About the Album
It’s truly an amazing thing to look back on the creative process of an album like Rapture. From its inception, this album was epic, with a well-defined concept and theme. When I started writing Rapture back in early 2009, I knew I wanted it to be an “album of emotions.” People had often described my earlier music as a “narrative,” which told a story. Music does tell stories, but at its heart it really is the universal language of emotion. I wanted to write music that embodied the essence of basic human emotions, at a more fundamental and instinctual level. It was this idea that sparked the album’s title, Rapture, which means “an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion” or “a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion.” This album is indeed both these things, because it is literally a manifestation of passion, and was written to carry away the listener by overwhelming emotion. I had even dubbed Rapture as the “red album” long before any album artwork had been conceived, because red is the color of passion and strong emotion.
Rapture is a very special album in many ways, one of which is how it was composed as a collective body of works. In the past I had composed my albums one song at a time, completing and naming a song before moving forward. Rapture is different because I decided to write the basic themes of all the songs simultaneously, before completing any one individual piece. This approach allowed me to create a more unified and cohesive collection of music, ensuring the album embodied the full spectrum of human emotions. Each song’s title was conceived completely independently of the music for the same reason. Only after all the basic themes had been completed did I then match up each title with a melody that felt right. Looking back, I recall it took a full year before this part of the process was finally finished, and I could then move onto each individual song. During this period I had composed nearly twenty original themes, but decided on only twelve of them to include in the album.
The evolution of Rapture from a collection of simple themes into a fully flushed out and developed album was truly a step by step process, and my greatest challenge in music to date. To be completely honest, there were no “easy” compositions on this album. I worked extremely hard on each song, sometimes taking literally months to figure out how to make it work. There were definitely moments of inspiration and clarity along the way, but those came in between many writing blocks and unproductive sessions at the piano. The real magic behind the success of Rapture was my sheer determination and love for the creative process. I love writing music, not just for the times when all the notes come easy, but for the times when they don’t. Nothing in the world is more satisfying to me than listening to one of my songs completed, after many weeks or months spent working it out. I held each song on this album to a far higher standard than any of my previous works. From the first to final seconds of each song; every note, harmony, phrase and dynamic was fully explored before committing it to recording. Simply put, I wanted every song to be the very best I could make it! Recording each of Rapture’s songs was handled with the same care and attention to detail as during the writing process. I’m also proud to say that this is my first album to be completely produced and mastered at my home based music and recording studio.
None of my albums would be complete without album artwork and packaging equally as compelling as the music. The artwork seen in this album was designed to be iconic, dramatic and emotionally charged. I was very fortunate to have a cover design created by the talented and eminent digital mixed media artist Michael Vincent Manalo of the Philippines. The cover of Rapture is an adaptation of one of his many iconic works entitled, The Musician. During the time Rapture was produced, I also relocated across the country to the gorgeous state of Washington, which had a profound impact upon the album art. Working once again with the gifted graphic designer Matt Strieby (of Newleaf Design), we decided to shoot all of Rapture’s photos at the beautiful and iconic Washington shoreline. Matt and I spent two days shooting hundreds of photos at the famous La Push, Second Beach and Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. Capturing the sheer beauty of these two breathtaking locations was both challenging and inspiring, and the images we left with have become an integral part of this album’s identity.
Here at the end of this journey I can finally become the listener, turn off all the lights and just take in the music. It’s been a long road getting to this point, but that’s what writing music is all about. I hope that each of you now listening to this album enjoys the music as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it!
– Michael Samson, February 2012