Embrace the Darkness
Writing the music for Embrace was a fantastic experience because it gave me an opportunity to work with two great musicians, Jane Elphinstone and Simon Robinson, who have both gone on to edit and score other plays for Big Finish. It also gave me the opportunity to be paid (for the first time!) for creating one thing I love very much – experimental electro-acoustic music.
I have worshipped at the altar of experimental and electronic composers for so long now it feels like I’ve worn holes in my knees. Embrace the Darkness was a fine opportunity to pay respects to some of my favourite composers and scores. Notable among these was Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Alien and the Barrons’ score for Forbidden Planet. These scores interested me for several reasons. In Alien Goldsmith used traditional instruments in really unusual ways (putting water in a trumpet for example) as well as using unusual instruments such as the Conch Shell. In Forbidden Planet I was fascinated by the sensation of fear and foreboding evoked by the Barrons’ randomly generated yet meticulously assembled electronic tonalities.
With these ideas in mind I decided to approach the music in a similar way, asking Jane to dismantle her flute and clarinet and just play the various bits on their own, asking Simon to play sustained guitar (which he did with a Stanley knife because neither of us had an e-bow and also, I suspect, because it was just too cool for school). Each element was recorded separately and then assembled into working compositions alongside the dialogue and sound effects. This was also the way I worked with the electronics; recording performances from hardware and VST instruments and then chopping these performances into compositions that worked with the accoustic instruments. In this sense the score – like almost all the music I write – is essentially found sound treated as music concrete, two genres which interest me greatly. The next – and undoubtedly the most important – element in both the score and sound design was Jane’s work with C-sound on her super-size-me Mac G5. C-sound offered a sound palette I had literally never heard before. A quite extraordinary range of unexpectedly organic bleeps and whistles which fitted both the score and the organic nature of the Cimmerian City perfectly. I have included a few of Jane’s C-sound source cues on this CD. Many of the raw takes were manipulated even further with time-streching and granular synthesis, before being assembled into the final score.
In many ways I felt a bit like Professor Branestawm at the helm of one of his mad inventions. A worthy experience in all respects!
Embrace the Darkness was edited and scored in Acid on a teeny tiny PC laptop, using C-sound (for Mac), flute, clarinet, guitar, synthetic sound created on the ESI 64 Sampler, the Korg Z1 synthesizer and various VST instruments.
This is my first shot at upping something via Band Camp, so do let me have feedback, and let me know if anything's not working right. Other remastered Dr Who scores to follow will include Project Twilight, The Rapture and Seasons of Fear, plus some other bits and bobs, together with a whopping great zoo of experimental electronica from my back catalogue, dating back twenty years to when I were but a wee nipper of only thirty or so.
OK, time for you to get listening, and me to get the heck
Earth, October 2012