Track By Track: Roger Goula – Overview Effect


Following work on award-winning films including 'Hard Stop', London composer and multi-instrumentalist Roger Goula's debut album ‘Overview Effect' interprets "the experience of looking at the Earth as it is in space". Based on the psychological shift in awareness reported by astronauts and cosmonauts while viewing the Earth from orbit, in transit between the Earth and the Moon, or from the lunar surface, it fascinated Goula. The album is influenced by baroque music and minimalism, but also by electronica such as Aphex Twin and Autechre. We asked him to talk further to us about this, and he provided some wonderful imagery too.


Colour & season: Warm Red. It's probably summer.

It is about the start of a journey and the realisation that things will change forever. This piece is about the excitement of the idea of the journey not knowing what’s behind, not knowing who you will become afterwards.


Colour & season: It’s an explosion of colours, like spring.

The inspiration for Awe, as the title suggests, is the ‘feeling of reverential respect mixed with wonder’ for the immensity and infiniteness of space. It starts slowly and cautiously, but rapidly will take us to a confident and beautiful theme, that represents Earth. From there it will flow to a slow build-up ending with a huge wall of sound taking us to zero gravity outer space.


Colour & season: It’s dark grey. It’s winter.

The instrumentation reflects our inner souls. It is a moment of reflection. We are floating in zero gravity and we are looking back to where we came from, realising there is no way back and that this change of perspective will render us different forever.


Colour & season: Deep intense blue. The end of winter, the start of spring.

The inspiration of the piece was the sample we hear at the beginning of the piece, which is the first transmission from Gagarin seeing Earth from space for the first time in human history. What is supposed to be a technical report on his wellbeing – overwhelmed by what he’s experiencing, his report becomes a poetic and philosophical speech about what it means to be human. He is probably experiencing the Cognitive Shift.


Colour & season: Bright colours – so bright that it blinds you. It’s summer.

It is like an unexpected punch in the face. It just happens, it’s there, and you don’t know where it came from. Suddenly what you thought you knew as reality has changed. You’re a new person and you can’t go back as your experiences are printed on you. ‘Overview Effect’ is a piece that plays with you. It transports you from one place to another without you noticing it.


Colour & season: Pale Blue colour. It’s Autumn. Here’s a picture taken from one of the Apollo missions that describes the feel of this piece. 


The inspiration behind this piece was actually this image and the fragility of Earth seen from far far away. The title ‘Pale Blue Dot’ comes from the description by Carl Sagan of Earth when seen from space. I knew the whole album would be related to the idea of the Overview Effect. I wanted to have a solo piece for each of the strings (violin, viola, cello) throughout the album, and Pale Blue Dot I wrote for the violin. I straight away felt that the music related to this image.


Colour & season: Relates to a texture more than a colour. It is possibly the texture of buildings in Venice, almost decadent but full of history and stories to hide. It is definitely an Autumn piece.

The inspiration behind the piece is a sample of a rope holding a small boat in Venice I recorded a few years ago. This cyclical motion produce by the laguna waves gave me that sense of stillness and timelessness, a very strong earthy feel that inspired me to generate those compact and repetitive chords that develop to nothingness.


Colour & season: It starts with a blinding white light that warms up to yellows and warm reds. It’s the end of summer, beginning of autumn.

It is about the fear of not being able to understand the logic of it all. For me it makes sense that the last piece is the one with voices, the human instrument. A diatonic cluster of voices opening up. We are back to Earth trying to understand what we have experienced.

Roger Goula – Overview Effect is released by Cognitive Shift and is out now.

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