composer and music conceptualist Paul Kirkpatrick was the creative
driving force behind the electro-rock sound of Gifted_Damaged,
the 2016 CD by his group Glitch Code. Fans of his work will be
very pleased to learn that a year later, Paul is back in early 2017
as solo artist, Paul K, for the release of his latest instrumental
music masterpiece, Omertà. A series of
18 tracks that serves as a soundtrack to a movie concept, the album
centers around the ordeal of a young girl who haplessly witnesses
a gruesome murder inside a church by an assassin secretly posing as
a priest. The tragic encounter in this story makes it kind of like
a childhood version of The Fugitive, where someone strives
through life to right a wrongful murder. Here, Omertà
means the mafia code of silence to which the young girl is bound by
the priest. Paul's music follows the girl as she becomes a young woman
and tells how she is finally able to turn the cards on the priest
and how, years later, with the help of an an old retired detective,
they seek revenge on the assassin hiding in plain sight. Its
quite a harrowing story, yet Paul K. tells the tale with a set of
18 instrumental tracks that combine rock, electronica, neoclassical,
Avant Gard and more. Depicting in music, the sequence of events of
the storyline, the tracks here are quite atmospheric and break new
ground for the art of 21st century instrumental music. Assisting Paul
on Omertà are various members from Glitch Code, including
Gordon Foley and Pauls son Christian Kirkpatrick,
both appearing on electric guitar. Speaking about how this intriguing
project came to be, Paul tells mwe3.com, I had the idea for
the Omertà project during the writing process for the Glitch
Code album. Some of the initial tracks were sounding good as instrumentals
and didnt quite fit with what I was planning for Glitch Code,
but seemed to form another cohesive set of tracks. Id always
wanted to do an album based around bass, cello, piano and electronic
sounds and these tracks seemed to be forming around those instruments.
I also wanted to be able to experiment with things like the Theremin
and more orchestral percussion and Omertà was the perfect vehicle
for that. Liner notes in the elaborately packaged first
edition of Omertà (a store-friendly digi-pak version
is rumored to be in the works), speaks about the importance of music
in scripting the feel or mood of a movie, while mentioning names like
Wendy Carlos and Mike Oldfield, who gained world fame through their
early soundtrack work. Even without a movie yet, theres plenty
of fascinating music magic and sonic surprises in play on Paul K's
mwe3.com presents an interview with
The Omertà interview
Most of the fans know you as the leader of the rock band Glitch Code,
yet with your new solo album, Omertà youve created
a soundtrack album for a movie that hasnt yet been created,
filled with plot twists and turns that you scripted yourself. How
do you account for such a wildly diverse palate of music, are the
two albums at all connected and what made you want to make an album
as challenging as Omertà?
Paul Kirkpatrick: The two albums are closely connected
by a few different elements. Most noticeably, I would say, because
most of the same musicians have played on both albums. I have a core
group of go to players who understand how I work and my influences
and they just get it. I write everything on the initial
demo and then give it to them and tell them what I was thinking when
I wrote it and they then interpret how they feel it should sound.
We may go through a few iterations but normally it is a very fast
process. The theme of the Glitch Code album Gifted_Damaged,
also plays out in the Omertà storyline, but from the
perspective of inflicted damage, caused by witnessing an horrific
event at a young age, as is the fate that bestows the young girl in
Writing wise, I think because I have a diverse and varied taste in
music myself, this flows through into the sound and texture of the
music I create. Im very much more into the tone and timbre of
sound rather than what genre it sits in and I try not to let any conventional
understanding of how a genre should sound get in the way of creating
I had the idea for the Omertà project during the writing
process for the Glitch Code album. Some of the initial tracks were
sounding good as instrumentals and didnt quite fit with what
I was planning for Glitch Code, but seemed to form another cohesive
set of tracks. Id always wanted to do an album based around
bass, cello, piano and electronic sounds and these tracks seemed to
be forming around those instruments. I also wanted to be able to experiment
with things like the Theremin and more orchestral percussion and Omertà
was the perfect vehicle for that.
As I wrote
the pieces they evoked strong imagery in my head that I was seeing
as scenes in a movie, so I started to form the idea of the plot line
for a film and wrote and named the tracks to work around that plot.
Its great to write for a story as it forces you to really think
about the running order and what emotion the piece should evoke in
mwe3: How long did it take you to create the music on Omertà
and also how would you compare it to your other instrumental albums?
Is Omertà your best one yet? How many solo albums have
you made so far and how do you feel your solo music evolved over the
Paul Kirkpatrick: Ive made two solo albums so far, Soul
Connection around 2008 and now this one. The music has definitely
evolved in a very organic way in that on my first solo album I played
everything and it was far more electronic, with more experimentation
with samples and programming. On this album the rules were everything
had to be played and created with no samples and that led to a more
organic feel with the cello, trumpet, percussion, piano etc. I think
its my best work to date and Im very happy with the evolution
of the sound.
It took about 2 years to make as I had to fit it in around the Glitch
Code writing and recording and around the schedules of the musicians
I wanted to use. I decided to mix it myself as I had a specific way
I wanted it to sound that I had developed over the writing process.
mwe3: Who worked with you on the Omertà album?
You mention some of the players that appeared on the Glitch Code album
but Glitch Code singer Rachel Harvey is not on the Omertà
album. People who were amazed at the Glitch Code album artwork will
be even more delighted at the Omertà album art and packaging.
It almost seems like an equal amount of time was used to create the
album artwork, which is truly mind-blowing.
Kirkpatrick: On this album I worked with Rachel Dawson on cello
and backing vocals, Julian Todd on fretless and 6-string bass, Gordon
Foley on guitar and ebow, my son Christian Kirkpatrick on guitar (on
Ashes In The Snow), Ed Thorpe on trumpet and Mark Allen
on drums and orchestral percussion. Rachel Harvey is not featured
on this album
Shes saving herself for the new Glitch Code
album! I also used a local priest, the Rev. Julian Bowers, to recite
the Salve Regina at the end of Lay Preacher
in Latin. All is revealed in the screenplay.
Im really happy with how the artwork was developed. I had been
capturing imagery for a couple of years around the themes of the tracks.
We did a photo-shoot with Mel Bailley for the main images of the girl
and I then produced a series of digital collages for Laurence Stevens,
who also did the Glitch Code artwork, and between us we created the
44-page booklet. Weve created a series of postcards and prints
as well to go with this release, which look great and some of the
imagery has transferred onto the videos I have been making to support
mwe3: Omertà sounds very progressive, as in progressive
rock and also progressive soundtrack and even neoclassical / electronica.
Many albums these days are created in order to relate to a specific
market but it sounds like you went the other way and merged instrumental
music that will appeal to a wide range of musical markets. Did you
purposely add all of those elements into the mix?
Paul Kirkpatrick: Yes, because as the album is written as a
soundtrack it allowed me to experiment across genres to really capture
the emotion of the scene each track was portraying. I realized a lot
of the instrumental tracks were sounding like part of an overall piece
of work that gelled together even though it covered several styles.
are also a couple of improvisation pieces on the album, which were
tricky to do as they didnt have a specific time signature. Adding
more layers to these took longer than normal as I was literally calling
out the changes as we recorded and trying to remember what I had played!
We actually put the wavs on a big screen in the studio and played
to the timing of the playhead in Logic.
With the range of styles on the album it opens it up to a wider audience
but the key was still making it flow as one piece of work.
mwe3: Tell us about your studio set up. It sounds like Omertà
was recorded in a state of the art studio. I know you worked on the
Glitch Code album at Tony Viscontis former studio, Good Earth.
What do you look for in a recording studio, soundwise, what studios
are among your favorites and also tell us how you worked with your
mastering engineer, Barry Grint to get the sound right.
Paul Kirkpatrick: Actually, the recording of this album was
deliberately lo-fi and most of it was recorded in my home studio.
We used a studio nearby, called Premier Studios, for the final drums
and percussion but nearly everything else was recorded by me in the
Basilica, my studio. The beauty of this is I could spend
hours playing around with the sound and mixes. Gordon recorded the
guitar and ebow parts in his studio and we exchanged files until we
were both happy with the parts and the tone.
I like 59 Dean Street, formally Good Earth, as a studio because it
has a great mix of new and vintage kit. I often look for vintage compressors,
when seeking out a studio as I love the warmth
they add to the sound.
a chain of plug-ins I use to create my sound and at the last minute,
as I mixed the album, Tony Visconti and Eventide brought out the TVerb
plugin which completely changed how I was handling reverb in the mix.
Its based on Tonys 3 mic setup from his time working at
Hansa in Berlin and it works great across all the mix and individual
elements. I would have loved to have recorded at the original Hansa
but the big hall is no longer there.
Barry Grint is an amazing mastering engineer who owns and runs Alchemy
Mastering in London. Hes mastered and cut vinyl for the biggest
names in the business and I love watching him work and hone in on
a frequency that is bothering his ear, or making the snare drum really
sound tight by just tweaking an EQ here and there. Its definitely
an art form. We mastered most of the album in a day with just a few
changes here and there after listening back for a week or so. His
mastering room has great acoustics and you can hear every nuance of
the sound, which helps you really get the great bottom end on the
tracks, which is one part of Omertá that I really concentrated
mwe3: How many tracks did you compose for Omertà
and how did you decide on the final cut? Do you have some personal
favorites from the CD or are the songs all connected, making it hard
to choose favorites and were any tracks left off the final release?
Paul Kirkpatrick: All in all I recorded about 30 tracks and
cut that back to the final 18. I probably had about 10 possible running
orders and track sequence choices but the final 18 were chosen after
I completed the plotline for the film. The songs are all connected
in that they tell the whole story of the girl and her life from when
she was young to when she became a woman. The artwork features a line
of dialogue from each scene and that also relates to the tracks. I
knew I wanted to start and end the album with a version of the Omertà
theme and it was a case of building things from there
favorite track is Ashes In The Snow because its
the first track Ive released with my son playing lead guitar
and we had such a great time recording it together. I think it just
works as a piece of music and is very emotive and anthemic while at
the same time delicate and calming. Its definitely the best
cello refrain I have written and Julians beautiful fretless
bass just brings it to life!
mwe3: What keyboards were used primarily on Omertà
and has there been any news and/or developments in the gear / tech
world that captures your interest?
Paul Kirkpatrick: My favorite keyboard is my Kurzweil. The
piano, organ and Rhodes sounds are so rich and full. The piano
on The Code really shows this off, particularly on the
low notes. Im also a massive fan of Omnisphere from Spectrasonics
and all of the Native Instruments virtual instruments, particularly
Kontact and Reactor. Ive also used a lot of the Output virtual
synths on this release (Revs, Signal and Exhale). I actually had to
stop buying new virtual synths during the recording or I would never
have got the album finished!
Im always looking for new soft synths and plug-ins. Ive
got quite a few physical keyboards but I find them being used less
and less as I develop my sound and Im always looking for that
next special sound that can inspire a whole piece of music. Ive
just downloaded an Omnisphere extension pack based on the Joy Division
sound, one of my all time favorite bands, so thats going to
be fun to play with on the new songs.
mwe3: The liner notes for Omertà compares your
music to the way that Stanley Kubrick used Wendy Carlos and also The
Chieftains music in his movies. Do you feel that Kubrick would have
loved the music of Omertà? What are your favorite soundtracks
and can you compare your style to other composers that you like?
Kirkpatrick: I buy loads of soundtrack music, especially if Ive
seen the film and it had a big impact on the story, although I also
buy a lot from films Ive never seen. Im a big fan of Clint
Mansell, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, David
Arnold, John Barry, Herbert Gronemeyer and Ennio Morricone to name
but a few. My favorite soundtrack recently is the Ben Salisbury &
Geoff Barrow score for Ex Machina. Great film really enhanced
by the soundtrack.
It would be nice to think that Kubrick would enjoy Omertà
but I think I would enjoy him directing the film even more if he was
still with us!
mwe3: One of my favorite tracks from Omertà is
A Long Way From Home which is one of the more rock based
tracks. How does that track fit into the concept?
Paul Kirkpatrick: That track was one of the ones that was constantly
on and off the track list as it evolved. It is a more guitar-based
track with the strong acoustic, electric and eBow parts but it had
such a great energy about it that in the end it made the cut. Its
the track I imagine playing while the movie recounts a long journey
both physically and spiritually for the main character that eventually
brings her back to where she started the story. Thats why the
acoustic refrain comes back in again at the end to signal that she
has been on a journey but in the end there is no where to hide.
mwe3: Also Apparition is a wonderful Omertà
track. It relates to the girl in your screenplay, finding a way to
trap the murderous priest. The track has a great feeling of freedom
and expansiveness to it. Is that the way you see it? Who is playing
what on that track? It doesnt even sound like theres any
guitars on it yet it has a great driving beat with excellent female
Kirkpatrick: This track evolved over a couple of years and youre
right, there is no guitar on it. Its basically me on Rhodes,
piano and synths, Julian with a great fretless bass part and Rachel
on cello. You wouldnt believe the amount of drum patterns we
tried on this track to replace the guide hand claps I put down when
I was writing and, in the end, it was the hand claps that gave it
that presence! So we re-recorded them when we were doing the main
drum sessions with myself, Mark and the studio engineer Justin standing
round a mic clapping the 3 main patterns.
Interestingly the female vocal you can hear is me using
Symphony of Voices inside Omnisphere and then a whole heap of Tverb
and delay. I think its the harmony of the voice and the layered
cellos that give it that expansive sound with just a touch of percussion
here and there.
mwe3: Neon Gods is another Omertà
track that is very much rooted in progressive rock instrumental and
it relates to the part of the movie where the girl entraps the priest
and gathers her evidence. You can almost feel the neon lights of the
city scenes. It has great movement to it.
Paul Kirkpatrick: One of my favorites as well. Inspired by
some of the piano technique of early avant gard composer Erik Satie,
it has a nice piano/fretless answer bridge which was great fun to
record as I was trying to hum to Julian how the fretless bass should
answer the piano. It's inspired in the early part by films such as
Bladerunner with all the glitchy noise and cityscape background
noise. Really loose drums as well give it that nice feel and almost
military like rhythm. The toms were closely mapped to the fretless
which helps emphasize that part as well.
The theme from Omertà is truly harrowing sounding. It
relates to the start of the movie where the girl (as a child) sees
the priest (secretly a mafia hit man), kill his victim in the church.
Arent you afraid people will get nightmares from this or, are
the crimes of real life even more scary? I know I couldnt sleep
for days after seeing The Exorcist over Christmas in L.A. in
1973. Speaking of that movie, Mike Oldfield just happened to do that
film, after the fact by accident.
Paul Kirkpatrick: The theme from Omertà was deliberately
kept sparse and haunting and the intro and reprise swap lead instruments
in each version. The piano plays the string parts and the strings
the piano in each version, which gives a darker hue to the melody.
Hopefully no one will have nightmares! Mike Oldfield was certainly
in the right place at the right time and its one of those magical
moments when the two art forms, film and music, meet to produce a
spectacular audiovisual feast!
mwe3: All Is Now Lost is maybe my favorite cut
on Omertà. The synths are really soaring on that. What
synths keyboards are you playing on that track? Amazing, no overt
guitars (ebow?), yet its rock, prog and electronica wrapped
up in one. It sounds pent up as it relates to the part of the story
where the girl befriends the cop and she feels like its time
to expose the priest / murderer.
Paul Kirkpatrick: Yes, this is one of my favorites too and
believe it or not, the main synth sound was actually inspired by the
Abba track Arrival from their 1976 album of the same name.
I love the timbre of the instruments on that track and its stuck
in my head for years! The main synths are all Omnisphere and a synth
called Rounds from NI. There are actually about 12 guitar tracks on
there but we used a completely different guitar sound by experimenting
with the Axe FX2 ambient pre-sets and honing them to give the guitar
a more ethereal feel.
It has a lot of eBow parts as well but we have deliberately blended
the eBow and synths together to blur the lines between the two. Really
big drums on there too with lots of driving toms and sometimes using
the floor toms instead of the snare to give it that big tribal anthemic
feel. It builds nicely which is all the pent up anger and aggression
inside the girl and then bursts out at the end in to the more rock
beat and guitar/keyboard/piano refrain with the bass playing the harmony.
So now you have this amazing album with a complete story line yet
you still have to find a producer / director to put your gift as a
soundtrack composer to good use and finally make this incredible soundtrack
/ screenplay into an incredible movie. Also I know you have a lot
on your plate but you were speaking about another Glitch Code album
and you say youre always writing yet, it would be nice to make
Omertà into a masterpiece movie. Whats next?
Paul Kirkpatrick: Well getting a film off the ground is far
harder than writing and releasing an album but I am making some progress
on getting people interested in the concept so who knows where that
Ive actually started writing the next Glitch Code album which
is provisionally entitled Reconstructed Memories and the follow
up to Omertá which has a working title of Obsolete.
Im also planning how I could perform Omertá live,
perhaps with an orchestra, and working out if we could do a few Glitch
So lots going on as ever and Im looking forward to the next
year or so of promoting both projects while working on the next releases!