PAUL K
The Fermi Paradox
(Basilica Music)

 

Instrumental music composer and keyboardist Paul Kirkpatrickrecording as a solo artist under his stage name Paul Khas released three critically acclaimed solo albums in England during the past 5 years, starting with his first solo album, Soul Connection in 2015, followed by Omertà in 2017. During this time Paul also released the 2016 debut album by his rock band with singer Rachel Harvey, in the band, Glitch_Code. Now in the Fall of 2018, Paul K has released his third solo album, a powerful concept album called The Fermi Paradox. The anticipated follow-up album to Paul's critically-acclaimed 2017 album Omertà, The Fermi Paradox is a progressive music opus that merges 21st century instrumental rock with an avant-garde neoclassical edge. A tribute album with a twist, Paul K's album, The Fermi Paradox pays an instrumental prog-rock homage to Italian scientist / physicist Enrico Fermi and his famous 1950 quote “So, where is everybody?” also known as "Where Are They?" – a question that sparked a pop culture revolution in the middle of the 20th century. The Fermi Paradox literally renewed a quest to search for life beyond Earth. As written about in greater detail in The Fermi Paradox CD booklet liner notes, Enrico Fermi’s question was, quite subliminally, first introduced to the pop culture masses in 1968, by way of Stanley Kurbrick’s acclaimed masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. For more background, Kubrick is interviewed here at the grand opening of the movie in New York in 1968—half a century ago.

As more astute listeners and critics will note, Paul K’s 2018 concept album, The Fermi Paradox is among the most unique sounding and unparalleled instrumental albums released thus far in the 21st century. Paul K explains, “This album is about the vastness of the universe and if we are alone or not and about the evolution of life.” Paul K also implements spoken word tracks on several songs here that serves, from a historical viewpoint, to underscore a cosmic connection to the expansive scientific concepts of The Fermi Paradox. The track “The Great Silence”, features cellist / vocalist Rachel Dawson reading a poem by the late holocaust poet Abraham Sutzkever. The Fermi Paradox also features spoken word tracks of rare recordings, from the Oxford University Fine Tuning Workshop videos, featuring esteemed Oxford professors Joe Silk and Mario Livio as they deliberate upon the Fermi Paradox and Enrico Fermi’s famous 1950 quote “So, where is everybody?” Musicians performing on The Fermi Paradox include: Paul K: Piano, Synths, Theremin, Percussion, Mellotron, Programming - Julian Todd: 4, 5, 6 String and Fretless Bass - Gordon Foley: Guitar, Ebow - David Williamson-Smith: Drums - Rachel Dawson: Cello, Narration and Backing Vocals - Corinna Jane: Backing Vocals. In addition to his core band with keys, drums, guitars, cello, bass and spoken word vocals, The Fermi Paradox also features diverse instrumentation such as electric violin, theremin, pipes and more, giving the album an ancient yet futuristic feel. The most ambitious album so far by music maestro Paul Kirkpatrick, The Fermi Paradox propels progressive music forward into a deep and dark sonic future. www.paulk-music.com

 





mwe3.com presents a new interview with
Paul K
The Fermi Paradox Interview



mwe3
: You were discussing the Fermi Paradox and you mentioned that you saw a documentary about it several years ago. What documentary was that and how did you assemble all the pieces and parts to come up with the whole idea as it manifested on The Fermi Paradox album release? What aspect of Enrico Fermi interested you most? He died 64 years ago, in fact the year I was born in 1954. I think I mentioned a couple things about his unique life in my CD liner notes which I’m hoping people will read.

Paul K: I’ve seen lots of documentaries about this subject over the years and read lots online and in books. My parents tell me I’ve been interested in space travel since I watched man walk on the moon with them in 1969, although I have no memory of that as I was only 3! There was a Horizon documentary on the BBC about 18 months ago called “Strange Signals from Outer Space” and, I think it was that which sparked the idea to look further into the subject matter as a theme for an album. As part of my research I looked at all the most famous cosmologists and scientists and it was Fermi’s simple phrase of “Where is everybody”, along with Frank Drake trying to build an equation to calculate how many civilizations there should be out there, that drove my research and sparked a passion to produce a piece of work on the subject. I also thought about this human obsession with being alone in the universe when actually there are so many lonely people on our own planet. Mankind doesn’t have a good record of living together within our own world so what’s the big obsession with finding alien life? We drive species to the brink of extinction for sport, we are intolerant to each other’s’ religion and beliefs, we don’t look after all the hungry, lonely people on our own planet, yet we will think nothing on spending billions on warfare and space exploration. Perhaps if we focused on saving our own planet and building a more tolerant world, any passing aliens might actually want to contact us! I think your liner notes on Fermi are great and give a nice insight into the man and his work.

mwe3: I was thinking that as a society, we’re so numbed down by such hi-tech technology, which we now take for granted, that perhaps we don’t have the same sense of wonderabout space exploration and something completely different. Back in 1968, Stanley Kubrick introduced the idea of the Fermi Paradox through movie making with 2001, which you had to go and see in a real theater, but at the time, mid 1968 the U.S. was going through very hard times. The assassinations, wars and fears of that year kind of overshadowed the fact that there was actually the first mission to the moon coming up in 1969. What’s missing from humanity these days to make people regain that lost sense of wonder?

Paul K: That’s an interesting question and actually sums up some of the other subject matter on Fermi, which is around social media and the damage it is doing to society. It should be a great tool for connecting humans together, but it is used to bully, spread hate, troll, create fake news and allow 24/7 access to people’s private lives. The data is used to market and sell to you and feed corporations’ greed for profit and people use it in place of actual connections to other humans. Everyone feels they need a social media presence but what if people felt that same passion to connect face to face with other people around the world across different cultures. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great advocate for technology but it needs to be balanced. I find it sad that people can see someone being abused or assaulted and rather than help they choose to film it and post it online. Artists spend millions on creating amazing live experiences, but people don’t live in the moment, they film it and try and watch it back on a tiny screen with crap sound! It’s happening right in front of you! Kate Bush had the right idea in banning phones from her “Before The Dawn” shows. People lived the experience of the show and I think it will become more prevalent in the future.

So even though we have all this technology people are becoming more socially isolated than ever before and even though it’s called social media, it can actually just mask the loneliness and isolation that people feel from the decline in actual human interaction. The album tries to tie together this feeling of being alone in the universe with the feeling of being alone on our own planet.

I think the sense of wonder is still there to some extent, but people have become acclimatized to it as technology moves on. I think if it were to be revealed that we have already been visited, as I think we probably have over the last 4.5 billion years, or that we have made contact that sense of wonder would return. I don’t think people would panic, it’s obvious life must be out there somewhere, and maybe it would bring us all together. Moviemakers tend to portray aliens as aggressors but given our history maybe aliens don’t make contact due to our aggression against our fellow man, animals and our planet!

mwe3: On “The Fermi Paradox” did you explain the ideas of each song to the musicians that recorded the album with you or go over each track and describe the mood or styles you wanted the players to express on their instruments?

Paul K: Not at all. I talked about the concept of the piece as a whole but never went into the specifics of each track as I don’t want them to play with any preconceptions of my thoughts about the subject matter. In fact, some tracks completely morphed in feel when others played on them from my original concept for the track. From the initial demo we might have added a beat or bassline or a guitar hook that took the track down a completely different path, hopefully for the better! The only tracks I didn’t allow that to happen on were the first ("Anomaly") and last ("Arecibo") as I had a preconceived idea in my head of how these should sound, and I didn’t really stray from that.

On the tracks where we add drums David and I often discuss the feel I am looking for and, as we share an appreciation of the same drummers, we can often just quote a name and David will know the style I am looking at for that track.

I will tell Gordon some ideas around if I am looking to add power or feel or just some atmosphere and he just gets it and 9 times out of 10 produces the idea I’m looking for. With the bass it’s pretty much the same. I don’t think I’ve ever said to Julian “try something different” as, like with Gordon, we’ve been playing together for years and he has the same musical interests as me.

mwe3: “Anomaly” starts off The Fermi Paradox. The concept of an anomaly in a planet is very complex. There’s at least a thousand web pages on space Anomalies. How does “Anomaly” fit into the concept of interplanetary space exploration and what made you want to start The Fermi Paradox off with that title? It’s actually kind of a normal term in the world of space travel. I like the quote “What makes a bad-ass space anomaly?” Planet X? Evidence of aliens? So according to your notes, Earth itself may be the anomaly of the universe? That is the scariest idea I’ve ever heard.

Paul K: Yes, perhaps Earth is the anomaly out there and we are alone at this particular time in this particular universe. It’s takes a very complex series of events to occur to create life on a planet. The history of life on Earth began about 3.8 billion years ago, initially with single-celled prokaryotic cells, such as bacteria. Look at where we are now! What we need to understand is “is this a normal progression of life in the universe” or are we indeed an anomaly. Everything has to be aligned for life to begin such as environment, heat, water, breathable gases, light etc. so the odds are against life rather than for it. However, the universe is calculated to be 13.8 billion years old, so you would expect life to be everywhere, and perhaps it is but at a molecular level. Maybe there was life on Mars and they fled to earth. Maybe we are the aliens on this planet and we are looking in the wrong places. I think if you listen to Mario Livio on track four “The Fermi Paradox” he explains it perfectly. There is a bottleneck where civilization becomes so advanced it eventually destroys itself and we have to start again.

mwe3: “Sagan” is track 2 on The Fermi Paradox. What made Carl Sagan such an influential character in the realm of the cosmos and tell us about the quotes you use from Carl on the album and about the closing spoken words on “Sagan”. Sounds like it’s in another language. Is Carl’s spoken words quote your favorite from him? “The cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be” is brilliant. How about Carl’s other famous quote: “Somewhere, something , incredible is waiting to be known.” How does Sagan fit into the concept of The Fermi Paradox?

Paul K: Well "Sagan" begins with “Hello from the children of planet Earth” which is the English greeting from the Golden Record carried on the Voyager craft into deep space. The track also has several of the other greetings in different languages across the piece as well as the Sagan quote you mention. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan and the definitive work about the Voyager record, “Murmurs Of Earth”, was directed by Sagan with Frank Drake as technical director. It made sense to feature Sagan so early on the album as he was instrumental in all of the early thinking around cosmology and contacting other worlds. As well as the greetings there are some of the other sounds from the golden record such as a human heartbeat, a human laughing, foghorns on a ship and a few others I will leave the listener to identify. At the very end there is an Irish whistle playing a traditional Irish political song called “"Róisín Dubh" from the 16th Century which gets drowned out by the sounds of technology from the golden record which is meant to symbolize technology drowning out traditional values.

I heard a program which Professor Brian Cox made about Sagan on Radio 4 and it really resonated with me, so it made sense to include one of his quotes on the album. He died fairly young (62) which I think was a great loss to cosmology and had he lived with some of the new technology we have now he may have pioneered some more groundbreaking work

mwe3: How does “Ecce Homo” fit into The Fermi Paradox concepts? How do you feel ancient religion fits into the futuristic elements of Fermi? This track harks back to Jesus and the bible days, the crucifixion and the crown of thorns. This track introduces the rock elements thanks to some sizzling guitar work from Gordon Foley. The guitar sound is the perfect touch to represent the crucifixion imagery. Did you write the guitar solo too? It’s downright haunting. Is that why you added the backing vocals of Corinna Jane, to make the track seem human and not futuristic or Fermi influenced? You can almost hear the hostility of mankind in that track.

Paul K: “Ecce Home” (Behold the Man) came about because even religion seems to be based on spacemen! The idea that Jesus was the son of God and ascended into heaven, in space, sparked the connection between religion and Fermi and that again mankind is looking to the stars for salvation. And what did we do when we encountered someone we didn’t understand? Crucified them! So, if Jesus was a visitor from another world, our reaction was to kill him. Of course, religion is completely developed as a control mechanism by man to suppress and control the populous, but spirituality was not created by man and it is that which drives our connection to the stars. Perhaps it’s in our DNA because we came from beyond the stars and inhabited this planet, the same way animals know how to migrate back to where they were born.

The guitar solo was Gordon’s creation and it sounds great on the album but is also a live highlight. I try and leave space for him to add some melody and it worked well as an answer to the strings on this track. This was the first track I wrote for the album and we played it as a taster for the new album at the “Omertà” concerts. The choral elements from Corinna are to give it that kind of religious feel and again, when performed in a church, sounded really haunting.

mwe3: The title track “The Fermi Paradox”, includes that famous spoken work section by the famous Oxford professors Joe Silk and Mario Livio. So how did you find their rare archival transcription? Interesting that Joe Silk is still alive and Mario Livio is still alive. Both of these guys are truly fascinating figures in the world of astrophysics. Livio does most of the spoken word on this track. Have you informed these guys about The Fermi Paradox album? I heard that Livio’s latest book came out last year and is called Why? What Makes Us Curious. What aspect of their conversation, as presented here, intrigued you the most? Livio actually presents several possible scenarios including the fact that we’ve been here before and that we’ve destroyed our civilization before, possibly at the same point? To the extreme that they’re already here...

Paul K: I found the video of their chat about Fermi during my research and I approached Oxford University Fine Tuning project about using it and clearing the copyright. It took a while but eventually I was able to discuss it over email with Joe and he approved it and Oxford gained Mario’s approval to use it as well. I just thought the passion for the subject really shone through in Mario’s words and he explained it perfectly in a couple of minutes, especially about man destroying himself and aliens not being interested in us as we are so primitive. Both guys are very much alive and still active across multiple universities and multiple projects and I hope they enjoy the track. It would be cool to do a joint show with them with music and lecture and we are actually exploring that possibility. People can view the whole conversation here.

mwe3: What about “12 Billion Eyes”? It starts off with spoken words that sounds like its coming from a space traveler. The cello plays a prominent role making the track sound very neoclassical in scope. Tell us about the spoken words on the track and the neoclassical meets sci-fi sound of “12 Billion Eyes”. Sounds like R2D2 meets Philip Glass.

Paul K: "12 Billion Eyes" is about the shuttle program and it refers to the 6 billion or so people on earth at the end of the program. Nasa spent about $209 billion on the program but most people will probably remember it more for the Challenger and Columbia tragedies. Did it really push forward space travel? I have been lucky enough to witness a couple of launches in Florida and it is a spectacular sight, but I have also always remembered the phrase “Challenger, go at throttle up” moments before it exploded, and it has stuck with me since I witnessed the events on live TV in the 1980’s. I’ve included samples from the conversation from ground control to Columbia where the controller is trying to complete a comms check, even though the world has seen the vehicle disintegrate on reentry live on TV, and you can hear his voice getting more and more despondent as he tries to establish contact.

The track is a tribute to all those brave astronauts who gave their lives for the program and the R2D2 sound is a 50’s synth computer patch, blended with Guy Fletcher’s electric violin, all processed through and Eventide Time Factor delay and Roland Space Echo. The spoken word is actually me talking with a load of processing in Sound Toys to make it sound like distant radio chatter, recorded on a voice memo on my iPhone. A simple piano motif and the cello and bass carry the track and then we all play the same motif as the main phrasing of the track.

mwe3: “Exegesis” has more biblical references in it? To be honest, that is the coolest track I’ve heard you make so far. Is “Exegesis” the most progressive rock style track on the album? You spoke about the track referring to the first aliens that visited Earth at the time of the building of the pyramids in Egypt. What other references inspired you about “Exegesis”? It’s almost prophetic sounding. The references to Exegesis are enormous as there are thousands of them from a wide range of religions.

Paul K: Yes “Exegesis” is probably the most epic track on the album with its soaring strings, rotary and heavy electric guitar, big drums and the throbbing live bass and synth bass combined to give it the drive. We are looking forward to playing this one live! Concept wise it’s about cave paintings, scrolls and other texts that depict people coming from the stars. They are all over the world and are definitely messages we need to understand and interpret. Things were built thousands of years ago that we would struggle to build today with all our tech so what happened? Why didn’t technology progress thousands of years ago and why has it progressed so much in the last couple of hundred years? Or are we just getting back on track to where we should have been following the natural progression from thousands of years ago or have we been given a helping hand along the way? There are obviously thousands of conspiracy theories on this whole subject but they themselves may be a smokescreen for what is really going on. Quantum computing, hypersonic weaponry, laser weaponry, teleportation of light etc. are all actually happening now but why now and why has tech advanced so much so quickly given our history. It’s a fascinating area to look at and read about and “Exegesis” just touches on all the clues out there across the planet.

mwe3: ”Embryonic” goes back to the creation of life on Earth, again making it seem on par with the other tracks dealing with life in the universe. Is “Embryonic” kind of a link track, sort of a connector track if you will? A breather between the heavier tracks?

Paul K: “Embryonic” represents new life both on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. Who will be the first person born on another planet that we have reached? It may even happen in our lifetimes and this track is about the creation of all life across the whole known universe. It’s a reflective track and features lots of old tech such as Juno 6 and 60 synths, as well as Mellotron and some interesting FX which represent a baby being born and the sound traveling through space. It’s a simple piano arpeggio with a lead piano line over the top playing the melody with an accompanying fretless bass and cello and some guitar arps cutting in half way through. The celli are layered and octaved for that mournful sound and it drops back out to the single piano at the end which represents the loneliness of human existence at the time of birth and death. It’s a very reflective track and, as you have observed, breaks up both halves of the album nicely.

mwe3: The Wikipedia page on “Boyajian’s Star” which has a very interesting prefix number to it. What number is KIC? Is there any hope to find life in that galaxy? It’s a very short track. Is hearing JFK give a speech about space in 1962 ironic, in that back then everything seemed new back then before the war. This track sounds very influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey. This would make a great theme song and the guitars just kill at the end. What’s the date of JFK’s speech and is there live footage of that speech? Pitting his legacy against the space program is pure irony and his brutal end brought us down to a very low level in civilization. So why this track? This track must have been one of the later in the Fermi sessions.

Paul K: “KIC 8462852” was spotted by the Kepler space telescope in September 2015. KIC means Kepler Input Catalogue and this planet was observed with unusual light fluctuations. It has also been hypothesized that the changes in brightness could be signs of activity associated with intelligent extraterrestrial life constructing a Dyson swarm (satellites constructed around a planet) although this has largely been debunked by scientists who think it could be a dust ring or other natural occurrence. The significance of this on the track was JFK giving his speech that triggered the space race in September 1962 and then the excitement around discovering a planet that may have alien satellites orbiting it. The guitars and Mellotron at the end represent the successful landing of man on the moon and then you hear Sputnik and a then everything drops out and that represents the death of JFK and the fact he never got to see man on the moon. I would assume there must be some film of the speech in a national achieve but the audio is widely available on the internet.

mwe3: “Parallax” is one of your epic prog productions. Gordon’s guitar just nails the track down and Corinna’s vocals make it even better. Where did that track come from and what are the spoken words in the intro? I could see this track being a concert highlight. Was the track inspired by Stellar Parallax, another star related movement?

Paul K: “Parallax” starts with some audio of the Russian space program and is Soviet ground control sending Uri Gagarin off to space. His call sign was Kedr (Cedar) and the track starts off with the exchange:

Korolev: "Preliminary stage..... intermediate..... main..... lift off! We wish you a good flight. Everything is all right."

Gagarin: "_______!" (Poyekhali!—Let's go!)


Later in the track are the intercepted words of another cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov, who was the first person to die in space flight, although there are rumors of others covered up by the Soviets at the time and intercepted by the US listening posts in Turkey and Malta. Komarov melted on reentry and his charred remains were put on show as a hero of Soviet Russia. As Komarov hurtled towards earth and certain death in the stricken Soyuz 1 craft, he could be heard screaming and cursing the 'people who had put him inside a botched spaceship.'

The track started as a simple bass arpeggio that I was playing around with and then it came together very quickly after that. “Parallax” is a term used to determine distances between the stars and at the time of the space race those distances seemed huge, so it was a good name for a track about getting into space across great distance. This is another track, which we are looking forward to playing live.

mwe3: “Dark Matter” has a kind of White Album era Beatles type of beat to it. It’s dark, somber and sobering at the same time. What a great guitar solo. Who composed the solo? It’s almost very eerie and the title is very much based on scientific meaning of the creation of the universe. It’s mind blowing to think of how deep these titles are. Someone might think that it’s just a dark sounding song but it relates to the voluminous pages on this subject. More like mind-blowing matter. At least there’s hot and cold “Dark Matter”, cosmologically speaking.

Paul K: I chose the titles of the tracks very carefully so it’s great you picked up on that. David and I did spend a while thinking about the beat on this one. We jammed a few ideas in the studio and then David took it away and worked on the ideas and I think it’s my favorite piece of drumming on the album. Gordon wrote the solo and again we left him a lot of space to play with from a melody perspective. The track started as the simple piano motif along the lines of “Broken” from Omertà and originally had no drums or guitar.

“Dark Matter” is a fascinating subject in and of itself and Professor Stephen Hawking gave a great speech on the subject at Caltech in 2013. Dark matter‘s discovery, which along with dark energy combine to amount to 95% of all matter making the normal matter that can be seen and observed only 5%, is seen by Hawking as the next barrier physics needs to breach. After understanding the nature of dark matter and dark energy, many of today’s missing links could be put together and physicists may finally be able to paint an accurate picture of cosmos. Dark energy, physicists believe, would explain why the universe is expanding at an ever-growing rate instead of collapsing under its own gravity.

The track itself is about life and the universe, but also relates to the “dark energy” of technology and how we try to weaponize all the great discoveries we make from splitting the atom to chemical nerve agents. It also relates to all the negative output from social media that fills the airwaves all around us and all of the content of the “dark web”, another innovation from the military (ARPANET), and how this tech is also used to isolate people and destroy lives.

mwe3: “FRB” signals Fast Radio Burst as in radio astronomy? It’s another one of the more pastoral songs. There’s a Moody Blues style interlude of mellotron magic near the end. Kind of has a Glitch Code type of lyrical line with Corinna’s wordless vocal. The mellotron supported lines are notable at the end, like a coda. Is “FRB” a very hopeful song right? Like the hopes of the astronomers that they can find something?

Paul K: “FRB” does indeed relate to the Fast Radio Bursts and the WOW signal picked up by space telescopes and it’s a song of hope that someone is trying to reach us and we just need to learn how to listen to them and understand the message. The mellotron and Hammond both feature on this track as well as some interesting space noise from the Cassini-Huygens probe sent to Saturn. There is a nice juxtaposition at the end when the arpeggio changes and the feel is more elation that we have received the message and are responding. The very end is also a stylistic tribute to the Starman himself, David Bowie, who inspired both my interest in music and space!

mwe3: “The Great Silence” is a definite highlight. What made you want to include this poem by Abraham Sutzkever on The Fermi Paradox? He has such a sad tale. I saw he died in 2010 at age 96, in Israel no less. Is that the irony of mankind eclipsed in one poem? He called his poems ‘weapons against death’. Rachel Dawson did a great job on this spoken word poem and it has a near Procol Harum esque sound to it. Thank you for finding the transcript of the poem. Where did you find it? It is both haunting and cosmic to say the least.

Paul K: I was researching the term “The Great Silence” which is sometimes used in conjunction with the Fermi paradox to signify that we hear nothing coming back to us from space when I came across the poem by Sutzkever. I read the poem and researched him and thought that the words of the poem could quite easily be transposed in meaning to the search for life in the universe. The verse that really struck me was:

“The Great Silence sifts the secrets of the night.
Unmoving, its thin flour falls on my brows.
Silently, whispering,
I ask the Great Silence,
If I could I would ask more silently:
How many stars did you count
Since your beginning, since your hovering steady
Over the Genesis-night facing the Red Sea?”

The fact that the New York Times wrote that he was the greatest poet of the holocaust seemed to tie in to the destruction theme of mankind as spoken about by Mario Livio. “The Great Silence” in his poem is obviously God and he is asking ‘Him’ how many stars have you created in the universe since its beginning. The juxtaposition of the track is that as Rachel talks about silence the track actually bursts into life which represents the big bang theory vs. God creating the universe which ties again back to Stephen Hawking’s theories on the creation of life and the singular big bang.

mwe3: Frank Drake is another one of these heroes in the study of the universe. What instrumentation is on that? What speech is this spoken word taken from? And Drake is still alive and with us. What else can you add about Drake?

Paul K: “The Drake Equation” features Frank Drake reciting his equation from the Horizon documentary I mentioned earlier. I worked with Getty Images, the BBC and the producers of the documentary to license both the audio and video from the program and we will feature it during the live show as well. Frank is an amazing man and I would love to spend some time with him discussing all the great projects he has been, and still is, involved with.

The track itself is built around simple guitar arpeggio that I created on a synth and then I added an answering piano motif, the fretless and strings, and finally the ebow guitars as the main parts. I then added layers of analogue synths and some lovely chimes from the Roland D5 module. It has a really analogue bottom end, which is all moog and sounds great through the studio speakers, you can really feel it! I changed a couple of the phrases from the Drake narrative around, so we ended up with the line “And we decided that might be the place to meet your friends, when you can’t decide in advance where to meet”.

mwe3: “Arecibo” is a great way to end the album. It sounds like we’ve reentered back into our home galaxy with a “welcome home Earthling” kind of vibe. Gordon’s great ebow sound gives it a haunting effect and what about the spoken word at the end? Can you elaborate on the spoken words in Arabic on the last seconds of the album and who is speaking that?

Paul K: I think “Arecibo” is my personal favorite track on the album. It features the actual Arecibo message first transmitted into space in 1974 aimed at globular star cluster M13. It would take 25 thousand years to reach its intended target which actually won’t be in the same place by the time the message arrives so it’s really more of a beacon into space from mankind. It is named after the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico used by Sagan and Drake to send the message. It’s a very haunting track and sounds great in the dark through headphones as there are so many elements to it. It has a choir, electric violins, cello, fretless bass, loads of layers of synths, Mellotron, ebow and again is based around a simple piano motif that alternates between grand piano and Rhodes. The message at the end is the Arabic greeting on the Golden record on Voyager. Roughly translated it means “"Greetings to our friends in the stars. We wish that we will meet you someday" and is the follow up to the message on Sagan “Hello from the children of planet Earth”. The haunting sound is Guy Fletcher’s electric violin with a lot of processing through the FX rack! We did about 10 takes where Guy just ad-libbed to the music and from that I chose the phrasing which best fitted the track.

mwe3: Throughout your piano sound is truly brilliant. How do you stay in shape as a musician? Do you find yourself practicing scales or do you spend most of the time composing? Is the art of composing even more educational than practicing repertoire or techniques?

Paul K: Over the last two albums I have developed a piano sound, which is basically a combination of a live grand piano and a soft synth piano from Omnisphere. I’ve tried to keep the piano as the consistent sound on the album and the only practice I get is when we are rehearsing for shows as I tend to be composing most of the time, so you play something, perfect it then record it and perhaps don’t visit it again until you need to perform it. It is an interesting process sometimes working out what you played as it may have been from a jam session that I recorded or a one-off improvisation. Normally I can work out what I would play from the feel of the track. I think composing is more useful than practicing scales etc., as it spurs you on to stretch yourself and learn new techniques. I listen to a lot of great players both classical and modern and try and incorporate bits of their techniques into my own style. I try and keep it as simple as possible as I think the melody is more important than trying to play 20 notes in a bar! You will hear lots of repeating motifs on Fermi, which allow the rest of the track to move around them sonically and it’s a technique I like to work with.

mwe3: Are you happy with the way things have gone product wise with people mostly listening to albums through their laptop speakers and iTunes. Is the CD becoming a lost art form? How many options are you giving listeners with The Fermi Paradox as far as how you’re releasing it? You say there’s a gold CD version and a vinyl as well.

Paul K: As a producer who strives for sonic perfection it is a bit disheartening when people listen through laptops etc. but I think some of the Bluetooth speakers and headphones out there have great sonic qualities. I try and listen through lots of different devices and systems to try and get the best final sound. Obviously in the studio and in mastering you are listening through great equipment but you do have to remember most people will listen through their smartphone or tablet headphones and try and make the music resonate there as well.

CD sales seem to be holding on at the moment and Fermi will be out on a limited edition “Golden” CD, which is a homage to the Golden Record on Voyager. It has also been cut to vinyl and that will be a very limited run of initially 100 units. Of course, it will also be on all digital formats and streaming services.

mwe3: What is the wildest concept about the cosmos and the human condition that gives you the most hope in the short time we have left on the Earth plane? I was discussing this with a German musician and he told me he believed in parallel universes. Do you have any other aspect of paranormal that fascinates you? Was any topic not covered in The Fermi Paradox album that should have been and will you consider a second Fermi album in the future? It seems like an unlimited concept matter.

Paul K: I’m sure there is enough subject matter out there for a few albums on this topic! I think the concept of black holes is interesting and what we would find if we were able to get a probe through one. I also think the amount of Earth-like planets we are finding out there is exciting, but we need massive advances in propulsion to be able to have any hope of reaching them. I read only yesterday in the Sunday Times newspaper about the US Government storing alien spaceship materials at a secret Bigelow Aerospace facility in Nevada funded as part of the AATIP (The Pentagon’s top-secret Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program) corroborated by Luis Elizondo who headed up the program. Apparently, these unidentified materials have a physical effect on those that come into contact with them. I hope one day Government’s come clean about what they know, and we can harness new tech to help us reach new worlds.

As for the paranormal, if you consider we can see only 5% of matter that exists perhaps the paranormal is a glimpse into some of the other 95% yet to be unraveled. Maybe we are the only ones in this universe at this moment in time, but I would like to believe otherwise and hope we get more answers in my lifetime.

mwe3: Tell us about your next planned project, which you’re calling so far Reconstructed Memories and what kind of music you’re planning to feature on it? You mentioned it contrasts false memories with real memories? Can you give an example? Because you’re based in London how can your fans from around the world experience your music in a live setting and tell us about upcoming concert appearance that will feature music from The Fermi Paradox. And also how about your first album Soul Connection. Is that available still? Your music is great on that album too. Your music just seems to improve from album to album, concept to concept. One can hardly wait to hear your next move.

Paul K: Thanks for the positive comments about my music Robert and for your support for the last couple of albums. I try and give it my all and make it interesting from both an aural and conceptual viewpoint. The next album will be called Reconstructed Memories and is already written in demo form. It will be a piano based electronica album that will feature just Rachel Dawson on cello as the only additional musician. I wanted to bookend Omertà and The Fermi Paradox with something personal and I think Reconstructed Memories really achieves that for me. It is a sonic experiment and I can’t wait to record it over the coming months. It’s based around the premise of real memories interacting with planted memories, which combine to convince you they are real. For example, your parents may have told you something you did as a 2-year-old that you convince yourself you can remember, or a story may change over the years to become more interesting the more times you tell it and eventually you believe it as an actual memory. Implanted memories have been proven to exist by psychiatrists treating people with false memories of traumas, which may have happened at a different stage in their lives which have become blurred and obviously there is dementia and Alzheimer’s that also make the brain build false memories. It finishes with a reading of the poem “Love After Love”, by Derek Walcott, which I think will sum up at the end what the album is about

I believe Soul Connection is still on iTunes but I must admit I’ve not listened to it in a while and perhaps will revisit it one day using some of my new tools. We are planning a series of live shows around the UK for the end of this year and throughout next year and if they are well received we will look to tour the show to a wider international audience. I try and do something different with the live shows so it can get expensive to put them on, but I think it’s worth the effort to bring the music to life visually. I was lucky enough to see some new visual tech recently that I am looking to use at the shows which is exciting, and we hope to film a couple of them for the website/YouTube channel etc. I’m also hoping to release a new Glitch Code album next year and we are currently playing around with tracks for that one which is provisionally entitled Minimal and will, again, be a bit different from Gifted_Damaged in both concept and sound.




 

 
   
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