Glass Island Richard Luke
- 1Everything a Reason03:27
- 2Silent Story02:59
- 4Eich Bhàna02:52
- 6Last Call02:03
- 8Time Moves01:50
- 9Last To Let Go02:39
Info for Glass Island
Glasgow-based composer and producer Richard Luke returns today with his gorgeous new single “Everything A Reason”, taken from forthcoming second album Glass Island.
As with debut album Voz, Richard Luke has collaborated once again with Scottish Chamber Orchestra violinist, Amira Bedrush-McDonald on a beautifully-realised record which builds on the minimal neo-classical piano and strings from that first release by adding ambient synths, glitches and beats.
Due out on 12 April through Canadian label Moderna, Glass Island explores the tensions of living on an island in the wake of referendums on leaving the EU and Scottish independence. The songs, explains Luke, have “confidence and strength, but also a fragility and drama that makes them almost wistful and nostalgic.”
The album title comes after Luke watched Kathryn Joseph play a show in Glasgow last year. “It was one of the most visceral, engaging things I’ve ever seen when she turned around in amongst all these mirrors and lights and sang,” he explains. “I couldn’t stop thinking of the Glass Island thing, because that’s what it looked like in an abstract way.”
Collaborating with Amira Bedrush-McDonald once again, Glass Island shows how the duo’s working relationship has strengthened in the year since Voz. Both note the same things about Glass Island; “I’ve always been drawn to big epic sound of bands like Sigur Ros, Arcade Fire, Jon Hopkins,” says Luke, “with crescendos and long builds. We’re still a way off that but it was something to aim for in these songs. “ Bedrush-McDonald adds “We found ourselves exploring a fuller sound, adding some beats, which takes it into a slightly different category. We also worked with a double-bass player (Kirsty Matheson) on three of the tracks, extending the range of sound and pitch. The music we were writing and playing was begging for that extra depth of sound.”
First single “Everything A Reason” crystallises Luke’s vision for Glass Island; the focus is still Luke’s stately piano and Bedrush-McDonald’s swooping strings, but the track gets added weight from subtle arpeggiated synths, washes of warm electronics and the pitter-patter of programmed beats. Inspired by Low’s Double Negative and the work of Arthur Russell, “Everything A Reason” is at once tense and disquieting, yet optimism glows at its edges .
“I often have a lyric going round my head when I’m writing, even with instrumental music and this track always had ‘everything a reason’ or ‘for everything a reason’ which fits with the meter of a tiny part played by a synth that repeats throughout the track,” says Luke. “It’s about hope, perseverance and belief. Regardless of whether there is something bigger at play out there (god, fate, human nature, aliens) if you believe that there is ‘something’ it will impact your reality. In my opinion, that’s kind of the point of belief, not for that belief to come to fruition but simply to impact your reality in the now.”
"Brexit affects more than just Britain, as poignantly shown by Scottish composer Richard Luke on Glass Island. The referendum has sent shock waves around Europe, as has Scotland’s drive for independence. But Luke’s take is different. He describes these songs as having “confidence and strength, but also a fragility and drama that makes them almost wistful and nostalgic.” Moderna Records cites “an ever-growing optimism.” What is there to be optimistic about? Very little, say many. This is why we need the few: artists willing to dream, not as Polyannas but as people who believe in the human spirit and its capacity for triumph.
Luke turns out to be pretty good at describing his own music. We recently shared “Everything a Reason,” the album’s opening track and first single. The piece works as an overture, melancholic yet resolute. This mixture of moods is due in great part to co-composer Amira Bedrush-Mcdonald, who balances Luke’s piano with violin. The title of this track is similar to a Christian saying that “everything happens for a reason” (attributed to Marilyn Monroe!). The saying is comforting to some, while it causes others to bristle. Still, it’s never delivered with intent to harm, and the same is true here. Luke and Bedrush-McDonald seek to empathize, comfort and reassure. Kirsty Matheson rounds out the crew with double bass on three tracks, while sparse electronics keep the tone from growing saccharine. Are these referendums progress or regression? It matters not, these artists seem to be saying: concentrate not on the policies, but the people.
The melancholy lifts toward the end of “Décembre” with the appearance of a particularly overt string motif, followed by the lighter “Eich Bhàna,” the track named after a Scottish whiskey. We’ll still have whiskey, won’t we? We will, which may be why the surges of “Freda” imply wordless song. The glass island seems fragile, but not all glass breaks. Sometimes we protect the most fragile of things with the softest of gloves. Luke treats his subject matter gently, not with anger or hysteria but the empathy one might direct at a loved one with a broken heart. Soft rain falls in “Ghosted,” but birds also sing. The artist’s final statement: breathe." (Richard Allen)
Amira Bedrush-McDonald, violin
Kirsty Matheson, double bass (tracks 4, 7, 10)
Richard Luke, piano, drums, field recordings, synthesizer, programming
Recorded in Glasgow, Scotland at St Brides Church (tracks 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10), Woodlands Drive (tracks 2, 6, 8, 11, 12) and Highpony studio (track 3)
Produced, recorded and engineered by Richard Luke
The Glasgow-based, multi-instrumentalist Richard Luke writes ‘sentimental strung vignettes that speak to those baroque places of the heart that spark memory & future inspirations alike’ (Impose Magazine). Luke released the 23-minute LP, Voz on 23 February 2018 via 1631 Recordings. Co-written and performed with violinist Amira Bedrush-McDonald it received praise from Exclaim!, The 405, and Self-titled Magazine with the former calling it ‘the kind of rainy day, picturesque album that every new classical collection should include’.
Tracked mainly in a church in Glasgow’s West End, Luke’s sophomore release, Glass Island is a beautifully-realised record which builds on the minimal piano and violin by adding ambient synths, glitches and beats. Due out on 12 April 2019 through Canadian label Moderna, Glass Island explores the tensions of living on an island in the wake of referendums on leaving the EU and Scottish independence. The songs, explains Luke, have “confidence and strength, but also a fragility and drama”
This album contains no booklet.