his first album from early 2011, Finest Hour, U.K. guitar wiz
Steve Bowe presented an instrumental guitar based / synth fusion
album depicting the Battle Of Britain. A brilliant moment on disc
in and of itself, that album is followed up by an even cooler and
more rocking set of instrumental electronica, Soundscapes released
late in 2011. Bowes guitar work was exemplary on Finest Hour,
while the 2011 CD release of Soundscapes sounds
somewhat more synthesized and keyboard driven. Theres still
plenty of Bowes driving and super kinetic keyboard / guitar
interplay but, at least compared to Finest Hour it sounds much
more digitized and computerized. Track 2 here, the completely brilliant
Queen Of The Nile sounds like Kraftwerk produced by Brian
Eno circa early Roxy Music. Clearly the vast array of Bowes
keyboard electronics brings the entire instro synth pop sound well
into the now, but his musical integrity sounds like it was shaped
by Eno and Bowie during the Low period circa 1977. It's rewarding
to see up and coming artists with talents as worthy as Steve Bowe,
committing to releasing replicated silvers of such intensely dynamic
mwe3.com speaks to
STEVE BOWE about SOUNDSCAPES
mwe3: You released two albums in 2011, first Finest Hour and
then Soundscapes. Can you compare the two albums stylistically
and sound wise? For instance I noted Soundscapes was somewhat
more keyboard driven and less guitar-centric than Finest Hour.
And can you say something about any differences in the recording
process between the two CDs?
Finest Hour was something of a concept project for me, based
on my pet subject, the Battle of Britain, as it was. However the integrity
of the music is really solid and I am immensely proud of it. Generally
it is more traditional in structure and sound than Soundscapes
which you could call more experimental, although maybe only a little!
Many of the themes and ideas in Soundscapes were actually conceived
during the construction of Finest Hour but left out because
either they did not work in the context or there was no room. So anyone
who listens to one after the other may well pick up on some common
elements, and this is also why Soundscapes followed on relatively
In terms of the sound, you are right, there is overall a more electronic
feel to Soundscapes. I can't give you a particular reason for
this other than it felt right for the particular tracks. I did, though,
preserve a more classical sounding production for a couple of pieces,
notably "Ile de la Cite" and "Caledonia". Beyond
the obligatory guitar solos, most of the tracks do actually feature
some element of guitar work, but it is subtly used or else twisted
beyond recognition! I will always be a guitarist first and foremost,
it's just that my chosen style of music sometimes makes it hard to
bring it to the fore.
There was little difference in the recording processes involved, although
since Finest Hour I had invested in a couple of new synths
and this may have contributed to some of the more interesting sounds
on the album! However what is important to me is to maintain accessibility
in the music and so even though I keep using the word "experimental"
this is all relative!
Can you say something about the great Soundscapes cover art.
It reminds me of a sci-fi flick and about how you create your incredible
videos on your Facebook page? I noted the Soundscapes montage
on YouTube and its really great.
I'm really pleased with the album artwork, it was done by Chris Bray
of Azhrei Art (azhrei.com)
and he's really done a great job. Chris is an old friend of mine from
my I.T. business days and has always been a keen producer of Sci Fi
and Fantasy artwork. However I had to work hard to keep him from covering
it with scantily clad women which are his forte as you can tell if
you take a look at his website! He also produced the sunrise sequence
you see at the beginning of the "Soundscapes" montage.
I take a small issue with you describing the videos as "incredible",
they are pretty basic really! I make them with some simple video editing
software I have invested in and I try to give the viewer something
more interesting than a blank screen to look at whilst they listen
to the music. But they do give me a straightforward means to establish
a YouTube presence which is important these days for any artist. I
am currently in the market for a video producer to hook up with in
order to produce some slicker promos for my work.
Are you planning to feature the Soundscapes outside of England,
for instance, the U.S, Asia, other places? Will the CD be available
on Amazon in the USA and I hope you're planning to keep making CDs
as opposed to download only. You did a great job on the Soundscapes
SB: Soundscapes and Finest Hour are already available
worldwide on download through iTunes. Likewise the CD is also available
worldwide through the BoweMusic website and Amazon, although it currently
markets through Amazon UK. USA Amazon users can (and frequently do!)
order it from there although it does mean international shipping costs.
Soundscapes will, however, be available imminently through
CDBaby in the USA on CD or download, in fact it may hopefully be there
by the time you are reading this. I am also currently working on getting
the CD available on shelf and/or order through record stores worldwide
and also a number of other online retailers. Watch this space!
For the foreseeable future, I do intend keeping my albums available
on CD as well as download, a big section of my fan base still prefers
a physical product. Indeed I tend to buy CDs myself and then rip them
to my iPod. It feels like you actually own something tangible then!
You also get the liner and decent artwork which I think is an important
part of the overall product that you just don't get with downloads.
It may seem a slightly old fashioned attitude but so what, there are
a still lot of old fashioned people out there so I don't feel alone.
It obviously adds a lot of cost to the production but to not have
a CD option cuts out a very big section of one's potential customers!
What musical plans have you got coming up in 2012?
SB: As I have indicated before, I really want to get a live act together
and start performing. It's the one big thing missing in my offering
thus far and I get a lot of requests for it. That's probably the biggest
single project for me but I also intend releasing a decent amount
of new material over the next few months and hopefully a third album,
probably in the spring. I'm also working on securing some licensing
arrangements for my material to be used in advertising and media.
It's a very exciting time overall with a lot to be working on!
to Steve Bowe @ www.BoweMusic.com