Sunday, 13 October 2013

Tomas Dvorak is a musician, composer and multimedia artist. His soundtrack for videogame Machinarium is his most recognized project to date, but he’s also been making waves with his band Floex, as well as the BBC and Discovery Channel reporting on his multimedia project Archifon.

Machinarium was a hit. It’s an award-winning game and many critics attributed its ‘elegant’ and ‘Pixar’-like qualities with the soundtrack in mind. The games success has left a huge impact on its composer, “it influenced both my career and me, musically. I stopped being afraid—I was always trying to solve problems with my music beforehand” says Tomas.

He’s a likeable guy. Smart and sharp-witted with his feet firmly on the ground—he’s even humble in retrospect of Machinarium. “It [Machinarium] was massive. Many people played it—maybe millions of people. I was really surprised when I received many, many mails from different people. I was like… what?!”

Amanita Design, (the company behind Machinarium) has confirmed that one of its older games, Samarost 2, is to be followed up by a third, Samorost 3. Though little has been revealed, the game is said to be in the same style as Samorost 2 and Machinarium, a puzzle point and click adventure game.
Dvorak has been booked to compose the Samorost 3 soundtrack, “I dare say it’s really beautiful. I’m excited about it,” he says. It’s been dominating his time so much that it’s been “almost impossible to perform” with his band and work in the studio all at once.

The soundtrack for Samorost 3 is to be fragmented—meaning that parts of the soundtrack are likely to go in different directions than the other parts. The game is to have different planets and these different planets, in Dvorak’s words, “have different needs.”

Floex resemble the conventions of a typical electro four-piece but almost every member has at least two or three tasks to do when performing. It’s backed up with complex music. Described as ‘electro-nu-jazz,’ it is as sophisticated as any jazz quartet, needing a high class of musicianship to pull off live.

Putting the band together was a challenge. “I didn’t put people together spontaneously. I have a friend who worked with me previously, he had really good contacts and he gave me a tip for a clarinetist. She [the clarinetist] wasn’t interested, but it was through her friends that I discovered a guy who I saw at a clarinet workshop. I really liked how he played, so we got him,” said Tomas. “For the drummer, I auditioned many and I found our singer, Sara [Vondraskova] gigging in a small café in Prague—I’d been looking to find a vocalist for almost a year beforehand. If I know what I’m looking for it comes.”

There are two videos that accompany the EP’s release—”Gone” and “Veronika’s Dream”—and they are definitely new territory for Tomas. This is the first time that he’s had professional video shoots to riff along with his music, “they’re a very important part of this EP—they’re the focus,” he said.

Both videos are complicated stuff, though Tomas hints that the process of making them was simple, “this project really attracted nice people, you know—it had beautiful energy. Usually there is lots of ego in the group, but here, we were all pulling together and being open,” he says.

The video for “Gone” was directed by Floex’s lyricist, Andrea Stuart, with Tomas taking a back seat, “I was more of a consultant on this one… this video is really her project. Andrea already had a really nice concept—she’s a very creative person.”

“Gone” is a dark piece of music, philosophical and serious in tone, and its video reflects this. It has a washed out grey palette accompanying the lyrics, which gloomily ask ‘where have you gone?’ “There’s a connection with the apocalypse in the video” explains Tomas. “She [Andrea Stuart] got a book for her birthday, which is about tapestries from a monastery not so far from Paris. She choose several images from those tapestries and converted them into modern scenes for the video shoot.”

The video for “Veronika’s Dream” is a cinematic piece that even plays like art cinema. The actors wear odd-looking costumes with gnarled masks, and are beautifully colorful and monstrous at the same time. Tomas was heavily involved in making this video, along with a bigger production team and director Tomas Hajek behind it. He laughs, “all the crazy things when I’m involved…”

“Veronika’s Dream” is full of metaphorical images—driven by suggestion over narrative. It begins with a woman being hunted by a wolf and ends with that woman preparing for a game of floorball.

“For these images to work there has to be some story and meaning behind it. First you see fear, then you’re fighting it and then you can destroy it. This is the metaphor that’s there,” says Tomas.

It’s easy to bring your own meaning to the video—the images are too esoteric to grab Dvorak’s definition right away, “of course, everybody can find their own [meaning].”

Likewise his music can be too enigmatic for explanation, ‘feeling it’ is often so much easier. Tomas reflects, “I’m really looking in my music for something real or more deep. For me, the emotions are still the most important message of the music. I’m just trying to express emotions that are more serious… really real.”

Dvorak tells of “thinking in melodies since his childhood” that’s stayed with him during his career. You can hear this through the different tones and colours of his work. His sound shines so brightly on its own – sometimes it’s the videogames that are playing Tomas Dvorak.

Written for Igloo Magazine - published 10/11/13

Posted by Posted by Andy at 11:48 am
Categories: Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,