“Spirituality did not split from science. Now, they’re different. Then, they were the same.”
– Martin Brennan, interview ‘ANCIENT SKIES’ (2011)
There are no plans to release an official soundtrack to ANCIENT SKIES.
However, all the music from the film can be found on the releases mentioned below, and a 3 min. mp3 sampler can be downloaded here
Although links to other retailers are listed, please support independent artists by buying direct.
BANCO DE GAIA
For nearly two and a half decades BANCO DE GAIA has been consistently redefining world electronica, blending acoustic and electronic sounds, and integrating themes and techniques from global cultures and traditions. He has worked with musicians and producers as ingenious and diverse as Pink Floyd’s Dick Parry, Natacha Atlas, Tim Wheater, Eat Static, Zion Train and Paul Horn.
Tony Marks began his musical career as a session musician and guitarist, before taking a complete change of course to embrace electronics and the burgeoning ‘Ambient Dub’ movement of the early 1990’s, personified by the legendary PLANET DOG label and club scene.
His first three cassette releases were highly sought after, before PLANET DOG released the track SOUFIE on the first of their AMBIENT DUB compilation CDs in 1992, marking the emergence of a major new talent.
In 1994 his first album release MAYA gained a Mercury Music Prize nomination and spawned a rapidly expanding concert schedule.
1995’s LAST TRAIN TO LHASA was a milestone, reaching #1 in numerous charts in the UK and abroad. Widely considered one of his best albums, it led to his headlining the dance stage at the Glastonbury Festival of the same year, and a subsequent live album release.
He followed with 1997’s BIG MEN CRY and 1999’s MAGICAL SOUNDS, celebrating his first decade in the industry with the double CD release of 10 YEARS, featuring classic pieces and previously unreleased tracks and mixes.
The year 2000 saw the release of IGIZEH, with YOU ARE HERE in 2004 on his own newly founded label ‘Disco Gecko.’ In constant demand as a live performer, with several UK tours, festival appearances, and concerts in such diverse places as Alaska, Australia, Russia and Eastern Europe, ‘bootleg’ footage was compiled into his first DVD release TWO THOUSAND AND 4.
FAREWELL FERENGISTAN, released in 2006, premiered in London’s Curzon West End cinema with a live 5.1 surround sound audio mix and visuals.
Although continuing to tour, and releasing two further compilations, he took a break from recording to move house, build a new studio, and, keen to pursue 5.1 audio and new technologies, gain a masters degree in Electro-Acoustic Production and Performance.
His first original studio album for seven years, APOLLO was released in 2013, encapsulating ambient, dub, tribal, gypsy, techno, trance and breakbeat. It is already considered another milestone in his career, garnering excellent reviews and plaudits.
“Apollo is a faultless, flawless work, and will appeal on a huge number of levels. An essential purchase.” – Gideon Thomas, CORE magazine
The opening and closing tracks, LAMENTATIONS and ACQUIESCENCE, in collaboration with vocalist Zhenia Mahdi-Nau, were recorded specifically for ANCIENT SKIES and are only available on this album.
Heart, soul, compositional skill, meticulous attention to detail and exemplary production techniques are the hallmarks of all of BANCO DE GAIA’s work.
The re-mix album OLLOPA is released on October 7th 2013. The amazing TripSwitch re-mix of ACQUIESCENCE can be heard here
Initially Lisa Gerrard was approached to write and perform two pieces for the film, to which she agreed. But along with her own busy schedule as a renowned solo artist, as production on the film continued Gerrard and Brendan Perry reformed their hugely acclaimed band DEAD CAN DANCE, released their first album for 16 years and undertook a worldwide tour.
Sadly it was not to be.
ANCIENT SKIES contributor and CGI artist Glenn Marshall is also an accomplished musician, creating soundtracks for his own films as well as commissions for broadcast documentaries. His collaborations with with a highly distinctive vocalist first brought Zhenia Mahdi-Nau to my attention.
Iranian born Mahdi-Nau lives in Belfast, where she works in multimedia, photography and animation, and more recently film and social documentaries. Her most recent work, TAPESTRY OF COLOURS, completed in 2012, is an 80 minute HD documentary she produced, directed, photographed and edited that explores the fusion of cultures in Northern Ireland. With screenings all over the country, the film has been very well received.
“Excellent…thoughtful and thought provoking, while reflecting a whole range of human emotions.”
– Susan Lovell, Director of Programming, BBC Northern Ireland
As a musician she has written and performed with the band TRACELESS in the late ‘90s, jazz and blues with the multicultural band THE MOTION PROJECT in mid ‘00s, and featured in the 2006 documentary MONKEY LOVE and the 2009 feature PUMP GIRL.
I approached her about the project, and within just a couple of days she had recorded two rough demos which captured precisely the spirit and feel I was looking for, but with her own unique approach and sensibility. I sent the demos to Toby Marks of BANCO DE GAIA and a collaboration was born.
The largely improvised sessions were recorded at Marks’ Circle Square studio in Somerset. Vocalising over bed tracks and loops created by Marks, the first playback was quite literally hair-raising, revealing the astonishing power and beauty of her voice. So successful were these sessions that their pieces, originally intended for the film only, were included on BANCO DE GAIA’s 2013 release APOLLO.
“The album opens with LAMENTATIONS – soaring string-sounding synths build up beneath a beautiful vocal from Zhenia Mahdi-Nau, and the sound here is very reminiscent of Dead Can Dance as it conjures up the images of the ancient pagan temples clinging close to the cliff edges on Greek islands. Whether this is a lamentation to the crumbling state of these monuments or a lament for the rituals of old matters not, it is a powerful opener and one that casts a spell over the album. […] ACQUIESCENCE closes the album, its breathless vocal chant bringing us back to the ancient temples […] keyboards swell underneath an impassioned voice and we are left in its mood of sombre quiet as the music drifts off into the aether. The album seems to tell a story (although it is certainly not a concept album) and bookended by two graceful tracks give the sense of the beginning and end of a journey. Was the album worth the seven year wait? I, for one, certainly think so.”
“On listening and enjoying this musical excursion, if anything I’m so chuffed to have been treated to the voice of Zhenia Mahdi-Nau, but and regardless of that, APOLLO is up there with Toby Marks’ other great gems.”
To mark the release of the album, and the upcoming release of the film, Mahdi and Wakefield were interviewed by Radio Ulster in March 2013. Download an mp3 here.
Recognised worldwide as one of the leading innovators of contemporary electronic music, Roach’s body of work is approaching 75 solo and collaborative releases since 1981. I approached him to write and record an entirely original score for ANCIENT SKIES, though once again, his own busy schedule meant it was not to be. However, he very kindly agreed to allow me to select and licence works from his extensive back catalogue.
Drawing heavily on the influences of the ‘Berlin School’ style of 1970’s electronics, Roach’s early works ran the gamut from frenzied sequencers (NOW & EMPETUS) to exquisite and highly regarded ambient excursions (STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE & QUIET MUSIC).
In the late 1980’s he made several trips to Australia, resulting in the landmark double CD release DREAMTIME RETURN, widely considered one of the best ambient / electronic albums ever made.
“[An] incomparable recording. Roach reached a plateau both in his musical evolution and within the genre that has yet to be eclipsed. Revelling in a near seamless blend of organic and electronic soundworlds, Roach constructs a number of mini-epics that sonically reflect the Aborigine mystique, filtered through a collage of didgeridoos, incongruous samples from the deep outback, and all other manners of unidentifiable electronic textures. Cloaked in the infinite tempest of ancient ritual, tracks […] suggest not just primordial riddles or sacred ceremonial rites, but rather touch on emotions that resonate across all cultural and ethnographic boundaries. […] Undoubtedly, Roach’s first true masterpiece.”
– Darren Bergstein, MUZE magazine
Relocating his ‘TimeRoom’ studio from Los Angeles to the deserts of Arizona, and founding his own label ‘Projekt,’ Roach increasingly began to pioneer and embrace a ‘deep ambient’ style, coupled with the use of ancient percussion, wind and ‘shaker’ instruments. Darren Bergstein wrote of 1993’s ORIGINS:
“Never before has Roach’s electronic surface felt so earthen and weathered; all of the assertive ambience and environmental dissonance he’s pressurised up to now reaches critical mass in ORIGINS’ molten core.”
THE MAGNIFICENT VOID, a vast, haunting soundscape released in 1996, is one of his most critically acclaimed works.
“For two decades Steve Roach has made landmark recordings in the space, techno-tribal and ambient genres, impelling composers to catch him. VOID […] sounds distinct at each encounter, reflecting the listener’s own receptive labour as much as the composer’s active one. Roach gives us not new music, but new ears with which to hear.”
– Alan Rapp, WIRED magazine
Enormously prolific in the studio, he continues to perform live, and several concerts were captured and enhanced in the award winning 1997 release ON THIS PLANET.
“Nothing prepares you for the primal power of Roach in concert, particularly when you’re expecting something resembling his recorded work and he surprises you by blowing out all the circuits. […] A leviathan in a sea of sonic ephemera, ON THIS PLANET is unforgettable.”
– Mark Burbey, ALTERNATIVE PRESS
An uncompromising solo artist, he has also collaborated with musicians such as Michael Stearns (DESERT SOLITAIRE & KIVA), Robert Rich (STRATA & SOMA), Vir Unis (BLOOD MACHINE & BODY ELECTRIC), Vidna Obmana (SPIRIT DOME) and, as SUSPENDED MEMORIES, two albums with Jorge Reyes and Suso Saiz (FORGOTTEN GODS & EARTH ISLAND).
In a 2002 poll of national music professionals by NEW AGE VOICE magazine, selecting the ’25 Most Influential Ambient Albums of All Time,’ Roach was honoured with two classic recordings in the top five: DREAMTIME RETURN at #2, and STRUCTURES FROM SILENCE at #4.