Mesmera: The freedom of independence

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Album 3, And All Is As It Should Be, Distant Activity, Distinctive, General, Icarus, Lightfields, Mesmera, Music, Obscurer, Pieces, Reason

Mesmera is, much like every one of my solo releases since 2014, an independent release. For most of my solo musical career I’ve written and released music independently, and I figured I was overdue talking about why that’s been the case.

When I first started out I, as I imagine a lot of musicians do, had this idea in my mind that getting signed and releasing an album through a label was kind of the “big goal”, this nebulous idea that somehow being signed to a label would validate my musical output up until that point. I had already released a bunch of music for free on-line, and in retrospect I don’t think I fully appreciated the following I’d acquired by doing so. While this seems to be less of a big deal nowadays, releasing music independently to an international audience in the late 00s was a bit of a daunting prospect – especially to someone who had never put out a “proper” release before, and had no idea of what to expect or even what to do. It wasn’t my initial intention to release my first album independently, but that’s how things worked out.

Album #1: Distant Activity

In 2008 I released my first album, Distant Activity. This album was comprised of tunes written between 2006 – 2008, and I’m still incredibly happy with how it turned out. It was written and produced in a variety of bedrooms and student houses in totally inappropriate acoustic conditions using a laptop, Reason, a microphone, a guitar, and a Behringer audio interface. Once I had a mostly-finished version of the album to hand, I set about sending out demos and copies of the album to as many labels and individuals as I could think of. I must admit, I’m still pretty atrocious at the whole “blatant self-promotion” aspect of releasing music independently, and I can only surmise that I was probably worse at it in 2008. I received a lovely response from the good folks at Magnatune, but outside of that – nothing. Nada. Not a “thanks, but we’re not interested”, not a “good lord this is awful, go away”. Not a thing. This was initially a little dis-heartening.

A little time passed and I had a completed version of Distant Activity ready to go. The record was mastered, the artwork was ready, and I was just sitting on it. Rough around the edges, very much a product of its environment, but I was really pleased with how it turned out. One day I started thinking “you know what? I’m really happy with this, why haven’t I released it already?”. It was done, and I was sick of sending e-mail messages and CDs out to a seemingly ambivalent world… so I started taking steps to get it out there myself. I had a small run of CDs duplicated, I signed up for digital distribution through CDBaby, and because independent digital outlets weren’t much of a thing back then (to my knowledge) I decided to start selling it through my own website.

I had no idea what I was doing back then (some things never change!) – I hadn’t even figured out a proper release date for the album beforehand, it just came out when it came out. All that said, I was thrilled to see that people were buying CDs and checking out the album through Magnatune / CDBaby / iTunes / whatever. I was getting frequent feedback both directly and on forums, people were leaving messages on Myspace (yes, this was still a thing), it was an absolute blast. All of this was going on when I probably should have been paying more attention to my final year of studies at university, but I loved the experience. All of this was also going on while I was still getting my toes wet with the world of music licensing, which would prove to be a much smarter direction to go in.

This was a pattern I repeated somewhat with Lightfields, which I initially released independently in 2010… albeit this time I actually had a release date in mind before I released the damned thing!

And All Is As It Should Be

Fast forward to 2014, and I’d had a few label releases by this point (a topic I may delve further into in the future!). Distant Activity and Lightfields were re-distributed by Distinctive Records, And All Is As It Should Be was released through Lost Language, and my follow up Icarus was released through Distinctive Records. All of these are albums that I am incredibly happy with, and in retrospect I feel a large part of my experience in producing Icarus comes down to my own personal attitude towards it rather than anything on Distinctive’s end.

Icarus was a slog to complete. Distant Activity and Lightfields were two totally different albums stylistically, and rather than writing whatever felt natural I spent too much time thinking about audience and label expectations. Should I lean more towards the style I established with the former? Should it sound more polished? What if people are expecting something more like Lightfields? Why do all of my mixes sound awful? I ended up going through a multitude of album revisions, with the first rough cut being completed in 2011. I couldn’t bring myself to move on from it, and it was drove me nuts.

Following the release of Icarus I realised I needed to try a different approach, and I remembered how much fun I’d had releasing music independently – at this point, it had been over three years since I had done so. I also figured that if I was going to do that, I wanted to take the opportunity to try out new ideas. I had come to love the idea of rewarding fans for purchasing my music rather than punishing people for having the audacity to seek it out. I also loved the idea of working on a release that didn’t have an over-arching concept, that didn’t impose any kind of expectations on myself, and that felt completely natural to write. That release was Pieces, and I absolutely thoroughly loved working on and releasing it. People responded really well to the pay-what-you-want approach. As such, I decided to adopt a pay-what-you-want model for all of my independent releases, and rewarding fans while encouraging listeners became my go-to model for releases. This is a model I adopted for subsequent releases Obscurer and The Broken Divide and now Mesmera (whew, at last – bringing this back around to the album at hand!).

Mesmera continues in this tradition. In many ways I consider it a bit of a spiritual successor to And All Is As It Should Be (which I considered a spiritual successor to The Dawn EP at the time…), but it’s what I wanted to write. It came together naturally because it scratched an itch I’d had for quite a while, and that’s why I was able to bring in ideas from 2016 despite having only “properly” started working on it in 2017. It was wonderful to be so hands-on with every single aspect of the creation process, as in many ways creating the music is only one step (albeit a large one) towards completing an album. I went through several artwork revisions (with my incredibly patient buddy Tom Pritchard), track-list orders, mix approaches… but it never became obsessive or manic, and it never felt like a slog. It always felt like I was working toward something I wanted to create at the time, and that’s something I feel I lost sight of while working on Icarus. Again – can’t stress this enough – I am 100% totally and absolutely thrilled and happy with how Icarus turned out, but I’d rather not repeat that creative process again if I can help it!

Mesmera is available NOW through Bandcamp. You can listen to it in its entirety and download it from my Bandcamp page. Bandcamp subscribers also get access to an exclusive audiophile master, along with a beatless arrangement of the album. It’s also available to stream & download from a wide variety of digital distribution outlets.

Icarus: out now

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Album 3, Distinctive, Icarus, Music

Icarus is out now!

Following on from Lightfields (2010), and his collection of ambient works ‘And All Is As It Should Be'(2012), British electronic producer Adam Fielding’s is set to return to Distinctive with a new album titled ‘Icarus’. As ever, Fielding’s productions are rich with drama, space and intention. His work always carries a distinctly cinematic narrative; a trait that’s picked up by the film production houses that regularly champion his work.

Opening the album is the title track and first single off the album. It’s a vocal opus charged with breathy pads, smart string arrangements and snappy beats. ‘Fireworks’ is a powerful follow-on, with an undulating synth bass line and expansive tonal work.

For ‘Are Lights Approaching’, he takes a thumping 4×4 beat and envelops it in his signature textures, topping it off with an edgy vocal delivery that gives a raw, low-slung feel. Next up, ‘All We Ever Wanted’ introduces some acoustic guitar tones and yearning lyrics to the mix to create a haunting ballad.

‘Somewhere Out There’ is an ambient piece, just vocals and ethereal pads on this one that builds to a cathartic end. ‘Hiding From January’ is purely instrumental, showcasing Fielding’s intricate beat programming skills. Next, we have ‘Out of Reach’. It’s a propulsive stomper with a darker, industrial space-age feel. Fielding’s effected vocals adding to the crystalline finish.

‘High Rise Downfall’ uses a forceful broken beat pattern to punctuate beautiful synthetic atmospheres before some warm piano and guitar chords kick in to switch the vibe. ‘Break Me Down’ carries on the piano themes,this time paired with dynamic ‘rock-esque’ beats and chord progressions to make one of the album’s proper epics.

‘A Fire In The Sky’ is a moody and contemplative, acting as the level-setting precursor to one of the more accomplished vocal tracks on the album, ‘Ashes By Dawn’. Fielding’s vocal takes centre stage here, and it’s nothing short of breathtaking. As a final reprise, he delivers a short yet stunning string arrangement using the movements of the opening ‘Icarus.’ A fitting end to a record.

Icarus is my third full-length album of original works, written between 2010-2013 and released through Distinctive Records. The album features the incredible talents of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. You can find it via DistinctiveiTunes, Amazon and pretty much any other major online music retailer you can think of.

You can find out more information and listen to previews via the music page on this site, or you can check out the clips from the album below.

Having spent three years working on this album, it’s quite surreal to see it finally making it’s way out into the big wide world. I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone I’ve been pestering over the past few years with constant revisions, ideas and general nonsense, and of course thank you to everyone who has ever supported me and my music throughout the years. Without you this album would simply not have been possible.

You can read a bit more about the background and creation of Icarus via the music page. You can also find full album lyrics via the lyrics section of this site.

I’d absolutely love to know what you think of this album, as I mentioned – I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out, and as a piece of work I think it perfectly highlights more or less entirely what I’m about as a musician.

Thanks!

Icarus: release dates

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Album 3, Collaboration, Distinctive, Icarus, Music

My third full-length, original solo album Icarus is due to be released on April 29th, with the eponymous single to be released a week before on the 15th. The single features a slew of remixes covering a wide variety of styles and genres both by myself and a hearty band of talented remixers.

I really can’t wait to share this with you… it’s been a long time coming and a hell of a lot of work from myself and a sizeable selection of other people (including The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, no less). I recently had the single masters back and, I’ve got to say, I’m really, really happy with how it’s all turned out. Of particular note for any audiophiles reading this – the final masters are sounding fantastic, and should come as a welcome relief to anybody out there (like myself) who’s sick of listening to excellent music that’s been mauled thanks to a constant push to over-compress and squash the living hell out of the source material in an effort to make it sound as loud as possible. As a record, Icarus is not that kind of listen and, as such, I’m very keen for it to withstand repeated listens.

I’m currently working with the label on the artwork and I’m looking forward to being able to hold the finished album in the not-too-distant future. I plan on talking in great length about the album both thematically and production-wise, but it’s still a little way off release so all I’ll say for now is that for fans of well produced electronic music with a heavy emphasis on emotion, melody and narrative I genuinely believe that it’s been worth the wait.

On a non-Icarus related note – I’ve just realised that I haven’t updated this site since the end of last year, so I guess now is as (in)appropriate time as any to say a hearty – albeit massively belated – Happy New Year!

2012 was a bit of a turning point for myself as a musician, particularly in terms of focus and direction. I’ve been working on a couple of production music (music for TV, advertising, film etc.) projects so far this year along with another project that I’m excited to have been a part of, which I’ll explain in more detail as things progress.

Something I do plan on doing this year is collaborating with more musicians. I have plenty of ideas in mind, and this idea was more or less spurred on by a collaboration between myself and the inimitable Tom Pritchard toward the end of last year which you can listen to and download for free below.

It’s been a long time since I worked on a proper collaboration, and I think I’ve progressed a fair bit as a musician and as a person since my last attempts. I’d love to know what you make of this particular collaboration! Please, no collaboration requests… as I said, I’ve already got a few ideas myself.

December update: Icarus, production albums and all that fun stuff

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Album 3, And All Is As It Should Be, Icarus, Music, Production music

I can’t believe I’ve left it so long since I last updated this site – as I’ve said before, that’s normally a good sign and this is no exception. I’ve got some great news.

Album 3 has a name, one confirmed single and is – more or less – complete!

My next full-length album is called Icarus, and it pretty much encapsulates everything I find enjoyable about modern electronic music – full of absorbing, interesting textures, detailed sound manipulation and – most important to me – solid tunes and genuine emotion. If you’re into hyper-compressed, aggressive-for-the-sake-of-being-aggressive, substance-over-style throw-away tunes then I’d strongly suggest looking elsewhere. But if you’re into genre-crossing music with a heavy organic edge that rewards repeated listening you’re going to be in for an absolute treat. The composition and production of the album itself is more or less complete and, having been working on it for so long, I must say that it’s a strange feeling to know that it’s finished. Well, I say “finished” – there’s still plenty of work to be done on the actual release-side!

The first single from Icarus will be the title track. The Icarus single will feature a wide variety of remixes from some incredibly talented musicians and myself. It’s due out in Q1 of next year, and I’ll be providing further updates regarding the single and the album itself as the release dates draws closer.

Also… just to settle some confusion: For those wondering why I keep referring to my upcoming album as my “third album” despite And All Is As It Should Be being, technically, my third artist album… that’s simply because this is my third full-length album of completely original material. AAIAISB was completely new material, though a good chunk of it consisted of re-interpretations of older works. I’m no less happy with it as an album than my other full-length releases – far from it! In fact, I put most of it together around this time last year and, as such, the album itself goes remarkably well with the current UK climate… the nights are drawing in, the frost and bitter cold is taking hold and it’s a great time for some chilled introspection. If you haven’t checked it out already then I’d strongly recommend doing so as it is a rather good accompaniment to this particular season (if I may say so myself!). Another reason I keep referring to Icarus as “album 3” is simply because, when I started writing it, it was the third album I’d been working on! Needless to say, I’ve been at it for a while.

In addition to all this Icarus-related excitement, I’ve been working on a huge selection of production tunes (for TV, film, advertising, radio – that kind of thing) in the past few months which has, I’m pleased to say, found a home! Just to clarify: this is in no way related to Icarus whatsoever, though there are obviously elements of my production music that carry over into my own solo work.

I’ve also been working on some more synth-pop inspired music lately which is, again, completely unrelated to Icarus or my production music. There’s a track up on my Soundcloud page called “There Is No Turning Back” which should give you a good idea as to what I’m going for but, again, I’ll be providing more information as this project develops. Stay tuned!

Ambient selection in the works

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Album 3, Ambient Project, Lightfields

Earlier in the year I started working on a selection of atmospheric ambient songs – more specifically, ambient re-workings of songs from Lightfields. I was between projects (album 3 notwithstanding – I’m still working on that!) and I’d been wanting to get back into writing something really “visual” and atmospheric for a while. I didn’t really have any particular goal in mind when I started out – I toyed with the idea of getting an EP’s worth of material put together and released, but I had no idea how or when.

Since then, this ambient EP has grown considerably and is now coming in at about 50 minutes in length with a mix of ambient re-workings and original songs. What started as a project purely for the sake of writing music that I wanted to write has kind of taken on a life of its own, and I’m really happy with how it’s all turning out. I’ve got some artwork ready to roll (courtesy of a photo taken by Tom Pritchard in 2010) and right now I’m still writing music for this project. As for how or when I’m actually going to release it, I honestly have no idea. Right now I’m focussing on getting it completed – once it’s in a finished state I’ll have a good long think about how best to go about releasing it.

Below is one of the original songs from the EP/album/project – I’d love to know what you think!

I’ll post more news regarding this project once I have something more concrete in place.

Short update

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Album 3, Geekery, General, Music, Remix

I figured it might not be a bad idea to post an actual update here as opposed to a post dedicated solely to me bitching about DPD! (though I do still hate them with a passion)

Album 3 is still coming along nicely, and I’ve now got a few songs in the bag along with a healthy selection of songs that are ready for a bit of fleshing out. Curiously enough, the end of the album is more or less mapped out at the moment – that’s subject to change, but it’s interesting to see how it’s everything’s starting to fit together. I’m hoping for an interesting blend of progressive/synthpop/atmospheric styles with the finished album. For anyone interested in hearing how things are going, I have a habit of posting clips and snippets from time to time on my SoundCloud page. It’s worth checking there regularly as all kinds of bits and pieces have been appearing there lately and… well… sometimes it seems a bit excessive to post an update here for the sake of a song clip. Sometimes.

I spent a bit of time last week re-installing everything and generally cleaning house, and while doing so ended up going through a few older projects to make sure everything was working properly. In doing so I started messing around with some older songs and re-working them into a more ambient style and ended up with a few interesting ideas – one of said ideas you can check out here. I’ve also been working on a few shorter instrumental ideas over the past month or so, sort of reminiscent of my “sketch-a-day” thingy I did a couple of years ago (for the uninitiated, this involved me writing very quick song ideas regardless of quality – surprisingly, I’m really happy with how most of them turned out) but with a bit more of a polished sound overall. I’ve also been tinkering with Reason 6 for a little while now and, I must say, the focus on rhythmic and distortion effects devices is very welcome.

Current goings on and off

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Album 3, General, Music, Patch design

So, first up – the good news! My previously mentioned production album is progressing smoothly, with the bulk of the tracks completed and ready for some further tinkering. I’ve also recently started working on another patch design project and have been working on potential ideas and songs for album #3. You can listen to one of said ideas using the handy player below (or, indeed, here if the embedded player is giving you grief).

(edit: sorry, the preview is no longer representative of how the track sounds so I’ve taken it down -ad)

Unfortunately, I was ill for a few weeks which set me back a bit (glandular fever – which, for future reference, I wouldn’t recommend contracting) but I’m very much back on my feet now. Hooray!