Modern Composers

Epic Hollywood film scores aside, over the last couple of years I’ve discovered some remarkable modern composers and orchestral works. They’re wonderful to listen to when you’re writing, or even when you’re sitting alone in room, brooding. The more you listen to them, the more little quirks you discover in the score. I’ll maybe post some more when I get the time, but here are two whose music should be explored.

Zbigniew Preisner is one of Poland’s leading film composers, but the album I want to mention is Requiem For My Friend, which you can listen to on Last FM. Veering away from the darker side of Karl Jenkins, Presiner mixes orchestral and choral works, drawing deeply from that great tradition of the requiem. There is something distinctly gothic about the resulting album; and in some places the songs soar, in others they bring a deeply meditative quality.

The next composer I want to mention is a much more famous chap, Ludovico Einaudi. His amazing piano works can be heard in the odd television commercial here and there, and most if not all the snippets are taken from the album Divenire. The melodies are soothing, profound and elegant. If you’re reading this whilst stressed out in your office, then plug in some headphones, take a few deep breaths and listen to this:


Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

Three posts today? Must be my week off work. So here’s some music for your summer evenings, when you’re reclining by a river bank, or if you’re generally into the New Folk. These guys are pretty good: they’re playing in a Fernery.


City Of Ruin – The Playlist

You know the score. This is my playlist for City of Ruin. Some tunes selected for appropriateness, others for sheer awesomeness, others for irony. All were on at some point when I wrote it. Here’s the Nights of Villjamur playlist, with a link to Spotify. Oh, and I was reminded to do this because of a question in a forthcoming interview with Speculative Scotsman. So here we go, song then artist.

Lullaby — The Cure
Climbing Up The Walls — Radiohead
Their Law — The Prodigy
Blood Money — Luke Pickett
Frontpage Stardom (Ft. Eminem) — Hittman
Weighty Ghost — Wintersleep
Sabatoge — Beastie Boys
Cripple And The Starfish — Antony & The Johnsons
The City — Joe Purdy
She Keeps Me Dreaming — Colin Hay
The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning — Smashing Pumpkins
Frightening Lives — Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew
Fuck Forever — Babyshambles
Lark On My Go-Kart — Asher Roth
I Will Possess Your Heart — Death Cab for Cutie
Secret Garden — Bruce Springsteen
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) — Green Day
Should I Stay or Should I Go — The Clash
Prenzlauerberg — Beirut
Joker and the Thief — Wolfmother
Fountain of Youth — The New Amsterdams
Crying — TV On The Radio
None Shall Pass — Aesop Rock
Dumb I Sound — Sufjan Stevens
Swing Swing — The All-American Rejects
Postcards from Italy — Beirut
Idioteque — Radiohead
Don’t Look Back Into The Sun — The Libertines
The Bold Knight — Seth Lakeman
Come As You Are — Nirvana
Hush — Kula Shaker
Should You Return — Copeland
The Man Who Told Everything — Doves
Devils & Dust — Bruce Springsteen
Sæglópur — Sigur Rós
Who Found Whose Hair In Whose Bed? — Owen
Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt — We Are Scientists
Jump Around — House of Pain
Angel — Massive Attack
Vancouver — Jeff Buckley
The Orchids — Califone
So Much Trouble — Matt Pond PA
Catacomb Kids — Aesop Rock
Let Go — Frou Frou
Paint the Silence — South
Inside Your Head — Eberg
Yellow Brick Road — Raine Maida
Sometime Around Midnight — The Airborne Toxic Event
Penicillin — Martin Grech
The Man Who Can’t Be Moved — The Script
Hymn #101 — Joe Pug
Brianstorm — Arctic Monkeys
So Quiet You Were (Alternative Mix) — Go:Audio
Little Victories — 65daysofstatic
When The Levee Breaks — Led Zeppelin
Zepherus — Bloc Party
Sweet Disposition — The Temper Trap
Hair of the Dog — Senses Fail
Stitches — The Dykeenies
What Sarah Said — Death Cab for Cutie
Kids Will Be Skeletons — Mogwai


Jamie Lidell – A Take Away Show

It’s a Bank Holiday in the UK, so all you’re getting is some fine music instead (which doesn’t kick in until around 50 seconds). I’m really envious of streets where this kind of stuff happens – and, whenever I’ve seen it, it’s wonderful to watch people’s reactions as the texture and routine of their day suddenly changes. Think how much better the world would be if more musicians headed outdoors with their close harmony singing?


Caribou – “Odessa”

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend. What are you doing online? Have some music.


Darkness On The Edge

This weekend, the postman brought me this:

Here is a photo of my story, “Devil’s Arcade” (which I’m delighted is the final one in the collection):

And here it is, safely in its case:

This is Darkness on the Edge, from renowned small press PS Publishing.

Creativity is something like magic. One form might feed the other, providing inspiration, sparking ideas, fueling the creative juices. For the authors contained within this unique anthology, the source of inspiration was the music of Bruce Springsteen. Themes, lines, song titles . . . whatever it took to draw these stories into life.

So many of Springsteen’s songs bring you close to the edge of a darkness where uncertainty reigns – a darkness not just on the edge of town but of our hearts and minds . . . the darkness between child and adulthood, perhaps; or between courage and fear; marriage and divorce; even confidence and self-doubt. These nineteen authors nudge us closer to an answer . . . and let us see what really is stirring out there in the shadows.

I don’t often write short stories, because I don’t often get the opportunity, but I love the chance to handle something different, flex the writerly muscles, and try to prove I’m not a one-trick pony. A big fan of Springtsteen, when I heard about this anthology, I just had to send in an entry and, at the time of writing, I had no deal with Tor UK, which for some reason makes it especially nice that the story was accepted.

Basically, the brief was to expand or be inspired by one of the Boss’s songs, and take that into the short story medium, which I guess is a more exotic form of tie-in fiction. For those of you who are interested, the song I chose as inspiration was Devil’s Arcade.


Seth Lakeman – Solomon Browne

Fantastic song, about a real world tragedy, the Penlee lifeboat disaster, where the Solomon Browne sought to rescue the stricken coaster Union Star in terrible conditions. Both boats were lost to the elements, resulting in 16 casualties. It happened just before Christmas, 1981.