Meteor Shower

Download: Meteor Shower mp3

Image credit: Sue Dollin

The final ‘single’ from the forthcoming new album – going live the web in two weeks time! ‘Meteor Shower’ an uplifting and atmospheric piece of progressive instrumental pop. Things weave around in melodically murky places only to rise out in a bittersweet epic chorus. Sonically it’s a mix between a warm vintage acoustic sound and cold celestial alien depth.

The chorus melody has an interesting story behind it. My Mum and I are into armature startgazing, and over the years she’s kept me in the loop as to when and where to look for cool things going on ‘out there’. Some years back, when I can’t remember exactly, she told me to get up and check out a certain meteor shower that was set to peak at 4am. Being the keen astromonmer I though it might be worth getting up at this time in the Armidale cold, near zero degrees or lower, to see a potentially great show of meteors burning colourful trails across the blackness and stars. Well there I was, freezing my arse off standing in the middle of the street looking up and not seeing meteors shooting at all! I stuck at it for a while, but only saw two or three faint trails, which on a good night you can see anyway. Feeling the bite of the cold I gave up and went back to bed.

It was good, however, to enjoy the starts with a cold sky, along with Armidale’s altitude making things clearer. ‘Dazzeling beauty’ comes to mind when thinking of those blue and red jewels sweeping across the infinitely deep blackness – moments like those you get a sense of how we’re just floating here, protected, in this ridiculously huge ocean of space. Once back inside and in bed I fell straight to sleep. I started to dream. I was dreaming of stars and blackness. I was floating somewhere, but the details are fuzzy. Then I started to hear music. At first I could hear this honey like flow of chords, F G Am G F G F G – and then this anthemic chorus melody started to emerge. I could feel myself composing while I was dreaming. This music keep looping around in my head and I held onto the sense of what it was and kept shaping it, kept it clear.

As the sun was coming up I became aware that I was starting to wake up. I was still dreaming the music. So I tried to hang onto that music, think about it and remember it as I was gradually waking up. Still the music went on in my head. I got up out of bed, went straight out to the studio with getting dressed or even thinking about food, picked up my guitar and started to work out what the notes were. It was easy, the chords and melody took a memorable shape: the dream music would go unforgotten! As quick as a meteor streams across the sky I punched the basic idea into Renoise.

For a long time, a few years at least, this ‘idea’ just sat there as a revolving chorus on my computer, not being worked on. I kept showing it to people saying ‘this is the dream melody!’ - and everyone kept saying ‘that’s great, you should do something with that’. Every time I dragged it out to listen to I kept telling myself ‘yeah I’ve got to do something with this’. So one day in 2006 I show my then jamming buddy Jarrad Cousin the idea so he could play it on the piano while I played the drums. Jarrad and I had a habbit of putting a swing into everything, so all of a sudden my ‘straight’ idea had found a really groove ‘swing’ sub rhythm. I also liked how the acoustic drums sat well with the warmth of the melody. These were my starting points into turning the fragment into a song.

So during 2008 after working on “Long”, I crafted what you hear now. I started to get really technical with Renoise, doing some tricky edits where the song’s rhythm moves between straight and swung. I aslo put a lot of time and effort into making this a lush and ‘constantly interesting’ pop structure – every drum hit is completely considered, every synth balanced into place, given the ‘right’ character and expressed with ever-changing human melodic expression. As things were drawing to an end I wondered if it needed vocals or not. I had a vague time battling that typically pop axiety of needing to have vocals for anyone to appreciate the music, which of course is a myth. I let go of the idea. The song now sits with ‘verses’ that feel slighly empty, and ‘choruses’ that are lead instrumentally.

I was nearly done, but I really wanted to get this song right. So I gave it to a few people to listen to, just to see how they reacted. One of these listeners was Mick Rippon. Mick really gave good attention to this track, and gave very constructive feedback and advice. One area in particular he helped shape was the outro. After reaching a peak with the final chorus the song hits an ‘unresolved drone’ and eventually drifts off – Mick suggested to lengthen that drone to help settle the energy of the song (his metaphor for this was excellent: right after good sex you need to spend a moment lying there enjoying the feeling!). He also suggested I put something in there to thematically address what the song was about: so he asked what was it about: I answered telling him about the dream and that the song is called “Meteor Shower”. So he said, roughly ‘so put THAT sound in there!’. It was a little bit of a puzzle: just how do meteors sound? Nevertheless, I got into the spirit of the challenge and made up some ‘shooting’ sounds by using my pick scraping across the string of my guitar… These sounds are the meteors showing at the end, while the drone drifts onward and outward.

Read what you will into this. My story is just that; whatever’s happening here is clealy beyond my current perception of it, and I find evidence in that this music seems to have a little more potency in it than what’s considered ‘usual’ for me. Whatever has gone on, I’m happy with the result – and I’m happy to say it fits just right as the closing track for the new album.

Stay tuned! Album in two weeks!

Thats just great stuff!

Reminds me of instrumental pieces from the Vangelis Era.
Love the surprise at the 4th minute or so, very powerful.

The album - all songs like this? or a variety of styles?

Thanks Icarus :D

The album will feature music that will be much of the same ‘mood’ as this song but not necessarily the same structured approach. I have decided to release the more structured pieces as ‘singles’, two of which are already out:

The remainder of the album is much more unstructured and based around improvisation. Most of these piece come from an abstract and avant garde minimalism approach, some with drums some without. All tracks are heavy on melody. I’ll share the lot for free soon.

mission accomplished

lovely buildup, shining sounds, the ending makes it the beginning again, which is awesome in this space and time feeling. you captured the sound of meteors just perfect… overall sound: bliss

some thoughts, perhaps you could introduce the snare a bit later, like begin with only the kick and bass… then slowly fade in the snare… or something like that… im saying that because i felt the snare was to loud in the intro. (later it was fine)

can’t wait for the album.

Thanks for the feedback. I take your point about the snare, if you were performing this on a real kit you’d probably go nice and gentle on the intro. File this peculiarity under ‘I’ve heard the song too many times to notice the issue’.

I’ve Mick to thank for the meteor idea ;)

Wow really nice piece with a great atmosphere! Thanks for sharing!

I really like it and have listened to it many times.

Though the first play the first minute almost had me turn it off, it did not grab my attention.

I remember reading from a famous composer that one of his greatest lessons was when his music teacher told him that he had to really grab the attention of the listener at the start. Grab him in the collar and lift him up or make him want to hear more.

This is not really something that all songs should do it is in most cases a very good advice.

Though this piece fits perfectly as a end of album song, at its own it failed to grab my attention in the beginning but certainly made up for it.

Perhaps you should put something intressting at the start, then let it build up. Just a few chords or some sound fx something to hint on what to expect but not give it away.

Otherwise I think a lot of listeners would skip listening to the whole song if they were browsing your songs and would not know anything about you.

Once again Great work!

Wow, Foo?, this is a change. This song gained my attention the most from all your stuff back since tw2k.
Funny, I had that impression of stars when I heard the shooting sounds before I reached the part in your text to read that it was your intention.

I also think that the snare could need an improvement in the beginning. I wouldn’t completely remove it but I think it really needs reverb. Just like 7kilo I think later it’s all fine.

Maybe the Rhodes at 1:06 could start quieter. At least the the first couple of notes.

That’s all issues. I like the bassline phrasings, I love the melody, I like the pads, I love the guitar and the way it’s built up, I like the tiny retriggers on the percussions, I enjoyed the story behind the song, and I’m comfortable with its ending. Mick’s metaphor fits well here.

Really beautiful song.

Thanks for the feedback splajn and Gilli. There’s some good advice there and I’ll try to take it on-board for future work.

Dunno what else to say really…

Very nice asi it grows.Like it.

Cheers. Grows it does. :D

I like it man, groovy!