Music/Style: #Best Of #Electronic, Hip-Hop, Classic-House, Soul/Jazz, Rock, R&B
"MP3 download: THE SHORTLIST: NEIL COWLEY (001) 2021 CHART"
Tracklist / Top tracks 19 / 1:30:42
• Eddie Harris — Is It In 3:36
• Don Blackman — Heart's Desire 4:30
• John Barry — Chinon/Eleanor's Arrival (Album Version) 3:28
• Julian Cope — Easty Risin (East Easy Rider Remix) 8:19
• Frank Wilson — Sleep Baby Sleep 2:44
• Micachu & The Shapes — Golden Phone 2:44
• Happy Mondays — Wrote for Luck (Remastered Version) 6:05
• John Lee Hooker — Boogie Chillun 2:39
• James Brown — I Got The Feelin' (Extended Version) 3:06
• Joni Mitchell — Don't Interrupt the Sorrow 4:05
• Jill Scott — Golden 3:52
• Michael Nyman — Trysting Fields (2004 Digital Remaster) 3:29
• Here We Go Magic — Alone But Moving 3:58
• Sad City — Steady Jam 11:55
• Louis Armstrong With Leon Thomas — The Creator Has A Master Plan 4:14
• Donald Fagen — New Frontier 6:22
• Prefab Sprout — Dublin 3:43
• Ennio Morricone — Come Maddalena 3:38
• 3 Winans Brothers, The Clark Sisters — Dance (Louie Vega Funk House Remix) 8:23
Rapidgtr "free download for dj's" — "скачать музыку бесплатно"
Ever since childhood, the piano has been intrinsically linked to every aspect of Neil’s Cowley’s life, but it was only after an unavoidable schism that its true meaning to him revealed itself. In this interview, he talks about The serpentine nature of creativity and how tinkling the keys eventually brought him home to himself.
Just over 12 minutes into Hall of Mirrors — The Film the camera focuses on a stack of analog TVs, each one flickering with the same black and white shot. A figure, silhouetted against a dense sky, leaps from a platform into the rippling water below. For a while, he’s just falling, arms and legs tensed, generating resistance as he soars through the air. And then, splash, he is submerged, body enveloped by the mercurial deep, shaken awake by the embrace of both the familiar and the unknown.
This particular visual cue succinctly summarises Neil Cowley’s foray into solo performance. Despite being a pianist since childhood, Hall of Mirrors marks the first time he has taken to the stage alone. He admits that reaching this point has been bumpy, the creative path twisting and turning without warning as it often does, but after multiple detours and new sonic explorations, he returned to the piano, where delicate stories of love, loss and rediscovered harmony revealed themselves, plucked unsuspectingly from the ether.
“I sat down at the piano and my fingers were almost achey from lack of playing,” he recalls. “But as I played, suddenly I was like, oh my god, where have you been! Essentially, my best friend — the piano — replied yeah, I’ve been sitting here waiting for you to come back. And from there it just flowed.”
On the playlist: I’m a devoted music slave and I suppose a playlist is a map for anyone — I could talk in detail about every track! The John Barry track — I was entranced with that the moment my uncle put a pair of headphones on my head aged five. ‘Easty Risin’ reminds me of sitting in front of a Sega Megadrive — it was the soundtrack of my Saturday nights.
Micachu because sometimes someone comes along who’s younger than you and you just love where they’re coming from. James Brown because he should be on every list! And Louie Vega because it sums up what music should so often do — make you smile from within.
Cowley’s realisation came at the tail-end of self-instated hiatus from piano playing. After disbanding the Neil Cowley Trio in 2018, he found himself searching for inspiration, and naturally gravitated towards electronic equipment in favour of the familiarity of his lifelong companion. “I wanted to see how bare I could strip myself,” he explains. “The piano was so intrinsically linked with my life that I wanted to see what would be left without it. Something inside me said this is the way to go — you need to challenge yourself.”
And so for a couple of years he hopped from project to project, tentatively seeking to reignite the fire in his belly with little success. “I’d pick something up, try to learn it for two weeks and then move onto the next thing,” he says. “If something wasn’t right I’d keep looking and for obvious reasons, that ended up in half baked tunes. You couldn’t really hear my voice or humanity in it.”
Growing up, Cowley faced similar disillusionment when his mum insisted he keep playing piano, largely against his wishes. Strong willed and single minded, she recognised his innate talent and wasn’t inclined to let it slide. “As a child, my mother forced me to practice,” he says with a hint of fondness. “She saw it in me and she made me do it.” Palpable artistry outshone his reluctance and by age 10, he was practicing for four hours a day.
But it wasn’t until a few years later when he was introduced to a soul band that he finally found his groove.
“Up until that point I’d done nothing but classical music,” he explains. “But then I was playing in pubs and travelling abroad, seeing different parts of the world. And suddenly what was a hateful relationship became full of love. I took it for granted in a way and so in the end I was grateful for all the pain my mum had put me through. She did it because she wanted the best for me. It makes me very emotional to think about it.”
A subtle shift in perspective changed Cowley’s outlook then, and it was equally transformational in the genesis of Hall of Mirrors. Constantly coming up against creative blocks, eventually he swapped the four walls of his London studio for the cobbled streets and austere romanticism of Berlin.
“Going to another location improves my focus so much,” he explains. “It couldn’t have been a better place for reunifying with the piano.”
The resulting collection of songs is an emotive portrayal of that awakening, blurring the line between melancholy and hope, past and future, piano and synthesiser.
The coalescence wasn’t immediate, but after a few trips and a recording session at the Funkhaus Berlin, things began to slot into place. “It was so obvious — so obvious!” he exclaims. “For so long I’d been looking in the wrong areas. But I brought all that stuff I’d learnt on the journey with me so Hall of Mirrors became a metaphor for a whole bunch of technical processes on the piano, using all the electronic knowledge I’d built to make the it sound different in many ways. I tried to elicit as many feelings as possible from the new skills I had.”
The resulting collection of songs is an emotive portrayal of that awakening, blurring the line between melancholy and hope, past and future, piano and synthesiser. “It’s frightening, I feel totally exposed!” Cowley exclaims in reference to his most personal work to date. “But if I’m going to make a record like this I think I have to put myself on the line. I’ve pushed myself in so many different directions that it would be wrong to be comfortable.”
The visual presentation of the album applies the same approach, in which Cowley combined a lifelong love of film with innovation by connecting his piano directly into a set of collected analog TVs with a jack. “I plugged it in and the static just started forming these shapes,” he laughs. “We felt like we’d invented something — we’re pretty sure no one’s ever done it before.” And so the gentle monochrome fuzz of redundant static darts and dances in unison with his pressing of the keys: stagnancy brought back to life.
For Cowley, this part of the cycle now comes to a close, in some ways leading him back to where he started. “The piano is my entire framework, my entire skeleton,” he says.
“I rely on it for everything and I wasn’t aware until I stopped how utterly responsible this inanimate object is for me connecting to people and feeling emotions. Now, I’m back engaging with the world through it, but it’s a lifelong vulnerability and that’s scary — it could be taken away at any time,” he pauses.
“But then, that’s love isn’t it?”
And that always requires a leap of faith.