Synthesesia (2020)

A new Digital Work Station (DAW) called Ableton 10 Live; a new computer; the addition of dozens of new Virtual Instruments (VSTs) including a fantastic symphony collection based on the performance of the BBC Orchestra recorded at the famous AIR studios built by George Martin – and a lot of spare time due to social distancing – has resulted in a flood of musical ideas that have been sitting on my hard drive waiting to come to life.

The point of this experiment was to stay from my guitar collection and learn more about the piano while trying to improve my keyboard skills. I’m not a great pianist but with the help of MIDI editing tools, I can get by.

BBC One – My first RECORDING using the BBC Orchestra symphonic collection.

Tick Tock – Love those vocal samples and the drums programmed with the classic MT Drum kit.

Blue Robot

Brandenburg Close

Dani’s Theme

Getaway – Need a theme song for a car chase?

London Symphony – Inspired by a recent trip to London and a collection of sound samples taken of the London Underground. Almost all of the percussion on this track is based on recordings made in the subway system.

No Strings Attached – It may sound like a guitar, but it’s not.

Sounds Like The 80’s – Think “Stranger Things” which is immersed in 80s nostalgia and flooded with analog synth sounds.

Whatever – this song was recorded in a little over 2 hours, the main riff the result of setting up my Strat after changing the strings. Yes, there is one track on here of an actual guitar, but the rest of the production is midi based. There is another version with my granddaughter adding some vocals here.

Kijiji People – Short and sweet. Inspired by one line of a vocal sampled across the keyboard.


Oakwood House – A new theme for a short horror film shot in Super 8mm in the early 70’s in Oakbank, Manitoba. The original super 8mm film has been remastered and color corrected and a new soundtrack added using sound effects and samples from the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The Old Upright #1 – I love funky old pianos that are slightly out of tune and have wonky acoustics. With electronics, that can be hard to recreate until I found this great sample of an old upright.

The Old Upright #2

Unmoored – This song was started on BandLab (a great free online music site) and then developed further in Ableton Live. Listen for the ukulele breaks and the harpsichord near the end.

Tiny StepsGiant Steps was John Coltrane’s amazingly complex first song on his 1959 jazz album. Featuring over a dozen unique and complex chords, soloists talk about it as one of the hardest songs to play in Jazz. I took the dozen chords, wrote the names down on individual scraps of paper and randomly picked them out of a hat. I then scored the main theme with the resulting mix of chords and wrote a melody. Thanks, John.

Walking In The Woods

For Jeff – The Jeff in the title is the producer and writer Jeff Lynn. A huge influence. He is, as they say in Britain, brilliant.

Midieval – Sounds vaguely Midieval … and hey! There’s the word MIDI hidden in there. How could I resist?

John Wayne – Been watching a lot of John Wayne movies lately and the key instruments on this track are two guitars. Rio Bravo is still my favorite.

Wasteworld – Coming Soon! Inspired by the third season of Westworld.


Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

It’s Only Life (2018)
Burden (2018)
Clown Car / 35 Percent (2018)
Get It Right (2018)
More And More And More (2018)
Ten Feet Tall (2018)
You’d Do That For Me? (2018)
Just Try And Stop Me (2017)
When You Were Just A Kid (2018)
Tick Tock (2018)
Black & Blue (2018)
Don’t Look Back (2018)

All songs and production on Semper Ubi Sub Ubi by Russ Smith.
Production tools: Ableton Live, Dark Audacity, Garageband 10.3


alien-instagramEver wonder why intelligent life from other planets has failed to pay us a visit yet? It’s simple—they’re terrified of us. Here are just five obvious reasons why we won’t be getting any surprise extra-terrestrial visits in the near future.

  1. 12,000,000 humans voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential primaries. Sure, he’s entertaining. But these people actually got up off the couch and marched over to a polling booth to vote for him. That’s scary as hell. Who knows what else these people could be up to?
  2. Honey Boo Boo is being considered for another Reality TV series. Aliens aren’t stupid, but they’re just as confused as we are about what human TV viewers consider reality . . . and Reality TV. One which clearly is not the other. But we call them the same anyway . . . I’m confused just writing about it.
  3. Bush Meat. Think about it. We eat everything that moves—including fuzzy little baby monkeys. Aliens know they could be next on the menu. There must be better places than Earth for a sleep over.
  4. Kim Jong-un’s haircut. Not only is it brutally unfashionable —but the dictator of North Korea has required by law that all other males in the country adopt the same style, refusal punishable by imprisonment. I’m not making that up.
  5. Our obsession with smart phones. It’s a computer, a tool—but we can’t seem to take our eyes off those tiny stupid screens. Eleven teens a day die from texting while driving. Last year: 1.6 million car crashes caused by cell phone use according to the National Safety Council. When the aliens do come, we won’t even notice. We’ll have our heads down, checking our Facebook status.


This post was published by Theo Cage. Check out his latest thriller novel, GHOST OF A GIRL on AMAZON.  “Holy cow! I picked it up and started reading, and now I don’t want to do anything else! Great story . . .” Amazon reader.

Who Wrote the First Thriller Novel?

Ian FlemingThis is one of those questions always guaranteed to incite lively debate among thriller fans. I Googled the question and came up with the two most popular answers: “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” (1963) and “Bourne Identity” (1980). Both are great novels.

I, however, would like to make a case for a book seldom mentioned.

I like to think the first true modern thriller novel was crafted by a retired Englishman, sitting on a beach in Jamaica, a reluctant first-time writer, someone who believed his novel would never be published (and was in fact, fully ashamed of the result.) He pecked out about 35,000 words in just two months on a cranky manual typewriter; a writer who would subsequently craft the quintessential spy thriller.

The novel was “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming, featuring the very first appearance of James Bond.

And the novel predates Le Carre’s best work by over a decade. Casino Royale was published in London, April of 1953.

Now in the interests of disclosure, I must confess to a personal bias. Reading Fleming’s books at the formative age of twelve was a heady experience. My parents were very liberal, but having those paperbacks handed down to me by my father (who was also a voracious reader) gave extra weight to the introduction. Casino Royale featured torture, sex, murder and fast cars. I was mesmerized.

If you go back to the book now, you will see that Fleming’s reluctance to write British fiction was evident. Nothing is forced or manufactured; this was not a literary exercise for him. The prose is modern in narrative style, compact, and punchy – with lots of casual violence. The protagonist faces impossible challenges, which are heaped on him in every chapter.

As hard as that is to imagine, could it be possible that Elmore Leonard owed some of his style to Fleming?

But there’s more. I was a voracious reader as a kid  – I ate up history, biographies and the classics. But when the character of James Bond came into my life, he forever changed my view of what was possible in literature as well. Fleming inflamed my imagination and made me want to write.

What do you think? What writer influenced you? And what novel gets your vote for first thriller?

Theo Cage is a writer and artist who published BUZZWORM, SATAN’S ROAD and SPLICER in 2014.

Splicer by Theo Cage

Splicer Cover 20SPLICER launched July 14th …

5 stars

“Any thought that Theo Cage could not repeat the thrill of his previous book was swept out of my mind as I read Splicer. The invention of a gene-splicing technique that promises everything is the premise of this fast-paced novel … The last third of the book literally had me staying up late to find out what happened as the non-stop action hurtled … toward a blood-soaked ending. Highly recommended.” Max Overton, author of  the Amarnan King series.

5 stars

“This was a fast paced novel with many twists and turns. Just when you thought you had things figured out, you realize you don’t. It keeps you on your toes … It has a little bit of everything: action, suspense, a little bit of romance. Basically there’s something in here for everyone. LibraryThing reveiwer

5 stars

“Creepy! Suspenseful and even a bit scary! Loved it!” Amazon reviewer

Buy Now on Amazon

The Story: A billionaire geneticist is found garroted in the parking lot of an exclusive business club. The prime suspect is a former employee who quickly lawyers up with one of the hottest criminal defenders in the city – pugnacious and troubled Janey McEwan. She soon becomes embroiled in a battle between a crack team of professional killers, the CIA and her penniless client – who she happens to be falling in love with. The deadly struggle is over a new technology called The Splicer – a desktop unit that would give users unprecedented power to manipulate DNA. In a matter of hours, a terrorist could build a new virus, create a deadly new disease or completely modify human engineering. With a few screen touches, it would be possible to create a monster with the potential to kill millions. The CIA calls this new invention the “Frankenstein app” – and they will stop at nothing to prevent it’s spread.

The story reaches it’s dark climax on a craggy mountain in the wilds of Canada – the doomsday retreat of a shadowy CIA legend – a place they call Ragnarock.


You never know ahead of time what kind of day it’s going to be.

That’s how the man in the parking garage felt. Here it was about eight o’clock in the evening and he might as well be hanging from the ledge by his fingernails, counting down the seconds.

This morning, over coffee, he was thinking seriously about how he needed a new pair of running shoes – or something equally inane. Then boom.

You’d think these kinds of things – matters of mortality and death – would telegraph themselves to you – give you the big wake up call. Obviously all that psychic bullshit was just wishful thinking. If there was such a thing as intuition it should have hit him around noon, like a baby grand from eight stories up. But it didn’t. Not even a shiver.

He was standing now on the third level of a downtown parkade, behind an unpainted concrete support column, watching a man in a car pound at his driver side window with a wet fist. It was either wet with blood or perspiration, he couldn’t tell. He guessed blood. But he smiled anyway.

For the sake of a chronically weak stomach that was so jittery he felt the bile rise in his throat every time he so much as saw road kill, he definitely shouldn’t be enjoying this so much. But he was. Then he told himself, wiping his lips, it was the smell that always set him off; not the sight of something disemboweled, even if it was only imagined, like an orange blur on the highway at passing speed. But this particular death he was witnessing, a human sacrifice of sorts, and well-deserved, had the promise of coming off totally odorless, masked by the stink of a decade of diesel fumes, most of it pricey Audi and Benz exhaust.

The Toronto Presidents Club, perched above the parkade, had an annual membership cost of about twenty five thousand dollars. So an over-priced hunk of German automobile just seemed to go naturally with the place. There were dozens of them in rows. He imagined members sucking up the oily exhaust the way a connoisseur might nose a fine sherry. Then he put his hand up against the cement and watched a man being garroted with a thin piece of wire, a man with enough money to buy a thousand Mercedes.

He wished he could see the billionaire in the car more clearly. He watched him thrash about in the front seat of his Chevy Volt. He could be sitting in a Rolls Royce or a loaded Tesla if he wanted to. He could afford to drive anything. But Ludd just thought cars were extravagant and wasteful. That was one of his many well-known idiosyncrasies.

For the moment the billionaire appeared to be struggling half-heartedly. The man watching in the dark had a suspicion he was distracted by how easy it was to slice through skin and cartilage with a fine wire. Like party cheese. And look how neatly a finger became detached. Again this was typical of the billionaire’s analytical nature; always, even to the end, trying to work a buck out of chaos.

The watcher saw him kick once weakly, fight for air which wouldn’t come, his mouth open like a fish on a hook – then kick again, feeling the wire cut deep into his throat with what must have seemed like icy persistence. Then he stopped, a stubborn kind of hesitation that surprised the murderer, as if his victim were gathering strength. As if he had all the goddamn time in the world.

But the guy doing the dying was thin and gawky and his murderer had no doubt that this job would go quickly and with as little fuss as possible. After all, he was a busy man. The killer saw the billionaire look down at his fingers, which were sticky with blood, and then he heard a grunt, a sound like air leaking out of something wet, like something had finally given in. Then everything seemed to be sliding away from the man in the front seat; the man with copious amounts of fresh blood on the front of his Wal-Mart dress shirt.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The billionaire reached up, felt his hands bump against the rubbery surface of the steering wheel. Then hesitantly, like a reluctant lover, he touched the warm ruin of his neck. Lights flashed somewhere in his head. Then everything faded.

Just last summer, a time that seemed decades away in the past, he had made the international Who’s Who, bought an obscenely expensive new home, ten thousand square feet of glass in the Beaches that filled him with nervous guilt. And The Financial Times just last week guessed that his shares in the company he owned were worth over a billion dollars. Imagine that. A billion. Not bad for a guy from the north end. A guy whose dad used to manufacture dentures out of a broken-down little shop on the edge of Chinatown.

Now he’d give it all up for one lousy breath of parking garage air.

His last thought wasn’t of his wife, his growing business, or his Japanese Yen languishing in foreign money accounts – but of Kim Soo. Exotic Kim Soo and her long buttery thighs, tiny anxious mouth, tattooed breasts.

And he puzzled over this, struggling to martial his impressive mental resources to these curiously wicked images. Then he thought of nothing again.

Review of Number Seventy Five by Ashley Fontainne

Seventy FiveThe Story: Three years after the demise of her seventeen year marriage, Mandy Russell decides to jump back into the choppy waters of the dating world. With very little options available in her small town of Bainsville, Tennessee, Mandy lets her best friend Shawna persuade her into joining and online dating site.

Feeling she has met someone she can really connect with, Mandy decides it’s time to meet face to face with her new suitor, unaware of his true plans for her. Dark, sinister plans that will test Mandy’s physical strength, mental fortitude and will to survive.

Will Mandy prevail or will she become number seventy-five?

The Review: Never lets go of you until the end. The New York Daily News claims that one-third of couples today met online and that over 75% of singles, at some point, have tried a web-based dating service. And we’ve all heard the amusing stories from our friends and paid witness to countless reality TV dating experiences.

What are the hallmarks of on-line dating? Very similar to blind-dating in general – anticipation, awkwardness, relief, sometimes dashed expectations – and every once in a while, a powerful life changing experience. This short story includes all of the above.

Ashley Fontainne, bless her wicked soul, adds something else to the mix. A serial killer. And she doesn’t fool around. Seventy Five is as taut as a war drum – as fast as a fleeing victim. If you have never read Fontainne before, this will be a perfect introduction to her no-holds-barred style.


Buzzworm: Amazon #1 Bestseller!

Buzzworm cover


“Wow, I absolutely loved reading Buzzworm by Theo Cage. It is filled with enough intrigue to keep you glued to the pages and reading nonstop to the ending you never see coming. Buzzworm is not your everyday CIA spy game novel; it is a very captivating story which combines all the aspects of a thrilling CIA story, but the plot is unique, utterly believable and very thrilling. The story takes you behind the scenes and gives you an in-depth tour into the back office operations of the CIA and the technology that holds together the intelligence community. What fascinated me even more is Theo Cage’s transfixing description of the workings of the hacker community.”

Reviewed By Faridah Nassozi for Readers’ Favorite May 2014

“PAGE TURNER! Excellent mystery/thriller. Nicely developed characters and tight plot. Hard to put this one down…” LibraryThing Review

“MORE ACTION THAN YOUR TYPICAL MYSTERY. If you’re looking for a real ride and not just a story, then you’ll enjoy this gritty book.” Author of Power Games, Richard Peters

“Awesome Thriller!! Must Read!!” Amazon Review

“Fast paced action and suspense in a read with a lot of horsepower.” Amazon Review

Buzzworm was published on February 1st this year.  This story was first inspired by a number of stories told to me by a former Mossad agent (not all which I include in Buzzworm but have woven into On The Black.) At the time, I was shocked by how much of a national security weapon computer viruses had become. Of course now with the revelations around the StuxNet virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear enrichment program in 2010, and recent infections of U.S. drones, it’s quite clear to me that computer viruses could someday (soon) be used as  weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Buzzworm chronicals a systems meltdown at the CIA that begins to quickly spread to other intelligence departments world-wide, effecting operatives and staff at every level. Employee cell phones, their home security systems, even their television sets are being taken over by this ugly new virus now known as Buzzworm.

When people start to die, the CIA decides to look for outside help. An eccentric foreign intrusion expert, Roger Strange, is flown in to help track down the source of the virus. He teams up with an agency hacker known as MED (Mary Ellen Duke), and the two of them begin to unpack the mystery – well aware that Buzzworm is now beginning to target them and their families. The third protagonist in the story is Gregory Hyde, one of  Washington D.C.’s most successful and iconic homicide detectives. But he’s also the oldest. So despite being Roger and MED’s only hope, he hates technology with a  passion.

The novel reaches it’s explosive conclusion in a deadly race against time in the wilds of Virginia.

Gregory Hyde as well as MED appear again in Satan’s Road – and MED will finally get her chance to be a field agent on assignment in Reactor, coming out in 2015.