The Music of Daniel Messer

A man stands on a beach, bathed in blue light, with space unfolding before him.

I wanted to start off with some selections of music that I’ve composed, covered, and otherwise recorded over the years. Some of it is okay, maybe even kind of good. You can download the full albums below, if you like. It’s all free, copyrighted under a Creative Commons By-NC-SA license. That means you can pretty much do anything you want with the music except sell it or use it in a commercial venture. And, actually, you might be able to use it in a commercial venture anyway, I just don’t want it to show up in an ad on YouTube or something. If you’re running something where you might want to use my music, and you might make money off it, contact me. We can likely work something out.

Selections with Commentary

The cover of Spiral Dancer, a ballet dancer with a galaxy in her hair.Spiral Dancer

Spiral Dancer was one of my earliest albums. It was recorded using a Yamaha DGX-200 that I still have and still use. The only difference is that I rarely use its onboard voices anymore. Instead, I use it as a MIDI controller which is absolutely excels at. Some of these tracks aren’t great, but you know, I didn’t mind sharing them since I wasn’t charging anything for them anyway.

  • Anne’s Theme (Hagood Hardy) – A cover of the opening theme from the CBC miniseries Anne of Green Gables, starring Megan Follows. The series was based off the books by Lucy Maud Montgomery and was surprisingly popular for something that has all the trappings of a Hallmark movie stretched into a miniseries. The soundtrack was okay, but the opening theme was something special to me and remains one of the more beautiful solo piano tunes I’ve ever heard.
  • Bloody Tears (Kenichi Matsubara) – I’ve been a video gamer since I was ten years old, when my mom brought home a used Commodore 64 she bought from someone she worked with. Weirdly, my interest in gaming went beyond the game and into the music. I’ve played games simply because of the music, even if the game isn’t all that good. This song, from the Castlevania series of video games, is easily on my top five best video game songs of all time. (Kenichi Matsubara)
  • Echo Mirage (Daniel Messer) – A title I unconsciously pulled from a bit of Shadowrun lore. In the world of the RPG, Echo Mirage was an elite unit of cyberspace commandos who saved the world and the Net from a radically dangerous computer virus. This track also showed up as the intro to Hyperlinked History, a documentary series (now lost) I wrote and produced.
  • Quiet Man (Yanni) – I seem to have a thing for new age, spacey Greek musicians. First Vangelis, and then Yanni. This song always invoke the spirit of one of my uncles. He’d come over to the house and watch John Wayne movies while his wife, my dad’s sister, would visit. He was a quiet man, and one of his favourite movies was The Quiet Man.
  • Tesseract (Daniel Messer) – In four dimensional space, a tesseract is a hyper-cube. An often used definition is that a tesseract is bigger on the inside than it is outside, and that reminded me of a friend of mine. So I wrote this for her, a reminder that she is always far more than she might occasionally think she is.
  • True Vision (Daniel Messer) – I wrote this back in high school and, like me, it’s changed since then. I still occasionally play it, and I should probably record a new version of it too. You can tell it’s the same song, but you can also hear that it’s really not the same song anymore.

The cover of Back in the Day, a pale woman with dark hair in the style of Patrick Nagel.Back in the Day

There’s a bit of nostalgia in this one, and I recorded it soon after moving to Arizona after spending my entire life in Washington State. I was definitely looking back at things I’d left behind, memories, and those little things that made me smile, and still do make me smile.

  • Batman: Stage One (Unknown) – Another video game track from one of the best platformers for the original 8 bit Nintendo Entertainment System. I later learned that this track is called Streets of Desolation. At the time, it was just the music for the opening stage of the Batman game by Sunsoft. I’ve never been able to find out who composed it, but the music for the entire game is brilliant.

The cover of Sonoran Standard Time. Kokopeli dances and plays his flute.Sonoran Standard Time

Randomness, difference, and things recorded in Arizona. I remember this time as a point where I was trying to find my place in a new state, with new people, a new job, and new surroundings.

  • Book of Days (Enya) – I love space music. I love Irish music. So it kind of stands to reason that Enya pushes all the appropriate buttons for me. This is probably my second favourite song of hers, though I’d have a hard time picking my number one.
  • Shelly’s Song (Daniel Messer) – One of my best friends, someone who was a part of my high school life, died in a car accident during my senior year. I can honestly say that, while I moved on, I never got over it. And not a day passes that I don’t think about her, even for just a few seconds.
  • Vampire Killer (Kinuyo Yamashita) – Back to video games, back to Castlevania, and back to the original soundtrack that defined an entire genre of games for me. This song shows up in multiple different versions of the classic horror platforming series. The composer, Kinuyo Yamashita is amazing, and you’ll find her music in dozens of video games.

The cover of View from Amalthea. Jupiter rises over the horizon of Phoenix, Arizona.View from Amalthea

My first EP that is all ambient and space music. I’d listened to so much of the genre by this time that I had to do something to get the melodies out of my head. It didn’t work, which is why I’m usually working on another recording.

  • Gravitational Slingshot (Daniel Messer) – A fun little tune where I wanted explore the idea that space music and ambient could be fun, and not all depths of the cosmos and stuff. After all, one of my primary influences is old sci-fi novels, and those incredibly fun.
  • Starshine (Daniel Messer) – Another song for one of my best friends, and someone who most assuredly deserves music of their own. At their request, I created two versions of the song, one for space another, terrestrial, version.

A man stands on a beach, bathed in blue. Space unfolds at his horizon.Singles, One-offs, Odds, and Ends

  • Chariots of Fire (Vangelis) – This was the first real song I learned to play, above and beyond the basic and beginner stuff that I had to learn just to get the hang of playing piano. I learned so much about music from this one song that it’s hard to truly express the influence it had on me.
  • Cosmos, from Heaven and Hell, Part I (Vangelis) -While Chariots of Fire was my first song, this was the one that started it all. I finally got around to recording this in 2017, as a Christmas present for the staff where I work. In a weird way, it felt like coming home.
  • Mercy Street (Peter Gabriel) – Weirdly, this is a cover of a cover. The song you’re hearing is my take on Miriam Stockley’s version of this. I fell in love with her melodies and use of bells in the background, so I tried to emulate a bit of that without directly copying everything she did.
  • Still Alive (Lisa Miskovsky) – One more video game track, and an oddity as it came out around the same time as another video game song with the same title, but that one was done by Jonathan Coulton for Portal. This one was done for a cyberpunk game called Mirror’s Edge.
  • The Velocity of Love (Suzanne Ciani) – I fell over the work of Suzanne Ciani while looking for some other artist that I don’t even remember now. Because I found her music, started listening, and forgot all about the other artist. I added some spacieness into this, because of course I did.
  • Winter (Tori Amos) – Tori Amos is easily one of the most technical composers I’ve ever tried to play on the piano. Some people write songs, I earnestly believe that Tori crafts them. This was another Christmas present for the staff, and it seemed like a good song that was Christmas adjacent, and not something you’d heard at every public place at least fifty times a week since the end of November. Also, it’s Tori’s most beautiful song, in my opinion.

Download the full albums

Look, some of these tunes are okay. Some songs are early days when I was just figuring out how to hook a keyboard to a computer and find a button that recorded things like a multi-track tape system. You can’t beat the price though, and you can always delete what you don’t like. I don’t mind.