Running Higher Plain Music over the last eleven years, I’ve been exposed to genres I hadn’t really taken much notice of before and classical contemporary is possibly the one I’ve grown most fond of. When I find a composer usually doing lush or imaginative things with a piano or string base score, I’m often pulled right in. That is exactly what happened when I discovered Richard Luke last week and his new album ‘Glass Island’.
Across the twelve tracks, the piano is at the heart of what Richard Like does. It is rarely all there is though as he weaves in strings and electronica to his sound palette. Take opener ‘Everything A Reason’ for example. A simple piano motif unfurls into a quietly steadfast string arrangement with electric percussion. It transitions from classical to chilled out electronica over the three minutes. In contrast, the wilting weeping strings of ‘Silent Story’ evoke an Olafur Arnolds and Sigur Ros vibe. It’s a beautiful piece I had on repeat to let it sink in. ‘Decembre’ is a curious melting pot of neon synth bass lines, pizzicato strings and muted piano. Whilst the instrumentation and sounds change, the mood stays in a fragile state between uplifting and reflective – something ‘Eich Bhana’ balances with perfection with its cinematic strings.
‘Red’ is one of the prettiest tracks on the album. Its strong piano melody feels curious yet epic at the same time despite never breaking force beyond a tinker. The album then moves into two duos of tracks that sonically I placed together. ‘Last Call’ and ‘Freda’ both have luscious string arrangements that feel very Nordic in their timbre and feel. ‘Time Moves’ and ‘Last to Let Go’ share similar note patterns but the latter track is an emotional powerhouse of sombre reflection. There’s also a clever radio static effect that really adds depth and weight to it too.
The album then moves into its final phases which feel more jazz-infused as the double bass feels present. ‘Drift’ is airy and flowing but also over too soon. ‘Ghosted’ is a simple chord playing piece but has lots of field recording noises and shivering frequency phasers in the space between notes to give that haunted feel. That then turns to the closing piece ‘Breathe’. ‘Breathe’ is an uplifting finale of bustling string notes and echoing piano plinks. It feels like a natural nadir to the album and like you’ve pulled out from the emptiness and sombre mood of the previous four or five tracks.
Richard Luke has made a beautiful album in ‘Glass Island’. Whilst my only criticism would be that a couple of the tracks came to a close too quickly, my remedy for that so far has been the repeat button. If hitting the repeat button is a sin, I don’t want to leave this Glass Island for better pastures.
Recommended track: Silent Story
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