R. Simeon Bowring - founder, creative director and composer at Gargantuan Music - explores the sounds that have influenced his career as an artist and composer
So here we have a playlist that shows some of my musical journey as an artist and then as a composer for Gargantuan Music, taking in some of my favourite influences, bands and acts along the way.
I always loved a mix between electronic music and orchestral and pursued this in my solo electronica project Pentatonik back in the 90s and 2000s. Looking back now it seems inevitable that I would find myself composing with orchestra and electronics in the world of trailers. Hybrid orchestral music has always been my natural habitat but it took a while to fully get there!
A1 People was a band that I started in 1997, with a goal to pursue electro in its purest form. Black Ice, written in 2002 by myself and Tom Crook, was a homage to Kraftwerk. Its interlocking pulsing arpeggios are something that became a trademark for me and something that I still love to use when writing trailer music (see For the Glory at the end of this playlist).
Just Like Heaven
In 2010 I was asked (as Pentatonik) to choose a song to cover for a compilation on Hydrogen Dukebox Records. I had loved The Cure as a teenager and I wanted to do something really different with this song. I had also loved Talk Talk and the way Mark Hollis’ vocals drifted over their music and I wanted that feel on this recording, to make it really dreamlike. A friend of mine knew Sian Ahern, and I was a huge fan of her voice. It seemed a natural fit, how she sang that high I don’t know but it worked out great. The temptation was to add drums to the mix but I felt it didn’t need it, the pulsing synths did the job just fine.
Halina Rice is a master of vocal manipulation, stretching, transforming her voice in so many exciting and interesting ways. She is a fantastically talented producer. I was lucky to be asked by her to mix her album Redux. It was a hugely challenging project, some of her songs had up to ninety layers of vocals with lyrics broken into tiny hundreds of individually processed fragments. When they came together they formed something really quite magical and totally unique. She is also known for her haunting live performances.
I was introduced to the music of Rival Consoles by Halina and I immediately loved it. Odyssey has become one of my favourite electronic tracks of all time, and he’s amazing live too.
By the Sword
This is a track from my 2009 Pentatonik album A Thousand Paper Cranes. It started life as a microphone test and rapidly grew into a full scale production, mixing orchestral elements with electronics. One of the reviews of the album made some very kind (and quite unfounded) comparisons to Ennio Morricone and Vangelis, very flattering indeed, and suggested I should think about writing soundtracks. I read that and thought, you know what that’s what I’m going to do!
I love Vitalic and used to play his records out when I was out DJing. Perfect combination of cool mashed up techno electronics but with a healthy dose of funk and disco.
Love is the Only Answer
This is a track from LA based producer Freq Nasty, who is a very old friend and former housemate of mine! In fact he’s been staying at my house in London the last few weeks. We bounce a lot of musical ideas around and are always playing each other demos so it seemed to make sense to put his last single into the list!
This is in here because it’s been stuck in my head the last few weeks! Jockstrap are impossible to define, except other than that they are an art school band. It really pays off to watch the video for this too, very dreamlike, somewhat disturbing and out there. I guess the track is kind of like listening to a 1930s song after dropping bad acid, quite unique and in my opinion brilliantly clever.
To me, Daft Punk’s soundtrack for Tron Legacy changed everything, up there with Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack as a defining moment in film scoring. The combination of the fattest synthesizers known to man (courtesy of the immense Modcan modular synth Daft Punk had built for the project) and the incredible orchestral arrangements from Joseph Trapanese makes for an immense sound. It was mixed by Alan Meyerson (who is best known for his mixing for Hans Zimmer) and I think sets a sonic benchmark that is hard to beat. I always use this track as a reference point for my mixes!
For the Glory
This is one of the first tracks I wrote after setting up Gargantuan Music and I think demonstrates well the conclusion of the orchestra meets electronics journey. It took many months of experimentation to get the balance of instruments right and pushed the technology available to me at the time to its limits. At times it was an enormously frustrating process but I think it paid off in the end! There are many layers of instruments in there, around two hundred and it pushed me very hard as a composer, but it’s good to face a challenge and the outcome was very rewarding!