Inside the Music: Lux Tenebris Composer Nick Wales


23 February 2016

Nick Wales’ music is a hybrid between classical forms, electronic and popular music. Lux Tenebris is his fifth collaboration with Rafael Bonachela and his sixth work for Sydney Dance Company, including a collaboration with Sarah Blasko for the Emergence soundtrack in 2015. Nick speaks briefly on the process of composing music for Lux Tenebris:

The World is a fabric of suffering and pleasure;
in every action, good and evil dance together like a pair of lovers.
– The Dance of Reality by Alejandro Jodorowsky

“The Dance of Reality by Jodorowsky was a driving force in the early stages in the creation of the score. So too the idea that because something is dark, doesn’t mean it is ugly. There is an inherent beauty in darkness. My process involved finding musical landscapes that showed me light or darkness. I juxtaposed one force with another to create a musical ‘tug of war’ between light and the dark. I mashed pre-existing musical elements, field recordings and sketches together to form more layers until I created something that I believed in. Contained within the score are elements such as recordings of Pluto’s atmosphere, Monks in Seoul, the sound of beehives, archaic Ethiopian religious processions and fireworks in Lismore.

I was very drawn to the sound of urban and electronic club music to form part of the sonic landscape. I found it more relevant to infer the sound of underground electronica rather than literally imitate it. Rafael kept pushing me to make sections more dramatic, to ‘go over the edge’. He encouraged me to push into realms, to distort some sounds and musical sections to their near destruction and into a non-recognition. For the climax of the work, I have sought to express the sound of light and dark as dualistic forces… light shining through a dark chasm.”

– Nick Wales

In a recent interview with The Music, Nick further explains the sounds of this new work, “Raf always wants passion in what he does. Maybe it’s the Spanish in him.” For a composer this is clearly a great start point. “So, this one’s aggressive,” he adds. “Not so much for the sake of aggressive but there’s references to urban, club music. Very dark, almost tribal, sexual music, rather than cerebral.”

Though Nick Wales and Rafael Bonachela have worked together on various occasions, this was their first time collaborating without any additional artists. Rafael explained to the Daily Telegraph that he had known, even before he knew what the work would be called or the concept, that he wanted to work with Nick, “I wanted to go for bitter sounds, harsher sounds. I wanted to never know what was around the corner”.

Nick Wales spoke to Broadsheet Sydney on collaborating with Rafael Bonachela over the years, and mentions that he believes this may be their ‘best yet’. “This one feels different, we’ve really hit our stride and it feels like there’s a unity with both our visions,” Wales says.

Listen to more music by Nick Wales on SoundCloud here.

Other Credits for the music in Lux Tenebris include:

Music Mix
Bob Scott

Sound Engineers
Ilia Bezroukov, David Trump

Electric Violin
Veronique Serret

Electric Cello
Kate Moore

Double Bass
Maxime Bibeau

Additional Percussion
Laurence Pike

Freesound Samples 
suonho, atomwrath, match, mrauralization, bllouhound

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