composer modern classical music piano review

James Heather – Modulations: EP2 Review

Improvs from the lockdown.

Sounds like…

Moody piano from the dark room of a photographer.

The review

James Heather has been making moody, pensive and elegant piano music for several years now. With ‘Modulations: EP2’ following the first EP and his LP ‘Stories from Far Away on Piano’, he has his style nailed down. The flowing beauty of his melodies trickles without much to do and yet you can’t help but be swept away by it.

James Heather photo by Suki
James Heather

Each piece was recorded in one take and ‘Passing Soul’ opens the EP with a rolling melody. James named the piano playing style for this EP ‘pulse music’. There’s no metronome or score as such, it’s improvised around ideas and so sometimes notes skip slightly out of step or take a tiny pause in places. It adds to the human element of the recording that I really enjoy. ‘Glimmer’ is a beautiful piece that feels like a sister to ‘Passing Soul’ whilst ‘Metal Machina’ is detailed and intricate in the way how James lays out chords as a ruffled rumble. ‘Beginnings’ is the most cinematic track on the EP and reminds me a little of Erland Cooper. James Heather is able to play strong melodies softly so they feel like they are being played from a distance. As a result, the tracks affect you as a listener differently. ‘Happy Tears’ closes the EP out with a trickle of a jazzy curiosity wrapped in a blues bar.

Whilst the EP feels like an intimate and reflective noodling, James Heather is able to add gravitas to them with his tone and melody structure. I also really like the artwork from Suki. Suki took flowers and rigged them up with ultraviolet torches. Each song has a different flower in a state of bloom and it’s a nice artistic touch to give the music more context. Ultimately, the music stands up on its own two feet as a selection of subdued but beautiful improvisational piano pieces. It is another feather in James Heather’s cap.

Recommended track: Glimmer

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James Heather - Modulations EP2

7.5

7.5/10

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