3D music and soundtrack escapism – enter the Empty World..

Close your eyes, leave reality behind and escape into a fantasy world of your choosing.. with Empty World – the atmospheric new soundtrack album by Kevin Kerrigan (or KK to his friends).

It’s an epic experience – The Steampunk Orchestra (backed by a full choir) perform a rich, cinematic work which journeys from grand flights of fantasy to the intimate, reflective, and dreamlike.

KK’s music is as ever, a melting pot of influences – a diverse background, working with the likes of Brian Eno, Bjork, and Hollywood’s James Newton Howard is evident – together with a subtle range of colour drawn from the worlds of film, classical, and electronic (Eno, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Wagner, Demdike Stare, Korngold and Faure to name but a few).  It’s a postmodern sound which is unclassifiable – part ambient, part filmscore, part something else entirely..

“There’s too much music now. Too much stuff. We live in a time of information overload, so there’s something luxurious and liberating about turning out the lights and escaping, completely immersing yourself in a soundscaped dreamworld”

Kevin Kerrigan - Empty World soundtrack album (2011)

Paradoxically, Empty World is a soundtrack to a film which exists solely in the mind.   “Maybe there should be a new genre called ISM – Imaginary Soundtrack Music”, says KK, “many of us love a good soundtrack, but it’s not always ideal to listen to, as it’s made to fit a specific picture or story. There’s too much association burdening the music. This is designed to be experienced with the ears alone. To spark the imagination and dream to. I’ve had messages from writers saying they play my music to help put them in a creative headspace – what an honour!  But, yes that exactly where it works best.”

composer Kevin Kerrigan

What’s on the bonus disk (special edition)?

“It’s a DVD – a 5:1 surround sound version.  The DVD contains no pictures just music, which you play in “3D” through your home cinema system. I love the completely immersive experience, though some people prefer the good old stereo CD/ipod on headphones – it’s entirely personal.

Empty World is designed to help escape the dull burdens of the real world and just holiday for 45 minutes.   Films and gaming are powerful portals to escape dull reality.  This is less didactic though, and doesn’t require spoonfed imagery or ‘story’.  Our ‘mind movies’ are more incredible than any film could ever be – that’s why reading a great book can be such a surprisingly powerful experience, and waking up from a particularly special (or lurid) dream can be such a disappointment!”

“Empty World” is out now to download from iTunes, Amazon and on Special Edition Two Disk (CD + Surround DVD) at KK’s website – www.KKTheMusic.com

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The Magic Lantern – album review

“The Magic Lantern” reviewed by Steve Palmer at Terrascope…

KK & The Steampunk Orchestra – The Magic Lantern

Last year, KK’s album “Telescopes” was, in this reviewer’s book, eclipsed only by the mighty Mercury Rev in the top-albums-of-the-year stakes. Now KK (aka Kevin Kerrigan) and his steamy, punky orchestra return with “The Magic Lantern,” a concept album concerning the lady Aoide in some kind of alternate Victoriana-land. Unlike the earlier work this is an intrumental album, but the musical feel is similar, though the vibe is different.

Opening track “Aoide” mixes mysterious orchestral samples with whirling keyboards, before we enter a sonic tapestry of clicking devices and odd sounds. Slowly, a tune hoves into view, uttered by a vocal sample, and then more regular instruments, like bass, strings and hand claps. The tune, “Carousel,” is another of the themes that this highly talented musician does so well, embroidered with fluttering flutes, subtle strings and sundry sound effects. The tune expands as further instruments, samples, percussions and effects are added. Marvellously done.

“Pioneers” begins with a spooky sample and another operatic vocal, before keening strings and bass bring another epic theme into earshot. KK’s production abilities (he has worked with Björk and Brian Eno amongst many others) allow him to both strip down and embroider his music with considerable skill, so that not a dull minute passes by. After a brief breakdown a violin solo soars over the music, adding human warmth. “Cirque Du Lac” sounds like madness in the orchestra pit, as sounds and samples collide, often in head-spinning stereo. Subtle use of operatic voice samples and another violin makes the track cohere with what has already passed. Great bass too.

“The Magic Lantern” slows things down a little, but continues the use of solo female vocal, this time supported by piano, viola, thrumming bass and choir sounds. Effective and moving, and as ever beautifully produced, the track slides through keys and chords as did some of the tracks on “Telescopes,” an album to which this track is akin. “Mermaid” is also slow and melancholy, with flute and glockenspiel taking the listener on a soft trip. Subtle brass, choir and percussions underpin the track before it bursts out into something stronger. This kind of slow-build, strongly themed track is what KK does so well.

“Rhapsody” is a particularly lovely, albeit rather sad, theme, played in waltztime on violin with orchestral and piano accompaniment; the album highlight melodically, for sure. And the arrangement is simple, contrasting nicely with earlier, more frenetic tracks. “Desert Isle” carries its theme on brass instruments, supported by Mediterranean sounds and percussions; a slow, lazy summer vibe sourced somewhere in Southern Spain…

“Into The Jungle” has a light drum’n’bass feel amidst the echoing orchestral samples and sounds. This is a particularly trippy track, bouncing all over the sonic universe, though held together with a strong vocal-sample theme. A beautifully judged ending returns the listener to the world of Victoriana. “Lazarus,” the longest track on the album, clocking in at almost eight minutes, opens with distant piano and deeply reverberated choir sounds, before glockenspiel synth, bass and keening strings bring another thematically strong, slow-build track. As before, the use of orchestra and choir sounds adds to the epic quality of the music. A terrific ending to a wonderful album.

It would be pleasing if KK and his undoubted musical talent were noticed by more people. He is producing some of the best, most interesting and enjoyable music that I’ve heard recently. An enthusiastically recommended album, and one worthy of standing next to “Telescopes.”

(Steve Palmer, Terrascope)

http://www.terrascope.co.uk

Galileo, cave painting and The Magic Lantern

400 years since some bloke called Galileo decided to look up one night, I find myself in the Brittany countryside on a balmy summer’s night doing the very same thing.

Thanks to a complete absence of light pollution, stargazing really is something else out here.  The pitiful handful of stars (if any) one can see in the London sky pale into insignificance once your eyes have feasted on the French countryside’s vast tableau of the universe around us.   In fact, even with my naked eye I can clearly see the cloudy band of the Milky Way encircling us as we invisibly hurtle through space at close to half a million miles per hour – it’s really quite spectacular.   As for Galileo, the catholic church of course famously condemned him for his ‘heresy’ before finally admitting he was right after all.. a mere 359 years later in 1992! and I thought record labels were slow.. zzzz

I’m writing this with paint splattered fingers as I have been painting by day,  a frivolous archaic pastime to complement my two core daily activities of drinking wine and getting sunburnt.  Today’s efforts however resulted in something which I can only describe as a particularly primitive cave painting by a blind primary school child with learning difficulties.  It’s a grotesquely ugly seascape which I annoyingly decided to paint over quite a nice lush golden abstract piece, which was before that a rural farm scene.  Still, the fire will burn well tonight.

I’m here taking a welcome few days out after having completed my new record “The Magic Lantern”.  The album is an instrumental fantasy soundtrack,  an adventure  set in the surreal, romantic Neo Victorian universe of the Steampunk.   In a journey of pure artistic indulgence,  I recorded it with an eclectic, hugely talented, bunch of musicians called The Steampunk Orchestra.

The Magic Lantern by KK and The Steampunk Orchestra
The Magic Lantern by KK and The Steampunk Orchestra

There are some clips on our site if you’d like a sneak preview – www.kkthemusic.com ..  the album will be available to buy (or preorder) there on deluxe CD, and on MP3 via iTunes etc from 09/09/09

a bientot mes amis,

KK

The Gaudi of Music?.. Wooden submarines?

I’m sitting in the colossal shadow of one of the most incredible manmade (well, halfmade) structures on the planet.  I’m in Barcelona, staring up at Gaudi’s infamous Sagrada Familia, and it’s impressive to say the least.

Now usually these ‘tourist landmarks’ are a major letdown, somehow they always look much less spectacular in real life than you expect.  Not so here. Despite being clothed in towers of ugly scaffolding, cranes and workmen, surrounded by a swarm of sombrero-wearing tourists (the irony of it looking like some huge termite hill),  the great monolith is still a surreal and awesome sight.

Sagrada Familia
Its bells ring, and the melody is even original, pleasant even – a far cry from the usual sombre, oppressive tones of the typical cathedral.    Inside it’s a building site – Gaudi’s masterpiece still unfinished (100 years under construction to date), not helped by his untimely death in 1926 when he was hit by a tram whilst standing back to admire his own work (perhaps a lesson for us all)

 Gaudi workshop  (Gaudi’s workshop)

Last night I stopped by one of the artist’s smaller works, Casa Batllo,  a townhouse he designed as a commission for a rich statesmen, now owned by the family behind the famous Chuppa Chups lollipop empire)

Now architecture in general does not float my boat, far from it, I think it is rarely the ‘art’ it claims to be.  But I am just blown away by the artistry and sheer originality of Gaudi’s work.  The design of this house for example, was like something from a wild post-seafood dream,  sublime waves of ‘melted’ structure and hints of alien worlds.

Casa Batllo

I just stared at it for about half an hour, daydreaming.  It seemed the more I looked at it, the more hidden detail of the world it was part of revealed itself.  I found it as captivating as hearing a truly original piece of music (Rite Of Spring, Dark Side of The Moon,..) for the first time.  It was quite late at night, which helped,  the drama of the building enchanced by unusually tasteful floodlighting.

The next day I visited Park Guell.   Gaudi turned landscape gardener in 1900 when Count Guell hired him to create a surreal ‘minature city’ on a rural hillside (then) outside Barcelona.  The project was aimed at the super-rich on the time,  it was a commercial disaster.

Now owned by the city, Park Guell is an enchanting place,  and an almost hallucinatory place to wander around – dreamlike fairytale cottages, Moomin valleylike winding paths, and strange bridges with arches like giant dinosaur ribcages.   I am rarely ‘influenced’ by other musicians,  but I certainly want to create music with the same originality, attention to detail and mind/world-altering quality Gaudi’s legacy of work has.

Park Guell cottage

Park Guell sign
                              Park Guell : so magic your dog will poo ice cream

Of course here in Catalonia, there are two other very famous, and highly unique artists – Dali and Picasso.    It is interesting how modern, forward thinking and prolific this period in history was there and for Art in general.   The beginnings of electroacoustic music and film for one.

Of course, there was conservatism,  most famously at Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring premier in Paris in 1913.  It’s strange rhythms and pandiatonic harmony literally shocked the audience into rioting.  But now the same piece (after years of being very closely copied in film scores, good example being John Williams “Jaws” score), seems almost quaint, certainly unthreatening, today.

Anyway, enough of my little love affair with Gaudi.  I’m certainly feeling inspired now.  Isn’t it amazing how us artists can inspire so much from each other?  It’s like our collective work (the genuine stuff, which is unconcerned with fashion, conservatism, materialism and the like) has a life of it’s own,  and one artist’s Vision can go on to form a small part of another artist’s Vision and so on.. It’s kind of like the genetics of creativity.   Aside from any kind of direct inspiration (eg “I like the way this artist does that”),  there is also a higher type of inspiration involved,  that of aspiring to create truly exceptional work,  and no being afraid to take risks, remaining true to one’s own Vision no matter what and so on.

We live in artistically quite conservative (and also perversely materialistic) times.  If Gaudi were alive and working today, I’ve no doubt the same happy-snapping tourists who ogle his work would consider it “weird”, as many original work is.  Maybe it’s always been like this.

Either way, I’m wary of people who describe anything as “weird” – it implies “this does not fit in with what everyone else says is ‘normal’, and therefore suspicious to me.  I have no mind of my own.  I am a sheep. I have either been brainwashed by a current sociological trend (eg fashion, conservatism) or I had no brain to speak of in the first place.  The idea of thinking or judging (properly) for myself scares me, and being weak minded, I will take the easy option and not do so.”. 

Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh and seriousy.  I’ll change the subject..

From the sublime to the ridiculous,  I came across this little curiosity.

wooden submarine

Allegedly the worlds first submarine, “Ictineo II” (from Icthys (fish) + Naus (ship), was made in 1862 by Narcis Montriol (I don’t think the then 10 year old Gaudi was involved).  Anyway its very cool and quite steampunk, so I took a pic.

There only seems to be one slight minor design flaw..  I could be wrong of course, but doesn’t wood erm, float?

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Explore the weird and wonderful world of KK at : www.kkthemusic.com

KK’s new album “Telescopes” is available to download now at iTunes, Amazon and KK’s site.