Reading this will take about 10 minutes of your life. Some rambling and detours ahead before eventually getting to the point of the story. Just saying.
A short while ago I presented a ‘making of Cosmophilia’ to a group of colleagues at work. Yes, I know. You thought I lived in my studio making music while sipping on expensive Scotch all day and eat lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner and perform solely at Boiler room parties in between. Sorry to blow your bubble, that isn’t quite true (yet). Not that I’m complaining. I very much like my work as a teacher/leader in creativity and design at a great school where young creative adolescent people become creative and skillfull adults in their chosen field of design (for the Dutch people, that school is Cibap Vakschool voor Verbeelding). And between all the stuff that needs to be done, time for making music seems to find itself naturally.
Talking about why I made this album or how isn’t something I was planning to do. I very much like some things to be a mystery so your imagination can run wild and make up your own story. On the other hand I very much like to read about other musicians and why they make the type of music they are making. So it seems pretty lame not to share my own story given that I like to read upon other people story’s behind their music. So about a year ago…
I got a message from Luca, from YAY, a label from Italy, saying he was interested in my music and would like to release an EP by me. They were just starting out releasing music on vinyl with already great names like Titonton Duvanté, Alex Picone and Tommy Vicari jnr. I was thrilled. Hadn’t done a vinyl release yet, so that was awesome. I started making tracks for the release. Luca knew very well what he liked about previous releases of mine and what he was looking for. Messages were send back and forth and in the end Luca decided that en EP wasn’t enough, he wanted more, an album. Which again, was great news to me.
It was also a sort of new starting point. Most of the time I make music with a sort of a back story in my mind. Tracks I make after each other form different chapters of a story. Often the latest track is a reaction to the one made previous to that. The tracks that were planned for the EP, formed a story. Now that I had to make more, I had to figure out what to do with that story. The story so far was about space travel. The problems I now had with expanding on this story made me think about the subject itself. Why is there so much reference to space into my music?
Obviously you are influenced by what you see and hear. I very much like repetitive music, Drexciya, Kraftwerk, Claro Intelecto, Gosub to name a few artists, because it creates a space for the mind to go on an wander on its own within the theme the music is giving. A lot of that music, and any Electro and Techno music has a futuristic theme, probably historically also because of the way it is made, with machines. References to space travel aren’t hard to find either. But that is generally speaking. Why was it so much of interest to me?
I’m an 80’s child. So space, space travel, time travel (back to the future anyone), cyberpunk and synth pop – had various editions of Synthesizer Greatest on repeat – were present in abundance. After a long deep search in my 80’s mind – and luckily I had quite a good memory as a kid – I found the first moment that I could remember that sparked my interest in space. Which was the sighting of the comet Halley way back in 1986. More than 30 years ago – I was six at the time – I was standing in the back garden with my father staring at a blurred blob in the sky. The arrival of the comet near earth had been over the news for weeks. Of course I couldn’t remember the date. I now know it was Saturday, March 8. It probably was one of the first times I came across something so tangibly greater than me, the town I was living in or anything I new for that matter.
Now knowing this all a new story formed and new tracks were made. The story wasn’t per se chronological in order, but had more a theme of ‘wanting to know’, about ‘being curious about something’, about wonder. The roundtrip Halley takes and/or the trip it takes to find Halley. A story that basically doesn’t need to have an end or beginning per se. Just like the trip Halley takes, which in the big scheme of things is essentially a loop with some fluctuations if you look at it in detail.
A selection of tracks was made together with Luca, who also had some suggestions I didn’t think might work in the first place, but worked out more than excellent in the end. I suggested to also make the artwork myself and when I got the okay, I incorporated the story as much as I could in the artwork. Later on I found a beautiful reference about Halley:
“a star which appears once every seventy years that makes the captains of ships err”. – Talmud (1st century AD).
If you have Cosmophilia, you can find the whole sentence split up in parts onto all the sides of the record, scratched on to each side near the center.
So that’s the story behind Cosmophila. In the end I hope the album -with the help of some squelchy basslines, lush pads and robotic beats – gives you enough time and space to have your mind wander on its own and make up a story yourself.