame.
With ADOV, we made a conscious decision to lean towards retro, and away from current popular styles & sounds, - which was not only very cathartic, but also lots of fun to just open the gates, and let it all fly.
I did manage to spend a couple of days on set from time to time, and I've yet to meet many of the cast & crew, although I feel like I know the characters intimately. Some of them far too intimately.

We spent 3 final, intense days right here in my flat - mixing, tweaking & making last minute adjustments before Darren took the finished film away to the Cannes film festival, and I have to admit that after living with it for the last year and a half, and getting so close to the characters, I seriously miss working on it now that it's all finished.
The official artwork for ADOV is courtesy of master illustrator & graphic designer, Graham Humphreys - and as you can see, it looks absolutely fantastic.
People in the know will recognize Graham as the man behind some of the finest cinema art ever created, past and present.
More detailed information about Graham's incredible work coming soon.

A Day Of Violence premiered on Saturday 27th June in the Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton.