Phil Thornton

East Sussex, England

Secrets from the Lawless Ocean


Behind the Music

When I was asked if I would like to get involved with The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, the timing was perfect, as I had just finished recording a new album titled 'Coastal Moods.'  I felt inspired to carry on the ocean theme and soon found myself getting immersed in all the material and stories Ian had compiled. The focus of the project inspired me from day one. It was a welcome opportunity to address a subject that tends to be ignored by mainstream media and to highlight aspects of international lawlessness of which most people are completely unaware.

My back catalog is almost exclusively instrumental in nature, so the chance to use spoken word as an ingredient was, in and of itself, a joy and pushed me into inspiring directions when creating appropriate moods for the music. In addition to the use of dialogue as a sonic ingredient, I also found much of the ambient recordings very useful when developing the musical 'flavors' designed to complement the journalistic focus. A particularly good example of this would be the sound of a heavy machine gun being fired during a confrontation with Somali pirates, which I used as an ingredient in the 'Arms Dealing' track.

Music is often described as a truly universal language, so one of the most exciting aspects of the project was its global reach! Using music as a way of disseminating information across borders and cultural barriers feels like a perfect fit for the content.

Phil Thornton
About Phil Thornton

Phil Thornton is perhaps best known as an early pioneer of the British New Age music movement, as well as a leading light in the international tribal bellydance scene.

He is a prolific solo artist with 50+ releases to date with combined sales of over two million albums. As a live instrumentalist, Thornton has toured with Sinead O'Connor and The Bay City Rollers, as well as many solo tours. He is also a regular member of the neo-psychedelic English band, Mandragora, and founding member of 'synth rock' pioneers Expandis.


Thornton has also performed live and in the studio with many notable artists such as Hossam Ramzy (Peter Gabriel, Page and Plant, The Gypsy Kings etc.),  Arthur Brown, Anthony Phillips (Genesis), Gordon Giltrap, Stallion, Naked Lunch and The 4 B 2's along with many others.

He augments his musical talents as an accomplished studio producer with credits on countless projects, perhaps most notably the best selling Buddha Experience 'Chill Out' compilations.

Winner of the 2021 Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Innovation in Journalism

The Journalism behind the Music

All music in this project is based on The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times Best-Selling book by Ian Urbina that chronicles lawlessness at sea around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

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