Friday, April 19 2024

Welcome to a genuine journey though musical landscapes. Today, we delve into the ethereal realms of ‘GUITARWORKS,‘ an album by Mortal Prophets, where ambient guitars, experimental nuances, folktronica vibes, and cinematic soundtracks converge. Originating from the vibrant heart of New York City, John Beckmann, the mastermind behind the music and cover art, has intricately woven a tapestry of interconnected soundscapes that beckon us to explore the spaces between us and within ourselves.

Thanks for joining us John. Can you share more about the inspiration behind the circularity of the journeys in ‘GUITARWORKS’ and how it reflects on the interconnectedness of spaces and emotions?

It’s interesting that you picked up on that aspect of the sound, the tracks are composed as series of guitar refrains or riffs, that build up, then subside, then start up again, mirroring themselves, call it a study in difference and repetition.


The album seems to blend various genres like Ambient, Experimental, Folktronica, Cinematic, and Soundtracks. How did you approach the process of creating a cohesive sound while incorporating such diverse elements?

That’s true, it embodies all of those influences. It’s not something I planned. For example on this particular album, this series of instrumental songs just coalesced over a relatively short period of time, several months at most. Then suddenly I realised that I had more than enough material for an album that would be very cohesive, that would tell a story, and take the listener on a journey of some kind. 

The titles of the tracks, such as ‘Ascension,’ ‘Topanga Canyon,’ and ‘Martian Daydreams,’ evoke vivid imagery. How did the choice of these titles contribute to the overall narrative or theme of the album?

I usually give the songs a tentative title once they are finished, usually the first thing that comes to my mind. ‘Topanga Canyon’ is the only piece that’s named after a place, all of the others are named after an affect. ‘Topanga Canyon’ adds to the narrative as an important place for music in the 1960s of course, I felt attracted to it when I was visiting LA. Seemed liked it had a nice vibe.

The presence of voices in tracks like ‘Luminescent’ and ‘Volk Folk’ adds a unique dimension. Could you elaborate on the decision to incorporate vocals and how it enhances the overall listening experience?

I love to use voices in the background of songs quite often, they add a heavenly or spiritual quality, a longing, at least in my mind they do. I’ve been working with these three radical female artists from Munich called ‘Dämmerungschor.’

‘Martian Daydreams’ is described as epitomising the album’s wonders with a combination of radio waves and linguistic impulses. Can you delve deeper into the creative process behind this particular track and its significance within the album?

Perhaps so, there is a sense of deep mystery there, it starts with a group of reversed guitars, then starts to build with a layering of several drifting guitar passages, and a flute carries the main melody, then it kind of reflects upon itself, collapses and starts again. So its about repetition and difference, that hopefully evokes the reverie of a daydream.

With the completion of ‘GUITARWORKS,’ what can listeners anticipate in terms of your future musical endeavours? Are there any upcoming projects or directions you’re excited to explore next?

I’ve been working on a great deal of new material for 2024. Pinning it all down is difficult because I have an experimental nature and all of the new songs and concepts are quite varied, from an imaginary film soundtrack set in the 1960s (tentatively called ‘French Summer,’ an opera ‘Hanussen: The Enigmatic Clairvoyant’), to a series of alternative /indie EPs and albums. I can say that the EP ‘Sleeping in My Bed,’ which releases on March 15, will be the last part of the post-blues trilogies for the present moment. I’m moving every which way at once.

And, finally… a question just for fun: If ‘GUITARWORKS’ were the soundtrack to a visually stunning movie set in New York City, which actor or actress would you choose as the lead character, and what would be the central theme of the movie?

Interesting question. I don’t see it as being set in NYC, I see it in California, New Mexico, Arizona or Texas, someplace with a majestic beauty. A soundtrack based on a Cormac McCarthy story, starring Tilda Swinton, Kate Blanchett, Joachim Phoenix, and George Clooney.

Thanks so much for taking the time to delve deeper with us John.

John Beckmann has not only created an album but an experience that resonates with both warmth and mystery. Stay tuned for more from Mortal Prophets, as their future endeavours promise to lead us down diverse and uncharted musical paths. Until next time, let the echoes of ‘GUITARWORKS’ linger in your mind.

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About Author

Matt Warren

Matt Warren is a Cheshire based musician who studied contemporary music and composition. When not writing for The Indie Grid he enjoys watching 'Breaking Bad' on continuous loop and going to gigs. Since a youngster his fave band have been 'The Beatles' (with 'Cardiacs' in at a close second)... and this still applies to this day.

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