Thomas Campion (1567--1620) was an English songwriter, musician and composer of the Renaissance era. He first studied law, and then spent some time as a soldier, before qualifying as a physician. But songwriting was his claim to fame and he published several books of “Ayres”. He died in 1620, in London, probably from the plague, as he was involved in treating plague victims at that time. Later generations ignored or forgot Campion’s music (the powerful church leaders of England’s seventeenth-century Puritan movement found Campion’s songs too sexy!) and sadly his work sank into obscurity.
I came across Campion in a collection of English lute songs, bought from my local music shop here in Eboracum. I liked what I saw and began experimenting on guitar. True, the words are a bit old-fashioned, but they tackle timeless human issues like love, jealousy, passion, obsession etc. And the melodies are strong.
There is one particular Campion song called “Follow Thy Fair Sun”, which is about a guy hopelessly in love with a beautiful woman, and following her around like a shadow. Her beauty, popularity and self-absorption shines far too bright for her even to notice this forlorn admirer. And so he lives in shadow, following his “fair sun”, and hoping one day to be noticed.
Well, I liked this little dynamic. I had it in the back of my mind when I was reading an online article about Vangelis and the equipment he used to create the “Bladerunner” movie music. I immediately recognised that Karsten has similar vintage equipment in his home studio. An idea occurred: maybe we could make a Cyberpunk version of the Campion song? Maybe Campion’s lovesick Renaissance “shadow” could be transformed into a futuristic Cyborg “shadow”?
We discussed the idea at Pixeltruppen HQ and began experimenting. We decided to attempt something special -- we would create a “sonic” movie trailer for our own fictitious Cyberpunk movie, including dialogue and Foley effects. And we would reference both Campion and Vangelis in the musical score and instrumentation. The result is our track “The Hemera Assignment”.
The lyric for this song is based on the idea that everything is "significant" -- the kind of shoes you wear, or car you drive, or coffee you drink -- everything carries a subliminal message. For example, a car is a practical machine -- it transports people from A to B. And yet a car can also be a status symbol or sex symbol. Even the choice of colour can "say something" about the owner. And so people express themselves through coded messages attached to everyday objects. The vocals were recorded by Anis and Javolenus and processed by Karsten, who also created the melodic motif. The instrumentation and overall arrangement are also the work of Karsten, who used the following equipment: ARP 2500 ARP 2600 ARP Odyssey Moog System 55 Minimoog Roland TR-909 Roland CR-78 Roland D-10 Sennheiser Vocoder VSM201 Cubase VST 32
This song is inspired by, and based on, a Renaissance song-fragment by Michael Cavendish (1525--1628). "Love is not blind, but I am so blindfolded by desire that guides my will along the path of woe ..."
This track was inspired by a 14th-century chant by Medieval French composer Solage. With this song we welcome and introduce the vocalist "Anis".
This is a song based on some people & events from the year 1972. The sounds were created on 1970s equipment, including Moog Modular & ARP Odyssey synths plus Sennheiser vocoder.
The title and refrain for this song was inspired by a line in a Renaissance lute song by Thomas Campion (1567--1620): "A secret love or two I must confess ..."
This song was inspired by, and based on, a Renaissance lute song by John Bartlet (from "A Booke of Ayres with a Triplicitie of Musicke", published in 1606). We liked the idea of updating something 400 years old and making it accessible to modern listeners ...
This track is inspired by, and based on, the opening "Toccata" of Claudio Monterverdi's 1607 opera, "L'Orfeo". Renaissance music is very inpirational -- we find it a great resource!
This song was written against a news "backdrop" of the sovereign debt crisis and the Eurozone crisis. It was also written as a reaction to the seemingly endless TV adverts for "Pay Day Loans" and daily BBC reports about the growing gap between rich and poor. The song's refrain and title came to me while out walking -- as I passed a parked car I noticed a sticker on the window announcing that "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas". I immediately mused that most people's personal debt (including mortgage) dogs them for life, not just for Christmas. I began composing in my head and had the song finished in a few minutes ...
I’d been thinking how we all tend to be judged on the way we look, dress, and so on. The rise of social media and professional networking web sites underline this, with the emphasis on “selling your image”. It occurred to me that “beauty” has become a new “currency” that people “spend” -- a very real asset. The consequence is that, as a society, we assume that very good-looking people must also be very able, very talented; that (somehow) they are more worthy of, more deserving of, success and admiration than less-good-looking people. I immediately wrote a lyric on this theme with the “ironic” hookline: “You are so beautiful, you must be talented” -- and this became the title of the song.