London composer and multi-instrumentalist, Roger Goula, releases his debut album ‘Overview Effect’ today via brand new contemporary classical record label Cognitive Shift Recordings (One Little Indian / Manners McDade Music Publishing). 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.
The release of ‘Overview Effect’ was celebrated last night with a very special showcase event held at London’s esteemed venue Ronnie Scott’s.
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.”
Opening track ‘Soon Will Wake Up’ employs dissonance within long, overlapping musical phrases, perfectly conjuring up a visualisation of the void of space. First single taken from the album ‘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. ‘Awe’ became the viola solo piece, ‘Pale Blue Dot’ the violin solo piece, ‘Looking Back to Self Awareness’ is the cello solo piece. ‘Soon Will Wake Up’ is the solo tenor ukulele piece and ‘If Nothingness Disappears’ would be countertenor piece.”
Listen to the title track below: