Stories from our Sol is a two time international award-winning, theater of the mind space odyssey, based on 10 historic missions from NASA, ESA, and the Soviet Union. The project was led by Jesse James Allen, a composer whose 2021 album "Cassini: A Musical Tribute" became a three time internationally award winning score.
01 - PRELUDE
02 - LUNA 3
03 - MARINER 10
Mariner 10 was a mission launched in 1973 by NASA to explore the planet, Mercury. It was also the first to use a gravitational assist from another world (Venus).
Mercury, much like the surface of our own moon, is a place of magnificent desolation. It is also a lonely world without a moon. A little known fact about Mariner 10, most probes in this era were built as twins like Pioneer 10 & 11, Voyager 1 & 2. Mariner 10 had no partner probe so this track was written to have a lonely, yet thoughtful feel to it to convey the parallels of the planet and probe.
Primarily I orchestrated with the Spitfire Audio Lab’s libraries for their lo-fi feel as well as the BBC orchestra but used the Native Instruments “Grandeur” piano as the heart of the opening movement.
In the second part, I raise the intensity starting with telemetry sounds from the HG Fortune Altair, drums made from Native Instruments Reaktor, Heavyocity mutations, and operatic vocals from Ghost Hack. This movement is to represent the feel of this lonely world drifting in front of our magnificent sun.
04 - PIONEER 10
05 - VENERA 9
I have long been fascinated with the Venera 9 story and had a field day making this score for it. I based the feel off the images that were sent back from this probe that can easily be found online. There is also an audio recording from one of the later Venera that I listened to as a reference for the all-original sound design of the landing heard in this story, though I designed my version more from a 3rd person perspective.
The opening feel of this track was orchestrated primarily with the Native Instruments Absynth, if you haven’t noticed a trend with the other tracks, Absynth is for sure one of my favorite synthesizers. The lower register was built with the Heaviocity Mosaic Voices.
The drums are the Water Filled Taikos from the Impact Soundworks “Sonic Ocean” instrument that was also used on the “Enceladus” track for the Cassini Album.
As the listener gets further into this track the Soundiron Venus Choir sings a progression that is reflective of the “Rendezvous With Venus” theme from Cassini: A Musical Tribute. Since Viking arrived Decades before Cassini, this version has a more orchestral arrangement about it using the Spitfire BBC orchestra as a foundation.
That beautiful synth sound at the end is a heavily processed Native Instrument’s Analog Dreams sound that is running through an IK Comprexxor and Audio Damage EOS reverb. Supported again by the NI Absynth. That is to represent the wonder of the Venusian surface.
06 - VIKING 1
Viking 1 was a mission launched in 1975 by NASA and it would be the first spacecraft to successfully send back images from the surface of Mars.
07 - GIOTTO
Giotto was a mission launched by the European Space Agency in 1985 to study and photograph Halley's comet. It became the first spacecraft to reach Halley's Nucleus.
This wonderful story is about the European Space Agency and its mission to chase down Halley's comet. I remember seeing the Comet in 1986 from the top of Mt Evans, Colorado as a teenager and it was a majestic, unforgettable sight.
Under that narrative, I wanted to create music that was more era-specific for the 1303 backstory of Giotto di Bondone. You might think something like a harpsichord would be a good choice but that instrument wasn’t invented until the 16th century. So the harp was the appropriate instrument.
In the main score, the powerful synth that kicks the whole thing off was NI Reaktor Rounds, a synth that before this album I hadn’t really experimented with much. I really loved the texture of this bass sound. The real-time dynamic control of rounds made it a lot of fun to program with.
The lead line that happens before everything kicks off with the orchestra was done with the Arturia Matrix 12 and the IK 1984 Polysynth (OB-Xa)
East-West Stromdrum provides the percussion support on this track.
Beyond this, as the track progresses I use the CM Genisis synth, Arp 2600, Solina, Casio CZ, Matrix 12, and the Project SAM Strings.
The ominous choir sounds were derived from the Sound Iron Venus Choir and the 8dio Supercluster.
08 - VOYAGER 2
Voyager 2 was a mission launched in 1977 by NASA to study the outer planets. It was the first spacecraft to reach Neptune.
Of all the historic missions, Voyager really holds a special place in my heart as it was going on for the entire duration of my childhood. Mr. Carl Sagan was of course a big part of that mission and someone who was a big hero of mine as he inspired an entire generation of astronomers through his TV show Cosmos.
The core sounds for this score are made with NI Massive X and of my favorite synthesizers the Korg Wavestation. The UVI Falcon 2 provides the bass and piano FX support.
In the later parts of the score, I use the 8dio-Supercluster, HG Fortune Avatar ST, The IK (Yamaha) SY99, and Arturia Solina as the orchestration.
09 - GALILEO
Galileo is by far the most complex score on the album. The idea here is to represent the descent of the Galileo atmospheric probe into the heart of Jupiter. The session turned into a 58 channel mega-session to represent all the layers of the Jovian atmosphere.
Spitfire Audio Labs, 8dio Supercluster, and IK sample tank cinematic drums provide the opening percussion.
As with the Pioneer 10 Track, this one also echos the “Winter at Jupiter” theme from Cassini: A Musical Tribute. A theme that is largely built with the Native Instruments Absynth and Arturia Minimoog.
The lower atmosphere movement was created with the NI Reaktor modular synthesizer and the Riged Audio AQUIVER.
The heart of the Jupiter section was created with the Mars Symphonic Men's Choir by Soundiron, the NI Absynth & Monark, Spitfire Labs, and UVI Falcon
The massive leadline synth solo from this track was created with the Arturia (Oberheim) Matrix 12, stacked with the IK 1984 Polysynth (OB-Xa)
The ending was actually added months later when I was exploring the UVI Falcon’s new sequencer update.
10 - DAWN
This track exploring the little-known dwarf planet Ceres starts off with a simple orchestration of the Spitfire Labs and NI Absynth.
The Project SAM strings build out the main body of the piece supported greatly by Orlando Violist Daniel Cortes who played two layers of this piece to make it so beautifully human.
The Choirs are programmed from the Soundiron Olympus library.
The pad break that happens ¾ through the score was created with Arturia Pigments, Oberheim Matrix 12, and Rigid Audio Perception.
The ending brings all these elements together for a cinematic conclusion.
11 - NEW HORIZONS
As the tribute to Carl Sagan on the Cassini album, I use a simple piano from the UVI Keysuite. This is to represent the humble beginnings of astronomer Clyde Tombaugh and his infinite curiosity.
The track proceeds to build on beautiful string work performed by Orlando Violist Daniel Cortes and evolves further with vocals by Paul Austin Sanders.
“Elizabeth said it's among the stars
Wanderers of the night, there are 8 so far
It’s there and I still believe
That this one is yet to be seen”
In the song the name Elizabeth is mentioned, referring to Elizabeth Langdon Williams who was a brilliant mathematician, a human-computer, and an astronomer. Her theory and calculations were the foundation for Clyde Tombaugh's physical discovery of Pluto by helping him know what region of space to search in.
Pluto was long considered the 9th planet until 2006 when it was demoted to a dwarf planet like Ceres.
The original Greek definition of a planet is Wanderer. They believed planets were simply wandering stars.
My goal was to create a score that embodied the spirit of curiosity and wonder that Clyde had. His story is an inspirational one on many levels. This piece has many human elements to it to make it grounded in more traditional music. I explained to the performers Clyde's theme is like a sea shanty, starting with an instrument melody, then one voice than many. We as humans are really just setting sail into the uncharted waters of the universe. By coming together in unison we will continue to discover lands beyond our wildest dreams.
Synths used on this track:
Cherry Audio (ARP) Quadra, UVI Model D Keysuite for Falcon 2, IK Multimedia Miroslav Philharmonik 2, East West Symphonic Choirs, Spitfire Audio BBC Orchestra & Labs.
THE STORYTELLERS & MUSICIANS
Jesse James Allen
Jesse James Allen is an Orlando based composer. Jesse has had a 30-year history as a professional creative, from working on 53 AAA video games to media creation for theme parks and museums around the world. He has been a part of 11 internationally award-winning projects and a Billboard #1 remix album.
Anzhelika is an architectural designer with a deep passion for master planning and urban design. In 2014, Anzhelika moved from Russia after finishing her Master in Architecture, to Gainsville Florida to study at the University of Florida for a Master of Science in Architectural Studies. She now calls Orlando home.
Growing up in Russia, Anzhelika and her grandfather Veniamin, used to sit under the night sky, looking at the Milky Way. Her grandfather taught her the names of the constellations and sparked her interest in the magic of the Cosmos.
Bernice Chaberier is a Taino Storyteller from Central Florida who was part of the metaverse project “Borinquen” for FusionFest that won top honors at the 2021 Muse awards. She is an active advocate and business leader for the Latin community in Orlando.
Dr. Joshua Colwell
Dr. Joshua Colwell is Chair and Pegasus Professor of Physics at the University of Central Florida. He hosts “Walkabout the Galaxy”, the fun astronomy podcast. He studies the origin and evolution of the solar system and has flown experiments on the Space Shuttle, the ISS, suborbital rockets, and parabolic flights.
Daniel Cortes is a professional violist, educator, orchestral conductor, and arts administrator. He currently manages a 25-piece ensemble called Symphonic Underground which specializes in performing and recording tributes to beloved video game soundtracks such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Some of his favorite concert appearances include playing principal viola for Electric Light Orchestra, The Eagles, Weird Al, The Beach Boys, The Who, Mannheim Steamroller, and Roy Orbison’s 3D Hologram (among many others).
Andy is an accomplished veteran of the production industry working for companies such as Passport Productions, Adrenaline Films, and Falcons Treehouse, gaining experience on multiple high-profile series, documentaries, and commercials. He has worn many hats including Producer, Director of Photography, Assistant Director, and even Drone Op, but his most experienced role has been as an editor for TV series and documentaries, but his most favorite role is "voice actor". Andy is a self-declared "Space Nerd" with a deep fascination for all things spaceflight and space history. A born storyteller, Andy also enjoys writing and self-producing independent films under the social media alias "The Vintage Filmmaker" having directed and released several short films including "Picnic Pals" (CENFLO 2021 Finalist) currently screening in festivals. Andy has 2 lovely and amazing daughters who are his inspiration for everything he does
Paul Austin Sanders
Since arriving in Orlando over 30 years ago, Paul Austin Sanders has been involved in a wide diversity of creative arts, from acting in film and theater, to graphic art, to performing and composing music for a variety of groups. He has been part of the prestigious Central Florida composers forum since 2018. He has had a number of premieres of his original compositions at Timucua Arts Foundation and recently performed there. Paul Austin Sanders is literally a RenaissanceArtzMan. You can see and hear the diverse gamut of his creative outpourings on these various sites:
Bobby Wesley is a writer, storyteller and marketing guy who co-hosts the award-winning storytelling competition, Orlando Story Club. Bobby has performed at festivals, corporate events and “The Moth”. He thanks his mother, Margaret, for waking him up super early as a kid on those cold north Georgia mornings to look at the stars.
HOW DID STORIES FROM OUR SOL COME TO BE?
I hope you enjoyed "Stories from our Sol". This was a wonderful project to work on. If you liked this album you should also check out my previous album Cassini: A Musical Tribute in dedication to the 1997 Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its moons.
I hope you are also inspired to dig deeper into the many stories about mankind's journey into the stars. Most of them are every bit as interesting as many of the best sci-fi stories but all the better because they are real.
What was your favorite story? What missing space missions would you have included and why? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter
Stay curious and keep looking up!
- Jesse James Allen -
STORIES FROM OUR SOL
Composed, arranged, and produced by Jesse James Allen
Web Story images used under license from Envato Elements and Midjourney AI.
Dedicated to & in memory of
beloved father, grandfather & great grandfather
Special Thanks to:
My family for encouraging me to chase a dream.
I would like to thank all of those who work in the space exploration industry for the missions that have not only brought me creative inspiration but also hope that someday we as a human race will set aside our differences and take to the stars. Perhaps one day we will all regain the curiosities and dreams that we had as children and change the course of our future. There is no greater opportunity than the heavens above.