Light and Shade

Light + Shade September 26th, 2005

1. Angelique 04:40
2. Blackbird 04:39
3. Closer 02:51
4. First Steps 10:02
5. Our Father 06:50
6. Rocky 03:19
7. Sunset 04:47
8. The Gate 04:14

1. Quicksilver 05:55
2. Resolution 04:33
3. Slipstream 05:15
4. Surfing 05:36
5. Tears Of An Angel 05:38
6. Romance 04:00
7. Ringscape 04:22
8. Nightshade 05:11

Additional notes on these tracks from Mike:


Angelique - This is the name of one of the presets on my synthesizer. As always, I began by building the music from the basic elements, and this track sounded angelic. I'm not quite sure how it got there, basically I just turned a few knobs! Normally, I emerge from my studio every 3 days with another track complete, and am completely exhausted. It always feels like I've given birth.

Blackbird - I wanted to make a piece just with piano, where I used my last remaining real instrument, my 1982 Steinway. I borrowed the name from one of my motorbikes, as my whole garage is full of fast machines. One of them is a Honda Blackird. The piece is slower than the motorbike, but you can understand it like the way Stanley Kubrick used music in 2001: when you're driving, time feels slowed down, like a slow motion replay. I enjoy taking time out from the technology in my studio, and need a break, disappearing on my fast motorbikes. I've tried aircraft as well, and have my pilot's licence, but that was just too stressful. Motorbikes are much more relaxing.

The Gate - I used the virtual vocalist software Vocaloid for this piece. You take the raw sound and pass it through a few plug-ins to make it sound incredibly beautiful. The title is from my Grandfather, Michael Liston from Cork. He disappeared one night and didn't come back for three years. I found out that later that he had fought in the First World War in Ypres in France, where the memorial was later built. If you go to Ypres and visit the museum, you'll experience the atmosphere which this song is based on.

First Steps - This is a combination of tracks which I created for my game, "Tres Lunas". At the start of the game, you are alone in a desert in front of a cactus. When you start moving, the music starts. Robin Smith, a friend who plays keyboards, helped with the arrangements for the piece.

Closer - During my trip to Ypres, I heard a hymn and found out it was called "Pres De Trois". I liked it so much that I made a Celtic version of it, but the intense bagpipe sound wasn't right, so I made a blues version from it instead.

Our Father - This was originally a tune from "Tres Lunas". I changed the original as the Pope was dying, so my fascination with his life became embedded in this song. When he finally died, I didn't feel that he was really dead, because I was right next to him in my music. This song represents his whole life and his death to me.

Rocky - This is the name of my horse. He is an Arabian Stallion, who always comes to embrace me. If we didn't own him any more, I'm sure he'd become quite a beast of a horse!

Sunset - In Maestro, my second game, there is a very special melody that you only hear when you get to the final level. Sunset is a variation of this tune, where I kept in mind that this is supposed to be a chillout track, hence the name "Sunset".


Quicksilver - I don't see this as dance music. Maybe music with a dance beat? I tried to recreate underwater movements in this track, with dolphins and rising bubbles. I often saw dolphins behind the ships when I lived on Ibiza - it really made an impression on me.

Resolution - There's a memorial for Captain Cook where I live in Chalfont St Giles. I love travelling, and Captain Kirk was based on Captain Cook, his ship was called Resolution. He travelled to the Antarctic in it. I made this music to sound icy, but while I was recording it, the Iraq War was breaking out, so those various elements came together in this piece.

Slipstream - I asked FL Studios if I could work on one the demo songs in the Fruity Loops Software, because I was really impressed the riff in it. They agreed immediately, and Slipstream was created from that riff.

Surfing - I added my own vocals to the virtual vocalists from Cantor, and when mixed with robotic sounds, I ended up with this track.

Tears Of An Angel - At the time of recording this, my daughter Molly was very unhappy and I was working with Vocaloid software. The fake vocals paired with my own created a great choral effect.

Romance - The first thing beginner Spanish Guitarists learn is that there are two types of sound - major and minor. I wanted to make a dance version, but the major version didn't really work, so I stayed with the darker side of romance. You have to imagine a love story that goes completely wrong, so that both parties get solicitors and end up fighting each other.

Ringscape - Another piece from Tres Lunas. It comes from a part where you take an owl on a trip with you - through the desert, in a tunnel and then into an ice World. Robin Smith helped me with this piece as well.

Nightshade - Christopher von Deylen and I agreed that we would work together on each other's pieces. So I played guitar on one of his band Schiller's songs, and he played bass and drums on this song. Apart from Robin Smith, Christopher is the only guest on this album - everything else is by me.

Additional Notes

Fender Strat (pink) 1963
Paul Reed Smith Signature 1990
Ramirez Classical 1974
Fender Precision Bass 1964

Steinway Grand 1928

Roland and Yamaha

Mac G5 (Logic 7)
PC (Windows XP Pro with FL Studio)

Software Plugins
Glaresoft: iDrum Linplug: Albino 2 Native Instruments: Absynth 3 / Altered States / FM7 / Morphology / Reaktor / Sounds of Polynesia / Wired REFX: Vanguard Spectrasonics: Atmosphere / Stylus RMX Steinberg: Groove Agent / Hypersonic / Kantos / Slayer / XPhrase Virtual Vocalist Software: Vocaloid / Cantor