The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


WATCH: Luke Howard Video
The Quietus , June 1st, 2018 10:46

Luke Howard debuts new music video for the track ‘In Metaphor, Solace’, plus short interview.

Composer and pianist Luke Howard released his latest album, Open Heart Story, on May 25, 2018. He debuts a new music video for ‘In Metaphor, Solace', a collaboration with fellow Australian Jeff Andersen Jr, with tQ today. Watch the clip for the improvised track above, and read an interview with the artist below.

Howard, who has worked with Nico Muhly and Thelma Plum among others, describes his most recent work as exploring themes of memory, dissolution and ageing. He plays in London on November 20.

Could you give us some background to the track?

  Luke Howard: The melody had been floating around for some months, I think the first time I played it was alone one day on the haunting organ in my local town hall (a typical antipodean brag, it's the largest instrument in the southern hemisphere).

  The title came from a comment a friend, in offering comfort they used a metaphor of sorts. The precise details involve oblique nested metaphors which may not be of interest here!

  What have your recent inspirations been?

  LH: Most recently, and since making the record, I've been listening to John Luther Adams, and reading Henry Cowell's New Musical Resources (prompted by reading an article in the New Yorker by Adams). And discovering some choral music courtesy of Max Richter's Behind The Counter compilation mix for Rough Trade – particularly Knut Nystedt's Immortal Bach and Josquin des Prez's Qui Habitat. I am a fan of dense polyphony: whilst in my heart I know less is more, I've never really been able to escape more being more.  

I've been getting back into Keith Jarrett after a long break, particularly the Sun Bear Concerts. It's pretty amazing having the entire ECM catalogue streamable – feels a little overwhelming at times. Also the new Jon Hopkins album and also Johann Jóhannsson's Arrival score, prompted by the Song Exploder episodes on both, always interesting to peek behind the curtain on music that interests you. It's funny, even though (although possibly because of) my music is nothing like Hopkins', it's usually one of his records that is the soundtrack to my life whilst making a record.  

These are all inspirations post-making Open Heart Story, though. I think with that record, because it was made very quite quickly – in about six months – it was a consolidation of existing ideas rather than exploring new territory. The inspiration for pieces like Hymn can be traced back to the choral music I grew up, going to an Anglican school and all. Prelude for a Single Voice is an obvious homage to Bach, I spent my university years slowly working through the book of 48. The melodic construction of a piece like Blossom – hopefully not the melody itself – comes from folk music. I Still Dream About You, Sometimes But Not Always has a bit of Walton or Vaughan Williams to it, I suppose. And of course there are influences of contemporary post-classical composers (cautious as I am to use that moniker), of Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt – that's the musical landscape in which I grew up, and I'd be crazy not to acknowledge them.  

Finally, beyond musical inspiration, I'm inspired by traveling, by my friends, by the seasons, by graphic design and abstract art that evinces an organisation of ideas that I try to emulate in music.  

Tell us about how the video came to be?  

LH: Like the album, it was turned around pretty quickly – recorded in the basement of the local Alliance Française – with talented local filmmaker Jeff Andersen Jnr.. All the piano pieces on the record were improvised, so it was actually quite a challenge to get my fingers moving exactly in sync with the recording. I definitely know how to play them now!