This was my view. Well, one of many breathtaking views. Out of shot to the right, you’d eventually see the sea. Nobody else for miles around, epic views and that kind of special-smelling warm air and sea breezes that you get from being high up. The atmosphere up there in the Andalusian mountains was tranquil to say the least.
This was 7 years ago now, and round about this time of year. I’m always frustrated by the seemingly fast passing of time in such circumstances. You want to hold on to and preserve certain memories as much as possible and keep them close, as if they were yesterday.
I fondly recall reading Mike Oldfield’s autobiography Changeling – a revealing and inspiring book, well recommended. Reading the stories behind the making of his albums whilst looking at those mountains, with music drifting out from the villa was a great source of inspiration. It was here that I always claim my album Into the Light was born.
While I didn’t actually compose the music there, that place was where many of the ideas came and gradually filled up my head. I’d make mental notes of ideas for riffs or arrangements. The real challenge was to remember everything and try and capture it all once I returned home! It's rare to be able to describe something as perfect, but that really was, and I wanted to somehow bring that essence and optimism into the music.
Into the Light remains a very personal album for this very reason, as I feel I did capture what I wanted in the music. Every time I hear it, I’m transported back there.
Of course, this was just one small element of that stay in Spain, but the one connected to my music. A few of the album's tracks were made before this however, and had very different backgrounds! Two examples being "Beyond the Clouds", which was composed the day after a rather unpleasant stomach upset(!), and the title track came about after having a rather harrowing dream where I'd been shot, and was suddenly traveling towards, and into a blinding light.
And that's how the title came about.
So Into the Light really is an album inspired by travel and dreams. Yet it also has an other-worldliness to it, which is perfectly reflected in David A. Hardy's beautiful cover artwork.
This particular painting caught my eye in 50 Years in Space: What We Thought then… What WeKnow Now, the wonderfully illustrated book Hardy co-produced with the late, great Sir Patrick Moore.
As an artist, I usually have quite a clear idea about how my album cover should look, and that it should also be my own work, as an extension of the music. But in this case, Hardy's painting leapt out of the page at me, and was just perfect. A few emails later and the album cover was there!
I regard Into the Light as my first proper album. My real début. I'd made several demo albums prior to this that were basically my exploration of sound and what I could do. But with this album, everything came together and fell into place, as a culmination of all those ideas that I’d experimented with over the previous year. As an early work, I guess it has its shortcomings and imperfections, but it wouldn't be the same without them.
In the autumn of 2007, the initial version of the album was up on MySpace for streaming and briefly on one or two other sites for download.
I didn't make another album I was happy with until 2009 with Mechanical Drive, but shortly after completing that project, I took my music offline and didn't make any for almost three years.
When I returned to making music in 2012 with Inferno, knowing I was going to have a go at actually selling my work online, one of my priorities was to return to Into the Light and give it a bit of a remix before putting it online, especially since several software upgrades had rendered some of the original sounds useless, so substitutes had to be found. As I was firmly back in the mindset of the album, I wrote a brand new piece of a similar style entitled “Cyclic”, which comes as a bonus track with the full album download.
Initially it felt too soon to be revisiting the album - but then it occurred to me, that I was in fact, finishing it off!
I'm still incredibly proud of Into the Light and it remains very special to me, almost like a bookmark of a certain point in life. It's also where the music of The Light Dreams really begins...
Cover art: David A. Hardy/Astroart.org