[Note, 2018: As with all compositions created as part of my university work, Isolosphere was submitted with a commentary alongside. I have reproduced this here in full and unedited to offer some insight into my thought processes around the piece.]
For the purposes of this assignment, I wish to be judged primarily on my composition rather than the final mix and recording that appears on the attached CD. From the beginning, I had always intended to include a full score and this is what I would like to receive the most attention. Whilst I have spent a lot of time working on the recording, with help from my fellow student, Hugo White, it is there only as a way of demonstrating my intentions. The final mix is only rough and only some of the instruments are actually recorded, others being played by samples; as I have written on the front cover, this is a demo, not a finished product.
Isolosphere began life with the simple idea of wanting to create an album which represented my diverse musical taste and influence as a composer. Using Progressive Rock as a base to start from (because of both my affinity towards it and its precedent for utilising multiple genres in unconventional song structures), I incorporated elements from numerous musical genres from various time periods, including: Funk, Black Metal, Progressive Metal, Jazz Fusion, Impressionism, Minimalism and Serialism. It is the Progressive Rock backbone and overarching narrative which hopefully hold this EP together as a coherent whole.
This narrative became clearer as the year I worked on Isolosphere progressed, and revolves around feelings of depression that one experiences after the end of a close relationship, and additionally, The Hedgehog’s Dilemma, a metaphor about the challenges of human intimacy posed by Arthur Schopenhauer and Sigmund Freud. The Isolosphere is my psychological interpretation of the isolation created by fearing intimacy, and Isolosphere follows the journey of the protagonist who is hurt, enters the Isolosphere, and then, realising its pointlessness, escapes from it, breaking it down. Nevertheless, in the final track, the voices still call to him, warning him that he will return – after all, depression is not something which simply goes away.
The emotional and psychological journey of this narrative allows the variety of musical styles to make sense, from the dream-like progressive rock sound worlds of Prologue and Epilogue, to the joyous funk of Rejoice! (Break it Down); the building, intensifying structure of Hedgehog's Dilemma, which climaxes in a chaotic fusion of black metal and serialism, to the three-movement epic of Isolosphere which changes style to reflect the protagonist’s changing mood and reaction to his captivity in the Isolosphere.
The rough mix tried to capture a style which suits all of the included styles, so as to keep the sound of the entire album coherent. The use of aggressive compression on everything and dream-like reverb which differs between instruments harkens to both the mixing of ‘70s Progressive Rock and ‘90s Black Metal, whilst Hugo White’s mixing of the drums suitably captures a sound which works for all of the musical styles.