The Dark Angel Symphony is Peter Connelly’s most recent project of bringing music from his Tomb Raider scores: The Last Revelation, Chronicles and Angel of Darkness.
We asked him a few question about how it all came to life.
As goes with such projects, it’s had share of ups and downs, but Connelly, with the help of dr. Richard Niles, assembled and prodcued a 38 track album with essential tracks with live orchestra. We asked him a few question about how it all came to life and how to process unfolded.
gamemusic.net: Firstly, I want to congratulate you and the entire team for making this happen. Reading about the release of TDAS, I quickly began thinking what was the premise idea behind that project and how has it all started?
Peter Connelly: Thank you for the lovely kind words, they’re hugely appreciated. This is an idea I had around 2012/2013 so I put it on my my Music Page a few years later (see here) to see what sort of feedback I would get and was super overwhelemed at how well received the idea was so it was, from then on, a case of working out all the logistics and who I would get involved etc..
gamemusic.net: The whole process took 4 years. Did you encounter any major obstacles? What do you wish you knew beforehand? That period is longer than a typical score production process and seems like a way bigger effort in some ways.
Peter Connelly: The main full-on production of the project was around 2 years but the ideas have been flowing for, actually, longer than 4 years… BUT… the main obstacles were trying to get everyone in the same room at the same time, raising the funding (which came to 3x what we raised on KS) and, a big dent in our work flow was due to situations outside of our control but, professionally speaking.
I shouldn’t get into them right now but, let’s just say, as an example, the initial 6 months delay, after we first wanted to announce our project, was dictated to us off the back of another similarly themed project when it delayed its delivery.
There were many issues with the original recordings I always wanted to fix. – Peter Connelly
gamemusic.net: About finding the pieces you wanted to re-do in TDAS, did you have good access to the source material? I’ve read that you had to extract some files while keeping everything in check in an Excel sheet.
Peter Connelly: I have all of the music I ever wrote, mostly in MIDI files which I then passed to Richard Niles and that’s where he did their magic. I had to limit the amount of tracks to re-imagine as we made 1/3 of the original £180k goal so had to cut back on production.
gamemusic.net: What was your working dynamic with Dr. Richard Niles like? You mentioned that he brought the project to a whole new level so I’m curious what kind of workflow did you guys have.
Peter Connelly: Richard Niles is an amazing guy and SUPERB arranger / musician. I first heard his works in the 80’s and I specifically head hunted him to do this project. Without him, there would be no TDAS. Pun intended but, I left him to his own devices as I didn’t want to start butting in here and there, potentially taking away the creativity which makes him tick. VERY few bits, not even worth mentioning, got changed… IMO, he nailed it first time.
gamemusic.net: How do you strike a balance between new sound and the sound of the older pieces and charming nostalgia that comes with them? TDAS sounds fresh, but still very close to the original.
Peter Connelly: The Direction on TDAS was to remain faithful to the originals but, in no way, was to be a like for like so I let Richard loose on the original MIDI files and he did what he did. I love how you hear the original themes but they’re done in a much fresher way and, as we had 1/3 of the budget, we used less than half of the orchestra we used in Angel of Darkness but, as Richard is such a seasoned arranger / conductor, he can squeeze out a LOT with minimal instruments. He had a VERY hard job but I knew he’d deliver.
gamemusic.net: TDAS is a part of a broader notion of breathing new life into old music. Why do you think such projects gain this much traction? As you were reading comments from fans and/or kickstarter donors, what seemed to have been the driving factor from their perspective?
Peter Connelly: From my perspective, there were many issues with the original recordings I always wanted to fix, stuff that the fans probably don’t even hear or pick up on but, writing the music from the ground up, back then, I always had an idea of where I wanted it to go but, although some of the tracks turned out superb, some just didn’t tick all my boxes.
The TR4 and TR5 music always screamed out to be played by a live orchestra so I am glad I eventually got the chance to do this. It’s good having them all “under the same hood”, giving them the same treatment.
It was surreal and certainly like being thrown into a time capsule. – Peter Connelly
gamemusic.net: While digging into the scores and thinking about the sound for TDAS, is there anything you noticed that you would have done different now? What tracks seemed the best to put on the album?
Peter Connelly: Personally, I would change very little. No matter how meticulous you are in organizing and learning from previous experiences, it never goes 100% to plan… even if I did it all again, something could always be done or planned better. The only thing I would change is, and I’m clutching at straws here, is have more than one French Horn and making sure we had more takes in preparation for final mix down.
My favorite tracks are “The Last Revelation”, “Chronicles” / “She Will Live on Forever in our Hearts” and “Dance of the Lux Veratatis” (this was probably the main reason I wanted to do this again, the original AOD version just didn’t cut it for me). I like them all really and that says a lot as I usually hate EVERYTHING I do, lol.
gamemusic.net: Continuing the previous question, it’s been quite some time since The Last Revelation. As you were making TDAS, did you encounter any tracks that brought back memories like: „Oh man, this track was so much fun to do” or „I was on that track for ages”. Speaking generally, how did it feel reliving that process of recording music from Tomb Raider again?
Peter Connelly: It was surreal and certainly like being thrown into a time capsule. It was really interesting going through all the original MIDI files and remembering how I used to write stuff as, 20 years on, I now write a lot differently.