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103 Among the Stars and Bones – Oliver Morris – Pandemonium – How I Make Music

103 Among the Stars and Bones – Oliver Morris – Pandemonium

I’m a fiend. I just I make music. I can’t stop. It’s nicotine and music. Those are my two vices.

Oliver Morris, composer, “Among the Stars and Bones” audio drama

Join Oliver Morris, composer for audio drama Among the Stars and Bones as we take a trip into alien archeology. An immersive listening experience. Headphones recommended.


00:00 INTRO

Okay. The piece of music we’re listening to in the background is called Pandemonium. It’s a theme from Among the Stars and Bones, an audio drama about a team of xeno-archaeologists investigating alien ruins on a distant world. Today we’ll break it down and get into why and how it was made. I love doing voiceovers. You’re listening to How I Make Music, where audio drama composers get to tell their own stories. In this show, we break apart the music of fictional podcasts and take a trip into how it was made. My name is Oliver Morris. I’m a composer from Bedfordshire. And this is How I Make Music. Welcome back to How I Make Music, Pandemonium from this audio drama Among the Stars and Bones by me, Oliver Morris. Thanks for listening in.

1:36 ABOUT

Among the Stars and Bones is a xeno-archaeological horror show. Chris, the writer, he was like you did the theme for Modern Fae and I was like yes I did. I didn’t know a lot about it other than the fact that it was a xeno-archaeological horror show, which was just the best combination of words that I had heard in a pitch document ever, because you’ve got xeno for aliens and then archaeology. So I was very excited to make this piece of music that was going to build and grow along with the show. The show itself is about a bunch of xeno-archaeologists who get together to go investigate this ancient dead alien civilization. They find relics from it, and then they start to get convinced that the relics are controlling them in ways and it goes to some wild places for sure. Take us to outer space! Chris Magilton is the writer of Among the Stars and Bones. Oh no, wait, hold on. I’ve mispronounced that already. Go me. Chris Marlington Chris McClinton. Hold on. I feel really bad. Chris Magilton. Magilton. Magilton. Chris Magilton. Chris Magilton, the writer, and he also plays Ben on the show. I only know him as ‘ungodly hour’ because that’s the time that he always contacts me. Sorry Chris.


I own approximately 27 guitars. I play keys. I do at all. My intro into composing properly was for my podcast Kane and Feels, Paranormal Investigators. Kane and Feels, Paranormal Investigators, a horror noir audio fiction show. Which is just very funky from beginning to end. That’s how I kind of got my start in composing. I’m a fiend. I just I make music. I can’t stop. It’s nicotine and music. Those are my two vices.


When we started kind of composing, I asked Chris if there’s anything he wanted it to sound like and he was like, well I do really like the Half-Life video games. I love the soundtrack of Half-Life, which are these wonderful, industrial synthetic beats. Play scientists with a crowbar, it’s one of the more bizarre opening concepts to a thing. You’re like hitting undead zombies with a crowbar. Delving into the back catalogue of that was joy. Doing that sort of initial kind of figuring out of what the sort of the timbre of the piece was going to be like. I’m a big fan of an Australian band called Pond, who wrote a song called Giant Tortoise. Huge, soul-evaporating baseline. And I was like, how soul-evaporating a baseline can I come up with?


The piece itself is a waltz. So it’s in 123. So we had these piano lines. One of the piano lines we eventually switched over to a marimba. We used bit crushing on it until it sounded like something that a servo could sing something that a piece of machinery could sing. You can get like orchestras of servos now. Somebody will play Smells Like Teen Spirit on 50 dead hard drives from computers. Were sort of building up the rhythm section, trying to make it sound as digital as possible, trying to make it sound as kind of inorganic as possible. without actually succumbing to a boom clap. This hi hat that’s just going to and a couple of little toms sound like they come straight from Kraftwerk. There we go! The German lads.


We had this boom bap. I was inspired by pointillism. The art style where you kind of draw lots of little dots and then it creates a sort of grander picture from very simple, kind of movements of the pen. It’s making beats but with the bare essentials of it, like making sure that you’re not using too much or too little, just enough as much kind of reverb as one could legally get away with. The other bit was a sort of spaceship drone, which was just this big and low humming. And then the atonal bubbles. Big retro synth. I love this sound. This was the sound that came straight from Wolf 359 for me. Beautiful swirling. There’s a bit of trepidation in that second chord. The big retro synth used to be a guitar part. But Chris’s brother is in a shoegaze band and he was like ‘if I hear another second of shoegaze I’m gonna fall apart’. Which is kind of funny, because Pond is a shoegaze band and so I still took influences from shoegaze. I’m sorry Chris. Please forgive me Chris. I own 27 guitars, what can I say?


So when I was working with Chris, we came to it very quickly that we were going to need three themes. We’re going to need one for the slow build, one for when it starts to get a bit wobbly, and then one for the final show. So initially, we called them Patience, Purpose and Fuck. We renamed Fuck to Pandemonium, which is the track that we’re talking about today. The basis of all three of the tracks is very slow, meandering, bom, bom bom. We fiddled a lot with the the piano sound. Eventually we sort of stuck with this ba-da-da-dum-doo-doo-doo. Had a real sense of drama to it. And then I was like, I need something to really nail this home. I was just, you know, playing around with these big bass sounds and trying to get something. And then it was only when I put a phase distorter on it, that was when it all just came together. Basically, it was just wow. And like, even when it was like settled down, you could just hear it kind of humming and trying to escape its parameters!


We’d had this ticking sound that had been going on throughout the whole piece. And we were like, right. Final Episode. Final stretch. The clock strikes 10. You’ve got to have that sound in there. So I think this is just the sound that I got from Freesound under Creative Commons zero. So shout out to Freesound for the majority of my professional career. I think that’s everything. I think I’ve spoken more about this right now than I’ve ever thought about it.

14: 26 OUTRO

That’s about it for this week’s episode. We’ll listen to the full composition in just a moment. But before we do that, thank you for listening to How I Make Music. Catch new episodes on or wherever else you listen to podcasts. We’ve been listening to the music featured in the audio drama called Among the Stars and Bones. To hear the full story or to check out my other work follow the links in the show notes. I recommend Kane and Fields. We video recorded this episode, much to my horror. Check it out and support the musicians of audio drama by becoming a patron at And now, here’s Pandemonium, the theme in its entirety. My name is Oliver Morris and thanks for listening to How I Make Music. Catch you next time


Among the Stars and Bones audio drama
Oliver Morris
Kane and Feels audio drama
Chris Magilton


Music: Nuclear Mission Jam by Kelly Bailey (from Half-Life, 1998)
Music: Giant Tortoise by Pond


How I Make Music is where audio drama composers get to tell their own stories. In a dramatically edited sound experience, we challenge composers to break apart a song, soundtrack or composition and get into why and how it was made.

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How I Make Music is created by John Bartmann