Stewart Lane Music
Composer Performer Cultural Activist
Some music & recording history
After experimenting with alternative cabaret performances in the early/mid 80s, I formed BAL in 1989, a protean ensemble, to explore song writing and performance within an alternative cabaret setting. Our first performance was at the Kings Head Theatre, Islington and over a 6 year period, BAL performed at the Royal festival hall, Purcell room, Barbican, Ronnie Scott's and numerous music and arts festivals.
A demo called 'Torment Of Flies' helped launch the group in 1990. Between then and 1996, when BAL folded, the repertoire stretched to nearly 100 songs.
My influences were the poetic realism of the french cinema of the 1930s, especially Marcel Carné's Les Enfants du Paradis, Jean Vigo's Zero for Conduct and Julien Duvivier's Pépé le Moko. Demos of songs for two albums, The Sleep Navigator and Cloud Drumming, were recorded, but are now almost certainly lost. The music is hard to describe and harder to define, but a couple of examples survive (Tambaran and Cloud Drumming). Live footage from various performances have been edited to these two songs. predominantly, the music was piano, percussion and string based, although various other instruments joined the outfit at various points, including, accordion, guitar, balalaika, shawm, synthesizers and rock drums.
Some years into the formation of BAL, I began to receive a variety commissions; string quartets, sonatas for piano and various solo instruments, Orchestra, chamber orchestra, contemporary ensembles, hand bells and so on. In the mid 90s, my interest in indie rock music started. I wrote a number of songs, which eventually found their way on to the Albums Crashing of Planes and Tales from the White frontier, although the songs were not recorded until 2008 and 2009 respectively. The former of these I withdrew, although two tracks survive as singles: Boy and Blue Of Noon. Both collections contain songs exploring LGBTQI themes.
Arcanum, a song cycle for voices and chamber orchestra, was recorded live at St Andrew's church, Islington in 1998. In many ways, this album was a 'GRAND BAL'. The song writing style was still very much within the idiom I had realised for BAL, only for 34 musicians as opposed to 8. Ultimately, it was too large and unwieldy to manage. I planned and wrote two more similar projects for chamber orchestra and voices, Radio Ghosts and Angels In The Underworld. Some of the material for Radio Ghosts was recorded, and will eventually see the light of day. Arcanum was re-released in 2010.
Black Apollo started life in a similar vein to Arcanum. Part way through recording it, I realised I needed to temper my music ambitions into more modest enterprises. Conveniently, this coincided with an increasing fascination with alternative/indie/art rock & pop. I found the economy of writing demanded by pop and rock a refreshing challenge. With the help of Mat Lepannen of Animal Farm Studios, Black Apollo evolved into it's own hybrid of the form and paved the way for the Planes and White Frontier albums. Black Apollo was released in 2006.
Tales from the WHITE FRONTIER is my own homage to the Alternative America I've always admired, tracking the subcultures that left the greatest impression on me. During its making, I had the vast pleasure of discovering the prodigious talents of Richard Cambell (Orpheus Studios, London), whose artistry features all over the album.
An EP, Sails (2010) and album FIELDS OF MARS (2016) enabled me to enjoy collaborations with Maitreya Jani (Delve Music), Tom Linden and producer Tom B Cooper respectively. These songs were the result of renewed experiences of strangeness, interdimensional cross-feeds and general otherness. In 2017, my explorations of ambient and electronica resulted in the LIMINAL PROJECT, and the trilogy LIMINAL, Transfigurations & Transitions.
My first happy experience working with the amazing maestro/producer, David Ezra (Hilltop Studios, UK) was for my 2018 release, Impossible Geometries. This marked the continuation of my journey into electronica, downtempo, indie chamber, alternative nu contemporary folk and a host of categories yet to be identified or imagined.
It was my great pleasure to team up with David again for the production and mixing of my most recent Album, RADIO GHOSTS. Musically, picking up on an earlier direction I followed using chamber orchestra on many of the tracks (see also Nerve/The Flood and Black Apollo).
Happy trails, Live in Light