London composer and multi-instrumentalist, Roger Goula has shared brand new track ‘Pale Blue Dot’ via Vice’s science channel Motherboard – the first single released from his debut album ‘Overview Effect’, out 9th December.
‘Overview Effect’ is set to be released through brand new contemporary classical record label Cognitive Shift Recordings (One Little Indian (Bjork) / Manners McDade Music Publishing (Nils Frahm)). The post-classical electronica album’s narrative charts the psychological shift in awareness reported by astronauts and cosmonauts while viewing the Earth from orbit, in transit between the Earth and the Moon, or from the lunar surface – something that fascinated Goula.
‘Pale Blue Dot’ is at first sullen; soaked in deep tonal swells of strings, and then all of a sudden incredibly vibrant, with layers of frenzied violin, emulating the perplexing emotional pull one might feel gazing upon the earth – home – from such an astonishing distance.
Carefully striking a perfect balance between electronic and acoustic instrumentation, Goula composed and recorded the atmospheric album for a string trio, bass clarinet, countertenor, tenor ukulele, electric guitar, prepared piano, analogue synths, field recordings and various other electronics. The record’s stunning classical string instrumentation is performed by the illustrious quartet of Thomas Gould, Peter Gregson, Lucy Railton and Stephen Upshaw.
“I had this idea of writing a solo piece for each instrument with ‘Pale Blue Dot’ becoming the violin solo piece” said Goula.
The artist was inspired by interpreting the experience of looking at the Earth as it is in space – a tiny, fragile ball of life, ‘hanging in the void’, surrounded by a paper-thin atmosphere – something that transforms an astronaut’s perspective of the world, society, and humanity’s existence. Many astronauts report a newly discovered and profound understanding of the interconnection of all life and a renewed sense of responsibility as a conscious being to protect it. Goula set out to reimagine this cognitive shift musically – a body of work that would become his debut album ‘Overview Effect’.
“The idea of a psychological shift of how we see our home – the Earth – interested me enormously as the central theme for this project, particularly the concept of a psychological journey” said Goula. “This focal point gave me a huge amount of inspiration from which to generate musical ideas that would develop to eventually become this album. Having internalised the idea of the overview effect, I began to sketch compositions for the album, using the concept to guide the material.”
Inspired by renaissance and baroque music (Monteverdi, Bach, Vivaldi), as well as by minimalism (Reich, Glass, Part), and looking at the language of electronic music (Aphex Twin, Autechre), Goula’s compositions perform complexity through repetition of minimal elements and emotional transporting textures. ‘Overview Effect’ explores interplay between swells of warm strings and synthesisers – melodic, haunting and eerie, the musical soundscape that Goula creates paints a vivid picture.
The single and album artwork also tells a story. The artist (Mark Pavey), inspired by images of the earth photographed from space, used a form of ancient Japanese paper marbling – a technique called ‘Suminagashi’ – to create patterns of ink. These textures were combined with altered macro photos of cracked concrete and brick, to achieve something that was organic whilst also being abstract.
Coming from a contemporary classical background, and building on his involvement into the free improvisation scene in London in the mid 2000s, Goula’s work has developed into an experimental blend of classical chamber and orchestral music with electronics.
The talented composer has also worked across a number of award winning films such as The Hard Stop, Tigerhouse, Versus: The Life and Film Of Ken Loach, Next Goal Wins, and the TV series The Frankenstein Chronicles. Currently, Roger is scoring the latest (as-yet-untitled) film from director Charlie Bellville, starring Tom Hardy.
Listen to the new single ‘Pale Blue Dot’ below: