Cycles & Shadows

R28A Cycles & Shadows
Mark Sheeky

Detail from Cycles & Shadows Detail from Cycles & Shadows Detail from Cycles & Shadows

Track listing
1. Eternal Cycle (1:36)
2. Cycles I: The Great Flow (4:40)
3. Cycles II: Old And New (4:06)
4. Cycles III: Perpetual Change (4:11)
5. Cycles IV: Decay (3:34)
6. Cycles V: Nightrest (3:50)
7. Cycles VI: Connection (6:02)
8. Intrauterine (3:52)
9. Cantus In Memoriam Childhood (6:30)
10. Corridors Of Nothing Menopause (4:23)
11. Requiem For A Million Cells (4:31)
12. Doorways (4:06)
13. The String Quartet At The End Of The Universe (2:37)
14. Flight Of The Phoenix (6:38)

About this album
Cycles & Shadows is a culmination of over a year of new musical exploration in musical structures, and continual live piano performances. Influences include artists as diverse as Sparks, Scott Walker, David Lynch, Kate Bush and Beethoven; but all influences here are peripheral. Musically, this is a substantial evolution of Sheeky's previous work.

The album consists of two distinct halves. Cycles is fundamentally a piano concerto in six movements for synthetic orchestra. It was born from a live art performance that Mark Sheeky and Sabine Kussmaul were invited to develop for Chester Cathedral in October 2015, and is an examination of information and structures in music, and a comparison with different biological structures and states. Thus, the simple theme is explored in different ways that echo the life-cycle of a cell or organism.

Shadows, the second half of the album, consists of songs with unusual structures. Influenced by contemporary poetry which is almost always freeform, the songs follow the same improvisational style, using words and music to convey meaning and emotion in a depth that is unusual in modern songs.

Shadows is thematically about ageing, childlessness, and the redeeming power of art. Musically, different keys and themes are explored and later revisited and transformed in a joyous conclusion, something that both Shadows and Cycles have in common.

Technically this was the first of Sheeky's albums to be recorded in 32-bit quality, and it was created, like all of his music, using his custom-programmed synthesizer and sequencer, Prometheus. Many new recording techniques were used, and part of the challenge in creating Cycles & Shadows was technical, processing large quantities of live recordings for the first time, often pushing to the limits of memory and speed of the technology. The software required lots of programming to add new functionality, often functions designed to destroy the technology, to wrestle control from the cold computer and place in back into human hands.

The piano playing was live, and much the composition work involved using the piano recordings as the skeleton, with other instruments carefully layered over these parts like a gossamer collage, always aiming to retain the mood and feeling of the live performance.

Cycles & Shadows is a work about emotion, a Romantic album developed to place humanity above technology, developed to be the antithesis, and antidote, to other music of the early 21st century.

Cycles & Shadows
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Cycles & Shadows
Jewel Cased CD with 4-page booklet
Order CD via Bandcamp