Deep Dive: Behind The Notes – Epica
Epica is, without a doubt, one of 2021’s most notable New Age music releases.Keith Richie – Epica | New Age Music Guide
Deep Dive: Behind The Notes – Epica
Each musical composition carries its own unique narrative, a blend of feelings, experiences, and motives that inspired its creation. In today’s post, I welcome you to explore the myriad influences that shaped my album Epica. Originally launched as a standalone single, it later became the cornerstone for an entire album. Like all the music I craft, this piece is a complex weave of stories and emotions. Join me on this harmonious expedition as we delve into the detailed tales that breathed life into Epica.
The Forgotten Purchase: A Tale of Rediscovering Light & Shadow
One day while at the office, I stumbled upon a post from my friend Sean McDonough (Learn more about him here: Sean’s Website). He was talking about a plugin by Mimi Page (Learn more about Mimi here: Mimi’s Wikipedia) known as Light & Shadow. Sean tagged me in the post, mentioning that he was considering buying it. Intrigued, I went ahead and purchased a copy. However, when I returned home to explore the plugin, I realized I had already bought it a month earlier and completely forgotten! I can’t quite recall if I ever cancelled the second purchase, but I think I let it stand as an extra token of support for Mimi.
The Birth of ‘Other Worlds Than These’: How ‘Ambient Highways’ Paved the Way for ‘A2’
As I delved into the Light & Shadows plugin, inspiration struck and I soon found myself with a fully-developed song. Seeking additional input, I invited my wife to listen and offer her invaluable feedback, leading to pivotal refinements to the composition. At this time, I was also gearing up to release an album through my fledgling publishing label, “Other Worlds Than These.” This project, publicly known as “A2,” was originally slated to be the label’s debut release, and I had contemplated naming the album “Phoenix” to encapsulate the vision for my new venture. However, after discussions with my wife and close friends, we collectively decided to first re-release “Ambient Highways” under the new label, postponing the “A2” project for a later date.
Upon establishing my “Other Worlds Than These” enterprise, I began the gradual task of withdrawing my previously released albums, originally published under my own name, to prepare them for re-release under the new label. For a brief window, the only track available from my catalog across major digital platforms was a single from the “A2” album. This single, aptly named “There Are Other Worlds Than These,” was the inaugural release under the “Other Worlds Than These” label.
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The Evolution of “Epica”: From a Single to the Album’s Namesake
Having released the single “There Are Other Worlds Than These,” completed the track “Epica,” and launched Ambient Highways on vinyl for the first time, my focus shifted to wrapping up the remaining tracks for the album originally titled “Pheonix.” However, as “Epica” gained traction as a single, the name “Pheonix” lost its relevance for the album title. Consequently, I chose to rename the album to “Epica.”
The album kicks off with the track “Remote Isolation,” composed at the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, when we were all confined to our homes. The song captures the collective apprehension many of us felt—wondering if this crisis would decimate a large part of the global population and contemplating what the world might look like in the aftermath.
The second track, “Rebirth,” was initially intended to be the album’s opening number, aligning closely with the album’s original title, “Pheonix.” Despite the change in the album’s theme, the tone of “Rebirth” still resonates with the rest of the album, so I chose to keep its title intact.
This is succeeded by the track “Dawn.” While I can’t precisely recall the original sequence of songs, I do know that “Dawn” was designed to kick off the album’s second half. Interestingly, “Dusk”—a track that appears later in the album—was originally positioned as the closing song for the first half of the project.
This setup created a natural shift from “Dusk” to “Dawn,” marking the album’s transition into its second act.
Following this, “Tiny Creatures” serves as the next track’s title. I penned this piece in memory of one of our recently departed feline companions.
Its auditory quality feels, at least to me, like an homage to Isao Tomita. Known as a groundbreaking Japanese composer, Tomita is widely considered a pioneer in the realms of electronic and space music.
I was first made aware of Tomita via his rendition of Arabesque No. 1, which was used as the closing music for Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler, which started in 1976 and was broadcast nationally in 1985.
Coming after “Tiny Creatures,” the next track is “Jade.” Initially named “Yellow Roses,” this song was a long-time work in progress, originally written in tribute to my mother who passed away a decade ago this month. Despite my best efforts, the composition never felt quite right. Then, one day, I made some significant tonal adjustments that led my wife to envision a Jade Princess, and the song finally clicked into place.
Following that, the album moves into the earlier-mentioned track “Dusk,” then transitions to the title song “Epica,” and concludes with the piece “There Are Other Worlds Than These.”
A Multifaceted World: The Inspiration Behind Epica
Describing the album to others has proven challenging; it’s more than just music—it’s a journey through a mythical realm named Epica, filled with enigmatic and otherworldly phenomena. Unsurprisingly, this concept meshed seamlessly with the world setting of my solo Dungeons & Dragons game, Blyris Bledstone’s Menagerie of Curiosities, which I ultimately decided to call the land this game is set within.
In the long run, I intend to keep composing music to enrich the world of Epica in my games. It’s entirely possible that some tracks from the Aural Realms collection could make their way into this imaginative setting.
As we come to the end of this deep dive into the multi-layered tapestry that is Epica, it’s evident that this musical endeavor is far more than a collection of notes and melodies. It’s a journey through inspiration and self-discovery, shaped by diverse influences from plugins rediscovered to the guidance of close loved ones. From its inception as a standalone single to its transformation into a full-fledged album, each song in Epica bears its own story and emotional core.
Moreover, the album doesn’t just exist in a musical vacuum; it extends into the realms of my solo Dungeons & Dragons game, adding an extra layer of depth to both the game and the music. Epica stands as a testament to the enduring power of creative collaboration and the uncharted territories one can explore when various forms of art intersect.
Thank you for joining me on this harmonious expedition through the world of Epica. As I continue to compose new pieces to enrich this fantastical world, who knows what other magical realms we might discover together in the future. Your journey into the “Other Worlds Than These” has only just begun.
Soundscapes To Explore
- Keith Richie – Epica (Choose Service)
- Epica – Other Worlds Than These
- Journeyscapes Radio: Album Review: Epica by Keith Richie
- Keith Richie – Epica | New Age Music Guide