Mesmera: The blank canvas

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Geekery, General, Mesmera, Music, Obscurer, Patch design, Pieces, Reason, The Broken Divide, Tom Pritchard

Starting a new personal project is frequently a rather daunting prospect, and in my case is something I tend to fall into rather than something I tend to sit down and consciously decide upon. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I may have written Mesmera’s formative tracks in late 2017, but I certainly didn’t set out with the initial end-goal of creating an album. Sometimes it works to carefully consider everything beforehand, and that’s how I generally approach my production music – but when it comes to solo material, I like to see where it takes me.

…oh boy

So where on earth do you start with that approach? Well – as long time listeners/followers may have noticed, I have a bit of a habit of rotating which instruments and sounds I use on any given project, and how I approach the process of composing and arranging the tracks themselves.

In some instances, these decisions are carefully considered beforehand and are directly informed by the type of music I’m attempting to create. In other instances, these decisions happen quite naturally and, by contrast, directly inform the music I have yet to create. The former approach is generally the one I adopt when I’m working on a particular project to a specific set of guidelines – for example, if someone’s asking for a collection of epic cinematic production tunes then I’m probably not about to bust out my collection of time-stretched wind-chime samples (which totally isn’t a thing but I feel it should be). The latter approach is frequently the one I adopt when I’m staring at a blank canvas and need a place to start – frequently, but not always (see also: Obscurer, where the choice of instrumentation was very deliberate and directly affected the sound and style of the album). Mesmera definitely falls into the latter category.

Following the metaphor of approaching a blank canvas, this selection of instruments and sounds is something I frequently refer to as my “palette” and, while there may be shared elements between projects, they tend to shift about from project-to-project. In the case of Mesmera, I can break down the palette into a selection of very specific elements – some of which I’ll go into here.

Europa in Reason 10

Europa. Lots and lots of Europa: more specifically, Europa patches from Europa Relay. I created this sound-bank shortly after the release of Reason 10, and my heavy use of it had a very direct impact on how my ideas sounded right from the start.

Polysix. This has become a staple of my music since around 2014 or so, and I use it way more than is healthy for things like synth arps and bass drones. It’s straight-forward and always sits nicely with whatever I’m working on. I’ve been considering rotating this out of my palette for bloody years and it still hasn’t happened.

– Acoustic guitars. In this instance, I ended up re-visiting the idea of using lots of simple plucked arps in a similar manner to how I ended up sprinkling acoustic guitar parts all over And All Is As It Should Be. There are a couple of parts where I strum out a few chords, but I really liked adding an extra sense of rhythm with guitar arps, sometimes layered up with other acoustic instruments to vary things up a bit.

– Acoustic percussion. This was something I naturally gravitated towards while working on Mesmera, and is something I used in tandem with the drum sounds from DrumSpillage (below). I realised that I had a habit of relying primarily on electronic kits and traditional acoustic drums in a lot of my music, so I decided to broaden my horizons a bit for Mesmera and ended up bringing in a lot of ensemble percussive elements. This is particularly evident on tracks 1 and 3 (Standing On The Precipice and Everything Felt New, respectively), and runs throughout the album.

DrumSpillage

DrumSpillage. I’ve been using DrumSpillage to roll my own electronic drum hits since I first picked it up a few years ago. I had always struggled to find a really shit-hot drum soft-synth for solid drum hits, and while I have a few favourites that I still use for percussion (namely MicroTonic, love that drum synth!), DrumSpillage was the first where I really thought “woah, this is EXACTLY what I’m after!”. I tend to rotate this into and out of my palette purely because sometimes I just want to drop a sample into a track that I know is going to work without going through the process of rolling my own sounds – but that’s entirely on me and has nothing to do with the instrument.

This is by no means a comprehensive selection of everything I used on Mesmera, but a lot of these particular instruments and sounds find their way across a multitude of tracks. The fun thing about this is that I tend to naturally gravitate toward different instruments and rotate different elements out of my palette almost immediately upon completing a project. Right now I seem to be gravitating towards a different set of sounds, and I have no doubt that this will somehow inform the next personal project I inevitably end up working on.

One thing I like to strive toward when creating an album is a sense of cohesiveness throughout, and gravitating towards a palette in this manner is one way of accomplishing this, even if it tends to happen almost by accident in some cases. Another good example of this is how I ended up creating a lot of the tunes on Pieces – because I was so utterly reliant on the sound-banks of Tom Pritchard Sound Design at the time, the tracks sounded somewhat connected despite some of them being written years apart.

But it’s not necessarily just the sounds that reflect how an album shapes up, but how I get those initial ideas down and arrange them into something resembling a complete song. Going back to Pieces, I ended up using Reason’s Blocks functionality an awful lot to get a semi-complete 8-16 bar loop going, and then work backwards from that. This is a nice approach to take because it means you already have a destination to work toward – from there you can decide how to build towards the destination and, upon reaching it, decide where you want to progress from there. This is also an approach I tend to adopt for a lot of my production music, and it’s an approach I adopted when working on my live-stream music making sessions.

In the case of Mesmera (and The Broken Divide before it), I took a much more linear approach to arrangement – starting from the beginning and going from there. This approach tends to lend itself to a more “progressive” arrangement (in the sense of “things progressing”, not “15-minute prog epic”) in that the journey informs the direction you’re going to take. I tend to follow this approach when working on a lot of my own personal projects because it means I’m less informed by pre-conceived ideas, and it gives me a little more flexibility to go off on a tangent if I decide to explore a different direction.

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.

“Mesmera” – the new album, out 8th August

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Mesmera, Music, Subscribers, The Broken Divide

Mesmera is an album of ambient/downtempo pieces by UK-based musician & producer Adam Fielding, written and recorded between 2016 – 2018 and released in August 2018.

Since the release of his first album, Adam Fielding has experimented with a wide variety of genres ranging from ambient to IDM, post-rock to synth-pop, and everything in-between. Mesmera sees Fielding taking on a renewed exploration of downtempo ambience, mixing organic and electronic instrumentation with a heavy focus on deep atmospheres and cinematic moods.

Mesmera is a representation of a daunting-yet-deeply rewarding journey, following themes of exploration, reflection, and imagination. Launching from the energetic expanse of Standing On The Precipice, the journey travels through celebrations of the unknown in Everything Felt New, deep introspection in the title track, through to freedom from the past in You Have To Let Go.

With Mesmera, Fielding playfully mixes the familiar with the unknown, crafting a unique album that is sure to be a rewarding listening for ambient & electronic music lovers.

Surprise! I realise I’ve been rather quiet over the past year or so (and with good reason, which I’ll be getting into over the course of the next few posts), but I’m incredibly happy to announce that my new album, Mesmera, will be released on the 8th August! Although appearing quite different sonically, I consider this album to be a spiritual sequel of sorts to my previous ambient album And All Is As It Should Be, with much more of a focus on atmosphere and texture than my previous couple of releases… albeit with an extra dash of rolling percussion throughout. I’ll be talking about the conceptualisation and production process behind the album on this blog over the coming weeks, so watch this space!

In the meantime, you can pre-order it from Bandcamp – all pre-orders will receive a copy of the Extended version of the album upon release (more on that in a second), though the main album itself will be available as a pay-what-you-want release when it comes out.

As has been the case for my past couple of album releases, I’ve decided to throw in some extra goodies for Bandcamp subscribers. These are as follows:

  • An “Extended” version of the album, featuring beatless versions of all of the tracks found on the main album. These versions feature arrangement and mix tweaks as opposed to just being the exact same tracks with the percussion taken out, and serves as a nice counterpoint to the main version with its present percussion. This version of the album will also be available on other streaming services such as iTunes post-release, and will be made available to anybody who decides to pre-order via Bandcamp.
  • An “audiophile” master of the album. Once again, this will be a Bandcamp subscriber exclusive, and if you’d like to know what exactly this entails then I’d suggest reading this handy blog post which covers the subject quite nicely. The audiophile release also includes the beatless mixes from the Extended version.

One of the tracks, entitled “You Have To Let Go”, is available for streaming now via the handy little player above, and is also available to download to all pre-order customers immediately.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be talking a bit more about how this album came together in the month-or-so leading up to its release, so for now I’ll leave it there and just say that I cannot wait to get the complete album out there! I hadn’t expected to be writing another album again so soon after The Broken Divide, but things just kind of worked out that way. I hope you’ll be joining me for the full journey on the 8th August 🙂

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.

The Broken Divide: out now

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, The Broken Divide

The Broken Divide, my new solo album, is out RIGHT NOW. It’s completely free, and you can download it in the format of your choice from my Bandcamp page here.

UK-based musician & producer Adam Fielding returns with his latest solo album proper in the form of “The Broken Divide”, written & recorded during 2013-2016, and released in May 2016.

“The Broken Divide” is a riveting fusion of Fielding’s intricate electronic production style and deeply personal songwriting, with themes of wonderment and beauty contrasted against deep introspection and chaos. Based around a series of fragile memories and personal journeys, “The Broken Divide” makes for an emotionally charged and strikingly vulnerable listen as Fielding weaves his way through a wide range of musical styles and moods.

Opening with the contrastingly beautiful and frenzied layers of “The Beginning And The End”, the stage is set for moments of reverence and heady contemplation, such as the explosive “Defining Moments” and mournful “Time To Go”. As a whole, the album revels in emotion, atmosphere and expression, retaining Fielding’s signature blend of lush electronics and organic instrumentation.

With “The Broken Divide”, Fielding has crafted a uniquely expressive and intense work, sure to reward listeners seeking both substance and style.

Having been working on this for the past three years, it’s really quite amazing to finally be sharing this with you all. It’s been a long journey in more ways than one. Putting this record together really made me appreciate why I got into writing and producing music in the first place, and I channeled an awful lot of myself into this record. In many ways, this album represents a very particular snapshot of myself over the past decade or so.

I’m both thrilled and somewhat apprehensive about sharing this album with you, and I sincerely hope that – as I did – you find the journey to be a rewarding one.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me over the years, and to every single one of you who has ever listened to my music. It’s a hell of a thing to live in a world where I can freely share something so intrinsically linked to myself with people from around the world, and it’s too easy to slip into taking that kind of thing for granted. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your support.

The Broken Divide 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 bonus tracks and instrumentals.

The Broken Divide: Release notes

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Distant Activity, Icarus, Lightfields, Music, Subscribers, The Broken Divide

With just one day to go until the release of The Broken Divide, I figured I should probably take a second to write about the actual release of the album itself and how it came together after I finished writing it (which you can read about in more detail in my previous TBD-related blog posts).

Before I talk about the release of The Broken Divide, I’d like to talk a little bit about the release of Pieces. Pieces was the first album/compilation thing that I had released independently in about four years or so, and so I decided to try something a little different with the release.

There are two great advantages to releasing music independently, as far as I’m concerned – the first is that it afford you complete creative control over what you put out. Pieces was something I’d been toying with for a while, and I knew I wasn’t in a rush to release it. This gave me plenty of time to sort out mastering, album artwork, and release formats. I’ve already talked at length about my approach to pricing (or lack of) and the “audiophile master” release of Pieces – both of which you can read about here and here. I mention this because it’s an approach I’m taking once again with the release of The Broken Divide.

Which brings me onto the second big thing I love about releasing music independently – the freedom to experiment with release methods. One thing I have been experimenting with recently is the Bandcamp subscription format. I still believe in making my major independent releases easily accessible to everyone, but the subscription system affords me the means to get bonus goodies across to people who might be more interested in checking this stuff out without necessarily “cluttering” my discography for those who just want to listen to my albums. It’s an interesting balancing act, but after releasing Pieces I had more or less decided quite early on that my next album release was going to be another pay-what-you-want release on Bandcamp.

Sorry guys, you're on your own.
Sorry guys, you’re on your own.

Alas, another similarity between these two releases is that there is no physical CD version. Back when I was releasing my first or second albums, this idea would have been kind of abhorrent to me – I love picking up CDs where I can, but the sad truth is that demand for physical copies of my music is nowhere near substantial enough at this point to warrant getting a decent run made and, as with many other people out there, I have no problem with my own musical purchases being digital… provided I can download it in the format of my choice. Maybe one day I’ll consider a limited run of CD copies for some of my more recent releases, but for the time being it’s not going to happen. That said, digital downloads of my music have skyrocketed in the past few years so, hey, there you go!

On a similar note, I have still in no way whatsoever been bitten by the vinyl bug. It’s a growing format but it’s one that I just don’t get – for me, it’s kind of a weird situation. There are many releases for which the “best” version is the vinyl release, simply because the most tastefully mastered version of an album is usually the vinyl version. Nothing to do with the format (outside of some physical constraints due entirely to the medium itself which go some way to preventing bad mastering practices), but because people who listen on vinyl tend to be more picky about this kind of thing. Which is great! But there is nothing stopping people from releasing tasteful masters of their albums digitally, and I find the lack of options kind of strange in that regard. Maybe in a few years I’ll be all over vinyl, but for the time being… not happening. It’s not something I’m interested in and it would be both disingenuous and financially bonkers for me to go down that route.

This is all kind of interesting to me because this will be my first “big” solo release since 2013 – I’m super happy with all of my interim releases (Pieces, AdFi, Obscurer), but this is the album that I would consider the “true” follow-up to Icarus. That album had a bit of a troubled release, to be honest. From issues with the artwork, digital outlets still not stocking it correctly (go ahead, try and find it on Amazon UK), payments and recoupable costs having to be chased up for about a year, and a general lack of post-release support… yeah, it was not pretty. Hell, for a few months I had no idea which label it was going to be released through thanks to a total communication snafu. Alas – due to the nature of it not being an independent release, this is all stuff that was generally outside of my control. Icarus really made me appreciate how much I’d taken full creative control for granted over the years, and how it’s something I’m not willing to relinquish for my own solo releases. The release of Pieces made me really, really appreciate how much I’d missed releasing music independently… the general feeling I got during both releases was completely different. I’d like to emphasise that this in no way somehow reflects my own personal feelings of both albums from a musical point of view – this is strictly from a release/logistical perspective.

ANYWAY. Bitching and moaning aside(!) – the point I’m trying to make is that returning to that mindset of retaining full control during the writing, production, and release process for a “big” solo release was a really wonderful feeling, and I think that feeling of releasing something completely on my own terms because I wanted to is something that runs throughout the entire album. In many ways the huge contrast between the release of Icarus and Pieces fuelled the direction I took with this album… knowing that it was probably going to be an independent release made me think “hey, that means I can pretty much do whatever I want!” which is, y’know, exactly what I did.

So. One more day to go. I hope you get some time to check out the album in its entirety once I release it into the wild, and I hope you like what you hear. Cheers!

The Broken Divide 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 bonus tracks and instrumentals.

The Broken Divide: Fragments

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, Neffle, Obscurer, Pieces, The Broken Divide

I started writing what would eventually become The Broken Divide towards the latter half of 2013. This was coming off of the back of the release of Icarus (which was released in April 2013) and a couple of other production albums. For the first time in a long time, I was working with a completely blank slate. Being in a similar situation right now (although, as of writing, I’m currently working on another project which is keeping me very busy and sounds amazing), that particular feeling of starting fresh and working on something completely new is both incredibly exciting and daunting.

Generally speaking, when I’m working on a production album or doing some other kind of freelance work, I’ll be working to a very particular specification or purpose. That’s sort of the whole point. Over the past several years I’ve taught myself to be flexible in the face of stringent specifications, and nowadays I actually find having a place to start to be hugely beneficial. I’ve never experienced a creative block while working on a job, and I think having that initial direction is a huge part of why that’s the case.

This was definitely not the case with The Broken Divide.

In a strangely similar fashion to Pieces, a lot of the writing process for The Broken Divide was fragmented into clusters of tracks. Over the course of writing the album, I stuck to the same general source of inspiration (which I detailed in a previous post) that drove me to write the title track way back in 2013, but it was a tough process.

When the ideas were coming, it felt completely natural to want to express these ideas and emotions. It’s also worth bearing in mind that I was working on a lot of other audio-related stuff during the creation of The Broken Divide… I knew I wasn’t tied to a particular deadline, so I wanted to let it all happen naturally. I experimented a lot with different ideas during the creation of the album, which is why I ended up with releases like Pieces and Obscurer. It was a real reminder of why I enjoyed releasing music independently so much – when you’re working with audio for a living, there’s a wonderful sense of freedom in having a completely open creative outlet.

When the ideas weren’t coming, it was frustrating. I knew I was onto something that I wanted to release and put my name on, and after writing what I would consider to be the second “cluster” of tracks, it was particularly frustrating because I knew for sure that, with what I’d already hit, there was at least an album’s worth of further exploration in the source material. The clusters were almost forming their own narratives, and that was something that really excited me.

Having a clear idea of what you want to do and knowing that you’ll get there eventually is fantastic from the point of view of having something to strive toward, but it’s creatively frustrating in the sense that you just want it all to be out there. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely adore the creative process of writing music. I love it to bits, and when I’m really into it… I’m really, really, really into it. That’s why I do it! But there’s something incredibly satisfying about getting these ideas out, taking a step back and realising “yeah, that’s exactly what I wanted – and I made that”.

After completing this second “cluster” (which was around mid-late 2014 or so), things slowed down

This was nearly a thing.
This was nearly a thing.

for The Broken Divide. I did some more production work, was busy with sound design work, released Pieces, worked on the Neffle material… it was a fantastic time creatively, but during this break from The Broken Divide I started to doubt whether I would be able to complete it as an album. I started thinking about alternative release methods and, towards the end of 2014, gave serious consideration to releasing what I had as a series of EPs.

“So why didn’t you, then?”, you may be wondering. Well… for the past few years, I had an annual tradition of writing a load of music in October. I called these sessions “October Sessions” – original name, right? The idea was to write a load of sketches, and just see where it took me. It’s how I got started with Pieces, and in 2014 I had another really good burst of creativity during October. I started experimenting with the idea of mixing some of the ideas from these sessions into what I already had for The Broken Divide, and I liked the results… initially. I even sent this weird mish-mash of an album to a few people and said “hey guys, this is my album!”.

After a couple of months had passed and the new year had settled in, I realised this was a terrible idea. I love what I already had for The Broken Divide, and I loved what I already had for my October Sessions – but the two were not supposed to completely co-mingle, and it was tonally jarring to listen to it like that. But! It made me realise that I knew for sure that I could finish The Broken Divide, and that the parts that worked as an album worked really, really well for me from the point of view of continuity and narrative. It just needed one final push. Knowing that I wasn’t in a rush to release it, I made the decision to hang onto it until it was a complete album. As far as I’m concerned, that was a good idea. As a whole album, there was a really solid sense of coherence and progression that would have been missing from a series of EPs. That said, I still like the idea of releasing EPs while working on an album – I’m glad I held off this time around, but next time around it might be cool to release a series of EPs in advance of an album… as it transpires, albums take a really bloody long time to write!

In any case – the final push came in 2015. I ended up with a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks during this final push, and once I slotted those into the existing collection of tracks it just brought everything together in a ridiculously satisfying way. I started sending out this pre-mastered version to a few friends, and I knew this was it. At the end of the year, I set myself a release date that would give me plenty of time to get things finalised – after all, I still needed to sort out mastering, artwork, bonus materials…

The Broken Divide 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 bonus tracks and instrumentals.

The Broken Divide: Instrumentation

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, Subscribers, The Broken Divide

Something I’ve always been quite keen on in electronic music is the fusion of organic instrumentation with electronic instrumentation. There’s an oddly humanising feel or grounded sensation to be had when combining precisely sequenced synths with recorded/performed instrumentation. It’s something I’ve really strived for since Lightfields in particular – in that instance, I was fusing live instrumentation with electronics to give a more energetic, spontaneous feel to the album. With The Broken Divide, I thought it’d be interesting to use some non-traditional instruments and sound sources to aid with the sound of something recognisable and inviting, yet unusual and kind of unfamiliar at the same time.

The first track (“The Beginning And The End”) is a good example of this. There are guitars buried in the mix, about 2/3rds of the track make use of a piano – which is heavily processed at times, the percussion is formed from a mixture of drum synths and odd recordings, and there are field recordings all over the track. Even the frantic synth-type sound used during the crazier part of the track (you’ll know which part I mean if you give it a listen) was based on a recording of me sticking my finger on the end of an amped up cable. The recorded percussion is a mixture of rubbing hands, clicking batteries, scissors, shakers… I really wanted to give the percussion a strangely loose, human feel to it underneath the precisely timed electronic kit.

Of course, this is just one track. Although there are plenty of guitars and pianos across the album, I decided to avoid using strings and orchestral elements. Although I’ve used orchestral elements extensively in my work before (and still do!), I felt like there’s such a strong automatic association between orchestral instrumentation and “cinematic” music that wasn’t really representative of what I was shooting for with this particular album… I didn’t really want to invite that comparison through my choice of instrumentation, so I decided to avoid it entirely for The Broken Divide. I was incredibly tempted to use some strings in the penultimate track (“Time To Go”), but decided against it in the end. I think it was the right call, as the fusion of sparse electronics and piano/vocals complements what I was going for with the track on an emotional level. The only time I decided to use anything approaching orchestral instrumentation was in the title track, which uses a heavily processed and frantically bowed (read: abused) violin layered up with a stretched version of itself to give an ethereal-yet-familiar sound to it.

I guess one of the key reasons for my decision to avoid orchestral instrumentation was that I wanted the instrumentation & production to be in service of the music and emotional component itself, and not the other way around. There’s one track on the album where I used the sound of rattling keys to signify a transition, running with the theme of travel and unfamiliarity I was basing the song around. There’s another track that makes use of my first acoustic guitar (which is an old, battered thing I picked up from a charity shop that I’ve been meaning to give away for years) which tied in quite nicely to the memory referenced in that particular track, which really complements the personal connection I was going for.

There was a certain point during the creation of the album where I started to think “this is probably going to be an instrumental album. I need to focus on writing some vocal tracks to round it out, or just add vocals to the stuff I’ve already got written”. In hindsight, this was a really stupid idea. I started to make the mistake of comparing The Broken Divide as it was with my previously released albums, trying to fulfill some kind of audience-expectation quota with regards to vocal tracks rather than just letting it happen naturally. The vast majority of the instrumental tracks on the album just didn’t click when I started experimenting with adding vocals to them and, consequently, took away from the underlying memory or emotional state that I was trying to convey. That said, as I started working on the final third of the album or so, I ended up writing a few vocal tracks that fit the overall mood of the album pretty much perfectly. I also ended up writing one vocal track that didn’t fit the mood of the album, but I thought it was a really nice track… so I decided to include that with the extended version of The Broken Divide (which is exclusive to Bandcamp subscribers). In fact… thinking about it, the main hurdles I seemed to encounter when putting the album together were when I started to do things that went against the nature of the album as it was shaping up, or other things that simply didn’t fit the natural flow that ran throughout the production process. Lesson learned!

I guess that’s quite indicative of the album in general, really. The entire production process seemed to come quite naturally once I stopped trying to force it. Although I wanted to keep things interesting from a production and sound design point of view, trying to force it toward a particular direction was distracting at best, and contradictory to the album I wanted to write at worst… and I think the instrumentation is quite indicative of that. Every layer has a particular purpose and a particular role to play, and it was nice to be able to serve the emotional flow and theme of the album through the instrumentation itself.

The Broken Divide 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 bonus tracks and instrumentals.

The Broken Divide: What’s in a name?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, The Broken Divide

The Broken Divide is something I’ve been working on for a few years now, and it’s an incredibly personal body of work. I thought it would be kind of interesting to talk a bit about what exactly I mean by that, and where the name itself actually came from… sort of.

In keeping with tradition, the first track I worked on and had in a more-or-less complete state for The Broken Divide was the title track. The title track was written and produced in October 2013, and was my first proper foray back into writing solo material since the release of Icarus earlier in the year. There’s something very refreshing about working with a completely blank slate, and – as happy as I was (and still am!) with Icarus as a musical work – I knew I wanted to try something different. So that’s exactly what I did.

The Broken Divide, v1
The Broken Divide, v1

I had been thinking a lot about events and memories from the past decade or so when I started writing The Broken Divide. The more I worked on it, the more I seemed to get sucked into this mindset of drawing strong emotional connections to events and places that I hadn’t really considered for an awfully long time. Even the very act of developing an album focussed primarily around memory and nostalgia began to feed back into the album itself. I’ve frequently thought of nostalgia as a means of looking back without really getting a true sense of how the pieces fit, and – as things panned out – there are certain parts of the album that explore how beautiful-yet-disparate that kind of fixation can be.

As for the actual title track itself – and, by extension, the name of the album – it was written about a very particular place, close to where I grew up. I never really thought much about it as a kid, but in recent years when I’ve gone back to this place I’ve realised that it’s both an aesthetically wonderful and conceptually bizarre place – at times calm and peaceful, and at other times loud and terrifying… and often times both at the same time. I thought it was interesting that I’d have such a strong nostalgic connection to a place like that, and it really got me thinking about how our own recollections and experiences alter our interpretations of the world around us. The Broken Divide is a reference both to that particular place, and the divide between recollection and reality. Memory is a fragile thing, especially in a constantly shifting world. Without really realising it back in 2013, I’d found my underlying concept. It’s a concept I’ve flirted with before now, but never to such a direct extent.

Now… I realise that a lot of this probably sounds more than a little self-indulgent and, hey, I guess you’d be totally correct in that observation! Generally speaking, when I’m working on a new track or solo project, I’ll tend to come up with a vague idea of a scene or story while I’m working on a particular musical idea. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea beforehand. These “scenes” can range from quite detailed ideas to a somewhat more abstract playing-out of events. The Broken Divide is the first collection of music where all of these “scenes” and ideas came entirely from my own personal experiences, along with the memories and frequent mental gymnastics associated with them.

I must admit to being incredibly tempted to posting a detailed explanation of where all of the track ideas and names came from, along with the particular thoughts and memories associated with them. I actually ended up typing up the inspirations associated with each track once the album was completed, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised how counter-productive it would be to post that. In retrospect, putting this album together was almost an attempt to make some sort of sense out of some of my memories and recollections – the things that make me who I am. That said – while I might have a particularly strong connection to these memories and “scenes” – the emotional connection and recollection of these memories is something I wanted to express in the music itself, rather than the exact “scene” associated with it… and the wonderful thing about music is that it’s generally completely open to interpretation.

I understand that for some people that this might seem like a complete cop-out, but I don’t want it to seem like there is only one “correct” way of interpreting this album. Despite it being an incredibly personal work, I don’t really feel like it would benefit the album in any way for me to explain the story behind each individual track in detail. In fact, in some cases, having these particular ideas associated with the individual tracks might even take away from your own interpretation and enjoyment of the music. And that’d be kinda crap, right?

“So why bother with this post, then?”, you might be wondering. Fair question! While I might not think it necessary to explain in detail what the story is behind every single track, the fact is that it is still an incredibly personal body of work (I might have mentioned that once or twice, you know). Having a vague idea of the concept behind the album might give you a better sense of what I was shooting for without force-feeding my own interpretations and expectations of the music itself.

…plus, y’know, I thought it’d be kind of cool to explain where the name came from.

The Broken Divide 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 bonus tracks and instrumentals.

“The Broken Divide” – the new album, out 5th May

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, The Broken Divide

UK-based musician & producer Adam Fielding returns with his latest solo album proper in the form of “The Broken Divide”, written & recorded during 2013-2016, and released in May 2016.

“The Broken Divide” is a riveting fusion of Fielding’s intricate electronic production style and deeply personal songwriting, with themes of wonderment and beauty contrasted against deep introspection and chaos. Based around a series of fragile memories and personal journeys, “The Broken Divide” makes for an emotionally charged and strikingly vulnerable listen as Fielding weaves his way through a wide range of musical styles and moods.

Opening with the contrastingly beautiful and frenzied layers of “The Beginning And The End”, the stage is set for moments of reverence and heady contemplation, such as the explosive “Defining Moments” and mournful “Time To Go”. As a whole, the album revels in emotion, atmosphere and expression, retaining Fielding’s signature blend of lush electronics and organic instrumentation.

With “The Broken Divide”, Fielding has crafted a uniquely expressive and intense work, sure to reward listeners seeking both substance and style.

As it says – on the 5th May I’ll be releasing my newest album, The Broken Divide, over on my Bandcamp page and through all major digital music retailers. I’ll be updating this site with samples and information leading up to the release. As has been the case over the past two years, The Broken Divide will be available freely via Bandcamp, with exclusive bonuses available to Bandcamp subscribers. In a similar manner to Pieces, these bonuses are…

  • An extended version of The Broken Divide containing additional tunes cut from the main release and instrumental versions of all vocal tracks. The removal of these bonus tracks from the main release is no reflection of my own perceived quality of the tracks, but I felt that they didn’t really fit the overall feel of the album itself. The instrumental versions provide an interesting alternative to their more vocal-centric counterparts.
  • An “audiophile” master of The Broken Divide. This was an idea I had while releasing Pieces, and some people really seemed to appreciate the additional choice of an alternative master… so I decided to do it again! If you are unfamiliar with the concept, then it’s a similar idea to Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks audiophile release. For most people, the regular master of The Broken Divide will be the preferred listening experience. For those with high-end equipment and a dedicated listening space, the audiophile master of The Broken Divide may offer a preferable listen. Although the regular master is compressed to what I feel is a tasteful level, the audiophile master eases up on the compression (resulting in a less “loud” master) quite considerably, features slightly altered mixes, and has a wider perceived dynamic range across the board for those who are into that kind of thing.

Again, as was the case with Pieces, although I think these bonuses are really, really (really!) neat for subscribers, I’d like to re-emphasise the fact that the main free release of The Broken Divide was written, produced, mastered, and compiled in exactly the way I wanted it to be. The free release is in no way compromised from my original vision of this album… but I felt that this was a nice way to thank people for supporting me by subscribing.

Updates will come throughout the month, including a series of posts related to the creation and release of The Broken Divide. I’m really, really looking forward to finally being able to share this album with you as it’s been quite a long time coming, and it is without a doubt my most personal record to date.

You can pre-order The Broken Divide from Bandcamp and get immediate access to two pre-release tracks.

http://adamfielding.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-divide