A game composer and ambient composer walk into a bar...
Updated: 5 days ago
I am both excited and nervous to share some news: If all goes well with this kickstarter campaign, I will collaborate with a friend on a project that is very dear to my heart! That friend is Robert Holmes, an amazing game composer and musician.
In case you aren't familiar with Robert, he is a singer-songwriter and musician best known for his work in the video game industry. He composed music for a number of popular adventure games including the Gabriel Knight series, as well as Gray Matter and Moebius. He has worked with Sting, The Brothers Four, and The Scarlet Furies as a producer.
He's much more of a traditionally trained and battle-hardened musician than I am. He started in the '70s, performing with various bands and working as a session musician in LA. In the '80s, he moved into video games and multimedia where he made a name for himself as a talented composer and musician.
I met Robert in Seattle almost twenty-five years ago, and have had a chance to collaborate with him on just a few things. He has a unique style which blends elements of rock, folk, and pop music with literary and mythological themes. Every one of his songs (especially for me his instrumentals) tells a rich story. And his music continues to be celebrated by fans of adventure games and video game music alike.
When we first started talking about the idea, we figured there would be some challenges. We have some common musical "roots" (think 70s prog rock), but our personal musical journeys since that time have diverged significantly. Figuring out how to meld our present styles together on a project/album would be an interesting undertaking. But we also believe that our differences can add to the richness of the result since each of us bring our own unique strengths to the table.
In case you are wondering who I am, my name is George Napier and "gesslr" is my music / creative project. I'm a happy dad, a VO artist, and composer of ambient, electronic, and collage-based musics. I also produce the occasional video or soundtrack.
Originally from Detroit, I grew up listening to my parents' jazz and Zydeco records. My older siblings listened to everything from Motown to the Stones. By the '70s I had settled mostly into Rock. As more bands started using synths, I gravitated towards that type of sound. When the '80s hit, New Wave, Punk, and Ska ruled my night life, and folks like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Kitaro, and of course Brian Eno held dominion elsewhere. It was Brian Eno's Music for Films that inspired my first synth purchase in 1983 because "I want to make music like that."
My early stuff was in the style of "musique concréte" sound environments created with synths, drum machines, and 4 track cassette tapes. I love using "found sounds" (things I would record while walking with a portable cassette) with musical elements and tape and recording imperfections to create soundscapes and ambient environments. Some of my output can be found here on this site.
My role in this project is a supportive one. This is definitely Robert's creation and he will call the shots. I think it will be an amazing creative journey, and is one of the things that makes the project exciting for me. The other is working with Robert of course, and then there is some guy named Roger Hooper...
Roger and I go back a long, long way. I met Roger when he worked at Chuck Levin's Music Center. (In fact, he sold me many a keyboard back in the late '80s and '90s.)
Robert and Roger collaborated to release A Simple Refrain, a collection of Robert's game themes played for solo piano by Roger. Roger also made some amazing contributions on the first Sequel album.
Roger is an incredible musician. His work has appeared in films, on major networks on two continents, and in games. He too is traditionally trained, and tour battle hardened.
Working with these two wonderful people is a helluva thing.
It's a cookbook!
So how do you combine music that is memorable, catchy, dynamic and adaptive with music that explores texture and minimalism, slow tempos and repetition?
Well, fact of the matter is, I'm not sure! And that's one of the exciting, invigorating part of this. What I do know is that there needs to be a guiding vision for the project and Robert has that. After that, there are all sorts of ways we can attack this. For example:
We can divide responsibilities and create separate but complementary pieces. Since Robert will be creating all of the main tracks, my contributions would be more like interludes or bridges between pieces.
We can play with different instrumentation, soundscapes, and rhythms to find a balance between Robert's more structured sound and the more free-flowing sound of ambient music.
We could experiment with creating an immersive sonic environment in a track. Imagine using sound effects, field recordings, and other sonic textures to create an atmospheric - perhaps even binaural - backdrop reminiscent of New Orleans or Ludwig's Castle...
The point is that the possibilities for creating something that is consistent and true to Robert's earlier work - but branched into additional, adjacent territories - is really exciting!
Music is such a vulnerable art form, and collaborating during its creation and sharing it can be daunting. I wouldn't be truthful if I didn't mention the nerves that come from both collaborating with folks like Robert and Roger, and then sharing the results with the world. I am super confident that Son of Sequel will be something that resonates with fans and continues to connect the community.
But first, we've got to make the Kickstarter campaign a success!
A Chance to Help
So, without further ado, let me introduce you to our new project. It's called "Son of Sequel." It's a follow up to Robert's 2022 release "Sequel."
Son of Sequel is a multi-song collection that features Robert's love of haunting melody from the dark, moody atmosphere of the GK games sprinkled with a few additions from my own ambient / experimental musics. It is something that is both familiar and new, and we can't wait for you to hear it.
Please consider supporting the Kickstarter campaign. It's absolutely vital that we get everyone on board before the deadline. There are lots of different options for supporting the project. (And as a special bonus for those who supported the first campaign for Sequel, supporting this one at the 2nd tier or higher gets you a free T-Shirt added to the package.)
Check out all of the wonderful options here: Son of Sequel Kickstarter Campaign
We are planning a virtual release party with a live Q&A and music video premieres (and maybe some sort of weird bi-coastal live performance) so stay tuned for more details!
Thanks for reading. Peace and strength to you and yours.