It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s an Airship!

Catharsis through repetition

Music has always been my recourse whenever I need to reflect on life and process my experiences. I make experimental music in the ambient electronic genre because it is inherently meditative and I want my music to have that quality in some form. In pursuit of this, I build my music around loops, using repeating melodies like mantras. Each repetition distills some things and crystallises others, whether they are thoughts, ideas or emotions. This cathartic cycle directly informed my approach to the music on Airship. I methodically assembled layers of musical phrases around a central refrain, which either plays throughout the track or emerges at a key moment.

Airship origins

I first came across airships in Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Kiki’s Delivery Service. In “Laputa”, an airship is a mythical machine dominating the sky, and in “Kiki”, a majestic but fragile giant. However, it was the song “Airships” by VNV Nation that planted the seeds for what eventually became Airship. Its lyrics describe an airship as a symbol of humanity’s hopes and dreams, a theme that resonated with me, very powerfully. I wanted to create something similar in experimental music and this concept album was the result.

An unconventional soundtrack

Airship is an unconventional soundtrack to lighter-than-air flight. Each track describes an aspect of airship travel: the preparations before departure (“Hangar”, “A Good Day for Flying”); the impressive scale of the aircraft (“Giant in the Sky”); its stateliness in flight (“Airship”); the romance of its journey (“Silently You Sail”); and its arrival (“Destination”). I wanted to inspire nostalgia and to convey wonderment and awe, but I also wanted to communicate the risks involved: bad weather and mechanical failure were ever-present threats that could spell disaster, and I express this reality in the sombreness of the music.

Just one track

If you only had time to listen to one track on the album, I would recommend the title track, “Airship”. It describes an airship as it appears on the horizon, sweeps overhead, and sails into the distance. The music is slow and dignified—almost cinematic. It is my best attempt at capturing my fascination with airships in music. It was also an opportunity to use a French horn, one of my favourite instruments. I hope it resonates with you as it does with me and that it inspires you to hang on to your own sense of wonder.

Airship is available at music.forgottenfields.co and on all music platforms, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Spotify and Tidal.

FORGOTTEN FIELDS

Because my world would be a wonderland

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
The opening scene of Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) by the inimitable Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki’s worlds are filled with weird and wonderful things and places. In them, there must be countless fields for one to lie and dream in. When I was a boy, I had an illustrated children’s book, now long lost. One of the illustrations was of a boy lying in a field of tall grass, staring up at the clouds. A few weeks ago, I discovered that the book is still in print. I ordered a copy, right away, because I want to see if the picture is anything like what I remember. That image was the beginning of my love for fields and the reason I now think of them as places of serenity. To my young mind, the boy in the field seemed at home in the world and I longed for that sense of belonging, as a child. Perhaps subconciously, I had done what Alice did in creating Wonderland. Though my wonderland didn’t need any fantastical creatures, a dragonfly was more than enough. In the opening scene of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951), Alice sings about her imaginary world in a field of daisies. The song ends with the words:

I could listen to a babbling brook
And hear a song that I could understand
I keep wishing it could be that way
Because my world would be a wonderland

In Forgotten Fields, I wish to create a wonderland in music: sometimes idyllic, sometimes terrifying, but always, I hope, honest.

FORGOTTEN FIELDS