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Cambridge musician Liam Taylor – aka Blue Alatar – releases new EP

Fusing world styles with rock and electronic genres, four-track EP The Elements is the second release from Blue Alatar – Cambridge composer and musician Liam Taylor.

Musician Liam Taylor in his studio. Picture: Keith Heppell
Musician Liam Taylor in his studio. Picture: Keith Heppell

Lead single Aeolus was released via BandCamp on May 21, and the EP will be available on all digital platforms from tomorrow (Friday, June 4).

Blue Alatar is an ongoing cinematic rock project, and this new EP draws inspiration from traditional Celtic styles. This is evident on the tracks Aeolus and Embers, which open and close the EP respectively.

Through the Centre of the Earth is more traditionally cinematic, employing a full orchestral sound with layers of guitar and sound design, while Dawn Ritual is a calm and contemplative track by comparison, directly influenced by the internet’s recent fascination with sea shanties.

Liam, 32, says: “My whole guiding principle for the last couple of years has been to try and make more stuff. I think that’s something that probably resonates with a lot of artists and musicians from this last year being in lockdown. Some of us have ended up with a bit too much free time so have really wanted to make more music.”

Liam was involved with the 2020 charity album Collabavirus – led by fellow Cambridge musician Jay Plent of Scatterchild – in aid of the Olympias Music Foundation.

He says: “My last album, which was released in 2018, took me about eight years to put together and that was the debut thing for this project, Blue Alatar.

“Listening back to it, I’m still not 100 per cent happy with any of the tracks that are on there, despite it having taken eight years. So I realised after that that I don’t think I’m ever going to be happy with anything I ever finish or release, so why not just release what I’ve got?”

Musician Liam Taylor in his studio. Picture: Keith Heppell
Musician Liam Taylor in his studio. Picture: Keith Heppell

Liam says that the idea for The Elements came from a desire to create something based around the four elements: earth, air, wind and fire. “I came up with that idea and then tried to think about what ways we could interpret these four elements into music,” he explains. “It started out as a five-track EP and I realised that’s a mad thing to do – to have an EP called The Elements and try to release it as five tracks.

“What am I saying the last element is? Plasma, I think, from a scientific point of view. Or if you want to get into esoteric religion, I think the self or the soul is supposed to be this fifth element... I thought about that for a while and I thought, ‘No, that’s too high a concept for me’, so I got rid of one of the weaker tracks.”

Liam’s 2018 10-track album, Irradiated Hamster Alert – also released under the Blue Alatar moniker – was, he says, “quite hard rock instrumentals with lots of synthesisers, lots of cinematic sound design, lots of orchestral phrases and little bits of world instruments.”

For this new project he wanted to take the numerous layers of that album and “strip it back a little bit”. “Despite being a rock guitarist for most of my musical career, the guitars have really taken a step back in this EP, and I’ve delved into more organic instruments, more folky traditions,” he says.

“I was raised on folk music by my dad listening to a lot of Planxty Irwin, Cambridge Crofters... and then later my older brother was into Led Zeppelin and The Levellers – so that sort of folk music with a rock fusion kind of stuck with me. That’s really what this EP is about; it’s trying to think about how to evoke the idea of elements into music using more organic, traditional instruments.”

One lesser-known instrument to feature is the uilleann pipes, an Irish instrument sonically similar to the bagpipes but, notes Liam, “a bit gentler”.

The Elements is out tomorrow (June 4). The lead single, Aeolus, is out now. For more, visit ltguitarist.com.

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