Inspiration Through Music: Portishead

Apologies. Nearly a week late with this week’s Inspiration Through Music. My excuse, while being almost exactly the same as the one given in my Cooking Adventures blog, also consists of me working on a new project which I’ve had a hard time tearing myself away from. But, it really is due to the fact that I had some very inspirational music to listen to and was just in the mood to write. When I’ve got a good playlist of music, it really keeps me going. And if you’re a writer, you’ll understand that when you do have that inspiration, it’s best to get as much down as you can, as quickly as you can. One of the songs that has been really pushing me along has been “Roads” by Portishead, the first in the list below of some groovy trip-hop delights. I’ve been listening to this song as I work on my new apocalyptic novel which is turning into a romance of sorts. Of course, I don’t like to do things mainstream, so the romance is especially sad and definitely not your average one.

Portishead is an English trip-hop/downtemp0/electronic band formed in 1991. They are one of the pioneers of the trip-hop music genre and are a relatively well known group. I was introduced to them when I found a youtube video using their song “Wandering Star” a few years back. It immediately conjured a bevy of dark images and inspirations for use on my antagonist of my book at the time (which I will be finishing within the coming year). After listening to their music for a while, I was introduced to the song “Machine Gun” last winter. This song was destined to become one of my favorites and spur on much of the inspiration for my upcoming book, “Aequitas.” Today, I’ll be sharing 5 of Portishead’s songs with you and how they inspire me.

Roads: A silver car travels down a deserted road in the middle of night. The neighborhood is dark all around them, signs of destruction at every turn. The woman driving the car tries to keep her eyes on the road ahead of her but can’t help but be distracted by the carnage. Just yesterday, everything was normal. How had everything spiraled into nothing in such a short amount of time? Until she got somewhere safe, there was no where she could call home except for her car, for the roads she would travel. And there was no one with whom she could speak except for the man in the passenger seat, a man she thought had died many years ago. The confusion and the fresh sting of losing those close to her almost overwhelms her the further she drives. Tears stain her face. The man reaches over and puts a hand on hers. He doesn’t need to say anything. He understands her pain, he feels the same. ((I’ve been listening to this song while working crazily on my new apocalyptic book.))

Machine Gun: I’ve mentioned this song before in a previous Inspiration Through Music but since it’s in my top ten favorite songs, I thought it deserved being listed again. This song heavily inspired the character, Reid, in my upcoming book, “Aequitas.” When I first heard the song, I remembered that my ears actually couldn’t take the snare drum at the beginning. The more I listened to the song and the haunting ballad being sung by Beth Gibbons, I knew that I was hooked. The song speaks volumes for Reid’s character in Book 2 of The Monstrum Chronicles. Reid is just beginning to discover that he really is alone and that he must make the hard decisions that need to be made without any help. He also wishes he could do what’s better for him but choices have already been made for him by other people and he’s having a hard time grappling with those. In a sense, things seem like they are being forced onto his shoulders, things that he didn’t want because others actually were responsible for them. This is a pretty heavy theme through the book and this song kicks it off as I listened to it while I wrote the prologue of the book.

Over: One of the eeriest and yet sexiest songs I’ve heard by Portishead, the song deals with a character who has ignored reality and embraced a “fantasy” that they’re finding themselves lost in. I began work on a story several years ago dealing with a woman who was cheating on her fiance with a man she met at a classical music concert. She’s begun to feel as though the house where she and her fiance live is always empty, that she spends too much time alone in it, that possibly her fiance has fallen out of love with her because he’s away so often. She begins frequenting musical concerts at the local theater during Christmas and is charmed by a handsome man with a  glorious voice that makes her spine tingle. And as they spend more and more time together, the rationality of her actions comes back to haunt her causing her to lie and for the guilt to overtake her. No matter which way she turns, she feels as though she is going mad.

Glory Box: An old pool hall rests on a back road just outside the city limits. Beneath a medley of red lights and within a smoke wafted atmosphere, a lady enters the bar, dressed up in a stunning red dress. Activity seems to come to a halt in the bar as they all stare at her. She walks further into the bar, her sights kept directly ahead of her. She’s staring at a man near the end of the bar counter who hasn’t yet noticed her presence. When she’s finally within a few feet of him, he takes notice of her and freezes on sight. Everyone else in the bar has now stopped moving entirely. They’re all watching. The man calls her by her name, questioning what she’s doing there. A tear falling down her cheek, the lady pulls a gun from her purse and shoots him within a few seconds. The man collapses. Chaos erupts all around as people duck under their tables and hit the floor. She watches as he slides to the floor and then turns and stalks out of the bar.

Wandering Star: I’ve always imagined this song being sung from the point of view of an antagonist. When I work on “Memento Mori: Book 3 of The Monstrum Chronicles”, this is my inspiration while working on Torrent. I’ve said before that the story takes us back to the incident at Seraphim City that began all of the events in the series, the moment where Torrent almost destroyed a human city. In this book, we see Torrent unhinged and broken in a way. He isn’t the cocky, fun protagonist we knew in “Vox” or will see in “Aequitas”. And to me, Wandering Star has just the right beat and set of strange lyrics that give me that “coming unhinged” feeling.

Next time on Inspiration Through Music (Monday September 3rd), I’ll be delving into the music from the television series, “Fringe” and sharing more about my apocalyptic romance novel with you. Stay tuned!



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